There was a time, not so long ago, when Litespeed made only titanium bikes. The Tennessee brand still produces Ti bikes but these days carbon fibre dominates the range with this M1 the entry-level model.
Of course, entry-level bikes don't usually cost this much. The stated retail price of this bike is £1,999.99 although Evans Cycles are selling them for £1,399.99. That would be a pretty high level in some ranges. It’s all relative.
Litespeed was set up by titanium expert David Lynskey to make Ti-framed bikes. When carbon fibre started to gain a real foothold, Litespeed continued to preach the titanium gospel. Then they introduced carbon and aluminium into the range before returning exclusively to titanium in 2006. And these days, many years after David Lynskey’s departure from the company, Litespeed offer both carbon and titanium road bikes again.
The M1 – just to be clear, it’s not named after the motorway – is a recent introduction, joining the range for the first time in 2011. It’s a performance road bike for racing, sportives, fast rides… getting the miles in at speed, basically.
It’s built around a carbon monocoque frame, unidirectional with a 3K top layer weave, although you don’t actually see much of that weave because it’s mostly covered with graphics and a cool-looking paintjob. With a white upper and a grey keyline, we reckon it looks stylish, but you can make your own mind up on that.
The down tube starts out as a teardrop profile up at the front end, 63mm high and 47mm across. Litespeed say the “flattened aeroshaped down tube improves windflow”, but we have to say that it looks pretty standard to us. It’s by no means as skinny as the down tubes you’ll find on many of the new breed of aero road bikes out there like the Cervélo S5 or the Felt AR Series. That said, judging aerodynamics by eye is pretty much impossible, so we’ll reserve all speed-related judgments until we get this bad boy out on the road.
The trailing edge flattens off towards the bottom of the tube but the BB area is still pretty chunky. It’s not huge on the scale of some of the monumental slabs you see these days, but it’s burly, housing a screwed in external bottom bracket.
The chainstays are big and boxy before tapering away to the dropouts while the seatstays snake about all over the place as they run up to the top tube. That top tube slopes slightly, but really not much at all; this is more like a traditional-looking frame configuration than a compact design.
Up front, the head tube is short – not mega short, but short; it’s 18cm on our 58cm/large sized model. That’s racy rather than sportive-ish. The idea is that you get a low, flat-backed ride position here rather than an upright one.
Although it has a cinched in waist, the head tube houses 1 1/8in bearings at each end – you don’t get any of that new-fangled tapered caper here (which, come to think of it, really isn’t that new any more). Like the frame, the fork is unidirectional carbon, pretty much straight legged, although the steerer is alloy.
The M1 comes with a SRAM Apex groupset. If you’re not the sort of person who has groupset hierarchies memorized and ready to go, that’s SRAM’s entry-level road range. You’ve got yer Red, then Force, then Rival, then Apex.
Like the others, Apex’s shifting is Double Tap. Everything is done via a shift lever that sits behind the brake lever; a short push moves you one way, a longer push moves you the other… but you probably knew that already. It’s a 10-speed group, just like its more expensive brothers, and you get a compact chainset (with 50/34T chainrings) on the M1.
The wheels are FSA RD-60s and the seatpost, stem and low-drop handlebar come from FSA too.
What else can we tell you before we get the M1 onto the highway? Ah, a weight. Hold on two secs while we find the road.cc scales... It’s 8.95kg (19.7lb).
And that’s all we can tell you right now because that’s all we know. We’ll be back with the full test once we’ve got the miles in.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.