SEWANEE The Sewanee represents a new development in full suspension cross country race bikes. Perfect for your next XC race - 90mm of rear end travel, cold-worked 3Al/2.5V titanium frame, the ultimate combination of durability and weight savings - the Sewanee features a CLR suspension design that allows for constant acceleration and nimble handling even in the most challenging terrain. - DT Swiss XM180 Shock - Tubular shock mounts - CLR Balanced Ratio Suspension
Weaknesses: Poorly built. I felt like I was some sort of frame alpha tester for them. Poor warranty replacement repair. Takes forever to get a repair done.
I've owned this bike for 7 years. And I swear it's spent more time getting ship back to the factory than I have spent riding it. It had 2 rear suspension crappy bushing wear-outs within the 1st year before litespeed finally replaced the bottom linkage with a proper beefy one. I had one seat tube crack that litespeed replaced under warranty. After that I had one top tube (took 4 months) and one rear chainstay crack that were not replace under warranty. Then one rear axle linkage bushing blow-outs after one ride on new rear triangle. The kicker however was that a rear disk mount tab broke after 1-year of riding, which litespeed then told me I broke either by trials riding or riding backwards (yeah good one) meaning it would not be repaired under warranty. So I had a local Ti-frame repair guy fix it, who said that the original piece litespeed used was completely under-designed and not to ISO standards to begin with. Frame now repaired yet again. Now going to give this bike to my 9-year old.
from Canton, MI, USA
Date Reviewed: August 25, 2008
Strengths: I bought the Sewanee complete setup at Rbikes.com. It’s very comfortable and excellent quality (welds are superb). It took a little while getting used to, but I’ve actually found it more comfortable than my hardtail now. My ride times have dramatically been reduced as well (much lighter than my hardtail was).
Weaknesses: Not sure if it is my lack of knowledge with FS or what, but the rear shock ring slides off the shock (meaning I'm traveling all the way). I have pumped it up some (using the guidelines of the Fox website and my SAG/weight). I also notice that the shock must be leaking a little oil too (seems to when it fully travels). Not sure of any other issues as it is so new to me.
Similar Products Used: Demo'd a bunch of bikes, including but not all: Titus Racer-X both Carbon (loved it) and TI (29'r); Seven Duo 5.0; Turner Sultan (29'r)
Bike Setup: XTR Front and Rear
XTR STI (Dual Control Lever) Shifters
XTR Hydraulic Disc Brakes
Fizik Gobi Seat
Fox F100 Fork
Fox RP3 Rear Shock
Candy C Pedals (will upgrade in the future to eggbeaters)
FSA Afterburner crankest (will upgrade in the near future)
DT Swiss X430 rims (will upgrade in the future)
Kenda Small Block 8 tires (love 'em)
Ritchey Handlebar (WCS)
Ritchey Seatpost (Comp)
Ergon GX1 racing grips
Truvativ XR Stem
a Cross Country Rider
from Waldfischbach-Burgalben, Germany
Date Reviewed: August 15, 2008
Strengths: I bought the 2008 Sewanee SS frame at Rbikes.com (Awesome Retailer…if you’re at an APO, AE address like me…they are very easy to work with). It’s light, smooth, and very comfortable. The 60mm of travel is plenty even for someone of my weight (185lbs). The top tube was bit longer that what I’m accustomed to riding, but I’ve actually found it more comfortable than my hardtail now. All the welds on it are certified and signed off on the card that accompanies the bike. The threads on the bottom bracket and bottle holder are sharp and professional. The bike is just so smooth and crisp. It’s everything you would expect a frame in this price range to be.
Weaknesses: Litespeed replaced the headtube badge with a sticker. I guess if I have to complain about something here, that would be it. However, I was able to purchase an older one from Litespeed....problem solved.
This is a short term review. I bought this 2007 frame (which came with a RP23 shock) from ebay and it is in "new" condition. I had my LBS build the bike up with parts from my 2005 Stumjumper FSR Expert. Now, for the ride...I'll try to hold back my excitement a little. The ride is perfect! 2 inches of firm, smooth travel is better than 4 or 5 inches of slop. The Sewanee works. There is very little pedal bob but the suspension works when it should. As someone else said, the sewanee feels like it has more travel than it does. I'm over 200 pounds and I use all of the shock's travel but it never feels harsh or like it is bottoming out. Now, if you're taking big drops, you're probably not even reading Sewanee reviews...but if you're reading this you are probably a cross country rider/racer and if you have the bucks to drop on this frame (or complete bike) you will not be disappointed. I don't care if some guy named Kabush is winning on a Sewanee...who the heck cares. This review is about a bike that YOU can own. I ride mostly east coast singletrack...rooty, rocky, tight and twisty. This calls for a bike that can be hammered without bobbing, that has enough suspension to absorb the roots and rocks, that keeps the rear wheel connected on short steep climbs and that turns with little effort other than a little body english...the Sewanee is that bike. Period.
I kind of look forward to rooty, rocky sections...I can pedal right through without spiking my pedals at all...something that always happened on my Stumpy with twice the travel (and lower BB). Thie bike really does inspire some confidence...I am going much faster and clearing more obstacles than I would have even attempted before.
I love my Sewanee...it's beautiful (don't under estimate the importance of your attraction to your bike), it performs flawlessly (I will have to improve my riding to take full advantage of the bike), and because it is nearly perfect, I plan on riding much more than I have been in the past. Other than the high price (buy one used if it's in good condition) I have no complaints so far. I'll do a follow up post after I have had few months on the bike. Now quit reading this and get out and ride!
Similar Products Used: Stumpy FSR 120, Litespeed Owl Hollow
Bike Setup: XTR, XT components; TALAS (90-130), Juicy 7 Brakes, soon to be FSAs XC 300 wheels with Kenda Nevegals (soon to be Small Block 8s.
a Cross Country Rider
from Denver, Colorado
Date Reviewed: November 24, 2006
Strengths: This bike is awesome, it flies up the trail, then back down, I've not noticed any flex whatsoever (it was a problem with my previous bike thought), anyone complaining of that maybe it's in the wheels or the fork. The main reason I went with this bike was for a light weight cross country racer, not a big hit machine. I came off a bike with more travel and I notice it, but this bike is so much faster it's exactly what I wanted. The weight is great although to get it really light (hardtail range) could get pricey. In my opinion Ti provides such a great ride it's worth the price. The Fox shocks are the way to go, my previous bike had Manitou and they were super flexy and the swinger leaked air all the time.
Weaknesses: Really none. It's not cheap but I scored a deal on mine so it was well worth it.
If want light weight, a frame that'll last a long long time and a fast light weight cross country racer this would be tough to beat. Yeah you can find cheaper aluminum racers that ride almost as good but having come from those this is taking it to the next level.
Similar Products Used: Tomac Revolver, Trek Fuel, Santa Cruz, Yeti, I've ridden them all...
Bike Setup: XT with Crossmax SL wheels
a Cross Country Rider
from HULL ENGLAND
Date Reviewed: March 16, 2006
Strengths: The strenghs of this frame are the weight, very light 4.5 lbs, the stifness of the swingarm which I think is comparable with most 100mm travel bikes and the quality of the ride. This bike just floats across the rough stuff and with an all in weight of under 24lbs it climbs extremely well too. What I have noticed with this bike compared to other bikes that I have owned/tested is although the frame is extremely light it doesn't feel fragile. The bike/frame gives you a lot of confidence and it certainly doesn't appear to be flexy.
Weaknesses: After reading the other reviews before posting this, I would take Chris+Guy's with a pinch of salt. I managed to demo this frame (standard) before I purchased my own bike and really enjoyed the ride. The bike that I used for demo came with v-brakes and Crossmax sl v-brake wheels which were a complete let down. These wheels are very flexey with noticable brake rub when cornering (due to fewer spokes) now some testers may have thought that the flex was in the frame but its not! If I was to pick one problem with the frame it would be the cable routing although I changed mine with the custom build.
Because I managed to test the bike before I bought one I new what to expect. The changes that I made in the custom build have made a really good frame a little bit better. For endurance racing or just long days in the saddle this bike will reward you all day long, If big drop-offs and lots of rocky decending are your thing then you may want to look else where. As you may guess I am really happy with my new bike, and if you are happy who cares about the large cost.
Similar Products Used: Used to own a Cannondale Scalpel. Pace rc200.
Bike Setup: Custom Sewanee, Cannondale head-tube, Tanasi down tube, disc only rear triangle. Runnining a Cannondale carbon Lefty, sram x-0, Cross-Max sl disc wheels, Magura Marta brakes, XTR chainset, Thompson, fizik etc.
a Cross Country Rider
from Moedling Austria
Date Reviewed: March 3, 2006
Strengths: Nice ride, I sold my BMW motorcycle for a chance to give the soft-tail scene a shot. I was unwilling to part with my IF Deluxe but wanted to treat myself to a new toy while living in Europe for a couple of years. The bike is light, rides very similar to a hardtail but tracks smoothly through rocks fields and decends with ambition. This was also an opportunity to transition to disk brakes and the new XTR shifting system.
Weaknesses: Pricey and a bit more maintenance than a hardtail - I ride a M/L and don't understand the complaints about the flex, this frame seems to have ample flex and I'm not a lightweight at 6'2" and 195lbs. A seal in my rear suspension just blew but that is an issue with Fox and not Litespeed.
Worth the investment if you move to Europe and need a single bike to get you around the Alps but I will not sell my IF hard tail waiting for me stateside. The Sewanee is a good second bike - I guess that is what our sport has come to.
What happened to the days of bio-pace, rigid forks, and toe straps.
Similar Products Used: Tried a lot of soft tails before picking this one - the Sewanee is most similar to a hardtail in my opinion which gave me the courage to pony up the cash. I think the 2006 frame modification looks interesting although I'm not sure why Litespeed changed the upper pivot point to the center of the top tube - does anyone else wonder that?
Bike Setup: XTR disc and all around, Crossmax wheels, Fox suspension, etc....
a Cross Country Rider
Date Reviewed: February 24, 2006
Strengths: Light, super smooth, great climber (even out of the saddle). Like riding on air over the small bumps. Easy to dial the RP3 while riding.
Weaknesses: can't take the big kits. but that is not the intended use.
This bike is great. The guys dissing it must work for Moots (because this will blow the YBB out of the water). Keep in mind that I am 5'8" and 160# and riding a medium frame. So I cannot speak for bigger riders. But I have NO flex issues. Riding this bike is like riding on air. The combination of frame material and suspension makes it the smoothest ride I have ever had. I am 40 years old and feel like I am descending faster than I ever have. And I think it is due to the qualities of this bike. It dices the single track and will fly on smooth double track or jeep roads. Lite enough to even enjoy on the road.
Keep in mind, it is a a "short travel bike", so it does have limits. It is not a big hit bike. It rides more like a hard tail when it comes to really rough terrain. But if you want a great XC bike that will take the edge off and save your lower back from the typical hard-tail beating, then this is your ride. Oh, it is expensive. But compare to a YBB or IF Titanium and it is inline with their pricing.
I have been riding MTB for 18 years. The only other bike I have liked as much was my 1993 Bontrager Race Lite. But my "old man back" can no longer take the beating that a hard tail provides.
If you have the money and want a XC full suspension bike, then this is a great bike. If you want to huck and do big hits, get something else.
Like riding on air. Super fast, smooth and quiet.
Lastly, the new XTR setup is flawless. Shifting and braking have been perfect since the first time I rode the bike.
Similar Products Used: Ellsworth Truth, Titus Racer-X, Giant NRS, Moots YBB
Bike Setup: Full XTR Disc, Fox 80mm fork, Crossmax SL, Easton carbon bar, thompson stem and post
a Cross Country Rider
from Sarasota, FL
Date Reviewed: January 30, 2006
Strengths: Super light with all the rigidness for climbing and climbing all day. Excellent stability for that fast downhill bomb. Ti frame can be locked out and still have a little flex for the unexpected drops. The bike is built for durability and it shows with craftsmenship. You have to see it up close!!
Weaknesses: None: if any the cost but worth every nickel.
Try it on all the trails types you possible can. It is a great bike for XC racing and AR. Can easily hoist on your back after hours of racing. No need to look at any other Ti frame manufacturer. Oh yeah, It DOES look awesome on the back of your SUV.
from Winston Salem
Date Reviewed: January 15, 2006
Strengths: Its Titanium and looks Schweet on your SUV or VW Tourag Yeah, it rides great as described previously by other reviewers but no better than many bikes out there
Weaknesses: FLEXY. I am 158 pound Expert Class XC and endurance class racer. BB flex is very apparent on standing climbs. rear suspension no better than my Fuelly 100 Carbon.Kinda wonder about durability. Hmmmm Ti does not mean its indestructible see below. BRAKE FLEX. Remember brake boosters??? Yeah, they went out with Purple Ano stems and bell bottoms. Well get yourself one. You will need it.
Dude, spend your clams elsewhere. Yeah its a GOOD bike but a lot of less expensive bikes are just as good if not better. If you just got to have the ultimate SUV accessory then this is it. Litespeed MTBs are meant to spend more time on the SUV roof rack then on the trail. I have two XC Racer friends who have broken a Tansi and a Pisgah. No, not hucking either. RIDING, as in on singletrack. Me?? I have broken an Ocoee not once but twice. I cracked the frame @ the headtube downtube area and sent it back to Litespeed. I marked the Downtube to see if they replace the frame , weld in a new downtube or simply do a junior high school vo tech double pass over the old weld bead. Guess what VO TECH!! My old tube, my old frame and a bright shiny new weld bead with new decals... OOOO Neat stickers... Ohh Well What the Heck, its Litespeed gotta know what they are doing,,, Right??? NOT!!! Frame cracked again same spot after two seasons of riding as a spare bike to my Fuelly 100. I confirmed that with a Dye Penetrant inspection of affected area. I do that sort of thing for a living. Litespeed said they will take it back AGAIN!!! Guess what!!! They can deal with all of the red penetrant in the downtube HA HA HA. Is the third try a charm??? Once brand new, twice warrantied and refubished and now the third time???? GUess what the other folks mentioned earlier had their frames crack in the same area. Hmmm Go figure.. BUYER BEWARE I SAY.
Similar Products Used: Trek Fuel Various Kona Bikes etc.
Bike Setup: It was Bling Believe me...
a Cross Country Rider
from New Zealand
Date Reviewed: December 21, 2005
Strengths: Light Weight, Good Geometry, Confident Handling.
Weaknesses: Being a light short travel Ti frame it does flex and is obviously cross country specific.
This bike is ideal for covering rough cross country trails rapidly/ racing. It is a fast climber with the short travel rear providing great traction. With 60mm of rear travel it is not able to soak up large impacts but does take the edge off any impact. I would disagree with Chris regarding the ammount of flex and its influence on handling I have the large frame size and at 6'4" and 195lbs I am probably one of the larger riders riding this frame but I have found that it tracks and handles well when descending, certainly more accurately than the sugar. There is flex but not to a level that unacceptably compromises the ride. If used as intended it is a great bike to ride, fast with just enough rear travel to make it comfortable as well. I bought the frame with $1000US off the price and that represented average value, in my opinion, hence three chilis, at full price it probably is worth one to two chilis for value. Performance is great and hence four chilis.
Similar Products Used: Gary Fisher Sugar, Cannondale Jekyll, Scott Genius MC.
Bike Setup: WTB Laserdisc lite/ Mavic 717 disc wheelset, Minute 2 100mm Forks, Sram XO twist shifters and rear deraileur. Hayes El Camino disc brakes. Raceface Deus Crankset. FSA stem and riser bar. Thomson seatpost etc.
from Westminster, CO USA
Date Reviewed: October 29, 2005
Strengths: Weight, tracking, comfort, style.
Weaknesses: None so far
I had a '99 Unicoi that served my well for 6 years and then this summer the frame (welds) cracked in 2 different places within 8 or 9 weeks. The first time, Litespeed repaired, rebrushed and redecaled the frame. Beautiful. After the second failure, I pushed for a Sewanee and for a nominal fee was upgraded. The Sewanee is a very sweet ride. Tracks better than the Unicoi did and climbs like a mountain goat. I really like the additional travel in the rear and the fact that the Fox RP3 shock is so tuneable. I'll be racing on this frame for many, many years to come. It's not a cheap one but oh baby...is it worth the money!
Bike Setup: Race Face Next LP cranks, XTR derailleurs, Race Face stem, seatpost, bars, Chris King hubs and headset, 517 rims, Magura HS-33 rim brakes, SID SL fork.
a Cross Country Rider
from San Juan Capistrano CA USA
Date Reviewed: August 14, 2005
Strengths: Light weight, all Ti construction, good build quality, rigid for such an extremely light weight frame. Amazing climber, rails the descents.
Weaknesses: A tight fit to remove the rear wheel between the cantilever brakes (need to deflate tire first)
I've ridden alot of bikes over the 15 years I have pedaled up and down the trails and I am very impressed with this bike. I'm a little taller than 6', weigh in at 185lbs and this bike goes exactly where I want it climbing and descending. After setting it up carefully, I have never been balanced so perfectly on a mountain bike. I chose to build the smallest frame I could possibly handle and ended up with the medium/large extending both the seat post and the stem up to fit me (going against the sales guy's recommendation!). Absolutely no flex at the bottom bracket and none at the head tube (which on this frame is only 4.75"). Normal, minimal flex at the rear cants. So far, I'm stoked with my decision to buy this frame!!
Similar Products Used: Intense Spider XVP, Ibis Bow Ti
Bike Setup: Fox F80RL, XT drive train, Mavic/King Wheel set, Ibis Ti stem, Thompsen post.....
from Lyons Co
Date Reviewed: August 6, 2005
Strengths: Looks nice; that's about it.
Weaknesses: Rear brake performance. You can actually see the frame flex about .5cm when you use the rear brake. The bike is very noodley. Doesn't track well on fast descents. I can hammer on a climb and feel the flexing BB.
One of the worst bikes I've ever ridden. Way to noodley and way over prised.
Bike Setup: all XTR; mavic crossmax;thompson post; fsa bars
Peter (huffin & puffin pete)
a Weekend Warrior
from Rehoboth, Mass
Date Reviewed: April 18, 2005
Strengths: Love the bike. Thought I’d never get a full suspension bike worth the weight and that didn’t feel like a soft couch (in my humble opinion). Been riding a Litespeed Pisgah (hardtail) for three years and over 4500 miles. Love tia. Will never go back to aluminum. A material worth every penny.
Tried Santa Cruz Superlite, Blur, Elsworth Truth, some Rocky Mountains, Litespeed Niota. Blur felt the best to me until I tried this bike.
Litespeed rep loaned local shop bike for a month. Had it for five days (about 50 miles). Tried it at all my favorite spots.
Tight and crisp frame with just enough ease on the rear end to take the edge off. See Dirt Rag’s review in last months issue (I assume March 05). Says way more than I can and they know more than me anyway! Fox RP-3 shock is easy to adjust to my riding preference.
Perhaps you loose 10% of the jump that you get when you pound the peddles of a hard tail but for that you gain a lot of comfort and more control on downhills.
Really notice the difference when I hit a ledge climbing. The rear end sticks and doesn’t bounce off.
Went for my first set of disks, mechanical avids. Fantastic as far as I’m concerned. I put a 100mm Scarib on it (bike is spec for a 90). That take a bit of the squirrely-ness out of it (some people find litespeeds a bit tight on the front end, I like them). Absolutely love the bike. Looking forward to years and miles on this frame!
Weaknesses: None yet.
Great bike!!! Expensive but once you've spent it you won't regret it.
Funny enough, as I'm writing this I get an email from one of my rid'en buds; he just ordered one himself!!! No kidding. Now two of us in little Rhodie.
With all of the rain over the last week, are there any locals up around Sewanee TN who can comment on the status of the trails up that way?
I'm heading up to a friends cabin in the area and planning on hitting up the St Alexander School trails with some friends. They're easy but have always be ... Read More »
I seem to be getting a creak in the pivots of my Sewanee. I tightened all the bolts and it subdued a little for a short period of time. Any suggestions on pivot/bushing maintenance to eliminate the squeak?
thanksRead More »