Eurobike 2017: Liteville 301 MK14

by
September 8, 2017

Liteville usually have a stand outdoors at Eurobike, along with their partner brands Syntace and Eightpins. It means you often pass it when you need to get between halls, because whatever the weather, the big outdoor causeways are much faster to walk than the cramped, packed, shuffling corridors inside.

This year, Liteville were showing an ultra-shiny build of their 301 MK14, and every time we walked by it was turning heads. Including ours. For this iteration, they’ve made significant revisions to the rear end, in the process opening up new sizing options. Here’s a rundown of what’s on the bike, and what they’ve changed on it.

Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
This one was a size medium. Wheel size will vary by frame size to stay proportionate.

The bike on show was a medium. Last year, there were four sizes for the 301, but for 2018, they’ve moved to having six sizes, from XS all the way up to XXL. The two extremes of the range aren’t really moneymakers for them, but they’re resolute that they want to offer the best bike they can for every customer, and a part of that is for the frame to be the right size, rather than use finishing kit to compensate around limited sizing options.

XXL will have 29″ wheels, XS 26″, and all other sizes 27.5″. Each size also has tuned chainstay lengths, all have 160mm of travel, and the XS and XXL will have different shock lengths and tunes compared to the rest.

Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
Most of what you see here has been engineered by Syntace and Liteville.

Before we get stuck in, it’s worth pointing out just how much of this Liteville make themselves: pretty much all of the chassis and most of the finishing kit. It’s easier to list the bits they don’t make nowadays: tyres, drivetrain, brakes, fork, shock, saddle, grips. Oh and spokes. The rest is pretty much all Liteville/Syntace though, and as a result they can do some clever, if standards busting things with it.

Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
The SRAM Eagle drivetrain is one of the few things they haven’t, but…
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
… they do have their own design of chainguide. Note: no ISCG tabs around the bottom bracket shell.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
*So* matchy.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
This one was also running Syntace’s own Titan pedals. If they ever came loose, you’d just have to titan them up a bit (I’ll get me coat).
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
They’ve not quite gone full 1x yet, keeping a low direct mount point for a 2x front mech. And just above it you can see a mysterious fixing point…
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
… which is for the Eightpins dropper post.

At present, the Eightpins post is only available on Liteville frames, but from next year they’ll be licensing it to other manufacturers.

Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
This bike had uber-swank Trickstuff brakes, which aren’t available as an option at the moment. Usually, Litevilles come with Shimano XT, or SRAM Guide RSCs as an upgrade.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
When I asked, they just said they had a close relationship with Trickstuff, both being German companies with a lot in common when it comes to their engineering approaches.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
Syntace also make their own carbon handlebars, for which they’ve had a chart on the stand for two years showing how far they exceed the strength of many others.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
The stem is Syntace too.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
At the other side of the bars is the Eightpins dropper remote.

You can read more about the Eightpins here, from when we looked at it last year, but the headlines are: 34.9mm seat tube, and a post that you can various saw down to length and install bump stops in, to get it to exactly the right height for you with maxiumum possible drop.

Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
The Eightpins is a burly 34.9mm dropper post.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
On top of the post is one of the few bits of the bike not made by Liteville/Syntace.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
They were showing the 301 MK14 with Syntace’s new C33i carbon wheelset.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
The straight pull hubs and carbon rims are one of the things that pulls the bike weight down to 12.4Kg
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
A Fox 34 with FIT4 damper does bouncing duties, as well as that Kashima harmonising nicely with all the other gold bits.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
The four bar linkage has some very clean straight lines, and quite a bit of tyre clearance too.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
The downtube has this bolt-in hatch, which is mainly there to make the internal cable routing easier to deal with, but also allows insertion of a Di2 battery housing.

To explain what’s going on with the rear end, they had this neatly presented demo model with a linear actuator in place of the shock to make it move. The linkage is shown at full compression in the photo below.

Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
This demo rig had two rims and tyres installed, with side by side cutaways of the old rear end and the new.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
These were labelled: 1. wide pivot, 2. Super Yoke, 3. Evo6

They’ve widened the pivot and combined that with a new yoke design to create more room. Evo6 refers to their own chainline, which is in their view a correction of a bike industry mistake – continuing to route the chainline to the middle of the cassette as the number of sprockets and hub widths have both increased. Evo6 aligns the chainring with the fourth sprocket up the cassette, and with Syntace’s new hubs, is also designed to produce a wheel that requires hardly any dish and has almost identical spoke tension on both sides.

Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
A part of creating more wheel clearance has involved moving the seat tube further forwards.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
Because they’re making their own dropper posts, they’ve been able to make a setback seatclamp to compensate for that seat tube position and preserve their desired reach measurements.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
Because of that, they can fit a bigger wheel in the same space as before.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
Here’s the old chainstay yoke with a 26″ wheel, and behind it a 27.5″ mounted on the same axle.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
The shock lengths and tunes will vary according to sizing.

In talking us through their frame, Syntace were adamant that form follows function, saying they designed their linkage to produce the suspension characteristics they wanted first, then developed the aesthetics around that. They’re also great believers in their own product too: not only does everything they make have a ten year guarantee, that guarantee is transferrable between owners.

One last thing: Liteville don’t really do clothes, and if you see someone in a Liteville or Syntace t-shirt, that’s generally because they work for them. That’s changed a little now though, since they’ve partnered with Endura, who are making Liteville riding kit for them.

Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
Liteville and Endura have partnered to make riding kit.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
It’ll be available through all Liteville dealers.
Eurobike 2017 - Liteville
Expect to hear a lot more from Liteville in the UK soon.

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