Titanium is the most exotic material ever used in the bike industry (and hey, maybe our opinion is slightly tainted, but we’ll stand by it!) Ti is insanely light, it doesn’t corrode, it’s easy to keep clean and new, has an exceptional fatigue life and it rides like a dream. It’s stiff where wanted, and shock-absorbant where desired. It is simply the perfect tubeset with which to manufacture high-performance bikes, bar none.
But it can be made better.
That’s where Litespeed’s decades of experience in not only welding but shaping our tubes, makes us the preeminent bike builder in the segment.
Indeed, many titanium brands are content to build with simple round tube sets. Which is… ok. It almost hearkens to the oft-used meme: “I’m in shape: round is a shape.”
Litespeed knows that’s not necessarily the only way to make a performance ti bike.
With that, Litespeed’s engineering team created its own tools and dies decades ago to take good titanium—and make it great. With those tools, we’ve been able to curve tubes to enhance comfort in a seatstay. To use a die that, with a bit of hydraulic pressure as it’s pulled through it, changes a simple round downtube into a squared top tube that then changes to a flattened orientation at the back of the section or a diamond crosssection downtube. All to achieve not only a striking look, but a performance benefit due to the material change.
Every model, from the old Vortex and Tanasi to the current Ultimate G2 and Pinhoti III has its own die—with its own signature tubeset shape—created with functional purpose as its driving purpose (and striking visual cue as a happy byproduct).
Shaping titanium tubes is a lot of work; engineers have to consider the tubeset-orientation and how its new shape will behave under torsional sprinting or climbing load, or how it will handle with greater confidence around a corner, how it will better absorb a rough chip sealed road or a rough rock garden. While many brands simply don’t have the desire or know-how to execute this crucial step in titanium bike manufacturing, it’s the shaping of round tubes that makes a Litespeed that much better. It’s become our calling card.
“We machine all the dies in-house and figure out how to make these tubes the way we want them, in order to get that performance we’re looking for,” Litespeed tubeset shaper David Haight (center, top) says.
“People can do shaping, but a lot of people find it kinda cumbersome,” says a 17-year veteran of the Litespeed building team. “It didn’t take long for us to find out how much doing the extra work in shaping our tubesets relates to the ride of the bike. Stiffness, handling, responsiveness… we could change the characteristics of the tubeset—of the bike—and make it perform better than just round tubes. Not only does it look great, it does something to the performance of the bike itself.”
And of course, it’s a team that takes pride in the pursuit of performance perfection that really brings these beautifully shaped tubest to life on the welder’s table.
“Our employees—that’s what it’s all about,” Haight said. “We train them to make these bikes with these shaped tubes in a challenging way. It’s not easy, but it’s our process.”
It takes just a one ride on a Litespeed to know it’s no cookie-cutter round-tubed creation. It’s a performance machine par excellence.
“When we have people like media or customers come through, they’re pretty wow’d, and are out spreading the word,” Haight said. “You see what people say on the internet as well.
I’ve been here a long time, and I never tire of it; it’s still impressive to see,” he adds. “We’ve come a long way. We’ve done it all in-house since the start, and we love being able to say we’re still doing it that way, in an innovative way.”