2016 Litespeed Kuwa adventure road bike

The Litespeed Ku:wa is their new adventure bike that’s named after an Indian word for mulberry, which refers to Mulberry Gap, a famous 350+ mile trail network in their backyard.

It splits the difference between their T5Ggravel bike shown last year (and updated in March) and the Pinhoti 29er hardtail mountain bike. The geometry is right in the middle of the two, giving it a slightly higher BB and slacker head angle than the T5G, but not as much as the MTB.

It’s thoroughly modern, and thanks to the brand’s long history with the wonder material, should last a good long time…

2016 Litespeed Kuwa adventure road bike

Everything from Di2 to Sideswing cable and wire routing it here, with the non-electronic transmissions kept outside of the frame for easy servicing and installation.

2016 Litespeed Kuwa adventure road bike

The frame is made from straight gauge 3/2.5, so it won’t be as light as some of their butted bikes, but it’ll hold up to loaded touring and rougher roads. The stock configuration has no rack mounts because they found that adventure riders prefer frame bags, so it’s designed to accommodate those as well as possible. Of course, you can add any custom tabs and doodads you like since they build them all by hand in Tennessee.

2016 Litespeed Kuwa adventure road bike

2016 Litespeed Kuwa adventure road bike

It sticks with a standard QR in the rear, but they’re using a new flat mount disc brake dropout design.

2016 Litespeed Kuwa adventure road bike

Plenty of tire clearance even with 700×40 rubber in there. Frame will retail for $2,400 as shown.

2016 Litespeed T1 SL lightweight titanium racing road bike

The T1SL isn’t just a tweaked version of their standard T1 race bike, it’s a completely new model that evolved from what’s been done in the past.

2016 Litespeed T1 SL lightweight titanium racing road bike

It’s an all new tubeset that uses their manipulated 6/4 top tube and 3/2.5 down tubes. All of the tubes come in as aerospace grade hydraulic jet tubing, then the shaping, bending and manipulating is done in their Tennessee factory.

2016 Litespeed T1 SL lightweight titanium racing road bike

Frame weight is claimed between 1,000 and 1,100 grams. They’re trying to source raw materials that’ll let them get it under 1kg, but they’re not there yet. Because a sub-1,000g ti road frame would be awesome, but they’re not going to build a noodle just to say they did it.

2016 Litespeed T1 SL lightweight titanium racing road bike

2016 Litespeed T1 SL lightweight titanium racing road bike

Things like minimalist dropouts…

2016 Litespeed T1 SL lightweight titanium racing road bike

…and a relieved bottom bracket shell help shed additional grams.

2016 Litespeed T1 SL lightweight titanium racing road bike

Thick chainstays keep it stiff, though (pic on the right is the bottom of the chainstays…not the seatstays as first glances might suggest). The T1SL frame retails for $4,000.

2016 Litespeed Pinhoti SL lightweight titanium 29er hardtail mountain bike

The new Pinhoti SL cuts 15% off the standard frame’s weight by using butted tubes and more refined dropouts.

2016 Litespeed Pinhoti SL lightweight titanium 29er hardtail mountain bike

2016 Litespeed Pinhoti SL lightweight titanium 29er hardtail mountain bike

The brake mounts saw a bit of change, but were kept durable to prevent flex and brake noise. More weight was pulled out by heavily machining the inside of the BB, which switches to a BB30 instead of the eccentric BB design found on the standard Pinhoti.

2016 Litespeed Pinhoti SL lightweight titanium 29er hardtail mountain bike

…and using a headtube more like those on their road bikes.

2016 Litespeed Pinhoti SL lightweight titanium 29er hardtail mountain bike

Geometry stays the same, and butted stays should enhance the titanium ride quality. Frame is $3,000.

2016 Litespeed T3 titanium road bike with rim and disc brakes on same frame

All other frames get slight tweaks, particularly the road frames. Most notably, the T3 road bike gains flat mount disc brake mounts dropouts used on the new Ku:wa, but keeps the standard rim brake mounts, too.

2016 Litespeed T3 titanium road bike with rim and disc brakes on same frame

Litespeed’s dealers were requesting some way of easing people into disc brakes, so this new version can be built with rim brakes then upgraded to discs when the time is right.

2016 Litespeed T3 titanium road bike with rim and disc brakes on same frame

2016 Litespeed T3 titanium road bike with rim and disc brakes on same frame

The dropouts can be swapped between 130mm and 135mm simply by installing or removing spacers on the inside.



  1. I don’t really understand their market. Seems like for what they charge for a stock frameset you could have a custom built Ti bike from one of the well known small framebuilders. I had a Vortex I bought used for a year or so.. initially felt comfortable but as I got faster and raced more the flex of it started to drive me nuts.

  2. Wait. How did they get the road levers to work with the xtr front derailleur. Thought there was a different ratio or something?

  3. @bill, I was thinking the same thing. For not much more than the T1L you’d get the super-bling of a Baum. With a custom you probably don’t get all of the tube shaping but it’s awfully hard to part with $4K for an off-the-rack bike frame.

  4. Adventurers prefer frame bags? Wannebees perhaps, as it is virtually impossible to travel three weeks with frame bags exclusively.

  5. Bill, you’re right but you won’t get the same frame tech you’ll get from these bikes. The tube shaping and weight can’t be equaled(yet) by a small builder unless you’re getting all tiny tubes that’ll surely be flexy. If you want a nice Ti bike to race, I doubt there’s much in the league of this bike.

    That said, I wouldn’t buy one either but I can see the merits in having one of these bikes.
    $4 is a lot of money but you’re getting a bike that probably rides great and will take a crash way better than any carbon frame you may get for $3500(from Trek, Specialized etc). I love my Ti SEVEN, I’ve crashed it plenty of times at varying speeds and have traveled many places with the bike. I’m never worried about the condition of my frame which hasn’t been the case with all the carbon bikes I’ve owned.

    As for the gravel/adventure racer, I have no clue why they put that ugly downtube on there unless they noted that its suspension ready. All that does is make it sorta look like a mountain bike without the added space that an adventure cyclist wants for frame bags.

  6. Reg Linsky.

    Linsky is new startup by the some of the original founders of Litespeed. They have had nothing to do with Litespeed for +20 years since American Bicycle Group took over Litespeed.

    Linskey is not doing custom titanium for the likes of NASA as AMBCG, AMBCG/litespeed is still the place to go if you want NASA grade custom TI construction.

    AMBCG also owns Quintana Roo (tri bicycles), RealDesign (carbon wheels/forks) and from 2000 to 2011 they owned Merlin Works.
    The Merlin Works brand was more or less discontinued in 2011 and sold of in 2013 with no knowlagde or production faclity transfers.

    From 2000-2012, until AMBCG stopped marketing the of the Merlin Brand, Merlin and Litespeed where produced under the same roof with a shared infrastructure and distribution facility – but by by separate design and production facility.

    Merlins had since the beginning in 1986 been designed by Tom Kellog from Spectrum – just as the Reynolds and RealDesign carbon forks. Spectrum never contributed to Litespeed appart from Toms design input of the RealDesign and Reynolds Ouzo forks. Litespeed and Merlin geometry and TI designs where quite different.

    In 2012 AMBCG stopped doing OEM TI jobs for Sprectrum, the Merlin brand and the in house production af RealDesign carbon wheels and forks. Spectrum TI is now beeing produced by Seven.

    Seven is a startup of former Merlin Works empoyles who didn’t move with the Merlin production line to Tennese.

    just like Kent Ericson sold off Moots, Merlin and Litespeed where sold of by the original founders 15-20 years ago.

    I ride my 2006 Merlin Works CR 2/3.5 – and think its still one of the best ti frames ever built, a 55,5cm weighs in a 1115g. The tubesets are still state of the art; izespecific with ovalized and tappered – but stil plain gauge and drawn (not a welded shaped plate) – and the welds? I havent seen anything looking as nice as those 2006 AMBCG welds, neither from moots or baum (or on litespeeds). Saw a Rewel ti frame in Italy a few weeks and even that wasnt close.

    Its super comfy on long rides and stiff enough for mty 80-100kg for climbing and decenting.
    The only drawback is that i’d like to be able to fit more that 28mm tyres and disc brakes…

  7. I want a true Ti road bike with those disc ready dropout… I tjecked out the geometry of the T5, its way, way too long.

    Still love my 2006 Merlin Works CR for its geometry – its nimble, turns like on rails when decenting, lightweigth (1115g), stiff when climbing and accelerating and comfy for 10-12 hours rides and really rough roads.

    But i would like disc brakes for Alpine adventures and room for something a bit larger that 28mm – 32mm would be enough, bigger tyres would require too long chainstays. The 415mm of my CR is just about perfect.

    I’d like the idea of the Cannondale Slate – 650b wheels for large volume adventure tyres and ordinary 700c for fast roads.

    Ti is great when designed and dimensioned correctly and you never need to worry about the paintjob or damages. I have never had a problem when traveling by plain with mine without a suitcase. I doubt a carbon or leigtweight steel or aloy frame could survive a trip or two.

  8. Why do people think custom is automatically better than off the shelf. Unless you have strange proportions, custom built frames provide little value. And it’s not like the custom builder is starting clean slate – they are using known geometries and modifying slightly if you have a strange body.
    now is you want a unique bike, that’s something altogether different

  9. Did anyone else see the use of an XTR side swing FD and a shimano road hydro shifter? I’m more interested if this actually works properly and is endorsed by shimano

  10. @JBikes. after going custom…well you know the saying.

    The idea that a custom builder is not starting with a “clean slate” is kinda true – The builder is not trying to reinventing the wheel. (get it?) Anyway, there is a wee bit more to it than slight modifications to known geometries.

  11. Ugly bikes and one with the most ugly downtube bend. Bad enough that MTB frame design must follow the suspension fork adjusting knobs. No reason to transfer it on road or gravel bikes.

  12. @endurobob I don’t think it is endorsed per se but it has been reported to work great provided you keep all derailleurs XTR di2. The brain is in the derailleurs. Shimano want auto trim to work correctly so they made sure you can’t mismatch anymore front and rear derailleur of the same group. People used to do that when migrating from ultegra 10 to 11.

    Shifters are not more than switches. The di2 system works the same if you use road, mtb, alfine or even standalone satellite shifters.

  13. One rule of thumb with non endorsed/supported e-shifting combinaison would be to avoid firmware updates (unless you are experiencing issues that an update is known to solve).

    If you crash and need to replace one of the parts it could ship with another firmware version that could break that compatibility. You must be prepared for that.

  14. @K11 – could you be confusing “custom” with the quality of the builder.

    If I am a normally proportioned, say 165 lb, 6ft male looking for a racing bike over rough roads, my “custom” bike will not vary much from another 165 lb, 6 ft male’s custom bike by the same builder? If one makes 2 bikes the same, are they still custom?

    I agree that custom bikes allow one to do unique things for their specific riding and weight, but if you are a normal person, you can also by off the shelf bikes specifically tailored to certain riding types and I am unsure that custom offers any real advantage. I ridden some incredible custom bikes. I think their quality had more to do with the builders skill than their being custom. And should this builder have started making off the shelf sizes, the bike would be just as incredible if you fit the design weight and geometry.

  15. T1SL for the win down here in Florida. It’s a beautiful machine. I would say i’m gonna build it up with the Sram Force 1X but then i’d just set myself up for all of the negative nancy’s to come crawling out of their holes.

  16. @crackedframe: you seem to pretty reliably show up in every Lynskey or Litespeed post on this site. I personally own four Lynskeys and have had zero issues with any of the frames. Likewise, my LBS is a Lynskey dealer, and has had zero quality control issues with any of the dozens of frames they’ve sold.

    I’m sorry for your bad fortune, and fully believe you when you say you’ve cracked three frames, but I’m inclined to believe that there might be some user error involved in your string of bad luck.

  17. Old post but my .02. I’ve owned four Ti bikes, three Litespeed’s. Yes, they can and do crack but I woulnd’t say it’s common. The comment about not wanting to build a ‘wet noodle’ frame just to get it under 1kg…uh, whadda you call a Ghisallo? It was a noodle under 1kg for the sake of getting it under a kg. But I digress. Their carbon frame is nice but really had some engineering faux pas in my small size that I couldn’t get around so I ditched it. Overall, I love what Litespeed builds and what it’s trying to do. I’ll probably buy another one at some point. I wish they did some custom work b/c I always have a nit picky tweak I’d love to have done. Lynskey started Litespeed, now off on his own. Litespeed is ABG like Quintana Roo, etc., an owned brand but still same great people.

  18. I’ve owned many bikes, including LS Ultimate, Tarmac SL3, Venge, C’Dale, Archon. As far as ride quality, nothing comes close to the Archon. At 1,150 grams on a M/L frame, it’s approx 300 grams heavier than the C’Dale Evo Hi-Mod, but the C’Dale beats the crap out of me. 100 miles on the LS is like 50 (or less) miles on the C’Dale. Considering trading up to the T1SL, mainly to be able to fit new wider wheel sets.

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