Long-Term Test: Liteville 301 Enduro First Look
In a similar manner to Marmite, we either love or hate the bikes from Liteville – but there’s one thing that no one can deny: they make damn good bikes. Not only are they lightweight, but they’re incredibly well considered. For more than 12 months, our long-term tester Ricky has relied on her own custom-built 301 as the ideal do-it-all bike and this season she’s already faster and stronger in races and her willingness to take on more and more challenging and technical trails shows no sign of abating. This all made her pretty much the ideal rider to take the all-new 301 Enduro Werksmaschine through the wringer.
The 301 has its work cut out for it as its versatility will be put through its paces on quick blasts after work, multiple enduro races, visits to bike parks, massive mountain rides with incredible single tracks and tough climbs where you’re forced to carry it, all rounded off with a three-month winter camp on La Palma. But it has certainly got off on the right foot, as the lightweight aluminum frame blows certain carbon peers out of the water once it’s on the scales. The RockShox suspension with Pike forks and Monarch RT3 DebonAir offers a lush 160mm of travel and the rest of the parts are not half bad either: 1×11 SRAM X01 drivetrain, Guide RSC brakes (200/180mm) and the RockShox Reverb Stealth post. Syntace take care of the cockpit and wheels, delivering a loud free hub with the wide W35 wheels.
With her own 301 MK11 Ricky has never had cause for complaints: “It is the all-in-one bike for me. It looks super cool and not too in your face, but it’s just so versatile too. I love going for rides when the climbs are just too tough to ride and I have to carry the bike to the summit – it just makes going downhill even better. There are no annoying cables when I’m carrying it as they’re all hidden under the top tube or nicely channeled along the down tube. And the 301 weighs the perfect amount for carrying.”
Not just a younger model, the 301 Enduro Werksmaschine is a vastly different bike. And while Liteville have a tendency to adapt the geometry with the launch of each new generation, the main differences are in the spec. Compared to Ricky’s former Revelation, the Pike should deliver a higher performance and the wider wheels will offer enhanced stability. Directly compared on the very first test ride, the new platform damping of the RockShox shock vastly outperformed the former stock FOX FLOAT damper. And even the drivetrain is markedly different too; until now Ricky has ridden with a 2×10 XT groupset, so she’s a little skeptical: “I’m excited about having 11 gears, but is that gear ratio really enough for proper mountains?”
“For me the most exciting change is going to be the 27.5″ front and the 26″ back. I used to always ride a 26er, and I’ll definitely be grateful for the bigger tyre on descents without having to mourn the loss of any nimbleness. Well that’s the theory anyway, so I’m curious to see it in reality.”
Each of Liteville’s frames have been specifically developed so that the geometry is in proportion to the frame, wheels and the rider’s size – this geometry concept, christened Scaled Sizing, puts the front wheel ‘as large as possible’ and the rear ‘as large as necessary.’ This, according to the company, promises the perfect balance between agility and stability as well as ensuring that any rider has a bike that suits their own body size. Essentially a bike (size XL) with a 27.5″ rear wheel and 29″ front will behave exactly the same as a size S bike with 24″ rear and 26″ front. Since the birth of the MK12 line and thanks to the DuoLink technology, Liteville’s rear ends have been easy to adjust and fit the same size wheel front and back without changing the geometry if that’s what you prefer.
The Reverb dropper post’s remote lever didn’t fit ergonomically for Ricky and – given the risk of crashing – she’s exchanged it for one mounted underneath. Tyre selection naturally depends on the trail conditions, but Ricky has opted for all-rounders: “The stock tyre on the back, the Rock Razor from Schwalbe, is better on fast and dry trails. I’d prefer to ride a Hans Dampf at the back with the PaceStar rubber compound. Despite being heavier, it’s much more versatile. And at the same time I’ll do the tubeless conversion.”
So that she doesn’t have to completely renounce her favourite colour, Ricky has decided to transplant the bikini pink Ergon GE1 grips and the Ergon SME3 Pro saddle from her former 301 onto the new Werksmaschine.
Super lively and constantly on the go, Ricky is as multifaceted as the 301. Having grown up surrounded by bikes in her dad’s workshop, she started racing XC and marathons when she was still at school. Perhaps this led her down the career path she’s on today, as she’s now been a bike mechanic for over 5 years, spending summers in Lake Constance and winters at a bike station on La Palma. This year she’s diving into the competitive scene and broadening her field of work by training to become a guide. The Liteville 301 should definitely be a good companion throughout all this.
Born: 1991 Riding since: 1999 Height: 168 cm Weight: 56 kg Frame size: M Job: Bike Mechanic | @Strava
Words: Ricky Westphal | Andreas Maschke Photos: Christoph Bayer