Adventure riding continues to grow in popularity partially because of how fun it is, partially because regular roads are boring, and partially because more brands just keep coming out with really fun, capable bikes. Lightspeed is no exception with their latest model, aptly named “Gravel”. Their titanium frames are known for their comfortable ride quality, and paired with their new carbon fork rough roads are no match.
Gravel ready build
Litespeed’s titanium Gravel is spec’d with Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 electronic system with hydraulic brakes, FSA Energy cranks with 48/32T chainrings paired to an Ultegra 11/32T cassette, Stan’s NoTubes ZTR Grail wheels and 700x38c Panaracer GravelKing SK tires. The frame will fit up to a 700x45c or 27.5×2.1″ tire.
The frame uses a PF30 bottom bracket, which ruled the comment section in our introduction. We asked our Litespeed contact why they chose to go press fit over the standard threaded option. They stated, “since we precisely machine our BBs in Tennessee (USA) our tolerances are super tight, no creaking BBs here… Also, with PF30 it allows the use of most any crank on the market and being it is oversized, it allows us to weld in larger diameter tubing in some cases.” A
The size Large bike weighs in at 20.8lbs without pedals and set up tubeless. The bike is available in a number of different builds ranging from 1x SRAM Force up to our Ultegra Di2 Hydraulic. It’s also available in 650b options with electronic and mechanical Ultegra systems.
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Litespeed strived to shape the Gravel into an agile road machine, and they did a good job. Obviously, the bulbous tires prevent the bike from maneuvering or reaching race-bike speeds on the pavement. But the tradeoff for a slower and well-grounded bike is the comfort. Its stock 38mm tires under a titanium frame and carbon fork work well together to smooth out bumps and road chatter. I was placed on a size large, which even though I’m on the bigger side of – 6’3″ – I never felt cramped. There was ample space to shift forward and back while climbing or descending. This was important while hitting some of Florida’s sandy hills and roads.
Bikepacking, oh my!
The Gravel is built well for bikepacking, touring, adventure riding – whatever you’d like to call it. Its frame is covered with mounting bolts allowing both fenders and racks to be installed along with securing a top tube bag. If you’re not rocking a massive frame bag there is room for a total of 3 bottle cages inside and below the main triangle.
We had the chance to ride it fully loaded on sand, dirt and pavement during Atomik Carbon’s Rocks Roads & Reggae. Previously, I had only been bikepacking on a fat bike which was great for trail riding but was energy zapping and limited hand placement. The Gravel, being lighter and built for the road, was a much more comfortable and capable option. Even with the added pack weight, the bike handled well and maintained its speed.
The only part I would swap out to make the bikepacking experience better – on this bike – would be its bars. Out of the box, it comes with a standard road bike drop bar with no flare. Swapping it out with something that opens up in the drops would provide more leverage through sketchy sections and more space for any bar bags.
All-in-all, Lightspeed’s Gravel is a great handling and lightweight option if you’re looking to adventure past paved roads. It’s buttery smooth over pavement and holds its own on gravel and light single track. I enjoyed how versatile it was. One day I could ride roads to my local trails and get an all-around in. On another, I could pack up and head to a campsite outside of town. Depending on your specific needs there may be a couple part swaps from bars to tires. But ultimately I give the Gravel a thumbs up, and would put it on the radar of any friend looking for a gravel/touring/adventure bike.