We’ve been spotting the Litespeed Gravel bike since it was still a concept and as a more polished “final” version with added rack. Now, that bike has a more road-oriented sibling in the 2018 Litespeed Cherohala SE. The model name borrows that of a scenic Blue Ridge Mountain-area drive called the Cherohala Skyway, which is a mashup of Cherokee and Nantahala. Compared to the Gravel, this one has geometry closer to that of their road bikes, but with clearance for 40mm tires. And while the Gravel can switch between 27.5″ wheels with Road Plus tires, the Cherohala is optimized for 700×35 but will fit 700×40 and 650Bx2.0 file tread tires (as in, not knobbies).

The Cherohala also gets a higher end, lighter 3/2.5 titanium tubeset than the Gravel. They say it’s essentially an endurance road bike adapted to fit larger tires.

2018 Litespeed Cherohala titanium gravel road bike has mounts for fenders and pannier rack bags

The bike will come as a frameset ($2,900) with their carbon gravel fork, which gets additional mounts at the crown and below the dropout for a front fender, but no rack. Three complete bikes are offered, all with Shimano hydraulic disc brake groups – 105 ($4,750), Ultegra mechanical ($5,650) and Ultegra Di2 ($6,300).

2018 Litespeed Cherohala titanium gravel road bike has mounts for fenders and pannier rack bags

2018 Litespeed Cherohala titanium gravel road bike has mounts for fenders and pannier rack bags

Mechanically shifted bikes will get external routing with Di2 holes/plugs to run the wires inside, but Di2-specific frames are also available without the cable stops. The rear brake hose runs inside the downtube and pops out just in front of the bottom bracket to run under the BB shell and chainstay.

2018 Litespeed Cherohala titanium gravel road bike has mounts for fenders and pannier rack bags

Complete bikes ship with 50/34 compact cranksets, sitting inside a PFBB30 shell. Compared to the road-only bikes they offer, the Cherohala makes room for the bigger tires and front and rear racks…

2018 Litespeed Cherohala titanium gravel road bike has mounts for fenders and pannier rack bags

…plus mounting spots for a rear rack.

2018 Litespeed Cherohala all road bike geometry chart

Litespeed says availability on the Ultegra 8000 groups is limited and behind schedule, so it might be a minute before those are shipping. The 105 build and frameset are available now.



  1. Looks like Ultegra also gets the new style rotors? Wonder if/ when those will trickle over to MTB groups. Their cooling ability is supposed to be even better than XTR Freeze rotors.

    • The Ultegra rotors dispense with the black coating the Dura-Ace ones do. That black stuff on the inside is a surface treatment supposed to help with more heat dissipation.

  2. I really don’t get the internal break routing–it just seems like a pain to set up and maintain. But I guess you do get all the added benefits of putting extra holes in your frame.

    • It’s not too bad anymore; It’s really just about taking the time to cut the lines properly from the get-go. Maintenance on Shimano brakes is pretty low and nearly brain dead simple. And nothing is lighter than a hole. I’m not a huge fan of the internal routing, but a lot of the early issues have been remedied. That said, you most likely want to have a competent mechanic build a 4k + bike.

    • I get it. It’s cleaner and unlike cable housing, hydraulic hose last much longer and shouldn’t need to be touched for a long time. It’s also not affected by routing issues that can come from internal set-ups

      • I used to do a warranty frame swap by moving everything intact to the new frame. Handlebars(still taped),levers,cables, derailleurs, just remove housings from slotted cable stops and hang on new frame, maybe 30 minutes. Now the job lasts 1/2 a day. So I get it too – in the butt.

    • The internal rear brake on these are VERY easy to set up and route. It’s actually a really thin piece of Titanium tubing that runs the whole length of the downtube so no weird routing tricks or anything like that to deal with.

      • the last frame up litespeed i built did NOT have that… it was a 2017 T2 disc (the closest thing at the time to this bike) can this be verified?

        • True, the T2’s (and T5’s for that matter) had a small piece of tubing at the headtube and another at the BB Shell. On all their current bikes with internal they went to a full internal liner.

  3. I have the Litespeed GRAVEL. Not the CHEROHALA.
    My GRAVEL model has all the mounts for carrying what ever you want while camping, touring or commuting.
    I also have a Litespeed VORTEX road racing bike. I ride the GRAVEL racing bike 99% of the time.
    only would ride the V. When the GRAVEL is down for maintenance.
    I love the ride and versatility of the GRAVEL!
    So comfortable on all surfaces.
    I have two sets of wheels one set:
    700 x 32/38/42 tires on those. Can go to 700×45
    The 700 x 32 tires on the bike I use it to commute on. Also to do my very fast group rides on.
    I have another set of 27.5 or 650 wheels that I have my 27.5 x 2.1/650x 2.1, Maxxis CROSSMARK II(tight fit in the rear chain stays). I ride true singletrack on, and I love them. It is not a full suspension mountain bike so obviously don’t expect that. Tire pressure makes a big difference in how the bike feels and handles with the tires. But I really enjoy riding it with these Maxis crossmark tires off-road! It is more challenging to ride on true technical up and down rocky, rutted single track but I enjoy it!
    Great frame and material that I just ride the snot out of!
    I do not worry at all about damaging it in any way! If it falls over, or I crash, I KNOW THE FRAME IS JUST LIKE NEW! Unlike the Carbon frames.
    If you want a frame you only have to buy once, can count on and have as long as you like…this is it!

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