Litespeed, Dura-Ace WH-7800 Wheels
It’s the biggest piece of news we’ve had to report in a while: effective immediately we’re selling Litespeed frames and bikes. Picking up a new bike brand isn’t something we take lightly -- it requires a significant investment of money and time. Given our reputation here at Competitive Cyclist for being America’s authority on the bikes you see in the European professional peloton, a few customers have asked why we’d choose Litespeed, since their one-year dalliance with team Lotto in 2002 was the only time they were seen ridden by a Division 1 pro team. Granted, that one year was jam-packed with results, as Lotto riders on their team-issue Litespeeds were victorious at Het Volk and Fleche-Wallonne, along with stage victories in the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. But as tremendous as that one season turned out to be, that was only one chapter in the rich history of Litespeed success in Europe. As many people know, Litespeed frames rebadged as Peugeot, Giant, Merckx (to name a few) have been prominent for well over a decade under some of the biggest luminaries of pro cycling. It’s no secret that a certain 5-time American winner of the Tour de France enjoyed his first blockbuster professional success – a World Championship Road title in Oslo in 1993 – on a Litespeed. Richard Virenque’s first 4 King of the Mountains titles in the Tour de France were won a Litespeed. And a pile of World Cup top-10′s, Grand Tour stage victories, and at least one additional World’s Road title have been won on Litespeeds. Why did we choose to start selling Litespeed? Because we’re America’s Pro Road Authority, and few bikes can rival Litespeed in the breadth of terrain, conditions, and circumstances in which they found success in the European professional peloton over the last decade.
Another big piece of news is that we’ve received our first shipment of Shimano WH-7800 Dura Ace wheels. The rims are 24mm deep, almost identical in depth to a Mavic Open Pro rim. The front wheel has 16 spokes, the rear has 20. At 1580g they are similar in weight to the Mavic Ksyrium SL. They bear a lot of resemblance to the ever-popular Campagnolo Neutron wheelset. Like the Neutron, they’re an ideal choice for hilly courses and windy days. They’re light, and their rims are shallow enough that crosswinds won’t present a problem in terms of bike handling. They feature the new Dura-Ace 7800 hubset with Shimano’s silkiest-ever bearings. They look very, very cool. Rumor on the street is that most of the Shimano-sponsored Division 1 Pro teams in Europe have major corporate heat on them to forego their Mavic wheels and instead race with the WH-7800′s. It’ll be interesting to see if that’s the case. How many days ’til Het Volk? Too many! And, by the way, please keep in mind that the WH-7800′s are only compatible with Dura-Ace 10 cassettes.