With the addition of the Xicon to their range, titanium specialists Litespeed have ﬂeshed out what is an already impressive line-up with a keenly priced model squarely aimed at broadening their fanbase.
It’s available as a frame-only deal from UK importers Paligap for £1,499, and we were sent one of the earliest built-up examples to make it to these shores. It arrived impeccably specced and well adjusted, with grease in all the right places, anchored by a SRAM Rival groupset.
Ride & handling: Pin sharp, fast and precise, yet comfortable too
On the road the Xicon was light and nimble, with handling at the opposite end of the scale to that usually found on sportive-orientated bikes which seek to emphasise steady comfort.
It proved pin sharp, fast and precise, with excellent high speed stability – all the fun without the fear and discomfort, whether you’re screaming down a perfectly surfaced Alpine col, or giving a Welsh mountain road the kamikaze downhill treatment.
With a large down tube, top tube and seat tube anchoring sharp pedal input, the Xicon produces exhilaratingly swift acceleration regardless of pedalling style. Yet the key to this bike’s amazing comfort, besides the superb Vredestein Fortezza tyres, is the modestly sized tubing making up the rear triangle.
A seriously pinched and ﬂattened left chainstay leaves the bottom bracket shell measuring just 16mm thick for about two-thirds of its length, while the right is a consistent but still smallish 19mm diameter.
Buttressed by shot-in 15.5mm seatstays, the result is a hugely compliant rear triangle with serious thud-busting capability. It reduced large potholes and small shocks to a level that should stop most liquid from splashing out of your water bottle.
litespeed xicon: litespeed xicon www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk
Frame & equipment: The chassis is a keeper; it’s up to you to choose the kit
The Xicon is built by a skilled torch-wielding artisan, joining precious metal with a precision guided stream of molten titanium. Backed by a lifetime guarantee, this frame’s a keeper and, if treated well, you’ll certainly be able to hand it down to your grandchildren.
Although the extraction and manufacture of titanium is energy hungry and environmentally taxing, the prospect of long-term ownership and durability offsets the somewhat negative effects of its manufacture.
Its light weight, enormous strength and resilience equals or surpasses the best steel and aluminium alloys, and the fact it’s virtually on par with platinum for corrosion resistance means it’s still championed as the ultimate long-term frame material.
A weight of only 1,320g for our M/L test frame brings it close to carbon territory. Welds are impeccable throughout, while the rear wheel is restrained by the fattest dropouts in town, which nevertheless still manage to look elegant and light thanks to substantial cutaways and lightly chamfered edges.
An excellent Easton EA70 carbon fork was ﬁtted to our test rig, but if cost is a concern then its stock fork bought simultaneously will only add £100 to the frame. You should be able to wrestle the price back further to under £3,000 with a different wheelset than the superlative carbon Fast Forwards that graced our Xicon.
Offering a perfect counterpoint to this digital age of ours, the SRAM Rival group features forged aluminium with machined steel innards. Its ﬁrm, mechanical feel is in perfect sync with the elemental nature of this machine.
Full 3al/2.5v titanium frame: full 3al/2.5v titanium frame www.robertsmithphotography.co.uk