Liteville 301 frame - First ride £1899

Comfortable, beautifully made frame

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Liteville’s 301 is a beautifully crafted, switchable travel trail machine, with a cult following in its German homeland. The unique suspension design demands patient tuning though.

Ride & handling: Super smooth in the saddle

The light wheels mean the Liteville impresses with acceleration and altitude gain if you spin smoothly. Initial setup is quick using the sag indicator pegs on the top tube and the distinctive flip-up linkage. 

The drag-free shock bearings also mean it’s outstandingly smooth, comfy and traction rich when sat in the saddle, with no kickback through the pedals. It pushes through rolling depressions and sucks up smaller drops like a duvet too, so you can keep on the power and plough through mid-sized chunder without thinking.

Video: Liteville 301 - first look

It’s extremely stiff laterally as well, with impressively precise tracking from head and tail, although the geometry definitely feels more balanced with the shorter fork and lower bottom bracket. 

What makes it so smooth means it’s also very sensitive to shock tune too though. In stock linear tune, body movements such as sprinting out of the saddle translate to distracting amounts of suspension movement. Over-eager compression from the flip-up linkage means it doesn’t handle bigger, faster hits and hard cornering G-outs well in stock form either.

The answer from Liteville is to offer ‘Airtune’, a selection of internal shock shims that offer up to six different levels of progression. This does mean the 301 is definitely a bike that demands patient fettling rather than a gung ho get-on-and-go approach though.

Frame & equipment: Beautiful attention to detail

At a claimed 2.8kg (6.3lb) with shock, it’s an okay weight for a bike with 140mm (5.5in) or 160mm (6.3in) of travel (depending on linkage plates). The super-oversized, multi-butted and shaped tubes include chainstays that are asymmetrically butted and different lengths for all six different frame sizes. 

The needle bearing-mounted Fox shock is reversed to drive into the top tube armpit to disperse stress. Press-fit stainless steel headset bearings, neat brake hose and gear cable routing, Syntace 142x12mm bolt-through dropouts and raised logos provide premium detailing. 

ISCG, Syntace chainguide block and bottle mounts are standard and this bike has the head angle slacked out and seat tube steepened by a degree. There are many customisable colour options and a lifetime warranty covers downhill and race use.

We rode our 140mm (5.5in) travel test bike with both a 160mm (6.3in) travel Fox 36 and 140mm (5.5in) travel Fox 32 fork, and the latter was a better match. Finishing kit from Liteville partner brand Syntace and exotic Chris King hubs and DT Swiss carbon rims increase responsiveness, but it’s still relatively hefty for an XT-equipped 140mm travel bike.

Test frame spec

  • Fork: Fox 36 Float RC2, 160mm (6.3in) travel and Fox 32, 140mm (5.5in) travel 
  • Shock: Fox Float Kashima RP23
  • Drivetrain: Shimano XT 3x10
  • Wheelset: DT Swiss EXC400 carbon rims on Chris King ISO hubs
  • Brakes: Shimano XT
  • Handlebar: Syntace Vector Carbon
  • Stem: Syntace Superforce
  • Seatpost: Syntace P6
  • Saddle: Fizik Aliante

This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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