Litespeed C1R Frameset

The Litespeed C1R is a ProTour-level bike and might soon have a ride in Europe. It's the lightest, stiffest, fastest, and most aero of their C-series frames and is ready to be ridden fast by strong, aggressive riders who want no energy wasted.

The C1R frame is dazzling on the page and screen. In person, it's dizzying. The scaled images you see hide the gloriously varied shapes of the frameset. Just take a look at the down tube. It looks huge. In person, you can see how the tube subtly changes shape throughout its length. There is no extreme flare where the down tube meets the bottom bracket, but a gradual widening of the tube as it travels from the head tube. The profile at the trailing edge of the down tube widens near the cage mount, giving room for your water bottle to nestle somewhat hidden from the wind. At the back of the bike, the seat stays are wide and flat for shock absorption where they join the seat tube and they morph on their journey to the rear dropouts, becoming narrow and more aero because more wind passes over them by the dropouts. Same goes for the top tube, which starts out massive for front end stiffness and getting small for compliance by the seat tube. And when you look at a Small frame next to a Medium, next to a Large, you'll see subtle differences in the shaping as well; Litespeed takes each frame as its own design rather than just doing just one tubing design for the entire size run.

Litespeed is part of the American Bicycle Group, the same company that owns Quintana Roo. Thanks to this tie to QR, Litespeed has access to lots and lots of wind tunnel data. This helped them go into the wind tunnel with some pretty good ideas on how to make a bike frame more aerodynamic. The shaping described above they call Aerologic. And their test data shows it really works. They took their Archon Ti' and C frames to the A2 tunnel, equipped them with identical components and ran the tests at the industry-standard 30mph speed. The reduction in drag goes from a minimum of 100g of drag when the bike is facing directly into the wind to a maximum of almost 200g. The difference is about the equivalent of adding a set of aero wheels to a regular road bike; only you're getting that benefit with training wheels. It's that much faster when you put on your aero race wheels.

Part of the design advantage comes from the fork shape. It's a bit different from most integrated carbon fiber forks in that the crown is designed to help airflow around the frame, and the legs are narrow and placed a bit wider than usual to give more room for air to flow around the wheels. It's a faster shape than many forks. The crown is a great example of how integrated components should work, as it flows seamlessly into the head and down tubes.

The C1R is set apart from the others by both the seat mast and the materials. Yes, it's still carbon-fiber, but this frame gets 60T carbon-fiber cloth added to the mix to maximize stiffness and minimize weight. It is also unique in the model line for using nanotube-enhanced resin for greater impact strength.  The C1R uses FSA's K-Wing Aero Integrated Seat Post. The stub that goes inside the frame is a carbon Kevlar composite molded to slide perfectly inside the mast. It is tightened by a bolt on top of the unit that pulls an expander wedge against the mast. The saddle clamp is made of 7075 aluminum and the hardware is made of stainless steel. There is a left and right bolt to tighten down on the clamp. The clamp has 12.5mm of setback. The overall length of the component is 131.7mm. You have 30mm of up and down adjustment, and the post is supplied with spacers to fill up that space. It is also recommended that if you cut down the post to save the mast section to cut into spacers for a more precise look. For those who fear owning a bike with a mast, know that Litespeed makes an accessory seat post and clamp kit, the same post and clamp that comes with the other Litespeed C frames, so you can cut off the mast and go more traditional if you want.