Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Litespeed BMW Criterium - Atlanta

Wanted to send out some information regarding a really wonderful event happening in Atlanta, Georgia on August 18th 2012 at 2pm.

Photo by Ron Daniel

The Litespeed BMW team is hosting a twilight criterium in "Hotlanta" in August. It is shaping up to be one of the premier events in the Southeast. If you are in the area and want to participate or spectate, please feel free to come on down and catch some really great cycling.

The crit location is in the East Atlanta Village.481 Flat Shoals Ave, SE Atlanta, GA 30316

The race schedule is:
Women 3/4 -- 2pm -- 30 min -- $250 to 5 places -- field limit 75
Cat 5 -- 2:30pm -- 25 min -- Prizes to 5 places -- field limit 75
Juniors 10-14/15+ -- 3pm -- 25 min -- Prizes to 3 places -- field limit 75
Masters 35+/45+ -- 4:15pm -- 45 min -- $500 to 6 places -- field limit 75
Kid's Races -- 5:15pm
Women's Cat 1/2/3 -- 5:45pm -- 45 min -- $500 to 5 places -- field limit 75
Cat 3 -- 6:45pm -- 45 min -- $500 to 8 places -- field limit 75
PRO 1/2 -- 8pm -- 60 min -- $1000 to 10 places -- field limit 75

INFO/Registration: litespeed-BMWcycling.com 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Outside Magazine Reviews the Litespeed L3

The Six-Month Test: Litespeed L3 Ultegra

The titanium masters prove they can do carbon just as well as they do metal.
The Litespeed L3 Ultegra
American bike manufacturer Litespeed built its reputation on high-end titanium. The company still sells plenty of metal—over half its bikes are titanium—but in recent years it has bowed to market pressures and launched into carbon too.
We were at first troubled by that development, fearing that the foray into carbon fiber would dilute the company's message and efforts. The release of the budget-minded M1 in 2011, which we found lackluster, seemed to underscore the point. Based on that experience we nearly didn't even try the 2012 Litespeed L3, and what a mistake that would have been as this new all-arounder turned out to be a fast, no-nonsense road bike that packs a lot of value.
Unlike most manufacturers who have had standard-shaped road bikes for years and then moved into aero, Litespeed, who just jumped into carbon, began the venture with the aero C Series before backing into the traditional shapes of the L Series this year. While I can't deny the benefits of aero road bikes, I still prefer the look and feel of a more traditional bike. It's a personal choice, but that set the L3 and me off on the right pedal from the start. Another sell: The L3 comes from the same molds as the pricier L1—the difference is a slightly lower grade of carbon. That means you get high-end shapes with just a little extra weight.
And there's plenty of shaping to tune this ride. Starting with an oversize tapered headtube up front, both the top and down tubes begin with a boxy shape that fades to flat in the top tube and bulky and rounder on the down tube. The former adds vertical compliance, with testers commenting just how supple the L3 rode, and the latter, when combined with the massive bottom bracket area, made for zero flex even when sprinting. The bottom bracket was indeed unflinchingly stiff, though it did inspire some grumbling. (More on that in a minute.) The chain stays and seat stays are highly assymetric, with shaping and a fair bit of carbon trimmed from the drive side to avoid contact should you drop a chain, and extra carbon in the chain stays to counteract the differing stress loads generated from side to side. The very fine seat stays recall Cervélo's designs, and in fact the overall frame shaping of the L3, as well as its smooth and direct ride, compares favorably against the Candian company's popular R3.
About that bottom bracket: Working with BH, Wilier, and FSA, Litespeed has helped to develop the new bottom bracket standard employed here, dubbed BB386. They claim the wider size and bigger bearings make it even stiffer than standard BB30. Don't get me wrong, this bottom bracket was hyper stiff and power transmission was great. Having said that, several testers (myself included) really wish that bike manufacturers would standardize rather than constantly bring out new designs with small changes that simply complicate consumers' lives. That's less a complaint with Litespeed and BB386 than it is with the state of the industry in general.
The rear end of the Litespeed L3The rear triangle has extremely thin seat stays and shaped, assymetric chain stays.
That little diatribe aside, this frame is incredibly well designed and testers felt it on the road. Everyone commented how balanced and stable the L3 felt, especially on fast descents. We could push hard into the corners or take our hands off the bars at high speed, and we never felt the slightest shimmy or nervousness. We did note no small amount of cable slap, especially the rear brake cable on the top tube, which didn't affect performance but was annoyingly noisy on the rough roads around Santa Fe. We suspect it's something that could be remedied with some careful re-cabling and cable stops. And it didn't change just how snappy the frame felt, with several testers noting the L3 struck a fine balance between stiffness and light weight.
The L3 Ultegra is Litespeed's most affordable model of the L3, and it's befitting that such a nice frame gets no lower end components than Shimano's second-tier. There's not a lot to say about these parts: The lever ergonomics feel great in the hand, the shifting is dead accurate, and braking is, if not immensely powerful, very consistent and predictable. One thing that didn't sit well with everyone was the FSA Energy crank, employed presumably because of the proprietary bottom bracket. Several testers felt it was not super stiff and lamented the exclusion of the Hollow-Tech Ultegra crank to complete the groupo.
The other overriding complaint with the bike was the Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels. Clearly these were spec'd to meet the L3's lower pricepoint. And though they rolled well enough and were relatively stiff, the wheels definitely felt portly, especially on steep climbs. Of course, lighter wheels mean extra money, so perhaps these Racing 5s make most sense: they allow more people to ride a high quality bike like the L3, and the riders who want nicer hoops can simply upgrade after the fact.
One other small complaint were the aluminum bars. It's a personal preference and many racers prefer the metal, but we generally like the damping comfort of carbon fiber in the cockpit, especially on an already cushy bike like this one. That's an easy fix, and it was outweighed by the Fi'zik Arione saddle, a high quality and neutral seat that nearly everyone likes.
We greeted the L3 with huge skepticism based on our experience last year, and we walked away very pleasantly surprised. This is a bike that can make a wide variety of riders happy, from recreational roadies looking to upgrade to enthusiasts who put on the miles and want something both fast and comfy for grand fondos and the like. It even impressed the racers in our midst, though both said they'd likely switch to lighter wheels if they were to buy it. And weight was one thing that really surprised us about the L3: Though our medium tipped the scales at a fine-but-hardly-feathery 17.3 pounds, the bike felt more sprightly than that weight suggests.
At $3,500, the L3 is hardly an inexpensive bike. But it's comparable to similarly spec'd bikes of other brands, and it outperforms many of them. Which is to say, should you opt for this understated ride, you're unlikely to be disappointed.
—Aaron Gulley

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TIMEX Athlete Erin Kummer Reviews the Cohutta

2012 Litespeed Cohutta Review 7/6/2012

From the first day I laid eyes on Litespeed's new 29er mountain bike at the Interbike show in 2011, I couldn't wait to get on it and see what a titanium bike is all about. Below is a quick recap of how I've set up my 2012 race machine and my impressions of how it performs.

Thanks to a great relationship with Shimano and PRO, I was able to set it up with some of the best components on the market. After spending quite a bit of time on my dirt bike, I've grown accustom to running a wide handlebar on my bicycles. On this bike I've chosen to run a 700mm flat bar with 10 degrees of backsweep. There are definitely times that I wish I had hand guards to protect my hands and fingers from getting smashed in the tight trees but the added leverage and control far outweigh the reduced clearance. Shimano's new ISpec kit make for a clean and lightweight handlebar setup by integrating the shifter and amazing brakes onto one clamp. With a 90mm/-10 degree stem and a set of ESI Chunky Grips, I couldn't be happier with how comfortable the cockpit is.

The Cohutta is designed for a 31.6 diameter seatpost but I wanted to run a 27.2 post for the added shock and vibration damping. In order to do this, I had to insert a small aluminum sleeve in the seat tube. The 27.2 post helps soften the impact of the hardtail frame and is just the right amount of flex for a rider of my size.

I've been experimenting with many saddles this season and ended up right where I began. I have always run the Specialized Phenom on all of mountain bikes because of its light weight, stiff feel and narrow shape which makes getting behind the saddle during the descents much easier. Since I have always ridden mountain bikes with rear suspension the hard seat never bothered me. However, losing the squish in the rear makes a huge difference when trying to sit and pedal through rough terrain. I gave the Fizik Vesta a try as it was much wider and softer but it ended up being way too wide for technical descents that I need to scoot back for. I'm still looking for that perfect narrow but soft seat with female geometry. Until then, I'm back on the Phenom and toughing it out :)

In my opinion, wheel and tire selection is the most important part of a bike set up. Now that I am on the 29 inch bike, having a lightweight wheel setup can be a very large advantage. This year, I've decided to run the Stans ZTR Race Gold wheels with Maxxis 29er Ikon tires - this may be lightest and fastest rolling setup on the market. Many heavier riders will not enjoy the 1350g wheels because they can be a bit flexy, but luckily my smaller stature allows me to get away with them.

For the second year in a row, I am running the Fox 32 100mm fork. It is a great feeling fork for racing that is stiff and sturdy and also incorporates the innovative tapered steerer design. I am definitely looking forward to dropping a 1/2lb and getting a remote lockout for the updated model in 2013!

Unlike most of my previous race bikes, I'm running a 2x10 drivetrain. I have always run a triple because of how steep the trails are here in Colorado but I'm actually loving the taller gearing on the Litespeed. I was apprehensive about using it this year because of my bad experience when I wasn't as fit but now that I'm stronger, I really love it. I would love a 24 tooth inner chainring but I'll live with the 26 and 12x36 cassette. 

My friends at The Service Course - a Boulder bicycle service shop - helped me finish up the build on the Cohutta and set it up with some professional touches. The used fully sealed Nokon shift cables for added wear protection, crisp shifting and reduction in weight.

After being stuck on the trail with a broken chain earlier in the year, they also added a quick link chain link on my brake cable for speedy race ready fixes.

I put the 'excuse me' bell on :)

I'm extremely happy with how the bike came together and especially with how it performs.  The titanium frame has an unbelievably wonderful feel and Litespeed's innovative design and geometry brought in all the hot new features. From adding a PressFit 30 bottom bracket to designing the headtube opening for a tapered steerer tube fork, it's perfect marriage of modern technology and classic craftmanship.  In an era of primarily carbon bikes, it's fun and refreshing to ride a top performing, American made, beautiful titanium bike!

Thanks Erin!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Litespeed Athlete and Employee Chris Brown

Brown Does It Again!

This past Sunday the LITESPEED-BMW team won the PRO/1 category Tennessee State Criterium Championship!  This year’s race was in Cookeville,TN, on one of the team’s favorite courses, a very fast and technical 1k course.
Chris Brown and recent team addition Anders Swanson were our men for the state crit championship race.  Want to give a big welcome to the team to Anders.  For those of you that do not know Anders he lives in Chattanooga TN and recently finished 10th in the country in the Elite Time Trial National Championships and is the defending category 2 Tennessee state road race champion!  So he knows how to go VERY fast and suffer.  We are excited to have him on the LITESPEED-BMW team, you will be hearing more about him in upcoming reports.

Chris and Anders ready to rock!

Chris & Anders knew the race would be aggressive and fast as this was the state championships, plus it was hot, very hot (100+ degrees) so they knew this would dramatically increase the attrition rate in the race.  The Friends of Great Smokies (FGS Cycling), Sonic, Texas Roadhouse, Swiftwick, Krsytal, Marx and Bendsdorf and other teams each fielded several riders in the race.  From the gun attacks came but each time riders from the different team’s would work to bring back the attack as the moves didn’t have the right composition of riders from the teams to stay away.  Chris attacked several times in the race only to be chased down by riders on the different teams.  With about fifteen minutes to go in the hour long race, Jeff Mcgrane from FGS Cycling made a great attack and got away solo.  Chris & Anders tried not to worry too much as teams were setting tempo to keep Jeff at a reasonable gap and Anders got on the front and helped set tempo with the other teams with the plan of spring boarding Chris near the end.  Well, with about ten minutes to go, after Anders had put in a solid effort on the front, Chris jumped in a move with four other riders and they were gone!  Now the question was, would the break be able to catch Jeff who was still out solo in front.  The answer was yes and no.  On the last lap Jeff was just in front of the break and heading down the back stretch and into the last half of the course Chris launched a fierce attack into a corner and up a hill on the backside of the course.  Chris lit up the last couple of corners, passed Jeff and came across the line with the win and room to spare!  We later found out that Chris was pushing the last couple of corners so hard and fast that he was skipping the rear tire on his Zipp 404 wheel!  That is pushing it!

Heck of an exciting finish to the state championship race, way to leave it to the last minute Chris!  Jeff did hold on for 2nd as the rest of the break did not catch him.  Anders punched it out of what was left of the broken down group and finished 8th.  So a great day for the LITESPEED-BMW team and a big thank you to Cytomax and Muscle Milk for keeping us hydrated/recovered all weekend in the extreme temperatures.  Next up, the Georgia State Championship road race!

Chris Brown - 2012 TN State Crit Champ!