As part of Team Sixcycle-RK&O's partnership with Litespeed, Roger Parmelee has been putting the 2013 Litespeed CX through its paces. In the first part of what will be a two party review Roger talks about his first impressions of this impressive disc focused titanium bike that is hand made in the USA.
After putting in some additional races on the Litespeed CX he will return with a detailed review of the performance elements.
Litespeed CX Review
When thinking about my Litespeed CX review the first word that comes to mind is "fun".
Thanks to Team Sixcycle-RK&O's partnership with Litespeed I was lucky enough to obtain this titanium frame as my cyclocross bike for 2013. Since I just finished building the bike up this review will actually come in two parts - my initial impressions on the bike and the build process and then, as the cross season runs its course, I'll speak to the performance characteristics in more detail.
Starting with the first impressions - how many guys can say they ride a handmade Ti bike that was built in the USA with the builders name on the tag...with that starting point alone the Litespeed CX is certainly a rare breed.
But even with that in mind after opening it and giving it a close inspection it felt more like a piece of art than a bike. It really is top notch quality with extremely clean and precise welds - perfectly spaced out like a stack of coins laid on top top of one another.
A true modern classic
But at the same time this is not a relic of the past - this is a modern piece of equipment with a press fit BB30 bottom bracket, a 44mm head tube and disc brakes, but all of that technology is built into a frameset that has all of the appeal of a classic alloy frame with a soul.
I may not understand the critique that some people have for mass produced carbon bikes, but I certainly understand the appeal of the Litespeed Titanium CX has - it is a true modern classic.
With that theme in mind the Litespeed CX is made from tapered, cold worked 3AL-2.5V Cross-specific Ti tubing (modern) but the tube shaping is nothing short of beautiful with super clean lines (classic). The fact the the CX only comes in a post-mount disk format (modern) version only serves to make the overall lines that much cleaner (classic).
Litespeed CX Build Selection
I chose to build mine up with the arguably the best fork out on the market: the ENVE CX disk fork. Most of the drivetrain was comprised of spare parts I had laying around - SRAM force shifters, SRAM force front derailleur, SRAM red rear derailleur. Pedals are a mostly personal choice but I went with Crank Brother Candy 3's due to their terrific platform.
Brake selection: a difficult choice, a great result
When it came to the brake setup I was more conflicted - I didn't want to have to buy new shifters in order to go hydraulic but I was also hesitant to go with mechanical disc brakes due to some mixed feedback. After doing some research I went with the TRP HY/RD hydraulic setup - with the fluid contained in the caliper so are you able to use mechanical levers but still get the benefits and power of a hydraulic setup with self centering with pad wear. And I have to say I have been extremely pleased with them (though I will note you can't run a more typical 140mm rear disc on the back because the post where the caliper mounts is too tall).
It's still relatively early in my season on the Litespeed Titanium CX (I started the season on a borrowed bike) but I'm already impressed with how smooth the ride is. The bike really dampens the rough stuff while also tracking nicely in and out of the corners.
It's been a blast to train and race on - in fact its even been doing some double duty as a commuter bike. I look forward to putting the bike through the ringer for the next several weeks and months and coming back with part two of my Litespeed CX review which will be focused on the performance elements.
Other Litespeed Reviews
For those of you who are focused on Litespeed road bikes, we have reviewed a number of Litespeed's high-end race frames:
- Litespeed L1R Review: http://team.sixcycle.com/2012/08/21/2012-litespeed-l1r-review/
- Litespeed C1R Review: http://team.sixcycle.com/2012/10/05/2012-litespeed-c1r-review/
- Litespeed C1R Review, Part II: http://team.sixcycle.com/2012/10/05/2012-litespeed-c1r-review/
- Litespeed Li2 Review: http://team.sixcycle.com/2013/03/21/litespeed-li2-review/