The Lotto-Adecco Pro Team Litespeed Vortex.
A real race team bike entirely without a single fault.
you are a NASCAR fan perhaps you've admired the muscle
bound, fire breathing racing machines on the track
at Daytona. Or perhaps your tastes run to the Ferrari's
of Schumacher on the F1 circuit. Whatever the case,
you know you will never own the exact racing vehicles
seen in those events. The best you can hope for is
a watered down version (very) loosely based on the
what if you could buy a real racing machine? The exact
same bikes the guys use in, say, the Tour de France.
Not the watered down "Team Replica" crap
most companies try to sell as their "Race Team
Bike". This is the same bike the guys are using
on the team.
would you want a bike like that? Aside from the apparent
"Gee-whiz" factor or fan appeal, there are
some very good reasons. First off, the bikes used
by professional cycling teams have to be absolutely
dependable. These bikes are brutalized: Ridden 25,000
miles a year in all weather, crashed, washed almost
daily, transported on roof racks, in flight bags,
beaten over cobble stones and the entire time not
one mechanical problem can be tolerated. Dependability
like that is worth owning. Chances are, the wear and
tear a Tour de France rider puts on his bike in the
21 days of the Tour is roughly equivalent to what
you do to the bike in two years.
Most of the Lotto-Adecco team bikes are not only stock
they are also stock geometry.
good reason: These bikes are built for performance
and comfort. Can you imagine being in the saddle over
four mountain passes for seven and a half-hours? Neither
can I. One thing for sure, they have to be comfortable.
And performance? The biggest races in the world are
literally riding on these bikes. Everything on them
is optimized for performance and comfort. They are
not cutting corners.
the shady world that is pro cycling sponsorship Litespeed
has been a quiet and prominent player for years. Armstrong
rode Litespeeds to World Championships and Tour de
France stage wins. Richard Virenque won mountain stages
on them. Many Litespeeds have worn the disguise of
another bike brand because the company whose name
was on the bike (when it wasn't Litespeed) couldn't
come close to making anything as good the Litespeed
crew in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A very few people
could look at a bike wearing another set of decals
and say "Yeah, right- that's really a Litespeed!"
2002 Litespeed finally got the recognition they had
already earned. The 2002 Lotto-Adecco Pro Team is
using Litespeed Ghisallos, Vortexes and Blades dressed
in full Litespeed regalia. And you can buy those bikes.
The exact same bikes. Not a version of the bikes,
but the very same ones. Of all the members of the
Lotto-Adecco pro team, the minority required custom
frames. Most of the riders on the team are on stock
frames in stock geometry. As a matter of fact, Tour
de France Green Jersey (points) winner won the final
stage and the green jersey on a 100% stock, 53cm Litespeed
Vortex. Exactly the same the same as the one we sell.
Of the 26 riders on the Lotto-Adecco team, only 9
riders required modified geometries. That speaks volumes
for the strength of the design behind Litespeed's
proven frame geometry and sizing.
sell a lot of Litespeeds. We've learned Litespeed
is the clear-cut leader in titanium bike construction.
Other titanium bike companies have made careers out
of picking up the crumbs left on the table by Litespeed.
Litespeed virtually invented the titanium bike, and
they have perfected it. For proof look at the Litespeed
Vortex is one of several models used by Lotto-Adecco.
It is their primary bike, used in classics, stage
races, on the flats and in the mountains. The Vortex
is an elegant workhorse. It is superbly light, elegantly
comfortable and brutishly durable. You can pound the
bad pavement day after day, but when the road turns
uphill you can dance on the pedals and climb as though
of the bikes you see in races like Paris-Roubaix or
the Tour de France are not only unavailable to consumers,
but would be impractical to own anyway. This is not
the case with the Vortex. Actually, the Litespeed
Vortex is one of the most practical and functional
performance oriented road bikes you can own, racing
Vortex is a carefully thought out and refined design.
Everything on the bike is tried and true: proven in
the harshest crucible of bike testing.
1&1/8" integrated headset is the fire-and-forget,
state of the art in steering. The headset bearings
are huge and distribute the steering load over a substantially
greater surface area than a conventional 1" headset.
This headset is bombproof. Once it is installed and
adjusted once, you will never have to touch it again.
Ride it on bumpy roads, wash it 100 times, carry it
thousands of miles with the fork locked into the roof
rack (a headset destroyer) and the 1&1/8"
integrated will not offer a single complaint. Before
you start whining about it "not being standard",
allow me to invite you to smell the coffee. Litespeed
popularized the new standard- and it is becoming standard.
Put it this way, the headset is made by Campagnolo.
Supply of the smooth 1&1/8" Campagnolo Hiddensets
used in the Vortex will outlive you or I. Five years
from now I invite you to try to find a 1", non-integrated
headset. Try the antique shop. Everything will be
following Litespeed's lead. Most already are.
the headset is a breeze. There are just plain fewer
parts. There is less to go wrong. Since there are
fewer parts, it's lighter too. One adjustment lasts
indefinitely. Of all the Litespeeds we've sold with
the 1&1/8" Campagnolo Hiddenset (a lot) we've
only had problems with one, and we discovered that
was an issue with the fork, not the headset.
hidden benefit of the larger diameter head tube on
the Vortex is greater comfort. This is the only really
light bike I have ridden that is light, stiff and
comfortable. The closest thing I can relate it to
is a Colnago C-40 or a Look KG381I, both also used
by Tour de France teams. But the durability of titanium
over any other material (the C-40 and KG381I are carbon
fiber) is unapproachable. As a matter of fact, there
are a number of bike builders making some really great,
light bikes used in the pro peloton. But Litespeed
is the only one making it with the durability of titanium.
That means you don't have to worry about owning it
for a long time.
the single most significant performance feature of
the Vortex is its tube set. Litespeed uses Geometrically
Enhanced Tubing. Every company has a buzzword for
their tubing but the Litespeed tubing is functionally
unique and better than almost every other tube set
in any material, and in a completely separate league
for titanium. Geometrically Enhanced Tubing is titanium
tubing drawn into complex shapes, such as a ten-sided
tube or a diamond shaped tube. The shape is oriented
to achieve specific characteristics: compliant in
one direction, rigid in another. The effect is amazing.
You are only vaguely aware of any imperfection in
the road surface under you on the Vortex, but when
it comes time to kick the pedals, the frame delivers
acceleration absolutely without delay. No matter your
climbing style, seated and powerful like Lotto-Adecco's
Mario Aerts or up on the pedals at high cadence like
Rik Verbrugghe, the Vortex feels great. It's because
of the tube set.
We've seen the process for making the complex
shaped tubing used in the Vortex, and it is
impressive. Click to enlarge to see the subtle shaping.
Vortex is made of the stiffer, lighter 6/4 Vanadium-Titanium
alloy as opposed to the 3/2.5 titanium used in the
Litespeed Tuscany, Siena, Classic and other bikes.
The 6/4 titanium alloy is reserved for Litespeed's
most advanced design. We toured the tubing mill where
much of Litespeed titanium tubing is made. The mill
is only two miles from our store and we have done
prototype assembly of many unusual and unique test
bikes for the tubing maker, Ancotech Titanium.
and perhaps the most significant, feature of the Vortex
are the curved seat stays. In the way a leaf spring
absorbs energy vertically, but is not flexible side
to side, the curved seatstays of the Vortex make the
back end of the bike feel better than any bike with
straight seat stays. Other companies have tried to
induce a similar effect, and some have nearly worked,
but none as well as Litespeed. The design is so simple:
It doesn't add an ounce, it actually makes the bike
stronger, it soaks up the bumps before they travel
up the seatpost on the way to your crotch. There is
no downside to this design.
Litespeed's stroke of genius: The curved seatstays
on many of the Litespeed road bikes
make for the perfect road feel. Click to enlarge.
I first tried a Litespeed with curved seatstays I
thought, "Yeah, right, like this is gonna work
I was amazed at how significant such a subtle difference
can make. The curved seat stays make the Vortex one
of the most comfortable bikes I've ever ridden, but
also one of the stiffest. It is the most comfortable
durable bike I've ever ridden.
the Litespeed Vortex is very straightforward. We measure
every bike we sell at Bikesport to gain an understanding
of how closely the published geometries match the
actual measurements. In the case of the Vortex, sizing
is easy. The bikes have a longish top tube. This facilitates
getting on a smaller frame and also makes the bikes
perfect for anyone with an average to longish torso
to leg length relationship. The ratio of seat tube
length to top tube length makes a lot of sense, and
there is no mystery of unpleasant surprises when sizing
other thing about this being a race bike: It is built
to be maintained. A reader recently sent me an e-mail
accusing me of being "obsessed with cable routing".
Guilty as charged. If you work in a bike shop and
replace cables all day long you'd understand. Here,
try this: You have a choice, replace the front and
rear derailleur cable on a Kestrel 200 SCi with internal
cable routing or the split, external cable routing
on a Vortex. You have ten minutes including derailleur
Weld quality on the Vortex is flawless.
Click to see the detail.
These functional cable stops actually allow
for real adjustments. Their placement is
perfect. Click to enlarge.
if you wash your bike as often as you should (and
every night like a Tour de France team mechanic)
you have to wonder where all the water is going
once it goes inside your frame. I'll tell you, it's
in a little puddle in your bottom bracket with all
the road grit. The Litespeed Vortex has cable routing
for people who earn their living on a bike. It is
simple, allows the derailleurs and brakes to work
perfectly, can be quickly serviced and will never
cause the slightest problem. No holes in the frame,
no added weight. Simple perfection.
the things that can go wrong on a frame are modular
on the Vortex. If you strip or break the seatpost
binder bolt or wreck the collar, it slides off,
you discard it and put on another. You don't have
to have a master weld attach a new one in the welding
shop. The front derailleur is a bolt-on, clamp-on
style. This enables easier adjustment, a wider range
of chainring sizes (anything from 50 tooth up to
56 tooth) and easy replacement of the hanger itself
if it is ever damaged by a ham-fisted mechanic.
This is a bike you take with you on the road, if
anything goes wrong, you can fix it.
Vortexes (Vortices?) have come dressed in the Lotto-Adecco
team decal set, a racy accent that backs up the
real authenticity with aesthetic authenticity.
build the Vortex with any component group. The one
shown in the photos has Campagnolo Record 10 Speed.
Record 10 is my favorite group. I like it better
than Dura-Ace. I could easily write an entire article
on Dura-Ace versus Record 10, but the bottom line
is, I like Record 10 better. I currently own several
Dura-Ace bikes though. Dura-Ace is cheaper and has
greater wheel compatibility with the wheel sets
I commonly use. All my friends have Shimano Dura-Ace
(or Ultegra) also, so we can swap wheels easily.
If I had more money, I have every bike with Campagnolo
For this customer we built a luxurious
bike dripping in Carbon Fiber.
See these unique Colnago
Carbon cranks by clicking here.
The Record 10 Group is my favorite:
The finest road components
money can buy. Click to
see the beautiful carbon shifters.
you think of all the things you really need in a
bike: Comfort, durability, serviceability and performance
there is no place the Vortex is lacking. While there
are many excellent bikes out there, none scores
as high marks in all these categories, particularly
durability. This truly may be "The last bike
you'll ever buy". One thing for certain, it
will be the finest. Ask the Lotto-Adecco guys in
Le Tour. They're easy to find, the first guy across
the line in Paris this year was riding one!