Our second Litespeed C1R Review: With the full 2013 Litespeed lineup now published on Litespeed.com we wanted to provide a another collection of thoughts on the Litespeed C1R. For our prior review on the Litespeed C1R click here and for our review on the Litespeed L1R click here. For more information on the entire 2013 Litespeed lineup, including the high end aero race machine that is the Litespeed C1R please visit Litespeed.com
2012 Litespeed C1R Review from Team Sixcycle-RK&O
I have to admit, my first reaction to the Litespeed C1R was anxiety. After having owned various road bikes in recent years I was entirely satisfied with my ride at the time – a Specialized SL3 – and the notion of changing over to another bike was an uncertain trade. This transition was made more uncertain by the fact that the Litespeed C1R hasn’t received the broad attention from the cycling press that frames from other larger manufacturers have received (for other manufacturers spending all that money on glossy magazine ads probably doesn’t hurt when it comes to securing those reviews).
However when I received my C1R and put it through its paces I quickly realized that Litespeed’s decision to skip the glossy print ads and focus on the engineering side paid off in spades. While the cycling public at large may recall the Litespeed from a decade ago – focused on Ti frames – the reality is that Litespeed has a terrific lineup of high-end (60T carbon) road frames with the C1R leading the charge on the aero side. As a sprinter / crit racer the C1R was the perfect choice out of the Litespeed line-up, though the impressive technical features of the L1R didn't make it an easy decision.
First a summary of the build. I actually transferred parts from other bikes to build up the Litespeed C1R, going with a Di2 group from my Cannondale CAAD10 and a Cannondale Hallowgram SRM off my Specialized SL3. The saddle and various other bits were new additions.
- Frame: 2012 Litespeed C1R, size M
- Group: Shimano Dura Ace Di2 with sprint shifters
- Crankset: Cannondale Hallowgram SRM
- Wheels: Zipp 808 Firecrest Carbon Clinchers
- Cockpit: Deda 35 aluminum bars and stems (not pictured)
- Saddle: Selle San Marco Zocolan
The initial build for the C1R was straight forward thanks to the fact that the frame is setup for both mechanical and electronic drivetrains. The internal Di2 wiring and battery mount was a welcome relief after racing Di2 on three different frames that didn't offer internal Di2 wiring, thus requiring the heavy use of electrical tape (which is less than ideal for bike aesthetics). As you can see in the pictures below the internal wiring is well designed and results in a seamless Di2 setup with the battery mount installed on the non-drive side chainstay. After a full season of all weather use I haven't had any issues with the Di2 installation on this bike.
Moving onto the fit - after several years on Specialized and Cannondale frames it took a bit of time to get used to the Litespeed fit, particularly because I sized up slightly from riding 52’s on the Specialized/Cannondales to a M (54 top tube) on the C1R. However after some work on the fit side in March/April I got my positioned dialed end and spent the rest of the 2012 season using the C1R as my primary race bike. Due to the relatively tall head tube I have the stem slammed on the bike (thanks in part to these headset covers: Metallic Pountine Headset Covers). I have run a couple of different cockpits on the bike during the season, including a 130mm -17 degree stem, though I ultimately settled on a very stiff Deda 35 aluminum cockpit.
Several months later, with the race season complete, I can't help but rave about the bike: from aesthetics (particularly with a set of deep aero wheels) to performance the C1R has completely outperformed my expectations. It's impossible to miss the massive bottom bracket on the bike, which delivers more frame stiffness than I imagined possible from an aero frame. Thanks to the use of high quality 60T carbon it has the acceleration of the stiffest non-aero road frames that I've ridden - making it in many respects the ideal combination of aerodynamics and stiffness. Obviously the C1R isn't the lightest bike on the market (if you want to go light certainly check out the 2012 Litespeed L1R) but the frame's stiffness contributes to an impressive ability to accelerate uphill before the aero properties of the frame kick in on the descents where the bike bites into corners and tracks surprisingly true for an aero bike.
If I had to provide one criticism, it may be the integrated seat post, but thats a purely personal preference as it makes flying with the frame somewhat complicated. That said the ISP also improves the overall comfort in the bike and I have to say that Litespeed has the best designed ISP that I've encountered to date - adjustments to saddle height are quick and easy.
Over the course of the year I've raced the bike in a wide array of circumstances - in crits with sweeping corners like the Green and Gold Criterium, in quasi off-road field sprints like the Giro del Cielo and of course on the brutal dirt climbs of the Tour of Battenkill. In each and every circumstance the bike has performed up to or beyond my expectations. Litespeed certainly doesn't have the marketing of bigger bike manufacturers, but their focus on engineering over marketing has paid off in the form of a terrific bike that I highly recommend.