Before carbon took over, a debate about the best frame material enveloped the cycling world. Was it steel – after all it is real? How about alloy? Unfortunately, it was not yet at the level of quality we’re seeing today from the likes of Specialized and Cannondale. No, the it material was titanium and the it Ti builder was Litespeed, a company whose reputation precedes it. So sought after was the ride quality of the Ultimate road frame that it was commonly re-badged by pros who knew their sponsor provided frames weren’t quite up to snuff. The unofficial victories for the Ultimate are a poorly kept secret that include a USPRO National Championship as well as a World Road Championship.
As carbon became the go-to choice for frame material, it relegated Ti to a niche category – mostly left to custom frame builders. Now, the cycling world is again undergoing a seismic shift, but this time, instead of from metal to carbon, it’s from pavement to gravel – and titanium again has a place to shine.
Titanium is known for a smooth, forgiving ride – qualities that become essential when the tarmac ends and the real fun begins. It’s only fitting that Litespeed has updated its legendary Ultimate for the demands of gravel riding. With its Ti expertise, the company is well positioned to create a stand-out frame in the increasingly crowded gravel field.
With room for up to 45mm tires on 700C or 2.1 on 650B, Litespeed is not messing around with its most advanced gravel model yet; this frame is ready to tear up some serious dirt and grime. The geometry provides a road bike-like feel that is swift and nimble while 3AL/2.5V tubing offers vertical compliance and aerodynamic benefits. Optional fender mounts make this handmade in the USA frame ready to tackle the worst mud you can find.
If you want a high performance, light weight, and comfortable gravel bike, the Litespeed Ultimate Gravel needs to be on your must ride list. Available now.
Frame: $3500, complete builds: from $5949; litespeed.com