Drunkwerx Review: Litespeed Archon

Super Stiff Ti

Andy Shen

Titanium’s reputation as the magic frame material has largely been supplanted by carbon, a fact easily confirmed by a quick glance at the start line of any local race. Compared to carbon and aluminum, it’s heavier and not as stiff; and it’s just as expensive, if not more, than carbon. It seems that its greatest attribute is its durability and resistance to rust and corrosion.

The Litespeed Archon is designed to address these issues, claiming unheard of stiffness for a ti frame while retaining ti’s signature comfort. It has a faceted top tube fashioned from 6/4 sheet ti (the rest of the bike is 3/2.5). Tube junctions at the head tube and BB are wrapped, with joints and welds going beyond 180 degrees. Chainstays are asymmetrical to handle the different loads, and seatstays are very thin. The Archon is offered in standard and compact geometry. I got to try a standard frame, teammate Ben Hughes sampled a compact. The Archon frameset retails at $4500.

Compared to our carbon bikes (me on a VeloVie and Ben on a Look), we both initially found the Archon unremarkable, in a nice way. It felt just like a bike should – plenty stiff in a sprint, albeit a tad heavier. Mine felt a bit harsh, so I swapped out the Thomson aluminum seatpost for a carbon FSA. We both thought "It’s a bike" – neither of us were moved to compose odes comparing it to a magic carpet.

Longer rides, however, revealed a darker side. My sit bones were terribly sore after 3 hours, forcing me to get out of the saddle frequently. I wondered if it was due to the shorter seatpost on the standard frame flexing less, but Ben had the same problem on his bike. The harshness was enough to make me dread getting on the bike.

Drunkwerx to the rescue

I put the Archon in our mobile testing facility and came up with these numbers: the front end of the Archon dissipated 26% of the vibration (compared to 29% on the carbon Viner benchmark), the back end 29% (38% for Viner). In a sprint I was able to flex the Archon 7.3mm, exactly the same amount as the Viner. This jibes with our impressions on the road: stiff in a sprint, harsh over the long haul. 


Litespeed was able to create a ti bike as laterally stiff as carbon, and they should be commended for that. However, at 1-300 grams heavier than carbon, the ride doesn’t give you goosebumps the way a bike can when it seems too light to be so stiff. The Archon is stiff in a predictable way – its solidity is exactly as expected for its weight. Now, you can Google the Archon and read rave after rave, but for me, this is strictly a bike for bigger stronger riders with deep pockets and an aversion to carbon.





…is a LOT of money for a frame, in these times especially, and who would want to race one unless someone else is paying for it?

it would be interesting to see how it stacks up against a CAAD9, which can be had for far less than $1000, is a great racing frame, and not uncomfortable either.


It sad that Litespeed can’t let go of building in ti materials. Seven has pretty much taken the lead in that niche.


Will be gone before too long. Their customer service sucks big time and titanium is way over rated and over priced.


a $4500 frame is pretty silly. The Litespeed Sienna seems the bargain in their line. I’ve had a ti bike for 8 years now and if i put new decals on it would look new. 8 year old steel/carbon/aluminum frames do not look new after 8 years..unless you repaint them. Litespeed will be around for a loong time. If you are a disposable person…you dispose of things after a few years and buy new things…Ti is not for you. If you want something that will last 5 lifetimes…that rides well…requires NO maintenance…and can be packed up and travel with you without worry…then Ti is for you. Oh yeah..if you crash on Ti, you get up and ride the bike…if you crash on aluminum, steel or carbon..you worry about the damage that is visible and invisible. Ti does not appear very flashy or high tech…but it is hard to improve on what Ti provides an owner in the long term. If I bought a carbon bike i would also buy a box of kleenex for when the inevitable crash occurs. thats it…thats my act


Just had my vortex replaced by Steve Dunn at litespeed, I don’t know but my experience was very satisfying they treated me seriously and promptly, whole process did take time cause of ups and dhl delivering methods, all around it took litespeed 7 days to deliver a new small archon to Mexico city, here where they are plenty of hills, roads ( no as safe as in the us) but where we can train for hours and hours, I found out in one ride the archon was something new something unique, it might sound as if I were in love with my bike, but I’m not, I just love the way it rides, handles, and delivers. I know 4500 it’s a lot but if you really want to invest in a great bike, it’s worth it.

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