Just In: Litespeed’s Li2 Race Rocket Road Bike

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (4)

While the neon green Litespeed Li2 might share a similar paint scheme to the 9:Zero:7 Whiteout we have in, color is about the only similarity. From the widest tires in the bicycle world to some of the narrowest, Litespeed’s 2014 L series bikes are designed for speed, pure and simple. Originally a company known for their use of titanium, Litespeed has been continually revising their carbon models for years now in order to provide race ready bikes along side of their Ti couins.

After more than four years of development, the UCI approved L series is now the bike of choice for the Astellas Cycling continental team here in the US. The team has had no problem racking up a number of top 10s, podiums, and even victories on the L series including Brecht Dhaene’s recent win at the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic Criterium. Now, the Li2 won’t guarantee you the top step on the podium, but if you’re looking for a bike that’s fast and comfortable it looks like it could be a good place to start…

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (3)

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (5)

For a company that cut their teeth in titanium, the L series demonstrates how far they have come with the design of their carbon fiber frames. L series frames are built using Litespeed’s RPM or Reactive Pressure Molding which ensures that the bladder molded tubes are squeezed of all of the excess resin for lighter, more consistent frames.

Starting at the front of the bike, the Li2 incorporates Litespeed’s Quadrilateral System which is a fancy name for the tapered head tube and downtube junction. Starting at the headtube in a triangular shape, the downtube eventually morphs into a rectangle where it joins the oversized BB386 bottom bracket shell and asymmetric seat tube junction for improved power transfer.

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (8) Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (7)

Equipped with a 31.6mm Easton EA70 seatpost (not EC70 as listed), it’s clear that the Li2 is meant for racing, though initial impressions left us feeling that the frame is impressively smooth. The color matched Fizik Arione R7 is a nice touch, and highlights the build choice on the Li2 – a smart mix of components to offer race level performance while keeping the price as low as possible.

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (13)

At a list price of $6000 with sweet carbon wheels, certain tradeoffs have to be made like the choice for an all aluminum cockpit. Honestly though, while the Easton EA70 components may be lower spec than you’ll find on some $6k bikes, the component choice frees up funds for more noticeable improvements like the wheels. The other benefit to less expensive cockpit parts is that if you need to change them for your fit, as is often the case, you’re not left with pricey carbon parts you can’t use.

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (15)

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (16) Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (17)

More than making up for the aluminum Easton bits are the impressive Reynolds Assault SLG carbon clinchers that come standard. Wrapped in Vittoria Rubino Slick 700×23 rubber, the Assault wheels even have tasteful Litespeed graphics colo matched to the frame.

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (12) Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (6)

Litespeed chose to outfit the Li2 with TRP R870 brakes instead of the component group matching Shimano Ultegra. The dual pivot brakes are outfitted with the new Reynolds Cryo Blue Power Pads that we saw at Winter Press Camp, which are designed specifically for the Reynolds wheels.

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (9)

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (11) Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (10)

Built with Shimano’s 11 speed Ultegra Di2 6870 group, Litespeed subs in an FSA SL-K Light crank to take advantage of the BB386 bottom bracket. If you’re unfamiliar with the system, BB386 is essentially a BB30 bottom bracket that is 86mm wide. It allows frame manufacturers to build a bigger, stiffer bottom bracket junction, and it can still be easily adapted to run Shimano cranks or other 24mm spindles.

To go along with the FSA crankset, the Li2 is also equipped with an FSA 11 speed SL chain. So far the shifting isn’t noticeably different than the same drivetrain with a Shimano chain, but it will be interesting to see how it fares in the long term.

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (1)

It’s hard to make out in photos, but the bottom bracket junction on the Li2 is gargantuan and tapers into asymmetric boxy stays. The non-driveside stay is noticeably larger to help resist twisting when you’re sprinting for the line and holds the battery for the Di2 system instead of an internal seatpost battery.

Litespeed Li2 road bike carbon di2 (2)

Considering our test bike is a small, the Li2 isn’t the lightest at 16.45 lbs without pedals, but could still hit the UCI minimum weight marks with the right upgrades. If the Li2 isn’t light enough for you, there is always the L1R frame which uses 60T carbon instead of the 30 ton found in the Li2 and other L series bikes.

Stay tuned for the full review.

litespeed.com

Comments

L W - 05/22/14 - 8:15pm

it looks like Lightweight Urgestalt

pornitswhatlwouldratherbmaking - 05/22/14 - 9:58pm

why didnt they use a 27.2 seatpost? talk about a spine tingler. It looks pretty cool though. all it needs now is is a Monster sticker, lol

Velo - 05/22/14 - 10:02pm

> After more than four years of development

What is different about the frame than previous generations? It looks the same to me. I feel like the frame design is not as modern as most of the mainstream brands: The seatstays and chainstays are chunky and not sculpted at all.

On the plus side, the frame has excellence clearance for large tires.

Paul in VA - 05/22/14 - 10:18pm

Beautiful…

Pasabaporaquí - 05/23/14 - 3:48am

The good ol’ days when Litespeed made beautiful Ti frames long are gone…

Dave B - 05/23/14 - 9:30am

“why didnt they use a 27.2 seatpost? talk about a spine tingle.”
31.6 is pretty much the new standard and Litespeed has used it for years. My ’06 Litespeed Tuscany Ti uses it. At least they didn’t build the seatpost into the frame and give you almost no adjustability.

“The good ol’ days when Litespeed made beautiful Ti frames long are gone.”
Indeed. They used to be one of the premier makers of Ti frames and now they are just another seller of Asian carbon frames. Sad.

haromania - 05/23/14 - 10:00am

Do you guys complaining about the good old days realize that Litespeed would be out of biz if they didn’t adapt, and give people wanted?

As far as the comment, “just another seller of Asain carbon frames, sad”….you also realize that makes them normal, and if they wanted to stay in business they did what they had to do.

The good old days are gone and they aren’t coming back, but the good news is, today’s bikes are better than ever with much more bang for the buck than ever. Sounds like a win win to me.

Dan - 05/23/14 - 10:03am

It’s a shame to take those new Reynolds Assault SLG wheels – now 25mm wide – and throw a skinny 23mm tire on them. Kind of defeats the purpose of wide rim technology….

wheelman61 - 05/23/14 - 10:38am

Conversations regarding a carbon Litespeed products should fairly be held in comparison to their outstanding titanium models from the past. Anyone who has owned a legacy Litespeed model, like a Vortex for example, and loved it for its ride quality, durability and elegant design can’t help but wonder if “giving the people what they want” was in fact an improvement

1Pro - 05/23/14 - 10:43am

join me in remembering when litespeed originally posted this about 7 years ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk98yvozq1g

Pasabaporaquí - 05/23/14 - 10:46am

Moots, IF, Seven, Baum, Firefly, Eriksen, Lynskey, etc… disagree…

haromania - 05/23/14 - 11:23am

I find it difficult to believe all those bike brands are healthy and doing well, & I haven’t even heard of 2 of them. People want carbon, & it outsells ti by a country mile. Props to Litespeed for giving people what they wanted and staying in business. We can go back and forth all day about whether or not ti is better than carbon, but the people want carbon. It’s lighter, cheaper, and faster. There is no debate on that, and if you’re going to throw a few brands out there, be sure to include Serotta, who didn’t adapt, and went by the wayside. There is only so much room for ti bike maker’s, because by and large people want carbon. It isn’t an opinion. But for the segment of riders who still want ti, they have plenty of options, including Litespeed.

DaleC - 05/23/14 - 3:01pm

Pasabaporaquí – Litespeed still builds beautiful Ti frames.

Psi Squared - 05/23/14 - 3:57pm

Judging by the success of Moots, IF, Seven, Baum, Firefly, Eriksen, Lynskey, et al, they’re giving their customers what they want. For the record, Serotta did have carbon fiber offerings. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely, haromania, that you have any critical insight into what Serotta’s downfall was.

Carbon fiber bikes are lighter, in general, and can be made more cheaply, in general, but the idea that they’re “faster” is one without any real merit.

1Pro - 05/23/14 - 4:25pm

Psi, carbon “can” and generally is cheaper simply because it now is the vast majority of med to high end production bikes.

when you take it to the small custom 1-2 man shop, it is quite a bit more expensive to deal with than the other materials.

lukee - 05/23/14 - 4:49pm

@everyone that thinks litespeed only makes carbon

if you actually go to a litespeed dealer or on their own website you will see that they make a titianium line in addition to their carbon lines. Their T1 frame is light years (get it) ahead of comparable builders due to their access to expensive metal forming machines (they built the frame and suspension on the mars rover- gives them access to cooler tools than firefly or other small builders). I own a C1r and a titanium Cx frame, I will buy a T1 eventually but everything in due time. They did not bail on titanium they just entered the carbon market with solid designs. Plus they have worked with carbon for years. Remember the ultimate, tuscany and the saber. Those had carbon seatstays made by litespeed. They also designed and produced their own forks with ti weave under the Real designs logo.

I like this website but it is starting to seem like autoblog and some of those other car sites where everyone screams for a two seater track car for the masses, but buys a BMW x5. Here everyone whines about Litespeed making carbon but will go out tomorrow and bust a nut over a Taiwanese Tarmac or brag about how well their 20 year old road bike rides compared to everything else. I know the guys at litespeed, ti does sell, just not in the u.s. Japan is one of their largest markets. If you want Litespeed to abandon carbon, show your support by buying a new titanium frame not whining on a bike forum.

Andrew - 06/02/14 - 1:49pm

Ditto on the ‘big’ seat post. In a nutshell ‘big’ posts have less compliance, are less aero, and are often heavier. Cannondale using a 25.4mm post on some of their bikes would seem to rebut the statement that “31.6 is pretty much the new standard”. Big posts have business on mountain and cross bikes, on road bikes not so much.

Geeios - 06/08/14 - 6:09pm

Isn’t one large obnoxious logo enough? Why do you have to plaster the the name all over the bike?

Flip - 08/24/14 - 12:11pm

31.6 is A new standard, but it’s not THE new standard. A number of companies (not just Cannondale) have reverted back to smaller diameter posts after complaints about the ride quality of stiff, 31.6 carbon and aluminum posts.

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