Component experts Syntace are behind the Liteville brand. Their machines range from cross-country hardtails to a long-travel play/downhill bike. Right in the middle is the 301, a do-it-all frame that can be set up for almost any kind of riding.
Ride & handling: Light enough to mix it with the cross-country boys, yet tough enough to hammer
Once we swung a leg over the 301, we were blown away by how good it was. Set up with 140mm of rear travel from a DT Swiss SSD 212L shock and with 160mm of Fox plushness up front, the 301 was a blast to ride. It’s the kind of bike you can spend all day on and still want to go further and faster.
We ran it as it came to start with, but as most people will buy the 301 frame only, we revalved a Fox RP23 shock and stuck on a development RockShox Lyrik fork and ended up with a balanced 170mm of travel front and rear. The ride was truly excellent: quick handling, lots of stability at speed and a great climber.
With the 120mm setup and the relatively low frame weight, you could build up a light and rapid cross-country rig, but where the bike feels most at home is with 140mm travel at the rear and a 160mm fork. In this guise you still get a bike that climbs really well thanks to very little pedal-induced suspension movement, but has enough quality travel to let rip on the downhills.
In the end, we realised we could do most things with a 301 – there was nothing we encountered that this bike wasn’t capable of handling – but what it craved was to be ridden hard time and time again. Hammer it, wash it, put it away. Then do it all again tomorrow.
Frame: Well built chassis with adjustable travel courtesy of swappable linkage plates
The frame is made from custom drawn and butted 7005 aluminium alloy, held together by perfectly formed welds. Our test bike had a 1.5in head tube, but on production 301s this will be tapered. We’d rather they left it as 1.5in because then you could ﬁt any fork you like.
Out back are cold-forged linkage travel plates that operate the shock. The plates come in three conﬁgurations: 120mm, 140mm (tested here) and 160mm. They not only change the rear wheel travel, but the geometry as well by altering the position where the seatstays fasten to the linkage. The idea is that if the front and the rear wheel travel changes together, the bike rides in the same way, just with more or less wheel travel. It’s simple, and it works.
Even the bolts have been well thought out. They’re broached all the way through for a 4mm hex key, but the head of the bolt is designed to take a 5mm hex key. So if you snap the head off by overtightening, you can simply use a 4mm hex key to remove the broken part and ﬁt the spare.
Elsewhere, all the pivots, except the main linkage pivot, feature double sealed stainless bearings. The main pivot has an airtight sealed bushing that runs really smoothly. These are the kind of details that make the 301 stand out.