|Litespeed C1R, Shimano Ultegra Di2 with home 1x11 conversion|
|Same bike, other side.|
The FramesetLitespeed is a storied titanium frame maker out of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and is now one of three brands held by the American Bicycle Group. I'd like to know more about that corporate history!
Litespeed went all in on carbon frames a decade or more ago, selling the C-line of aero framesets and the L-line of ultralight climbing framesets. There was a time when you could go to the Litespeed website and not find a single titanium frame. Why is anybody's guess, but I'll give one possibility: the '00 and early '10s were not good years for metal bikes. Carbon became cheap and titanium never did get easy to work with. Somewhere along the way the word "aero" became part of the cyclist's lexicon and metal frames never could make that claim.
(Litespeed is now back to titanium nearly exclusively. I think the recent resurgence in interest in long days in the saddle and varying road surfaces makes metal, and particularly titanium, a newly desirable medium. There is still a C1R on the website for sale, though its place on the website seems to suggest that a container arrived from China and has yet to be sold out. Too bad, I say, as this bike is fast.)
|From Litespeed.com. Looks great in murdered-out black.|
Although I contend Litespeed lost its way for a few years years, it did make and sell credible aero bikes in the C-line, and it did this before every tour brand and knock off wanna-be started selling teardrop tubing. Maybe Cervelo was first, but Litespeed was there long before the Trek Madone became something other than a light-weight collection of round carbon tubes.
At this point I am working from memory, but Litespeed seemed to have three frames in the C-line: the C1 (sometimes C1R), its top end racing frameset; the C2 or Ci2, made for internal cable routing for Di2 groups; and the C3, its everyman's aero frameset.
The bike above is the C1R. Sam brought home two of them from a fire sale at the Racery, which no longer exists. (Maybe this is why: Sam actually bankrupted an internet discounter.)
The BuildI reported above that this frameset was meant to replace my Focus Cayo Evo, the race bike from 2013 to 2016 that carried me on some of my best rides in those years. That means, of course, that I had a good collection of parts to build with.
|Focus Cayo Evo. Remember the finishing kit - you will see it again.|
Bits and PartsIn fact, before I did any shopping at all, I pulled together:
- Ultegra 6770 Di2 2x10 groupset;
- 3T Ergonova Pro bars and matching stem;
- Profile Design aero bars with those double-bend carbon extensions that came out 6 or so years ago;
- WTB Rocket V saddle in white;
- Planet X tubular wheels, 60mm and 90mm;
- Challenge Triathlon 24mm tubular tires;
- Force 1x 52-tooth chainring;
- Look Keo 2 Max pedals (the self-recentering kind);
- Elite WB cages;
- Zipp titanium aero skewers.
- 6870 11-speed Di2 RD;
- BB30 adapter (manufacturer unknown, but these are easy to find);
- Tririg aero centerpull brakes.
|That Tririg brake reminds me of a Campy offering from the '80s.|
BuildingBike building isn't a hard project when all you do is add grease, loctite, or carbon compound, tighten things to torque spec., and run cables through the stops. Carbon frames kill this with internal routing that is not always easy to manage - memories of four hours lying on my back running a single internal cable on the old Cervelo P2 still give me shivers.
The Litespeed thankfully routes the rear brake cable externally.
|External brake cable runs at 8:00 along the top tube, where it should be.|
The solution is a magnetic end that attaches to the plug. You then use a strong magnet on the outside of the frame to draw the inner magnet (pulling the plug) to the exit hole. Elegant, right?
And it worked for the main run from the entry point in the top tube to the bottom bracket. I capped that top tube with a Shimano 6mm round plug - and capped the unused second hole with a 1/4" round plug from Amazon. (Funny story: that is an "Ultegra Di2 Grommet." I suppose it weighs more than the Dura Ace offering?)
|Shimano plug has a slit allowing me to wrap it around the wire at the end of the build, which is nice.|
|Happy with how hidden this is.|
- A junction box at bottom of downtube accessible from the BB;
- A line from the rear derailler to the junction box;
- A line from the battery to the junction box;
- A line from the right front control unit to the junction box; and
- The right shifter plugged into the front control unit. The blip shifter is plugged into the right shifter.
|The 6770 front control unit. Simple if not terribly flexible.|
Going 1xSam and I agree that an aero bike has no reason for 2x gearing. If you want to climb a hill, ride a different bike. Better yet, don't climb a hill. While I have hacked 1x10 on several occasions, 11 speed rear makes much more sense to me for this build, so I bought a 6870 rear derailler on eBay and tossed the 6770 FD into the parts bin. (Any bets on how much I can sell a 6770 rear/6770 front combination for? Well less than $100 is my bet.)
|Only that right-side shifter and blip shifter get used with this build.|
|Just found these for $160 NIB on eBay. These will be in my shop within the month, I am certain.|
(That price has come way down! $160 on eBay. Phooey - I thought I was done. but I will likely make this upgrade.)
Of course I installed my SRAM Force crank, all 175mm and 52 teeth of it.
|I got a good deal buying 52 teeth. Apparently all the demand is for small chainrings - who knew?|
The RideSo this is embarrassing, but after building this I left it sitting in the basement for a solid 6 months while riding and even replacing other bikes. The planned use model - setting PRs at the century and longer distance - sort of fell out of favor in my riding. I keep meaning to try for that 4:30 century, and 10:00 double - but maybe next summer. I was inches from listing for sale when, after a consult with Sam, I decided to ride it instead.
(Sam points out that selling would necessitate a day-long prep job including removing anything not part of the original build. My problem is that my entire conception of this bike is as a long-distance time trial machine, which means aerobars and the like are part of the thing. Pulling those off, only to add them back into my parts bin, would almost literally break my heart.)
After a long weekend urban hiking with P__ I took this out for a cool-down ride on the Beach Drive out-and-back, with a couple of added loops on the fun hills at either end.
- Riding on the flats this was just lovely. It has been some time since I rode with aerobars and I found these *comfortable.* Not "I can handle this for an Ironman" comfy, but "I'd rather be laying on my forearms than otherwise" comfortable. If I ride this bike long I will be in the aero position more than the alternative. That is a good result!
- In the hills this was snappy! The power transfer in the BB is not just linear - it feels quick being worked out of the saddle as well. It climbs like a road bike, not like a TT bike, which is a high high compliment for a bike like this.
- Downhill it felt stable. I was comfortable letting roll fast, which is not always the case with a brand new build.
- It handled well. My test for great handling is the descent from the Rock Creek stables down to Broad Branch Road, a quarter-mile 10% grade with swooping turns and good pavement. If I feel like I am on good GS skis on that descent, the bike handles well. The old Cervelo felt more like Sam's Red Sleds (a downhill racing ski sold by Atomic) - fast, sure, but never quite sure you whether would make the turn or shoot off on a tangent. This held the turns like a champ.
The FramesetThis Litespeed C1R is a serious racing frameset. That massive BB cluster produces awesome power transfer.
|Wait for Sam's post on advertising on Craigslist - he would NOT approve of this picture.|
|Is that a bicycle - or a sabre?|
The seatpost slipped a little while riding. I added carbon paste and a touch more torque when I got back - I hope it holds next time.
The dimensions are about right for me. I love the feel of my Focus Izalco Max (2016) with 584 stack and 405 reach, 2 cm of spacers under the stem. I got as close as I could to that fit with the 3T (605 stack/405 reach, slammed stem). This bike lists at 616 and 402, so the bars are 1 cm up from my other bikes and I am using a 120 stem (rather than my normal 110).
The BuildThe Groupset is an unapologetic hack, turning a 2x10 Di2 into a 1x11 Di2 by adding in the new RD, tossing the FD, adding in the SRAM 1x crank. That's it, and it works like a charm. All the upside of S-Di2 shifting, which has been well detailed; all of the upside of 1x; and none of the fuss or expense of the newest parts.
|See, no errors photographing in the small ring with a 1x. Now, that chain should be on the outside of the cassette!|
The wheels and tires work. I am no big fan of tubular wheels only because I don't want to spend a day switching tires and constantly vaguely worrying about whether the glue is still good. That said, I have never switched tires on these wheels and they don't seem to need it. So maybe I should rethink my distaste.
I have these wheels because they cost $500 for the pair and I needed racing wheels. Sure enough, they turn fast. (Except that one time I tried to sell them I dropped the would-be customer on the test ride. He naturally blamed the wheels. There is a lesson here somewhere for best practices in selling.)
These 24mm Challenge tubular tires roll nicely and fit perfectly in the seat-tube cut. I have ridden Challenge tires in clinchers for years and really like them. These are not an exception.
I like the Tririg brakes! I had no idea what to expect, but these look good and they brake hard, with no problems coming uncentered. Despite carbon wheels I was able to skid, and I did skid a few times during amateur hour on Rock Creek Parkway (COVID quarantine has been hell on roads that used to be de facto reserved for the cyclists.)
Finishing kit is not special with the alloy 3T cockpit, the proprietary seatpost, and the WTB saddle. That said:
- I like 3T alloy stem and bars and have been riding them for some years now by choice, so happy enough with them here;
- The WTB Rocket V (now just the Rocket) is my go-to saddle on every bike, and it works here too. The white matches the frame. Just need to level it out a touch before the next ride.
|Need to find a better way to carry that tire charger.|
- The Profile Design bars with the carbon T3 extensions are the best thing in aftermarket aerobars. I have ridden them exclusively for >5 years and see no reason ever to change.
- That X-lab velcro-on aero bottle is an elegant add-on. Wish there were a way to have it without the velcro straps.
|Anybody who grew up on the old Profile Design cups/arm pads knows what a massive improvement these are.|
The Exposure Trace is more visible here, as is the Exposure mount for the larger Strada headlamp, a great product for all night riding. Opinions may differ about my tape job, but I kind of like it.
C'est Tout Les Jambes
The question now is whether I give the bike its due! A final assessment is that this bike can carry somebody to the 240-mile 12-hour, 4.5 hour century, or any number of long solo goals. It may be time to turn some attention to that kind of riding.