My bikes and why I ride them part 2: it’s mountain time!

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This is a Liteville 301 MK11, built with a pretty reliable set of goods – Syntace bars and grips, Hope pro 2 Evo SP hubs on Stan’s Flow EX rims, SRAM X01 divetrain, Formula RX brakes, X Fusion Sweep RC HLR forks and an X fusion HiLo strate seatpost. Right now it’s just been given an absoluteBLACK oval chainring, and new Vittoria Morsa/Goma tyres.

It’s my go-to weekend bike, and gets occasional commuting duty when I feel like taking some extra time to go see the trees on the way to work. I race it in gravity enduro format, and the occasional local club DH round. It is a mountain bike, built for one purpose: to ride mountains.

Why did I choose this bike?

I’ve been riding in the woods since 1998, with a few distractions like travelling here and there. So it’s fitting that after ticking over 40 years of existence I should finally build myself an appropriate bicycle.

After a lot of deliberation, I took the plunge on the Liteville 301. What led me to this bike? It’s actually hard to say, it was definitely not love at first sight. And I could have saved a fair bit of cash going round to the local big brand dealer and buying something off the floor. But then I saw this video, started reading more about the company and the design philosophy behind the bike, and was pretty much hooked. I wanted a bike for riding mountains. It needed to be precise, agile, efficient and reliable. I wanted to be able to race it, and also ride 50 km randomly on a Sunday, and also head into the random mountains of randomness. I wanted something low-ish, long-ish and slack-ish – hitting modern mountain biking geometry right on the head. So the more I pondered a bike to suit my needs, the 301 became a lot more attractive.

After a few years of wishing, and a good few months of cash burning a hole in my pocket, the 301 turned up.

…and how is it working out – how has it changed my life?

It is an improbably good platform for cycling evolution. I’ve learned more about how to ride a mountain bike since I’ve owned this machine than in my entire mountain biking existence before it. That’s no exaggeration, it really is a tool for personal development, and I feel like riding in mountains has become exponentially more satisfying. I’m probably not much faster on this machine, but I see the trail totally differently. I can extend my own limits, face some fears, and push myself to learn and grow with confidence.

How do I ride it, how does it feel, what do I do with it to make it work for me?

There are a few quirks about the 301 – it is not as low as some people would like, and the chainstays are unfashionably long. But it’s plenty slack! It prefers to ride in ‘unshakeably stable’ mode – and requires a touch of body english to pop and play with.

I’m a big unit, and found that I blew through all the rear travel too quickly – so adding larger volume spacer to the shock helped a lot. I’m also finding that a shock with more mid stroke support would be awesomely helpful, but that is for later. I run about the recommended sag, and generally leave my CTD shock fully open in descend mode all the time. Rebound is about 3/4 open – so pretty quick. It recovers quickly when I jump off stuff, but needs a bit of conscious control at launch time.

Up front I ride with very little high speed compression damping (fully open), and about 3/4 closed low speed damping. This helps immensely riding big bermy things. Like the rear, rebound is pretty quick. Sometimes maybe too quick! But – I like it to spring back with authority after landing a drop, and be ready to skip around on rocks. After decades of riding hardtails, I still prefer to dance rather than plow.

Overall I find this thing needs to be ridden in the middle of the bike. There’s plenty of reach to move around and shift your weight. I found myself dropping chains a bit, but realised that this was a function of me sitting too far back on the bike. Hammering into a chundery rock garden, shift forward a little and give the forks some work to do! It is a good strategy so far, and the bike responds extremely well to assertive riding. It’s tidy and predictable in the air, and, well, it just works!

…and would I recommend this bike to you?

Yes. I would very happily help you set up on a Liteville.

…and what would I change, if anything – would I buy another one?

I will buy another one if this one dies, I think this is my go-to mountain bike for as long as I can ride. The one thing I would change on my current version is the shock. It is fantastic for normal riding, but doesn’t have enough mid stroke support for racing. Liteville now specify a shock that is well known for it’s mid stroke support.

Sometime in the near future, I’ll replace the air can with a Vorsprung corset, and if that isn’t up to the job, probably aim for a Fox Float X2. I would also like to experiment with a slightly slacker head angle, but that’s for another day. Also, I would probably put a different seatpost on it, the Strate has been great, but I’m after a bit more travel. I’m caching some coins for a 9point8 150mm travel post next, but I also hear great things about KS posts. Oh, and then there’s Eightpins

In summary

This bike is the boss, and I’m extremely happy to be able to ride one. The end.

 

 

 

 

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