litespeed c1 aero road bike

Litespeed, recognized for creating some of the highest quality titanium frames in the classic days of cycling, has been making way the past few years into the carbon market with builds ranging from endurance to all-out race. They’re still producing some very nice ti bikes, but the flagship of their 2013 lineup is the new Litespeed C1 Race aero road bike.

The test model came spec’d with an Ultegra groupset, Reynolds Assault clinchers, an Easton EA70 cockpit and Fizik Arione saddle. The C1 Race is a variation of the C1, receiving the upgrade from Easton EA50 aluminum clinchers to the Reynolds Assault carbon wheelset. Pricing is $4700 as shown. With a frameset built to handle both mechanical and electronic systems, adding Di2 to the mix brings pricing to $5000 (with Easton EA50 clinchers).

Keeping a relatively low price point for a high end aero bike, Litespeed packed a bunch of tech into the frame. For 2013, they switched the frame’s carbon layup and carried over the Aerologic suite, Litespeed’s proprietary aerodynamic system that shapes everything from the aerodynamic tubing down to the concave bottle mounts.

We took it to the scale, with details, photos and a tech rundown after the break…

litespeed c1 aero road bike actual weight

Out of the box, the C1 Race weighs in at 16lb 13 oz. That’s a little heavier than we expected, but despite being bonafide weight weenies, we understand that weight is just one of many factors taken into consideration when crafting an aero bike. Well defined lines throughout the build, and together with sharp graphics make for an aggressive appearance.

litespeed spec and geo chart

Examining the spec chart, the geometry for the C1 is interesting. We received a ML size (56cm), which sits smack dab in the middle of their offerings. The head tube and seat tube both sit at 73.0 degrees, at or near what’s considered standard for race bikes. Chainstay length is a very short 39.5cm, wheelbase is 97.4cm, and bottom bracket drop is 6.8cm – all very racy. That’s tighter than a comparably sized Specialized Venge and many other aero bikes.

litespeed c1 aero road bike top tube details

Litespeed borrowed the geometry spec from a particularly successful custom titanium frame they built for racer Jeff Pierce back in the day. By lengthening the distance between feet and front axle (i.e. longer Front-Center), and shortening the chainstays, the rider sits at a slight pivot point over the back wheel. That’s said to make the bike super agile and quick, with reactive handling for breakaways.

The C1 first showed up as a 2011 model. Since then, Litespeed switched from a 40T to a 30T unidirectional carbon modulus this year. After experimenting with many different carbon layups, they found this to be the best contender in both strength-to-weight ratio and price. The ride quality in terms of lateral stiffness, torsional stiffness, and vertical compliance is said to be improved from models of previous years. A carbon molding technique called Reactive Pressure Molding that lays pre-preg carbon over a preformed structure that’s inflated once the frame’s inside the mold to produce a smooth carbon finish inside and out, which means more predictable quality control.

litespeed c1 aero road bike top tube fork reynolds assault wheelset

The seat stays are ribbed into the seat tube to brace the frame, while a very large BB30 bottom bracket shell is reinforced for power transfer. The seat tube is cut out around the wheel for air flow, and the rear wheel is tucked in closer than most bikes we’ve seen.

litespeed c1 aero road bike rear aero seatpost toptube chainstays

Originally designed with an integrated seat post, and still offered that way in the 2013 C1R, Litespeed took great measures to ensure that this bike remained stiff at the seatpost-seatstay junction despite the adjustable seatpost. Because the bike is designed as a breakaway bike, the tubing is crafted to open and close the air efficiently, creating a vacuum that closes air on the tail end of the bike. Like many aero bikes, it’s designed to benefit the rider while wearing out the pack.

litespeed c1 aero road bike curved seat stays

Ribbed into the seat tube to brace the frame, the seat stays have a visible rotation. Near the top, the rib and body line up and the seat stays are widened for extra stiffness behind the knees while also maintaining a degree of vertical compliance for ride comfort. As they move downward, they twist to maximize aerodynamics.

litespeed c1 aero road bike bottle cage aerodynamic tech litespeed c1 aero road bike aerologic bottle cage

The bottle mount is designed to shroud the cage and channel air around the bottle. To achieve a concave structure of this sort, a plug is inserted into the mold to shape the carbon. Litespeed claims to be one of the only manufacturers, if not the only manufacturer to use this method. Many aerobikes use water bottle shrouding, but this technique adds a bit of flare on the side.

litespeed c1 aero road bike internal routing litespeed c1 aero road bike bottom bracket crankset ultegra

The 54g bottom bracket shell is machined with metal inserts, a method Litespeed thinks is more precise and efficient than molding the shell directly into the carbon. Shifter cables are routed through the frame while brake cables are left unmasked for easier maintenance.

litespeed c1 aero road bike front details litespeed c1 aero road bike chain stays rear

The fork blades have a slight outward bend to channel air and absorb road shock. A 62mm crown race on the head tube lets you insert a variety of headsets. Litespeed strived for precise, consistent wall thickness throughout the headtube to easily accept a variety of cups. Moving down, the dropouts on the front and rear are both carbon, and a stainless steel exoskeleton on the rear dropout bridges into the frame for extra stiffness.

And as is popular nowadays, the headtube is tapered and the chain stays are assymmetrical with different carbon layups in each to withstand pedal forces appropriately.

litespeed c1 aero road bike aero seatpost chainstays seat tube

Using a two bolt post clamp that braces at 6nm, this should prevent any seatpost slip, a problematic phenomenon we’ve found in other aerodynamic seat posts.

First Ride Impressions

litespeed c1 aero road bike climbing

Being the dead of winter, we’ve only gotten a couple good rides in on the bike. So far, it rides great. The quality is impressive with sharp cornering and stability on the flats. On the climbs, the bike is responsive with noticeable stiffness in the bottom bracket and torsional stiffness when torquing the bars. We haven’t had the chance to take the bike in a serious paceline, so there’s no word on the micro side-side handling, but first impressions are encouraging.

With a price point at $4,700 it seems to be a great contender in the aero bike market, with ride quality pinned against bikes that run $8,000+. In size 56, the C1 Race is slightly heavier than the much larger Alchemy we just tested out, but it feels stiff in the right places. The C1 Race is comparable in spec to the the Cervelo we had in last year at this time, and the C1 Race gets (in my opinion) a better, more refreshing design that will turn some heads. Some weight could be dropped by swapping out the Fizik Arione saddle, Easton EA70 bar and stem, but the component choice is respectable for the price. The Ultegra groupset is spec’d 53-39 in the chainring and 12-25 in the cassette, a ratio we’re familiar with that shouldn’t give any surprises. This being the first time we’ve rolled on Reynolds Assault clinchers, they seem so far to have all the qualities of a good wheelset while being built burly enough to maintain form under heavier riders…something we’ll test.

Now that the bike’s out of the box, lubed, pumped and stabled at Bikerumor HQ, we look forward to getting in some serious saddle time on the build. Stay tuned for the long term review!


  1. You can grab a Ultegra D12 Super six Evo for the same money. There is no way this would stand up to that bike. Plus Aqua Man would be chasing you down for stealing his ride.

  2. But the Evo is NOT going to have those wheels at that price. As long as American Bicycle Group has solved their historically poor QC standards, they may (finally) have a contender here that brings their company back to legitimacy.

  3. This is another great review. The C1 Race Aero Road Bike looks like an amazing bike but sadly, a bit of of my league in terms of pricing. Nevertheless, I still look forward to reading the long term review.

  4. Great Review! Seems like several negative comments, but I own the 2011 model of this bike (w/ Durace Components & same Reynolds wheels) and it is a GAME CHANGER! The bike is quick, strong, and fast. Did I mention fast? Well, it’s fast! Where I see the biggest benefit is in a paceline and descending. You feel the Aero Design of the bike in those situations and it has made a huge impact in my rides. I think it is time to realize that there are GREAT bikes out there that are not named Trek, Specialized, Fuji, or Cannondale! If you want to have fun and go fast…….go with Litespeed!

  5. Competitive pricing especially with the Assaults. Can’t say much about the frameset, looks like something from the 2010 parts bin.

  6. disclaimer from the start – I own a 2011 C1 and I think it’s awesome.

    I also race, in Australia, what would be the equivalent of cat 1 on it, and I agree with everything that is said in the review – I also have a supersix evo and while it climbs better than the litespeed it does not handle anywhere as well nor does it hold speed in breakaways.

    However I am not a fan of the colourscheme shown, lime green is the realm of merida and should be shied away from by every other company. The way the derailleur cables route into the frame is also a bit messy in my opinion.

  7. For those that cannot get past the color scheme, check out the look of the C1R. Any bike company that that is held in high enough regard to fabricate the framework for the Mars Rover deserves good consideration.

  8. @ Matt,

    Yeah, unfortunately I live north of Philadelphia where the Fuji manufacturing site is and a ton of people swear by Fuji here, so I have to continually here about Fuji.

  9. There is no way around how ugly that bike is. I don’t care what wheels you hang on it, and how cheap it is compared to competition, you still have to look at it and like it.

    they should just make mass produced ti frames again. Just a thought.

  10. I bought a 2012 C1R to replace a Cervelo P2 and think the bike is unbelievable. Incredibly stiff and responsive and fairly light for not being a pure climbing bike. Despite the stiffness, I don’t feel beat up after long rides, which is nice. The benefits of a short wheelbase can be felt maneuvering through tight turns. It will take a bit of reviewing split times to see if the aero benefits are being realized, but it LOOKS more aero for certain.

    This is a high end bike by a quality, small manufacturer that should be seriously considered by anyone looking at the (more expensive) Cervelo S5 or (far more expensive) Specialized S-Works Venge.

    Looks are subjective, so those who don’t like it may never buy one. But the bare carbon fiber looks amazing in person and close up.

  11. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…..these eyes think that bike looks great! Getting a wheelset like that on a bike at this price-point is really quite nice!

  12. All BS aside, my brother in law offered me a litespeed ci2 at an employee and family discount of 1500 bucks. I was planning on putting the ultegra di2 gruppo on my bianchi infinito and sell off the rest. I decided to build it and ride it before going through the hassle of switching out the mechanical for the new di2. I rode 50 miles Saturday and 50 miles Sunday and I decided to keep the ci2 as is. I even turned down 3000 bucks as I had already posted the bike on Craig’s list. For all of you lames that can’t be seen on an ugly bike, go comb your hair and stroke your ego. I put my zipp firecresst 404’s on this bike and I can safely say the ride was phenomenal. I don’t even like litespeed bikes, I just get sick of all the bike snobs on these sites so I figured I’d give a first hand account, this bike is worth a look.

  13. I’m the proud owner of an all white c1, I’ve put some nice carbon wheels (bladex) on. Every time I get on the bike to take it for a spin I feel great. The bike handles great and if you put some power through the pedals it will out accelarate everything. I get many looks and positive comments on the way the bike looks. I bought the frame in the Netherlands for a 1000 euro and I dont think I could have made a better choice. I do agree that the colour of this black/neon bike is a bit to much and doesn’t do justice to how the bike really looks.

  14. Ok I do agree that the lime green is a bit tacky, but I own a 2012 c1R withdraw carbon and white only graphics with red LOOK pedals, a ZIPP aero carbon bars with red Sram tape and a full SRAM red group set and the bike looks and rides amazing. I am not one of you guys that combs my hair every time I look in a mirror, but this bike does draw lots of attention and did I mention VERY fast?

  15. I bought this exact bike to replace my Cannondale System Six. I have owned many bikes, and after hard riding, and racing this bike, I am loving it. It is fast, stiff, responsive, and seems to cut though the air. I get tons of compliments on the styling. It looks fast standing still.

  16. I like Litespeed! The concept of the company has always been bare, naked, Titanium! You could buy a Litespeed Titanium bike, look at it all day long…. and see how they built it. Beautiful describes those Ti bikes ! Now the carbon bike. Same concept, what you see is what you get..and , I like that. I don’t want a “fancy paint job” covering the bondo and resin voids, pits, etc. Because, if the supplier is allowed to, fill, hide and cover with paint the ” flaws ” they will sell them to you. I own the L1-R and L-3… back in the day, if we gave Armstrong those bikes, he’d win every dam things on those bikes.. with or without the juice is the question:) Enjoy the ride, Jh

  17. love these bikes I have a C3 and Li2 they both are fast and responsive cuts right thru the head winds, get compliments all day long.

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