February 13, 2012
We’re steadily working through our massive pile of shots we took at The Bike Place Show. In part one we covered the new bits from Santa Cruz and Isaacs but we’re moving on to a lesser-known brand; well, lesser known in Britain that is. If you’ve ever ridden in any of the German bike parks or out in certain parts of the Alps, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see a horde of Litevilles under those in the know – usually men in body armour with triple chainsets and infeasibly long travel forks.
As you’d expect from the country that prides itself on everything techno, from ‘Vorsprung Durch’ to unnervingly happy hardcore, it’s got a list of cunning features and design touches long enough to stir the ardour of any bike geek. Evolution Imports are now bringing them to the UK, adding to their hareem of high-end products such as Cielo, Chris King and so on…
The 165mm travel Liteville 601 is part of a range of four bikes currently produced and shares a broadly similar frame design to it’s bigger brother, the 200mm travel 901 but thanks to different tubing and a tapered headtube rather than full 1.5″ it’s around 300g lighter. As you’d expect, all the Liteville full suspension bikes use a proper four-bar suspension design – it’s actually one of the few European four-bar frames given the seal of approval for sale in the USA by FSR patent holders Specialized.
Liteville take sizing pretty seriously as well, with six frame sizes available and three different chainstay lengths to match, the shortest 415mm size being designed for a 24″ rear wheel. On the subject of chainstays, they’re constructed from different thickness and shape tubing from drive side to non, meaning a minimum of material is used to cope with the different stresses they are under. It’s all small detail, but in totality it means they get an all-aluminium frame and Fox DHX 5.0 with up to 190mm of travel weighing a very respectable 6.6lbs.
Purposeful – note the through cable routing through the top of the BB shell and directly under the chainstay to keep it as smooth as possible.
One fat, one thin. Note the post mount rear brake and Syntace 142x12mm back end.
Liteville is actually run by a couple of guys originally from Syntace, component manufacturer and people behind the 12×142 rear axle standard, so there are a lot of neat little integrated gadgets. Our favourite is the direct mount chain guide which bolts to the chainstay and uses a nylon runner to hold a chain in place with one, two or three chainrings.
This is pretty cool too – the spare breakaway bolt for the mech hanger is stored in the two-piece welded BB shell. The almost obsessive attention to detail continues with the internal cable routing that takes the straightest path possible to the rear mech, cutting through the BB shell. The dropper post hose gets the same treatment, cutting through the top tube and then sitting neatly underneath it.
Geometry is adjustable via the shock mount. With 160mm forks up front the head angle ranges from 65°-66.5°. In fact, by adding a longer stroke shock (from 222mm to 241mm), you can get 190mm of travel at the back and put 180mm single crown forks up front to give a range of 64.3°-65.5° for a very small weight penalty. Liteville say that it’s better to run it as a 190mm bike, claiming that the pedalling characteristics hardly change. The bike comes complete with the extra shock mount needed out of the box too.
The shock bolts themselves are titanium, using a 5mm head with the hollow centre taking a 4mm Allen key so you can get them out should the heads be damaged.
More Syntace trickery with this mech protector – you can see the mech hanger breakaway bolt itself on the top of the dropout. All the Liteville frames are available a whole load of styles from raw, black hard anodised to about 160 powdercoat finishes. UK price for a Liteville 601 frame & headset is £1,999.
If you fancy something a bit shorter travel, then the freshly tweaked Liteville 301 could be more up your street. With either 140 or 160mm of travel, adjustable using switchable rocker plates that run on needle roller bearings, it’s a bit of a lighter weight trail bike. Now on it’s ninth iteration, they’ve steepened the seat angle by a degree and slacked off the head angle by the same amount to give a bike running either 67° or 66° headangle.
It’s worth noting that Liteville are confident enough in their bikes to offer a 5 year frame warranty, followed by an additional 5 year half price replacement should anything go awry – and that’s valid for any owner, not just the original buyer….
Tomac Type X 29er
Here’s a bit of a weight weenie showbike; Evolution had built this up as a singlespeed despite the lack of EBB or horizontal drops with a bit of chain length trickery. The frame on it’s own is sub 1kg, suspension corrected for 80-100mm 29er forks. In the build pictured, complete with a heavy smattering of Italian Carbon-Ti bling including rotors with carbon spider and a set of Syncros rigids it weighed 16lbs, the UCI weight limit for road bikes. The frame will set you back £1,499 with headset.
Carbon Ti are part of a much larger Italian firm that specialises in high quality aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre components for medical, automotive and aerospace industries. All their bike components are manufactured and assembled in Italy. The QR seatpost clamp above is available in 34.9 or 31.8mm diameters with a 7075-T6 aluminium body and neat, dinky Ti lever. They’re available in a load of colours, weight about 20g and one will set you back £59.99, again from Evolution Imports.
At a scant 75g, this 160mm rotor uses a carbon fibre spider, the semi-floating ceramic coated steel rotor attached using Ti rivets. You can get a 140mm version at 65g as well. At £183.99 each, they aren’t cheap though…
Carbon-Ti also do a range of chainrings, with this particular example using titanium teeth bonded to a carbon fibre inner. Shiny.
Back down at the more affordable end of the scale, these top caps come in either carbon or Ti at £19.99 with a pick of different coloured alloy bolts and carbon steerer friendly expander…