Litespeed Li2 Review: as part of our partnership with Litespeed Bicycles, Team Sixcycle-RK&O is privileged to have spent the past two years racing the Litespeed C1R (reviews here and here) and Litespeed L1R (review here). These have been terrific race machines, but they're only a small portion of Litespeed's portfolio of bikes, which also includes the Litespeed CX frameset (check out our photoshoot here). As the 2013 race season gets underway, Team Sixcycle-RK&O is also going to be racing another member of the Litespeed family: the electronic shifting Litespeed Li2. Team Sixcycle-RK&O's own Tom Mikolinski has spent several months riding and racing this frameset and his Litespeed Li2 review follows.
Litespeed Li2 Review from Team Sixcycle-RK&O's Tom Mikolinski
Being a proud owner of our team's flagship bike, the incomparable Litespeed C1R, I was a bit apprehensive about picking up the Litespeed Li2 and how it could possibly measure up to its beefier big brother.
Unlike the C1R and the L1R, the Li2 is made up of 30T carbon rather than the 60T carbon of its "R" brothers. This is a lower tensile strength of the fibers, but don't underestimate it...this bike is all business and as stiff as you need it to be.
The Li2 derives its name from the fact that it is only electronic (Di2) shifting compatible. There are no external derailleur cable bosses on the frame. Everything needs to be run internally. This creates a smooth clean exterior to really admire the frame.
One of the first things I noticed was the change in bottom bracket standard from the BB30 on the C1R to a BB386 on the Li2. It seems these days that a new "standard" is introduced every year, and much like your cell phone and chargers, a new set bb/crank set-up is required as well. I initially dismissed this as a hokey way for component manufacturers to stay relevant. However I am humbled to say that I was wrong. There is a genuine benefit of going to the longer 86mm spindle vs. the BB30's 68mm spindle. This was immediately apparent as soon as I hoped on the bike. The wider BB provided a noticeable increase in stiffness and power transfer. The increased power transfer was especially appreciated when climbing.
Handling on the Li2 is quick and responsive. Litespeed certainly did their homework to create a light, stiff, responsive bike that not only looks great but is a lot of fun to ride. A week spent in the Santa Ynez Mountains in southern California provided a great testing ground for the fun that can be had on this bike. Climbing on the bike, while certainly still not effortless, seemed a bit punchier thanks in part to the wider BB and lightweight frame. Descending was pure joy, tracking was spot on and accurate, and you could really open it up without trepidation.
As with any new standard or technology, there are limitations on what you can use in terms of cranksets. FSA makes a great BB/crankset combo that I'm currently running. There are currently no crank based powermeter set ups that are BB386 specific to date. Matt Vandivort of Team Sixcycle has been able to get the new Sram Red GXP Quarq to work with a BB386 to GXP adapter. This is certainly something that I'll be exploring further.
Having spent the past 3 months on this bike, my apprehensions were laid to rest. Not only is it a lightweight, stiff, responsive bike, it is also flat out fun to ride. Litespeed has come a long way from the early days of titanium. You owe it to yourself to take one out and see what they are capable of. The only downside now is deciding which one to ride.
Build Spec for Tom Mikolinski's 2012 Litespeed Li2
- Group: Ultegra Di2shifters front rear deralurs 11×26 cassette
- Wheels: ENVE 45 Powertap carbon clinchers
- Brakes: Planet X Ultra Light
- Stem: 3T ARC Team
- Handlebars: EDGE carbon
- Seatpost: FSA K-Force carbon
- Crankset: FSA SL-K BB386
- Saddle: Fizik Antares 00 braided carbon
- Bar Tape: Lizard skin
- Pedals: Speedplay zero
- Cables: Yokozuna Reaction brake cables
- Chain: KMC x10sl
More information on the Litespeed Li2