Litespeed Vortex vs Airborne Zeppelin- Let's get the party started!
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  1. #1
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    Litespeed Vortex vs Airborne Zeppelin- Let's get the party started!

    Okay,

    I now ride a Cannondale Cadd 4, I'm 6'1" and weight 85kg. I generally race crits. I am in the market for a new bike. I am looking at the Litespeed Vortex and the Airborne Zeppelin. I wanna get a titanium bike because my c'dale is killing me on longer rides.

    I know some of you are going to say that it is really no comparison. One is 6/4V and the other is 3/2.5. And the stiffer bike is lighter than the softer bike. However, look at the price difference? and why are merlins (most) and sevens still made with 3/2.5 if 6/4 is so much better? For those who have ridden a c'dale and a vortex, did you feel any difference in flex? For those who have gone through this decision and have tried a vortex and zeppelin, what did you think of both and how did you make up your mind?

    All help is needed and appreciated.

    regards,
    Sean

  2. #2
    BS the DC
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    Litespeed Vortex vs. Airborne Zeppelin

    That isn't a fair comparison. Litespeed Vortex(6/4) vs. Airborne Zeppelin(3/2.5)

    A better comparison would be: Litespeed Vortex(6/4) vs. Airborne Torch(6/4) or Litespeed Tuscany(3/2.5) vs. Airborne Zeppelin(3/2.5). Not only are the materials similar but the price is closer too.

    My understanding is that there are few advantages to 6/4 titanium. It is possible to make a lighter, stiffer frame with it, but it creates a harsher ride and it is much more expensive because it's harder to work with. Because of that, I never really gave 6/4 titanium much consideration.

    I currently own a Litespeed Tuscany and an Airborne Zeppelin. The Airborne has a smoother ride. The Litespeed is probably stiffer, but I never felt like the Airborne lacked in stiffness at the bottom bracket. The Litespeed fits me better. Airbornes tend to run long in the top tube. Litespeeds tend to have a more neutral geometry.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the info, need more

    Thanks for the reply,

    I personally would have rated the Gisallo against the Torch and perhaps the MP against the Ultimate... which then leaves the Vortex and the Zeppelin. However, I agree that the materials and the prices are closer to each other.

    I've noticed that the Tuscany is about 200g lighter than the Zep. Any comments on that and whether you feel it when you are right it?

    I am rather puzzled with 6/4 as well because from what I can find out about the material, there is not much difference to the qualities of aluminium. If you tweaked Alu. I am sure you can come up with similar characteristics to 6/4 Ti. Is this pretty much right? Is 6/4 just an answer to the publics criticism of 3/2.5 Ti being too soft? Let's make a Alu frame with Ti?

    Thanks,
    Sean

  4. #4
    BS the DC
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    200g BM

    200g ... I've got bowel movements larger than that. 200g is not what I notice between the bikes. It's the geometry that is most noticable.

    I think your analogy of 6/4 and aluminum is right on. In an effort to get lighter bikes, builders used thinner walled, oversized aluminum tubes. This creates a stiffer, harsher ride. To maximize the weight savings of 6/4, the builders use thinner walled, oversized 6/4 tubes. This, again, creates a stiffer, harsher ride.

    I think fit is the most important thing. Test ride the bikes if you can.

  5. #5
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    haha... I know...

    yeah, I know, I'm not a weight weenie. I have been trying to understand this whole dilemma for awhile now and I think I have finally got it!

    You see, our judgement has all been clouded by names. Titanium, Steel, Aluminium, Carbon..... these are all names. Essetially, we should be looking at them as essentially the same material.

    Basically, Steel, titanium 3/2.5, Alu and Ti 6/4, Carbon in ascending order of stiffness. Okay, due to the characteristics of the material, carbon can be built with very thin walled tubes and steel has to be built with very thick walled tubes. This is what makes the frames light or soft riding. If you increase the thickness of Alu or Carbon, you will get the same feeling ride as a steel frame or a titanium frame.... and of course you will get the increase in weight as well. The additional material is what makes the frames feel softer. In the case of carbon, it is the multi-layered material bonded by resin which takes away the buzz. Stiffness of the frame is actually more dependant on the size of the tubing, especially at the head tube and the bottom bracket. Because most alu bikes are built with larger diameter tubing, they are stiffer, this cannot be achieved with Steel and 3/2.5 Ti unless you increase the weight of the frame.

    Basically I think it comes down to that.... of course there are other considerations like you said, geometry, longevity of the frame, the fact that if you crash, it breaks.... I like the geometry of the airborne because it feels more stretched out and is semi-compact.... I kinda hate compacts but then I like them for being agile, so I think semi-compact is the way for me. Can't really test one which is why I am depending on the goodoldpeople of roadbikereview like yourself.

    Thanks,
    Sean

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by buffedupboy
    yeah, I know, I'm not a weight weenie. I have been trying to understand this whole dilemma for awhile now and I think I have finally got it!

    You see, our judgement has all been clouded by names. Titanium, Steel, Aluminium, Carbon..... these are all names. Essetially, we should be looking at them as essentially the same material.
    You can build a similar riding bike out of pretty much any material if you know what you are doing but there are still plusses and minuses for each that may or may not make a difference to some. TI, CF and AL resist rust so if you are doing lots of wet weather riding they might be a good choice though steel--if properly treated--will do the job as well.


    Basically, Steel, titanium 3/2.5, Alu and Ti 6/4, Carbon in ascending order of stiffness.
    Each material has it's particular plusses and minuses--"stiffness" is not so simple to explain as just material choice. Many other factors involved such as bike size, geometry, tube shape, thickness, components used.


    Okay, due to the characteristics of the material, carbon can be built with very thin walled tubes and steel has to be built with very thick walled tubes. This is what makes the frames light or soft riding. If you increase the thickness of Alu or Carbon, you will get the same feeling ride as a steel frame or a titanium frame.... and of course you will get the increase in weight as well.
    not that simple...increasing the thickness only does so much and with CF it's more about the direction of the weave than it is about thickness. Also a TI frame is not all that stiff unless you make the tubes beefy enough that the weight difference is close to a good steel bike.


    The additional material is what makes the frames feel softer. In the case of carbon, it is the multi-layered material bonded by resin which takes away the buzz. Stiffness of the frame is actually more dependant on the size of the tubing, especially at the head tube and the bottom bracket. Because most alu bikes are built with larger diameter tubing, they are stiffer, this cannot be achieved with Steel and 3/2.5 Ti unless you increase the weight of the frame.

    again somewhat of an oversimplification IMO. you can get really light and stiff steel frames but they come at the expense of durability. Same with TI though using different grades of TI and shaped tubes can affect the ride greatly. Same with AL. Carbon fiber is probably the only material that can be tweaked by changing the way it is woven in order to use less material and remain fairly strong and stiff at the same time.
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.
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  7. #7
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    I totally agree.... almost...

    Hi Bo (hope you don't mind me calling you that),

    Quote Originally Posted by Bocephus Jones
    You can build a similar riding bike out of pretty much any material if you know what you are doing but there are still plusses and minuses for each that may or may not make a difference to some. TI, CF and AL resist rust so if you are doing lots of wet weather riding they might be a good choice though steel--if properly treated--will do the job as well.
    That is pretty much what I was saying. A lot of times, people judge bike frames for the characteristics that they were built for which is really unfair and confusing. Kinda like when someone says that a Ti 3/2.5 frame is flexible.... well, because it was designed like that.


    Each material has it's particular plusses and minuses--"stiffness" is not so simple to explain as just material choice. Many other factors involved such as bike size, geometry, tube shape, thickness, components used.
    I never said that it was that simple to explain. In fact I agreed that it is the manipulation of the material that makes it stiff. That is why I said that if you increased the thickness of the tubing for an Alu bike, you would pretty much get a bike that felt like a steel frame but with double the weight.


    not that simple...increasing the thickness only does so much and with CF it's more about the direction of the weave than it is about thickness. Also a TI frame is not all that stiff unless you make the tubes beefy enough that the weight difference is close to a good steel bike.
    You are constantly agreeing with my statements here. Except for the CF part. Do you not agree that if I took a carbon fiber frame, and increased the thickness of the CF weave, I could essentially get a bike that felt like a steel bike? Let's ignore the weight here because that's not what this discussion is about.


    again somewhat of an oversimplification IMO. you can get really light and stiff steel frames but they come at the expense of durability. Same with TI though using different grades of TI and shaped tubes can affect the ride greatly. Same with AL. Carbon fiber is probably the only material that can be tweaked by changing the way it is woven in order to use less material and remain fairly strong and stiff at the same time.
    Somehow, I have the sense that we are talking about the same thing and share the same opinions but somehow, it sounds like you don't believe that it is that simple. You can make a steel frame stiff and you can even make it light, but once you do, you will not have a steel frame that is comfortable, you will get the same ride quality of an Alu bike that is made of steel... and probably weighted twice as much.

    Regards,
    Sean

  8. #8
    BS the DC
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    Straight Gauge Titanium

    If you can afford it, I think titanium is a superior material for building frames. I like the industrial look and the care free nature of an unpainted titanium frame. As much as I admire a nicely painted frame, I don't want to fuss over paint chips.

    Airborne has gone a long way towards making titanium frames affordable. Airborne is critisized for using cheap, straight gauge, Chinese titanium. But I think this is a great material. I support this notion with Damon Rinards deflection tests. (http://www.sheldonbrown.com/rinard_frametest.html) If you accept that a butted steel frame is the gold standard for ride quality (ie. stiff but comfortable ride), then you'll notice that straight gauge titanium has similar deflection to butted steel. Aluminum has less deflection and a reputation for very stiff frames and a harsh ride. Butted titanium has a larger deflection and a reputation for not being stiff enough but having a smooth ride. Steel and straight gauge titanium generally falls in the middle and is known for a stiff but comfortable ride. Titanium has the additional benefit of being corosion resistant and lighter weight.

  9. #9
    Zeppelin/Ultegra Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffedupboy
    All help is needed and appreciated.

    regards,
    Sean
    What it came down to for me was could I afford it. I wanted Titanium for various reasons. My spending limit was around $2000(this was in 2001). The Zeppelin was the best(in my opinion) I could afford. Have ridden it three seasons and no complaints yet.

    Now what am I doing posting in the LiteSpeed forum?
    Ride in Peace....Enjoy every sandwich......Mike

  10. #10
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    A couple of thoughts on the Vortex

    I think the whole 6/4 vs. 3/2.5 is over blown. 6/4 is stronger but this is only important for those chasing the lightest possible frame. To me, the price difference between the two is far more important than the few ounces.

    Regarding the Vortex, I'm sure it's a nice frame and all but the basic design leaves me cold. Tall ovalized down tubes resist vertical flexing which make the ride harsh, and the oval is also shaped in the wrong direction to help with bottom bracket stiffness. On top of this, I don't think the aero advantage amounts to much. Overall, aero down tubes are a bad idea, in my opinion, for all but a time trial bike.

    Just my opinion.

    Ed

  11. #11
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    Okay so now....

    I have kinda summarised the following from all your great posts. I think to me, the Zeppelin seems like the winner.

    First of all the Zeppelin is straight gauge seemless 3/2.5V, with Bi-axially ovalised top and down tube. The Vortex is butted 6/2.5V (3/2.5 in some dubing) but seemed tubing (formed from a sheet). The Vortex is about 200g lighter than the Zeppelin but probably double the cost if not more. The Zeppelin comes as a frame and the Vortex comes as a complete bike.

    Because of all these, the Vortex is supposed to be the stiffer and harsher riding frame. The Zeppelin is supposed to be softer but tries to compensate for this with its bi-axially ovalised tubing. Being straight gauge is also supposed to make the frame stiffer compared to the butted Vortex.

    Although the Vortex is butted, it is actually externally butted, which means that the tubing is grinded down at areas to reduce it's gauge. The tubing is formed from a sheet which also makes it structurally unsound (theorethically anyways). However, butting the seemed tubing creates a far lighter frame compared to the Zeppelin.

    Therefore, if I was going for last forever, no worries, smooth ride, with a little loss due to flex I would op for the Zeppelin. If I wanted a racing machine, I would go for the Vortex. Pretty simple I guess now that I think about it.

    Any comments? Anything I missed?

    Regards,
    Sean

  12. #12
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    A couple more comments

    Quote Originally Posted by buffedupboy
    Although the Vortex is butted, it is actually externally butted, which means that the tubing is grinded down at areas to reduce it's gauge. The tubing is formed from a sheet which also makes it structurally unsound (theorethically anyways). However, butting the seemed tubing creates a far lighter frame compared to the Zeppelin.
    I don't think Litespeed tubes are butted per say, they cold work the tubes, which can result in a small wall thickness difference, thus their claim of "butted" tubing. You are right in that most other makers create butted tubing by grinding down the outside of the tube (Merlin, Seven, Dean, IF).

    Regarding seamed tubing being unsound, this is not true as a general rule. Some engineers even think that seamed tubing is better because it often affords a more consistant wall thickness. Bottom line on this point is that seamed tubing is fine as long as the tube forming process is good. Based on Litepeeds track record on this matter, I don't think you should worry about this point.

    Ed

  13. #13

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    c'dale to vortex

    I rode a CAD 5 frame for 4 years and rode everything from crits to uphill TT to 150 mile training rides. It was super stiff, and although a great quality for crits or climbing, it punished my back and behind on the longer rides. (75 miles plus). I did a lot of research on the different frame materials, talked w/ different manufacturers, read lots of articles and also read some interesting stuff on the web.
    Well, bottom line, I bought the Vortex. I wanted a bike that was as stiff for sprinting and climbing as the C'dale, but was more compliant in the rear end. This bike is perfect for me and is exactly what the doctor ordered. The 04 is as stiff as the CAD 5, but is ten times more comfortable to ride over rough roads or longer distances.
    As for the choice of Airborne vs. Litespeed I'm not sure that even warrants a response. One company has more experience w/ ti than many of the other makers combined, has a great racing heritage, is handmade in the USA, and has a LIFETIME warranty. The other is a foreign made, little experience, relatively young company, w/ little to no racing heritage and even if it's warranteed, will be an inferior product that will have to be replaced from across the ocean. Besides how many of your friends/ riding buddies lust after an Airborne? Litespeed?
    Yeah, I thought so!

  14. #14
    hrv
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    I agree

    Pretty sure I'll go Litespeed for my next bike. Still got a pit in my stomache for not getting my teammate's 2002 Sienna, can almost cry that I let that one go. Rode it a few times, each time was a poetic experience..

    hrv

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