We first saw the new Litespeed Blade prototype at Eurobike and then another version at the Cycle Show and the Blade was back again at the TCR show over the weekend. So was this the final version and can you buy one yet?
The answer is yes… and soon. This is the production version of the Blade and it hasn't really changed from the one Chris Hewings of American Bicycle talked us around back at the Cycle Show (see vid below). What has changed is that you can now buy one, or you will be able to very soon. You'd better start saving though.
If you thought the Quintana Roo CD 0.1 was a pricey bike you'd better sit down now (and maybe get someone to splash water on your face) the frameset price for the new Blade is an eye-watering £6399. To be fair you also get a fork, headset and seatpost thrown in and there's the fact that this is undoubtedly a very fancy piece of kit indeed.
There has long been a cross-over between the top end titanium bike manufacturers and the aerospace industries, many of the original welders employed by the bike firms also build stuff for US aerospace and defence equipment companies.
The blade borrows techniques developed recently developed at the cutting edge of the aerospace industry by the likes of JPL/NASA and Lockheed Martin. Techniques such as Radial Break Sheet Forming (RBSF) used in the construction of the latest incarnation of the Blade – essentially this enables Litespeed to create far more complex folded titanium tube profiles than what had been previously been achievable.
So there's no doubting this frame's high tech credentials. It's a looker too with a definite sense of something special about it – mind you that could be the price tag.
Extreme wing style, profiled tubes cut drag dramatically and the hand made, shaped titanium top tube found on this frame and similarly on the Archon road bike is a thing of elegance. The industrial lines and engineered finish are a welcome departure from the masses of smooth moulded carbon offerings that are around, if it goes as fast as it looks then it'll be worth the money.
Unusually for a super- top end bike less isn't more when it comes to the Blade – this frame isn’t that light compared with some. Weight isn't the big issue though when it comes to aerodynamics and according to Litespeed extensive wind tunnel testing has shown that on the right course the low drag approach proves superior… be interesting to know what “the right course” would be?