Chattanooga, TN builder Litespeed has been producing titanium bikes since 1986 and in 2018 came to the Sea Otter Classic ready to display its latest gravel models. The company has carbon bikes in its lineup now but still focuses on building titanium bikes in the Chattanooga factory.
Titanium is arguably an ideal material for a gravel bike thanks to its non-corrosive quality and lower density than steel that make a lighter bike with high fatigue resistance. Titanium also has the reputation of giving a more compliant ride than bikes made using other metals, which is an advantage over long miles of rough road.
Litespeed had two gravel models on display at Sea Otter: the Cherohala SE and Gravel. These two bikes are fraternal twins sharing essentially the same geometry, one with more clearance and burlyer tubes, the other just a bit more streamlined and lighter.
All-Road Litespeed Cherohala
The lighter model is the all-road Cherohala, named after one of North America’s famous scenic byways. Litespeed displayed the Cerohala built in two configurations, one as a drop bar, Shimano Ultegra Di2-equipped gravel racer with carbon wheels, and the other with flat bars and fenders with 38mm Panaracer Pasela tires with Shimano 105 mechanical shifting.
The Cherohala has internal rear brake line routing that is fully lined with a titanium tube so threading the line through is never a struggle, and Litespeed has removable head tube cable stops for the shift control lines. If you decide to run electronic shifting or a single ring, the stops can be removed and the hole plugged for a cleaner look. Aside from the lighter tubeset versus the Gravel model, the Cherohala headtube angle is 0.5 degree less steep and almost a centimeter taller.
The Cherohala can fit a maximum gravel tire size of 40mm, and as shown, 38mm with a fender. It also comfortably fits a standard 53/39t road chainset if you want.
The Gravel has heavier guage 3AL/2.5V titanium alloy for heavy-duty use. With that in mind, Litespeed includes rack mounts, an extra set of bottle mounts and all external control line routing. There are even mounting bosses for a top tube "bento box" bag. Interestingly, the head tube is a half degree steeper and shorter than the Cherohala. If you desire more head tube height, Litespeed produces press-in headtube extensions of differing lengths to customize your frame Litespeed frame.
The Gravel has a chainring maximum of 50t due to the increased tire clearance offered, allowing a 27.5 x 2.1" or 700c x 45mm tire. Customers can order a full build with either 700c or 650b wheels.
The Cherohala retails for $2,800 as a frame only and the Gravel is $2,500. The matching Litespeed carbon fork is $440. Litespeed offers full builds with Ultegra Di2, mechanical Ultegra, 105 and Force 1 groupsets.
For more on the Litespeed Cherohala and Gravel, see the photo gallery below.
More info: litespeed.com
See what’s new this year with our coverage of the 2018 Sea Otter trade show.