When I was at the Melrose Fat Tyre Festival a few months back, Over the Edge shop owner Richard Bruce was rolling round on one of these German designed 140mm travel Liteville bikes. There is no doubt it's a head turner, everywhere I rode with him people would ask about the crazy linkage on the top tube. Hell, I did. That was until I took one for a ride. It was set up for a 70kg rider and was a medium but for some reason it pedalled amazingly. So when we found out the good folks at bikecycle.co.nz were bringing Liteville in we put our hands up. The bike showed up on Friday and has a few extra fruity bits that warrant a much closer look.
So the linkage is the big head turner on the Liteville 301. Out back it resembles a Horst Link but instead of meeting somewhere down the seattube it meets right at the seat/top tube junction. The silhouette resembles a classic hardtail and the stiffness is almost on par.
Set up is a breeze. See the little hole in the 0? Well line that up with the protruding nubbin on the top tube and that's your sag dialled. Simple.
Liteville have a pretty serious partnership going with Syntace and among other nifty little features it rocks the Syntace X12 rear axle configuration for added stiffness and clean lines out back. As you can see our test rig came equipped with Shimano Zee stoppers.
More love from Syntace via this funky integrated derailleur strengthener. It's not the first time we've seen this but it's definitely welcome, especially seeing it's such a natural part of the bike and is most definitely not an afterthought.
And a top view of the derailleur thingamywhatsit.
And again this chainguide and its location isn't exactly new, but design wise it's the most resolved we've seen and the integration with the Liteville is well thought out.
The devil is in the details on this bike...
Cable routing for the front derailleur and the dropper post is sneaky. A custom drawn hydro-formed top tube has a recess in it where the cables tuck in nice and unseen only to pop out just here. Rob Metz's latest incarnation of the KS Lev post is a welcome addition to the test rig.
And probably the biggest head turner apart from the linkage on the bike would be the Syntace W35 wheelset. These wheels have an internal bead width of 28.5mm! There's a six page PDF from Syntace here about the wheels that's worth reading if you want to know more but the general gist is that the larger internal bead width creates less tyre shape distortion which in turn (according to Syntace) lets you run lower tyre pressures for increased grip and a lower chance of snakebites. All this in a 1680 gram package! And did I mention they also come in 650b and 29" wheel sizes? We will be bringing you a separate review of the wheelset as well in our February issue.
Spoke's test reviewer and self-confessed legend Rod Bardsley picked up the bike on Friday afternoon and has already put the the 301 though a hard weekend of riding. He just sent through this text regarding his initial impressions; "Stiff. Fast. Crisp. Very progressive rear, no wallow whatsoever. Great race bike for sure. Hugs the ground. I love it." The December issue of Spoke will have Rod's opinions after a few weeks of riding this thing.
BikeCycle will be offering the Liteville 301 in a number of different build kits from X7, X9, SLX through to XT options. An XT build with Revelations and Syntace built kit (XT wheels) is coming in at the $6199.00 mark. They will also be doing custom builds.