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  1. #1
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    Litespeed 2005 Solano any good?

    So I decided to get my wife a bike for Christmas. She is not going to race or anything, just sometimes ride with me. I have a policy of not getting people gifts that I would not think good enough for myself, so I want to get her something decent.

    What do you think of this? Is there something I should know about where they are cutting corners?

    http://www.coloradocyclist.com/commo...273&TextMode=0

    http://www.litespeed.com/bikes/solano.aspx#

    I noticed that if I bought the components on this, it is like getting the frame for $100.

    Her inseam is 77cm (30.3 inches) wearing shoes and she is 5'4" 123lbs. Does this mean she probably needs a 49cm frame? Litespeed claims the 'standover' on the 49cm frame is 75.1cm.

    I wanna save money by getting a 2005 and not skimp on the stuff that matters. Is there anything else that is great that I should consider for someone who does not know what
    her own preferences are so I need to make an educated guess?

    It appears to be discontinued in 2005. No 2006 model has this name. Wonder why they dumped the model. Anyone have any insite to what replaced it?
    Last edited by rsilvers; 12-04-2005 at 05:31 PM.

  2. #2
    haole from the mainland
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    49 cm sounds right

    I'm a female 5' 4.5" inseam ~30.5" and I just bought a 49 cm Merlin Atreus http://merlinbike.com/bikes/2005/atreus.aspx. I have a Bianchi that is a 52 cm and I have concluded I was sold a bike that's too big for me. One thing I have noticed about the Litespeeds and Merlins is that the Litespeed tob tubes are about 1 cm shorter for the same 'size' bike, so your wife might be able to go with either a 49 or 51. If her arms aren't longish, I probably say a 49, though. And the stem on my bike is an 80mm, so with a 49cm Solano she might go with a 90mm stem instead.

    I think the Solano is a great deal. I considered getting it myself because it was exactly what I was looking for (full titanium, no carbon in the frame; not too funky tube shapes; traditional geometry; non-integrated headset), but my LBS hooked me up with the Merlin. All told, I spent a grand more than the Solano but I upgraded the headset (to King), saddle (to a Brooks with titanium rails), crankset (to FSA SL-K compact), and wheels (to Ksyrium SLs).

    And I get free tune-ups from my LBS for a year & I can feel free to go in and bug them about sizing whenever I want. For example, I left the steerer tube uncut and have spacers on it for now. When I get the fit dialed in, I'll have the shop trim it down. And any warranty issues I can go to the shop and say 'fix this.' That kinda stuff is worth a couple hundred bucks extra to me.

    So that's the downside to the Solano, it's take it or leave it for the components (at least that's what they told me when I called CO cyclist) and you don't get the freebie support you'd get from your LBS. As far as the quality of the frame and shortcuts, I think they're non-issues and the Solano is of the quality you'd expect for Litespeed.

    Also, the reason I was able to get such a good deal on the Atreus is that it is a model that has been discontinued for 2006 (actually morphed into the Merlin Works TR 3/2.5 for 2006) and ABG (company that owns Litespeed & Merlin) is letting them go cheap. My LBS ordered one for me, I didn't have to buy a model that had been sitting on the floor. It's a model that not too many folks knew about, so ABG might still have some available. Thought I'd throw that out there for you.

    Sorry this post is so long, but before I laid down a big chunk of change for a titanium frame I did a lot of research. If my LBS hadn't come through with the deal they did, I'd be riding a Solano instead.

    Quote Originally Posted by rsilvers
    So I decided to get my wife a bike for Christmas. She is not going to race or anything, just sometimes ride with me. I have a policy of not getting people gifts that I would not think good enough for myself, so I want to get her something decent.

    What do you think of this? Is there something I should know about where they are cutting corners?

    http://www.coloradocyclist.com/commo...273&TextMode=0

    http://www.litespeed.com/bikes/solano.aspx#

    I noticed that if I bought the components on this, it is like getting the frame for $100.

    Her inseam is 77cm (30.3 inches) wearing shoes and she is 5'4" 123lbs. Does this mean she probably needs a 49cm frame? Litespeed claims the 'standover' on the 49cm frame is 75.1cm.

    I wanna save money by getting a 2005 and not skimp on the stuff that matters. Is there anything else that is great that I should consider for someone who does not know what
    her own preferences are so I need to make an educated guess?

    It appears to be discontinued in 2005. No 2006 model has this name. Wonder why they dumped the model. Anyone have any insite to what replaced it?

  3. #3
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    Thanks. Your sizing advice makes sense, and gives me comfort. Your Merlin is very classy looking, and I would prefer it to the Litespeed for a few reasons. I am partial to Merlin as I own a 1995 Merlin Mountain and was sad when they got bought out. This would be my wife's first highish-end bike though, and I would rather limit myself to ~$2K.

    I don't mind about taking the parts on the Litespeed because they used full Ultegra and even the wheels are under 800 grams each. A local shop had a $1700 Giant carbon bike with an Ultegra rear derailleur, but the headset, cranks, seatpost, bottom bracket, brakes, etc -- were all Giant house brand. No such obvious skimping on the Litespeed. The seat and headset are less than the best, but still ok.

    I am thinking of getting her mountain SPD pedels so she can wear mountain shoes which are easier to walk on. Since she won't be racing, I think that is the right way to go. Correct me if I am wrong.

  4. #4
    haole from the mainland
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    Oh and FYI

    I'm pretty sure the dealer cost on the Atreus (standard set-up) is $1700, or at least is was back in October maybe it's less now. I saw that scribbled on the piece of paper the owner of my LBS had. Might be useful to you.

    Quote Originally Posted by jorgy
    I'm a female 5' 4.5" inseam ~30.5" and I just bought a 49 cm Merlin Atreus http://merlinbike.com/bikes/2005/atreus.aspx. I have a Bianchi that is a 52 cm and I have concluded I was sold a bike that's too big for me. One thing I have noticed about the Litespeeds and Merlins is that the Litespeed tob tubes are about 1 cm shorter for the same 'size' bike, so your wife might be able to go with either a 49 or 51. If her arms aren't longish, I probably say a 49, though. And the stem on my bike is an 80mm, so with a 49cm Solano she might go with a 90mm stem instead.

    I think the Solano is a great deal. I considered getting it myself because it was exactly what I was looking for (full titanium, no carbon in the frame; not too funky tube shapes; traditional geometry; non-integrated headset), but my LBS hooked me up with the Merlin. All told, I spent a grand more than the Solano but I upgraded the headset (to King), saddle (to a Brooks with titanium rails), crankset (to FSA SL-K compact), and wheels (to Ksyrium SLs).

    And I get free tune-ups from my LBS for a year & I can feel free to go in and bug them about sizing whenever I want. For example, I left the steerer tube uncut and have spacers on it for now. When I get the fit dialed in, I'll have the shop trim it down. And any warranty issues I can go to the shop and say 'fix this.' That kinda stuff is worth a couple hundred bucks extra to me.

    So that's the downside to the Solano, it's take it or leave it for the components (at least that's what they told me when I called CO cyclist) and you don't get the freebie support you'd get from your LBS. As far as the quality of the frame and shortcuts, I think they're non-issues and the Solano is of the quality you'd expect for Litespeed.

    Also, the reason I was able to get such a good deal on the Atreus is that it is a model that has been discontinued for 2006 (actually morphed into the Merlin Works TR 3/2.5 for 2006) and ABG (company that owns Litespeed & Merlin) is letting them go cheap. My LBS ordered one for me, I didn't have to buy a model that had been sitting on the floor. It's a model that not too many folks knew about, so ABG might still have some available. Thought I'd throw that out there for you.

    Sorry this post is so long, but before I laid down a big chunk of change for a titanium frame I did a lot of research. If my LBS hadn't come through with the deal they did, I'd be riding a Solano instead.

  5. #5
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    $1700 dealer for just the frame, or a bike? I assume that is dealer for an Ultegra bike.

    My friend who used to be a welder at Merlin before they were bought out and their location was closed has a bit of a drudge against Litespeed and sees Merlin/Litespeed as the same now.
    Last edited by rsilvers; 12-04-2005 at 07:36 PM.

  6. #6
    haole from the mainland
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    I think it's personal preference for the pedals

    I had defaulted to SPDs because a Bianchi I bought a while back came with cheap wellgo spd pedals. With the Merlin I decided to try Speedplays on the recommendation of my sister, who is also responsible for turning me onto carbon. A majority of the folks I ride with have Looks, though. I wanted the float I got with the speedplays, though, as my knees have been giving me trouble.

    The thing about spd pedals is that you can get an off-brand pair for dirt cheap. If you go with regular road shoes you can switch the cleats out if your wife decides she wants a road pedal. Not so if you go with the mtn shoes. I consider myself pretty much still a noob, but I'm glad I have road shoes. I don't walk around much in them and while they were super awkward at first, I did get used to them.

    As for the Litespeed vs. Giant, definitely the Litespeed is the better deal. Better to have a cheapish stem, which is easily replaced and may have to be replaced as your wife gets fit to the bike, than a rear derailleur.


    Quote Originally Posted by rsilvers
    Thanks. Your sizing advice makes sense, and gives me comfort. Your Merlin is very classy looking, and I would prefer it to the Litespeed for a few reasons. I am partial to Merlin as I own a 1995 Merlin Mountain and was sad when they got bought out. This would be my wife's first highish-end bike though, and I would rather limit myself to ~$2K.

    I don't mind about taking the parts on the Litespeed because they used full Ultegra and even the wheels are under 800 grams each. A local shop had a $1700 Giant carbon bike with an Ultegra rear derailleur, but the headset, cranks, seatpost, bottom bracket, brakes, etc -- were all Giant house brand. No such obvious skimping on the Litespeed. The seat and headset are less than the best, but still ok.

    I am thinking of getting her mountain SPD pedels so she can wear mountain shoes which are easier to walk on. Since she won't be racing, I think that is the right way to go. Correct me if I am wrong.

  7. #7
    haole from the mainland
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    Whole bike. The Atreus wasn't sold as a frame only.

    Full Ultegra 10 speed. Real Design Signature fork. Cane Creek Headset. Real Design SuperSphere wheels. Ho-hum but functional stem, handlebars, saddle and seatpost.

    Quote Originally Posted by rsilvers
    $1700 dealer for just the frame, or a bike?

  8. #8
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    I see the Cane Creek headset on the Litespeed is a $35 retail unit. So it probably is ho-hummy. Thanks.

  9. #9
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    I suggest that you take her around to reputable shops in your area and have her test ride some bikes. I did that with my wife when she got into riding a few years ago. I was very suprised to find that she prefered a much different bike than I thought she would. If I'd just bought the bike I thought she would like, she'd probably have been disappointed in the riding... when she test rode it, she thought it was sluggish, but the bike she ended up with (steel frame for all you purists) "just wants to go".

    She also got good fitting advice. I'm comfortable specing my own bikes and doing my own fitting, but I don't have the experience setting up bikes for non-racing women that the shop did, and that meant that they did a better job of it than I would. I've been able to help her fine-tune her position since then, but I think the shop's starting point was a lot better than I would have come up with.

  10. #10
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    Yes, I should do that but the testride will cost about $800.

    I am still mad at the local dealer for all the BS he told me. He said the $1700 Giant was 15 lbs, for example. When I asked him for a scale, he 'did not have one' even though it was a full service shop.

    He also told me no one rode tubulars anymore except him, and it seems like basically all racers still do except for training. He looked at me like I was from outer space when I bought rim cement for my Vitus Ec
    Last edited by rsilvers; 12-04-2005 at 09:09 PM.

  11. #11
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    The bike looks good for the price. One comment though, you might want to consider a triple unless you guys only ride on flat roads.

  12. #12
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    The Solano is a great buy. I got one in the same deal, and I'm very happy with it.

    You'd have to ask Litespeed why they dumped the model, but in my opinion, I'd say it was to slim down the line. Depending on exactly what you were looking at, it's wasn't significantly different than the models above or below it in the '05 lineup. After I bought it, I spent a fair bit of time wondering why they bothered to offer this model. Great bike, great deal, but it seems that folks would that would look at it would either go to the Firenze for the value or up to the Tuscany for a better build of a very similar bike.
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  13. #13
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    What are the weak spots? The wheels? The headset? The stem?


    As for triple chainrings -- I am very concerned about the gearing being too tall. I was thinking of a 27 cog or -- can the current chainrings be replaced with less teeth if needed?

  14. #14
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    I'm not a big lightspeed fan but that is a good deal for that bike. There really aren't any "weak" components on that bike, or for that matter any other production bike in the $1000+ range. Anything Shimano 105+ will last you tens of thousands of miles. As you spend more you get lighter components, and possibly a bit longer life, but nothing significant.

  15. #15
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    I was never a Litespeed fan either, but not for any objective reason. I just did not like the idea of a Titanium bike company getting too large. But I like Ti, and the same type of thing from Seven or Moots would be at least $1000 more and she does not have the biases I do for brand pickyness or eliteism.

    I ordered the bike and some Ultegra SPD pedals.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsilvers
    What are the weak spots? The wheels? The headset? The stem?

    As for triple chainrings -- I am very concerned about the gearing being too tall. I was thinking of a 27 cog or -- can the current chainrings be replaced with less teeth if needed?
    The drivetrain is typical road, so some would find the gearing tallish. You can't effectively replace the chainrings - I think the 39 supplied is as small as will fit on a standard 134BCD crank. I swapped out the Ultegra to an FSA compact double up front. Compared to a triple, it's a lighter, cheaper, and easier swap, and it only gives up the very bottom granny gear (that is, a 34x25 is close enough to a 30x23, but I lose the 30x25 that a triple has.)

    The stem is ITM on mine is, decent stuff. The ITM bars aren't my favorite, but that's a personal decision like saddles. (BTW, I love the Fizik Aliante Ti that came on mine.) The wheelset is a set of Real Design Supersonic 40's on my bike. Light enough, stiff enough, and I like the carbon aero hoops. They don't have the brand recognition of some of the other brands, but I don't pay for decals.

    There are one or two oddities about the wheels. If you ride in the rain, water can get into the hollow of the carbon rim through the spoke holes, where it gets stuck and sloshes around. Not a problem when you're riding, but probably needs to be drained out so as not to sieze a spoke nipple. Not a big deal - letting the air out of the tube with the stem down solves the problem.

    Also, the deep-section aero design completely hides the spoke nipples from the outside. Great choice for efficiency, but less so for repair and maintenance. Should the wheel need to be trued, the tire will need to be dismounted and the rim tape removed. Some argue that should happen anyway, so you can look at it as a good thing, I suppose. No shortcuts allowed.
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  17. #17
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    That's going to be way overbuilt for her size. A pretty stiff frame for a lighter female rider.

  18. #18
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    Yeah, she should have the Ghisallo frame ideally. 1.7lb frame.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rsilvers
    Yeah, she should have the Ghisallo frame ideally. 1.7lb frame.
    I gather by that sarcastic response that my input wasn't well received. Do you want sincere input or don't you?

    There's plenty of ti offerings, though not in your budget, not as overbuilt for a lightweight rider as this one. This will be a very stiff bike for her. She may be fine with that, but she may not be. As the discussion got sidetracked into an analysis of componentry, I thought someone (in this case me) should mention that the oversized seattube and downtube on this baby are better designed for the large and powerful rider.

    Also, are you sure that's a cycling inseam, the 30.3? That's 1 1/2 inches shorter than my cycling inseam, and I'm only 5'6".
    Last edited by JayTee; 12-05-2005 at 12:01 PM.

  20. #20
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    I had never thought of your point, so it was good info to have.

    It only seemed to be scarastic because the correct solution to address the very valid point you raised happened to double the price of the bike. Making Ti springy requires thinner tubing, which generally means butted tubing, which means very expensive. I bet small frame riders tend to end up with stiff bikes a lot more than tall/heavy riders.
    Last edited by rsilvers; 12-05-2005 at 12:47 PM.

  21. #21
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    It is true that a lightweight triple butted (or similar) frame might be the sweetest, there are a few other reasonably priced ti options (most straight guage tubing) that still won't boast the oversized tubeset, etc. and thus would be a good compromise for a smaller rider.

    Good luck!

  22. #22
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    Sweet. The bike was shipped, and they are now listed out of stock of that size.

  23. #23
    Vaprak001
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    Funny

    Hehehe...sorry slightly off topic but when I first read this thread I thought it said 'Bike OR wife - Litespeed?'. I was about to reply saying 'take the Litespeed you fool!'

  24. #24
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    Funny....I read your post..

    and thought I saw "bike or wife...", not "bike for wife". I thought that would have been a great question!

  25. #25
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    Woohoo. Looks purdy. I am glad it came though with black/grey decals on the wheels and tubes rather than yellow. It looks more like my Merlin and less flashy. I will post a pic by tomorrow.

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