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At the end of last year, two riders from the DFL Professional cycling team. David Harrigan and Alex Coutts were in Spain for early training, and we got a chance to have a good look at one of their team bikes. The Litespeed Siena Titanium.
The day we had a look at the Litespeed, it had been raining, and the bike looked like a real work machine covered in six hours of road grime!
The equipment is Shimano Dura-Ace. There is not much to say! It’s the top offering from the big Japanese company, ten speeds of lightweight componentry.
The look of Hollowtech II crank-set you either love or hate, but you must admire its chunky design. The gears are faultless, and the braking is reliable. These are all the reasons why the Pro’s ride Dura-Ace. The top from Shimano.
The other parts are workmanlike. Strong and light. Handlebar and stem from F.S.A., the stem being the RD120. Alloy seat pin from Ritchey toped with the Selle Italia S.L.R. with titanium tubes and a carbon body. Pedals are Time. Their best the R.X.S. Ulteam Ti carbon, weighing in at 180 grams, they must be about the lightest pedal on the market. The wheels were the rider’s training wheels and nothing special, just strong shod with Schwalbe clincher tires for hard-wearing over hours and hours of training.
The Titanium Dream Machine
Now the frame. Litespeed has been making titanium frames since the 1980s and has made titanium frames for other famous bike manufacturers like; DeRosa, Merckx, Tommasini, Basso, Univega, Alpinestars, Marin, and Rocky Mountain.
So they know what they are doing. First, the tubes on the Siena are not round, as you would expect. They are shaped for different uses. Three different Diamond shapes, Bladed, Orbital, Teardrop, Flattened Oval, and Capsule. These different shapes give more strength for lateral stiffness or for aerodynamic reasons. You look at the tubes, and they are quite beautiful in their construction and obviously workmanlike.
Siena, Not Made in Italy
The Siena takes many of its attributes from the higher end frames. The Vortex and the Ghisallo, the oversize tubes are shaped for the best handling and stiffness. The top tube is taken from the ultra-light Ghisallo. Butted and strong, the oversize down tube is shaped like an oversized expanded diamond for super stiffness, matted with the big seat tube. This holds everything in place when you are giving the bike full throttle.
The seat stays are obviously different. Not straight with a slight curve to them. This is Teardrop shape technology and gives a smoother ride. The chainstays are Capsule-shape, which equals lateral forces when pedaling. P.F.T. Proprietary Forming Technology and G.E.T. Geometrically Enhanced Tubing are both to be thanked for the strength/rigidity to lightness, as Litespeed says they can do more with less.
The Tuscan town of Siena in Italy has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and just like the town, this frame has an impressive history.
The Front end
The carbon forks are from Easton, the EC90 Superlite, an all-carbon fork with a taper wall design giving stiffness and greater strength and weighing in at only just over 300 grams. The headset is Cane Creek, what can we say about one of the best headsets around, there isn’t much better.
All in all the frame is Titanium perfection with probably the best equipment available, this being a Pro’s bike the rider cant choose the equipment this is dependent on the sponsors, in saying that there isn’t much I would change, a carbon seat pin and perhaps carbon handlebars and stem, then that saddle I would definitely swap for something with more padding, a little gel would be nice, but this is a personal choice of mine.
So, How Does it Ride?
Well, first off, it wasn’t my size, but with a little adjustment, I could give it a good go! This is a very stiff, responsive bike, on twisty descents you have to hold it back and lean into bends and then it beautifully swings out of the corner and into the next on a switchback road. When climbing its light and that stiffness comes in handy, it feels like every ounce effort you put into the pedals comes out through the back wheel and out onto the road, it jumps up the steep bits like a mountain goat.
In this part of Spain the coast roads are nice and smooth, and the Litespeed rolled along without a care, sprinting was like climbing as the bike would jump into action when out the saddle, my only criticism would be on rough-surfaced roads, the back end of the bike would bounce around a little when out the saddle sprinting, but then I have known many bikes do the same, apart that it was one nice ride!
We would give this bike 10 out of 10, except for the harsh ride on rough roads, it has it all, but then a Pro’s bike should have. If you are thinking of getting Titanium then I would look at Litespeed as being the first place to visit.