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Thinking about a Litespeed...

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Greetings and salutations,

I've got my eye on a Litespeed unicoi mntn. bike. It's a softail.

Don't know jack about mntn. bikes but I've been riding a road bike for years.

So I'm figuring lighter the better, right? And, I also figure hard to go wrong with Litespeed. They're a great company - I know if I was to get a new road bike, I'd get a Litespeed.

My riding will consist of 1 to 3 hour trips, on rolling terrain. Not into racing, but I'm no slow poke either. I'll do much more uphill riding than anything.

So I'd love to hear what y'all have to say about Litespeed. Then, which bike do you like in that class, if not a Litespeed.

post #2 of 37

Before plunking cash on a Litespeed, think about a few things.

1) Are you dead set on Ti as a frame material? If so, you have the wealth to afford a good custom Ti from Seven or Merlin or Independent Fabrications. You also have the great opportunity to help an entrepreneur like yourself -- Matt Chester -- who builds custom Ti frames at a VERY reasonable price. Matt lives and breathes MTBs. Literally. He lives in his shop. Go here to check out his frames: Matt Chester Utilitiman

2) Are you decided on a soft-tail? If so, the best one going is an Ibis Ripley. Unfortunately, Ibis recently dissolved. But John Castellano, the guy who was operating the company intends to continue making the bikes under a new name. Castellano bought Ibis from its founder, Scott Nicol, who sold it when it was in financial distress. Castellano has the rights to the designs, etc., so he can make the Ibis designs under a new name. Info on the Ripley: Ibis Ripley. Also note that Ibis made a Ti version, the Silk Ti. You can get a Silk Ti instead of a Litespeed if Ti Softtail is what you want. I've never known anyone who rode an Ibis and didn't like it.

3) don't rush into this. you need to get a good bike that makes you happy.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 11, 2002 09:43 AM: Message edited 1 time, by gonzostrike ]</font>
post #3 of 37

I own a litespeed softtail. The Tsali which is the Unicoi but with a larger diameter 6.4 downtube. I made this upgrade or two reasons. 1: stiffer front end. My riding weight when I am in shape is about 170 these days. I am not a light rider. 2: I had a connection to a shop. It made the frame more affordable.

And at the time litespeed was giving away a shock with the purchase of a frame so it worked out great.

The softtail works great. I smoothes out terrain and I don't notice it bobbing...it feels like hardtail but is simply smoother.
I love my bike. But, it did crack where the bottom bracket shell and the chainstay meet...right where the frame is designed to flex. Litespeed fixed it at no cost to me.

My roomate rides a Merlin Echo. He feels the same way about his bike as I do about mine. As Gonzo says there are some options. Shop around.

You can score a GT I-Drive online for around $850. Not sure where. These are aluminum which creates a harsher ride and has less "shelf-life" than steel or ti but by shocking both the front and rear these factors are more or less removed from the equation. Alison Dunlop won the world's riding one of those frames. They are cheap cuz GT folded.

A good shop to check out for their wide range of bikes in stock as well as their knowledgeable and nice sale people is Ron Keifel's Wheatridge Cyclery.

A bike from Matt Chester would be sweet. Or head to Steamboat and have the guys at Moots build you one...the softtail was more or less invented by Mr. Moots some time ago.

Or Ibis, or Merlin, or...

good luck!
post #4 of 37
What, no one rides steel anymore? Am I the only hold out of the great steel hard tail. For the money a Jamis Dakar or Dakota is a fantastic bike. Indestructable I have multiple dents in mine. I know the point is to stay on but if your not living on the edge your taking up too much space.
post #5 of 37
The Litespeed unicoi looks good ....

Some info on Titanium v other materials at the bottom of this page ..... http://www.airborne.net/eready/janet...e/titanium.asp

Airborne get great reviews ... http://www.airborne.net/eready/janette/store/pwbike.asp


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 11, 2002 03:36 PM: Message edited 2 times, by DangerousBrian ]</font>
post #6 of 37
Zorro, I own an Airborne Lucky Strike, it's a fantastic bike and the best Ti bargain available.

C-Dubs, I have a custom Curtlo CrMo singlespeed frame on its way to me right now. I also have a Ti hardtail (see above) and an Alu full-suspension (Ellsworth Isis SL) and road bike (Cannondale CAAD3)

different materials for different purposes
post #7 of 37
Gonzo, do you remember the American frames. It was a small shop in CO. I think made some bomber bikes, and I heard they went out of business but the guys would still build a bike for you if you called? Reason being they built a frame for a buddy a couple years ago and I'm looking for a new custom frame for this season.
post #8 of 37
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by gonzostrike:
..... I own an Airborne Lucky Strike .... I have a custom Curtlo CrMo singlespeed frame on its way to me right now. I also have a Ti hardtail (see above) and an Alu full-suspension (Ellsworth Isis SL) and road bike (Cannondale CAAD3)


You must be

1. A lawyer or
2. Single or
3. A trustafarion or
4. Divorced be' now or
5. A Lottery winner

if not please PM me with the secret to getting away with owning so many good bikes.

When I replace my FS bike I am planning to transfer all the parts onto a lucky strike frame..



PS Gonz, If you could only have one Mountain bike would it be the lucky strike the Isis or something else (and why)?

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 12, 2002 06:46 AM: Message edited 1 time, by DangerousBrian ]</font>
post #9 of 37
ummm... actually I have so many nice bikes because I love mtn biking. Despite my continual presence here, mtn biking is my first passion. I was doing it the whole time I was on hiatus from skiing, so I have a deeper background there.

If I had to choose one mtb? Whoa. Well, that would depend on where I live, I think. For here in Western MT, it would be the Isis SL.

For back East where I grew up, it would probably be a compliant Ti or quality CrMo like either the Airborne or a custom Curtlo frame like my SS frame but with gears, set up for disc brakes.

Or, maybe it would be the Ventana Pantera. A bit more XC than the Isis, same designer, same beefy swingarm, same solid pivots, a bit lighter.

C-dubs, don't know about American. There are a large number of small but quality frame builders. 3-D cycles in Durango is one, Curtlo is another, and the other hightly regarded ones I can think of right now are Sycip, Jericho, Steelman, Strong, Teesdale, etc., etc., etc.
post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 
Way to go, guys.

Yeah, gonz, I'm going to take my time. I once bought the wrong road bike - don't want to do that again.

I'll do some more fact finding and then post back.

Quick questions.

1) PinHed thinks I should go full-suspension. You guys agree? I'm not looking to race or anything, just want a cherry ride for single track and climbing.

2) What should I expect to pay, fully built, for a bike of the quality we're talking about? $2 to $3k?

3) Is campy the same to mntn. bikes as it is to road bikes or is Shimano the bomb?

Thanks man, you guys are the best!

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 12, 2002 06:22 PM: Message edited 1 time, by SCSA ]</font>
post #11 of 37
Chiming in here...

I suggested the Ellsworth Truth to SCSA in part because they have the FS linkage nailed; so does the Santa Cruz SL. But I think the Santa Cruz SL is too delicate for SCSA. He's a big guy; 200 lbs. and 6'2". The Truth would be a better fit for his weight. I would also suggest looking at Yeti's offerings this season.

Question: Didn't Santa Cruz come out with a crazy FS rear linkage that gives 10" of travel but rides like a XC bike?

I came from a Fat Chance Yo eddy to a Santa Cruz SL. The SC is a very good climber and a great ride for XC terrain and a long day in the saddle. I wouldn't go back to a hard tail even if I was racing.

Just my opinion after riding mtn bikes since 86.
post #12 of 37
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by PinHed:
Question: Didn't Santa Cruz come out with a crazy FS rear linkage that gives 10" of travel but rides like a XC bike?


Agree with you on the Ellsworth for heavier people. The Santa cruz Heckler might also be a good choice as it's more sturdy.

SCSA there are some great deals on ebay, the K2 razorback is full sus but climbs like a goat. (careful though rear shock can leak air and paint chips easy.)
http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?MfcISAPICommand=Ge tResult&ht=1&SortProperty=MetaEndSort&query=k2+raz orback

http://www.mbaction.com/detail.asp?id=412 http://www.mbaction.com/detail.asp?id=199

more here ....


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 13, 2002 09:15 AM: Message edited 1 time, by DangerousBrian ]</font>
post #13 of 37
SCSA, since you plan to take your time, why not find a decent used bike for the time being? Play with it, abuse it, use it as your testing grounds. You may come to appreciate certain features or characteristics that you can then look for in your new steed. I bet that you will be much more satisfied with your final selection if you gain some experience now.

I went this route years ago when I returned to cycling and decided to get a high end road bike. I found a used Torelli (God, that bike was a dog, too!) that I rode for a few months. Afterwards. I had a pretty good idea of not just what frame I wanted, but how to best equip the bike.

As far as components go, Shimano had the edge over Campy when I owned a mtb and I get the impression that this is still the case. However, it is now possible to go entirely with custom components throughout (e.g., cranks, bottom bracket, hubs, headset, brakes...).

Good luck and have fun!
post #14 of 37
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SCSA:
PinHed thinks I should go full-suspension. You guys agree? I'm not looking to race or anything, just want a cherry ride for single track and climbing.

If you are only going to have one mountain bike and you have $2000-3000 get a full suspension (not a soft-tail). Some people think soft-tails are the best of both worlds, some think they are master of none. Very few people go back from a good full sus to a hard-tail.

These are what I like at the moment .....

Klein Adept Race or Pro (great handling sexy custom paint jobs)

Santa Cruz Superlight (very light FS) http://www.mbaction.com/detail.asp?id=175 http://www.santacruzmtb.com/

Ellsworth Truth or Isis (bit heavier but very robust)

Rotwild RCC-09 http://www.bikediscount.de/html/rcc09.html

Bikes have a different geometry, some have a long/short cockpit (distance between handle bars and seat is long/short). It's difficult to demo MTB's other than a quick cycle round the car park but do try a few to see what geometry suits you.

post #15 of 37
BadRat sed... <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>SCSA, since you plan to take your time, why not find a decent used bike for the time being <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Now that's a damn good suggestion. And Demo a few rides to boot. There's so much out there.
post #16 of 37
Thread Starter 
Demoing bikes?

Sure, but I just didn't think you could really take a bike out for a day?

Again, I'm a roadie, so it's all new to me.

I don't think the Spoke (Denver Spoke) does it, but I'm sure going to ask.

Anyone know of shops in Boulder where you can take out a demo for the day? Summit County? Eagle County?

post #17 of 37
Great Adventure Sports in Breckenridge has a really good fleet of demo bikes; they're not crappy bikes. Although, more shops than not don't demo bikes. The Edge in Fruita also has a really good fleet of bikes as do most shops in Moab. Now's a really good time to go to either place and try a couple of rides. In fact, there's a place in Moab (I can't remember the name) on Center Street that rents only highest of high end bikes. They have the complete line of Ellsworth bikes and other high end brands too. They cater to a lot of foreigners who come to Moab to ride but don't want to hassle bringing their bike with them.

It's just a suggestion. With enough consideration and fore thought you will do just fine picking out a bike to buy without going through a demo process.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 14, 2002 08:37 AM: Message edited 1 time, by PinHed ]</font>
post #18 of 37
Lots of options to consider. I prefer a softtail and am currently riding a Trek STOP 200. If you are interested in exploring other options look at MOOTS, http://www.moots.com/home.shtml
or talk to Todd Shusterman at DaVinci Tandems. Todd is a dedicated mountain biker and will explore any option you are interested in. Just to let you know, Kay and I bought a DaVinci Tandem last year and really like it. I'm probably going to have him build me a coupled TI road bike this hear. You may also be interested in looking at Intense Tracer Bikes too.


Edited for spelling.

Check out http://www.soresaddle.com

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 14, 2002 09:08 PM: Message edited 2 times, by bong ]</font>
post #19 of 37
Thread Starter 
Just got off the phone with Moots.

Man alive, that's one cool company. They only make like 500 or so frames a year and I really like that.

But the bad news is that they only make 500 frames a year and they're not in it for a hobby. $3100 dead presidents for a "Smoothie", their newest bike. Fully built with XTR, about $5500.


We'll see. I love the company. And since I'm a home boy, them being right here in good 'ole CO., I like that.

I'll have to hide the bill from my wife!

She just got a brand new rig, so maybe it won't be as bad as I think. "But Sweetie, my bike only cost $5500..."

And, I will say that even at 42, given the choice of a nice bike or a nice watch, I'll take the bike anyday. So I still have the fire.

Now I gotta get off this damn forum and go out and make some dough ray me!


<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 16, 2002 12:43 AM: Message edited 1 time, by SCSA ]</font>
post #20 of 37
I recall reading some years ago a mag. article about the founder of Moots Cycles. In that story he confessed that the Alligator (crocodile?) logo came from his favorite childhood toy, a rubber alligator he had named Mr. Moots.

That guy is a DUDE!

Hey, does anyone know if Brew bikes is still around? They're a North Carolina company that was well regarded for their Mtbs. I talked to them once about a road frame and they seemed pretty cool.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 15, 2002 07:39 PM: Message edited 1 time, by BadRat ]</font>
post #21 of 37
heh heh heh

well, SCSA, if you think about a Full Suspension rig, start looking at these bikes:

Ellsworth Truth (www.ellsworthbikes.com)
Ellsworth Isis
Ventana El Saltamontes (www.ventanausa.com)
Ventana El Fuego
Ventana Pantera
Turner XCE
Titus Racer X (www.titusti.com)
Titus Switchblade
Hammerhead 100X (www.hammerheadbikes.com)

if it were my choice and money was no object, I would probably go with the Hammerhead 100RX, which essentially is Charles Coker's joint project with Titus to build a Titus Racer X with geometry adjusted for a 100mm suspension fork instead of an 80mm suspension fork.
post #22 of 37
Add an Intense Tracer to Gonz's list. Awesome trail bike; I can't think of a better one for a heavier rider in Colorado.

Ellsworth Truth is also a sweet ride, and they solved their bushing/sloppy rear-end problem with sealed bearings last year.

At 200#+, I think you are way too heavy for a soft-tail. Get a fun full-suspension and start whipping ass. I think the technique (and uphill speed) of all but the best riders is improved by a switch to full.

[ April 22, 2002, 10:54 AM: Message edited by: LH ]
post #23 of 37
Can I cast my vote for the Ellsworth Truth?!? I have one and LOVE it. Great bike. Durable, light, effecient, and plush. I beat the crap out of my bikes and the Truth has held up well.

Check out www.wrenchscience.com for a good online fitting program., then check out www.speedgoat.com or www.beyondbikes.com for prices.
post #24 of 37
NO one has asked what kind of riding he's doing... the kind of FS you want for XC, freed ride and down hill are very different!!


jsut ordered a Gary Fisher Sugar 4 for my self, woo-hoo
post #25 of 37
Irulan, you didn't read his origin post very carefully. He described a type of riding that is more XC than anything else -- definitely not freeriding, and nowhere remotely close to DH.

Anyone who asks "what bike" definitely isn't into freeriding or DH.

Sounds like you're making a common error, the one that indicates a belief that the more burly the equipment, the more advanced the rider. I ride DH runs on my XC hardtail; I ride freeride trails on my singlespeed; and have ridden fast-paced XC rides on my freeride FS rig. It's the rider, not the bike. And SCSA's self-description indicates XC, XC, XC.
post #26 of 37
ok, you are right, I wasn't paying attention.


post #27 of 37
post #28 of 37
Uh, hey guys

SCSA says he does'nt know much about MTB's so you are all giving him advice about what brand to buy. That's OK but there are enough gearheads out there to know that we should be dispensing info about shocks, disc vs. canti brakes, wheels tires, pedals, bars and of course drivetrain and shifting.

I'm no expert on shocks or other MTB componenets but I do know that you can put $2500 of titanium and high tech wheels on a $100 45 lb. Huffy frame and you have a $2600 bike that sucks. Or you can buy a $2000 frame and put low end parts and crappy wheels on it and have a $2600 bike that sucks.

So we have been giving out good info about frames - so he does'nt end up with scenario #1, but he could be on his way to scenario #2. Given that he is going to drop a few grand I'd like to steer the conversation to components and options. My own personal preference has always been to get a good lightweight frame - with good fitting geometry and a material I prefer - that does'nt break the bank and then load up with good quality components.

How about dispensing advice to SCSA and myself about :


1. disc brakes yes or no? (no/?? have both Avid and shimano V euqally happy with both)
2. pedal systems (Time ATAC/I prefer over SPD)
3. Wheels - tubeless anyone? (mavic crossride/always liked mavic)
4. Tires (michelin/really like michelin)
5. Shifting system (SRAM/prefer over Shimano)
6. Cranks/Chaninrings (Race Face/prefer high end shimano).
7. BB (shimano XT or +/ prefer over aftermarket)
8. Front shock (SID/??)
9. Stem (rithchey/have had cheaper stems and yes there is a difference)
post #29 of 37
Frog by speedplay are Best pedals
Front end: Girvin/Noleen/ K2 hands down!

No other opinions are needed, this is the truth!


post #30 of 37
Originally posted by fudman:
How about dispensing advice to SCSA and myself about :

1. disc brakes yes or no? (no/?? have both Avid and shimano V euqally happy with both)
2. pedal systems (Time ATAC/I prefer over SPD)
3. Wheels - tubeless anyone? (mavic crossride/always liked mavic)
4. Tires (michelin/really like michelin)
5. Shifting system (SRAM/prefer over Shimano)
6. Cranks/Chaninrings (Race Face/prefer high end shimano).
7. BB (shimano XT or +/ prefer over aftermarket)
8. Front shock (SID/??)
9. Stem (rithchey/have had cheaper stems and yes there is a difference)
At the risk of alienating those that may disagree with my rather strong opinions, here are my thoughts.

1. The need for disc brakes depends entirely on the type of riding you will do. If you live in a dry climate, discs are pretty well unnecessary for XC riding. If you have an urepentant urge to get discs, then get them -- but understand, you are adding unnecessary mechanical complexity. Of my 3 MTBs, only one has disc brakes - my freeride full suspension bike. On the other two, I run Avid V brakes. IMHO, Shimano V's are overrated and overpriced. I think Avid makes the best calipers and levers, bar none.

2. Time ATAC pedals and Crank Bros Eggbeater pedals are the best, bar none. Nothing else matches their reliability, mechanical simplicity, and invulnerability to foul conditions. I have tried the other major types (Shimano/Ritchey, Look and Onza) and none holds a candle. Speedplay and BeBop are peculiar in that they have unfettered rotation, which is odd to me and many others. Besides, they are more complicated mechanically than ATACs or Eggbeaters.

3. Tubeless wheels are a laughingstock, designed for leg-shaving XC racer geeks. I wouldn't run them if you paid me. As to wheels, the best buys are on lower-priced custom wheels, which will suit your riding and will last longer than others. The two best sources are Mike Garcia at www.oddsandendos.com and Colorado Cyclist. I've used wheels from Colo Cyc on several bikes, and they last a VERY long time. Mike Garcia's wheels are a very close second, and are priced better than Colo Cyclist. Avoid the pre-made models by Mavic, Sun/Ringle, Shimano, etc., and do NOT buy machine-built wheels. Hand-built wheels are exponentially more durable.

4. Tires are the most personal part of the bike that actually touches the trail. Grips and saddles are the most personal parts that touch your body. I have had consistently good luck with WTB tires, Panaracer tires, Continental tires, Hutchinson tires, and Bontrager tires. IMHO, the best all-around XC tire made today is the Panaracer Fire XC Pro in the 127 tpi model made in Japan. If you ride excluslively on hardpack trails, the Hutchinson Python Airlight is better than the Panaracers, but it's not trustworthy in loose gravel or very sloppy descents. On my MTBs I run the following:

Singlspeed: Continental Vertical ProTection 2.3 front, Hutchinson Python Airlight rear

Hardtail: Panaracer Fire XC Pro 127tpi, 2.1 size, both front & rear.

FS: (freeride wheelset) WTB MotoRaptor 2.4 front, WTB MutanoRaptor 2.4 rear... about to switch to WTB Weirwolf 2.5 front.

FS: (epic ride wheelset) Continental Vertical ProTection 2.3 front, Hutchinson Python Airlight rear.

5. Drivetrain - I prefer SRAM twist shifters, but that is purely personal. There are die-hard Shimano Rapidfire folks out there, too. As to derailleurs, the best front der for the $$ is the Shimano XT, and my preference for rear der is SRAM 9.0 with the Shimano XT a close second.

6. Crankset - this is debatable. I like Truvativ products for their value, but Shimano's Hollowtech XT and LX are great values too. I run a 2001 Truvativ Stylo Team ISIS on my FS rig, a 1999 Shimano Hollowtech XT square-taper on my hardtail, and a 2001 FSA Afterburner square-taper on my singlespeed. RaceFace are high quality but also high-priced, except for their Prodigy line, which are high quality but relatively heavy.

7. Bottom Bracket - for square-taper crank holes, the Shimano UN-72 remains the undisputed value/durability/quality champion. For ISIS-spec splined crank holes, I think it's a toss-up among any of Truvativ, FSA or RaceFace. If cost is no object, Chris King or Phil Wood is the way to go, but remember, you must have compatibility between the crank hole and the BB spindle. You cannot run an ISIS splined part with a square-taper part or vice-versa. Chris King's ISIS BB hasn't yet been released, and I think Phil Wood's BBs are square taper too.

8. Suspension Forks - Marzocchi are far and away the most dependable and plushest, even if a wee bit heavier than others. I run Marzocchi forks exclusively. I see no reason to save a few grams with a RockJunx SID, which is a flexy noodle that doesn't steer accurately and offers only a slightly softer ride than a rigid fork. The Manitou SX-R from 2001 and 2000 is a phenomenal value, almost as plush as a Marzocchi, as light as a RockJunx, and less flexy than a SID or Judy. Fox forks are very well made but are in their first year of production. I would recommend using one if you buy it from Larry Mettler at www.mtnhighcyclery.com, because Larry stands behind his products and his prices on forks are unbeatable. The Fox is the only fork I would use other than Marzocchi.

9. Stems - one of the great myths in the MTB world is the supposed superiority of Thomson stems and seatposts. BAH! There are much better products and much better values. I like the Titec stems and posts, especially the Knucklehead DH models that are available for a very low $20-25 directly from Titec at www.titec.com in their "Specials" section. Other companies make nice stems - Thomson, RaceFace, Easton come to mind - but you will pay through the nose for them, and they aren't any better-performing than the Titec Knucklehead DH model.

[ May 03, 2002, 11:52 AM: Message edited by: gonzostrike ]
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