Strengths: The awesome feel of Ti, beautiful craftsmanship of the frame, stength, Litespeed reputation, great looks
I'm a heavy rider (200+) and was sick and tired of having issues with frames breaking, creaking, etc. I knew I wanted disc brakes and the Kitsuma sounded like a good fit for me. Boy, was it a good choice! First, I love the way it looks. But it's feel and performance are what really make it special. The ti is comfortable, yet not flexy enough to be bothersome. The frame is bombproof. I never worry now when bombing downhill dropping off ledges, and although I'm certainly not an expert freerider, it has taken all the 4 and 5 foot occasional loading docks or stairdrops I throw at it. I wanted to wait until I had owned the bike for a year to write this review, and I love the bike more today than when I bought it. I will note that I put the Vanilla 100 on it because I love Fox forx. However I'm going to switch to a Psylo when I get the cash because if I could drop the fork to 80mm and raise the seatpost, this would be a terrific XC hardtail. That flexibility is another thing I love. This bike does anything I ask of it and always performs like a champ.
Similar Products Used: Litespeed Unicoi, K2, Univega
Bike Setup: Fox Vanilla 100, XT hubs, Ryno Lites, Thomson post, Easton risers, Avid mechanicals
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: March 5, 2003
Strengths: INDESTRUCTABLE, relative lightweight, awesome looks?, perfect for new england riding.
Weaknesses: price is rediculous, very rare since they only made them in 2001 and I doubt they made many.
A great frame for new england riding, great for XC with a little dropping thrown in, jumping, basically hardtail freeriding? Litespeed has a great warranty program , not that you'll need it! The only problem is they are scarce and to actually have litespeed build you a lookalike of this frame now is considered custom so it's gonna retail for about $1500+ These frames retailed for $1450 when they were around in (2001) so I'd say look for an online auction if you REALLY want one of these under you. I have seen them go for around $650 (frame) on ebay in decent shape...not that you can do anything to this frame anyways. Another bonus of buying a TI frame is you can re-finish it with scotchbrite every so often and it will always look new. Oh one more thing....they measure these center to center...so the 17" frame is really an 18" just a tip to buyers!
Similar Products Used: santa cruz chameleon, murray flexor
Bike Setup: xtr...shiver SC, who cares it's the frame review that counts!
from Washington DC
Date Reviewed: December 10, 2001
Strengths: It's a super strong frame, rigid yet not too, and pretty light for a rigid "freeride." Mud clearance is awesome. It's got lots of standover (except near the headtube due to the long-travel fork. It climbs well in terms of traction (geometry) and rigidity. The integrated disc-only mount is well done and all cable routing is ideal, in my opinion, although not great for portaging (under the top-tube). Very comfortable ride for long rides and relaxed riding position without wandering on climbs (hell, I race it XC if it's not a race I am really trying to win...if so, I use a lighter XC rig. Long travel fork, shortish stem (120) and rizer bars all add up to a great feeling bike compared to old school hunched over ergonomics. 26 lbs with Manitou X-Vert air.
Weaknesses: The only weakness with the frame is that the seat-angle puts the seat a bit too forward for real freeriding. If you do so, get a strong laid-back seatpost. But for me it's no problem since I'm not really a freerider. I got this frame mostly for mud clearance and the upright ergonomics. I've had this bike for 4 months and I like it, although if you're considering it and don't have a full-sus. ride, think about that too. This bike is expensive for a rigid frame, but worth it in terms of durability. The Manitou X-Vert fork I choose for it already leaked all its damper oil from the damper knob area. Bummer. Lastly, I'm not sure if it's the chainline or what, but when I shift into the largest 34t cog and am in the middle chainring and really torquing up a steep hill, the chain pops down into the middle chainring.
a Weekend Warrior
from Surrey, England, UK
Date Reviewed: June 20, 2001
Strengths: Rides like a dream. Unbeatable strength to weight ratio. Fantastic design. Immaculate build quality. A great all round bike.
I loved the way my Spooky Metalhead rode but it was too heavy and too stiff for the longer xc/freeride trails I was riding. So I contacted a few ti frame builders to see if they could build me a ti frame with similar geometry to my Metalhead, but most were reluctant to do it and the rest were too expensive. Then just before Xmas I checked out Litespeed's website and saw the Kitsuma. Thank God I waited! As soon as I saw it I knew it was the bike for me and had bought the frame within 2 weeks of that initial sighting.
I've now been riding my Kitsuma for 3 - 4 months and the more I ride the more I enjoy it. I can ride up stuff easily that my Metalhead made me struggle with, and I can ride down stuff faster and smoother than my Metalhead allowed me to. The Kitsuma has definitely improved my riding and enjoyment.
This has to be the ideal bike for people who like going on long rides with their xc/freeride friends but who also like to ride down rough stuff fast and smooth but don't want to mess around with full-sus bikes, and also like to jump doubles and ride drop-offs. If I ever consider changing this bike (highly unlikely) it will probably be for another Kitsuma! Ti rules.
Similar Products Used: GT Zaskar, Spooky Metalhead
Bike Setup: Psylo Race forks, Pace DH stem, Race Face riser bars, Hope XC4 disc brakes, Hope hubs, Mavic rims, Continental tires, Shimano XTR drivetrain, DMR V-12 pedals,
a Cross Country Rider
from Clarksville, TN
Date Reviewed: May 27, 2001
Strengths: --Flawless design --Purpose built --Litespeed customer service and warranty
Weaknesses: --Price (The value is there, but it is the Kitsuma's first production year and hopefully subsequent years will have a slightly smaller price tag)
I spent one year searching for the bike "for me." I am 6'1" and weigh 180 pounds. I enjoy long, XC rides but also like to turn the tables and take big jumps and large drops. I searched for a bike that could cover both types of riding, AND wasn't a FS (too much maintenance, too many moving parts). I flirted with Schwinn, Cannondale, GT, and Giant but none of them had what I needed. So I hooked up with Litespeed. I bought the Kitsuma because the geometry looked like it would support both XC and Freeride. And it has!! I am well fitted to the frame size. I suggest getting measured, re-measured, and the measured again because Litespeed's frame sizes tended to be slightly off from some of the major brands. Better yet, if you can afford it, go with the custom build. I have experimented with the Psylo in both the 125mm and 100mm configurations, and I prefer the 100mm. It weights the front wheel a little better, and allows for a smoother XC ride when that is what you are looking for. It is also plenty of travel for most medium sized hucks (keep in mind "medium" is a relative terms; Josh Bender I am not!!). I have had the bike for almost four months and don't have a complaint. The Titanium build coupled with its well crafted seat and chain stays and tubeless wheels give a short-travel FS feel (almost like you're on a softtail). I couldn't be more pleased with my purchase. My setup weighs 24.1 pounds which is beefy enough for good sized jumps, yet light enough to hang with the race rockets. Make sure you get the right stem. The geometry of the Kitsuma lends itself to a semi-tight cockpit, and the RaceFace stem that is stock on the bike puts you in a pretty upright position. I added a magnesium Easton stem (0 deg, 90mm) which puts you in a more XC position but still keeps the front wheel light enough for stunts. Bottom line, lots of money, lots of bike, lots of fun. I can honestly say that I found the bike "for me."
Bike Setup: 19.5" frame. All XTR except for Hayes Hydraulics and Race Face North Shore Crankset. Rockshox Psylo Race (set for 100mm), Easton stem, bar, and post. ODI lock-on grips, Selle Ti saddle. Mavic Crossmax Disc Tubeless with Huthinson Pythons (2.0), and Time ATAC carbon pedals.