October 19, 2021

All of us—every one of us—wants the “new thing.” 12 speed? Yes please. New saddle with ti rails? Gotta have. Cool new kit? Where do I preorder? New Litespeed model? Yes, please!

Mitch Hopkins is that guy.

“I don’t know if you can tell by looking at my collection, but I like to try new stuff,” Hopkins says with a laugh. “I’ve always loved getting new bikes… which has always made me a company’s favorite customer.”

 

Mitch Hopkins: Litespeed Enthusiast

 

The 48-year-old is like many of us: a dyed-in-the-wool cyclist, he’s been on every bike. Grew up a BMX kid, jumped onto mountain bikes, found an epiphany on the road, and has found a newfound love for dirt with gravel riding.

And along the way, he’s been enamored with technology as it’s advanced. When he was younger and riding MTB, he marveled at the segue from 26-inch wheels to 29-inch, to the advent of suspension in frames.

That tech love expanded to the bike material themselves. He went from a curiosity of bonded carbon and aluminum to titanium….which brought him to Litespeed. Actually, what brought him to Litespeed was his move to attend school in the late 80s and early 90s in Chattanooga, Tenn, near where the bikes were being made at the time in nearby Ooltewah.

It would be the start of a compulsion, and his rotation of Litespeed models over the years is enviable.

“My first Litespeed was a Tuscany in 1999,” Hopkins says. “I had a roommate in college in Chattanooga and was in the midst of making a transition from a mountain biker to a road rider—it’s ironic because when I was riding mountain bikes, I’d said I’d never be seen riding road bikes because it seemed so generic. But y’know, things change over time.”

Why a Litespeed?

“Back then, Litespeed was new and everyone was talking about them, being made of titanium. Even before I moved to Chattanooga, one guy we biked with had a first generation Owl Hollow with a crazy suspension, and it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen,” he says. “And around Chattanooga, everyone was riding them. I was like ‘aw, I wanna be a cool kid!’”

It took one ride to tell him he was home.

“Going from the lugged bike to the titanium Litespeed, I remember the first thing I thought: that thing was smooth,” Hopkins says. “It was just so new and amazing; the ride was smooth, the new Shimano STI shifters were a huge upgrade from the downtube shifters I’d been using before… it was just a big advance for me.”

Hopkins ended up selling that Tuscany to a friend, “and he won’t sell it back to me. But that’s not the one that got away.”

Since then, Hopkins has had a steady stream of Litespeed bikes in his quiver.

“I got an Ultimate in the 1990s, and that was nice,” he says. “And when the T1SL came out, I actually got to meet a few of the guys that worked at Litespeed at a three-state crew mountain event, and they sold me on the T1SL."

“But as I waited on the T1SL to be built, I got a 2007 Vortex Compact,” he adds. “THAT is the one that got away. It was that real compact design, so stiff and light. I would give anything to get that bike back.”

The T1SL gave way to new technology—disc braking. Translated: time for a new bike for Hopkins: the Ultimate Gravel.

 

Mitch Hopkins: Litespeed Enthusiast

 

“It’s so funny to me that all these people my age are getting consumed by gravel, but I’m like ‘we’ve been doing this since 1993 on 26-inch tires!’” Hopkins says with a laugh. “The majority of my time is still on the road with the Ultimate Gravel, but where I live in North Carolina, it’s so convenient to go out the front door and ride."

In the years since his first Litespeed, he’s seen many brands come into the ti bike space, but still maintains an affection for the brand, one that extends beyond his local connection. “Actually getting to meet and talk with Brad DeVaney, the engineer behind the bikes, and having had a chance to tour the factory gives you a deeper connection,” Hopkins says, “but that’s not the reason I like the brand so much.”

So what is the reason? The same thing that has always moved the needle for Hopkins: “advanced technology.”

“Litespeed seems to push the boundaries a bit more,” Hopkins says. “I work in the tool and die industry, and see how much work they put into their bikes. Compared to others, I’ve always felt I love the tube shaping that Litespeed does. I just want something different than the round tubing that everyone else does. Litespeed is always coming out with cool stuff."

And for Hopkins, that’s what it’s always about: riding cool stuff.

 

Mitch Hopkins: Litespeed Enthusiast

 

 

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Road, Gravel, Cherohala, & City

Frame Size
Rider Height (in)
Rider Height (cm)
XS
4'10” – 5’2”
147 - 157
S
5’2" – 5’6”
157 - 165
M
5’5"– 5’8”
163 - 173
ML
5’8” – 5’11”
173 - 180
L
5'-10” – 6’2”
178 - 188
XL
6’2" – 6'4"
188 - 198

Pinhoti III, Nolichucky & Unicoi

Frame Size
Rider Height (in)
Rider Height (cm)
XS
5'0" - 5'4"
152 - 165
S
5'3" - 5'7"
162 - 174
M
5'7" - 5'11"
174 - 180
L
5'11" - 6'3"
180 - 192
XL
6'2"- 6'5"
189 - 198


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