It’s been a bit since we’ve heard from Litespeed, but it’s not because they haven’t been busy. Yesterday, the company launched an all new gravel bike. Called the Watia, the bike is named after the Watia Creek in Tennessee’s Cherokee Forest that is well off the grid – fitting for a gravel bike meant to continue where the road ends.
Starting with a full 3AL/2.5V U.S.-made titanium frame, Litespeed uses their shaping and cold-working magic to deliver a frame with targeted stiffness, flex, and compliance. The result is a frame that weighs in at 1,565g for a medium, has the ride and durability of titanium, and clearance for 700c x 45mm or 650b x 53mm tires.
It also has a choice of cable routing. Those that prefer the ease of maintenance for exposed routing benefit from a lower price tag. But those that want the clean look and protected cables from internal routing are in luck as well. Two completely different versions of the Watia frame are available to cater to both crowds.
Both frames include a PF30 bottom bracket – unless you’d prefer one with threads. In that case, a T47 bottom bracket upgrade is available for an additional $250.
That plate behind the bottom bracket is the key to the generous tire clearance (and chainring clearance) without resorting to a dropped chainstay design.
Fender mounts and three bottle cage mounts are the standard option for the frame, with other mounts available as upgrades. Rack mounts are offered for a $95 upcharge, and top tube storage mounts run $55.
If you haven’t noticed yet, options are the name of the game here. The standard Litespeed carbon fork offers fender mounts, but if you want three pack mounts on the side of each leg, that fork is offered for a $45 upcharge. There’s also an option for an ENVE G Series fork for another $109.
Compatible with 1x or 2x drivetrains, the frame uses a standard front derailleur clamp. Additional frame details include a 12 x 100mm front thru axle, 12 x 142mm rear thru axle, and 160mm minimum rotors.
With all the options, the pricing is more or less just a starting point. I was surprised to see that even though this is a brand new bike, Litespeed actually has the Watia on sale at the moment – and not just a few dollars. Not only that, but it looks like they’re offering the etched finish instead of decals right now for free (normally a $195 option). Given what we’ve heard about potential supply chain shortages on components for new bikes in 2021, it might just be the perfect time to buy (and we’re not getting paid to say that).