Litespeed Catalyst

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Image sourced from eBay

The Litespeed Catalyst was a handmade 3AL/2.5V titanium tube bicycle frame made in Litespeed’s Tennessee facility from 1994-1997. It was the lowest road frame in Litespeed’s line until the introduction of the Natchez in 1996. Litespeed described the geometry as “aggressive but stable”, with middle sized frames having parallel 73 degree head and seat tubes.

Key Features

  • 3AL/2.5V Ti aircraft quality tubes
  • satin grey finish
  • 68mm bottom bracket shell made from 6AL/4V Ti
  • 27.2 seatpost
  • The first model year was 1994. The derailleur hanger used a 1.25 inch clamp. Marketing materials list a Kestrel carbon fork or aluminum fork as available, but not included. I can only assume the bike was available as frameset only. There were known updates in 1995. In 1996, the tubes were butted and tapered and the seatpost increased in diameter to 1.375 inches. It is listed as available with Record, Chorus, Ultegra, or DuraAce components. 1997 was the last model year, when it was available with 105, Ultegra, DuraAce, Record, or Chorus.

    The bikes often pop up on eBay or Craigslist. A fair price for a complete bike is generally in the $500-$750 range. The frame and fork alone are usually worth only slightly less. Of course, prices can be higher if components are new and upgraded.

    Decals on used Ti bikes are often scratched or non-existent. New decal sets can be purchased directly from Litespeed using this link.

    Vintage Litespeed Catalogs

    My Litespeed Catalyst
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    I purchased my Litespeed Catalyst from a Craigslist ad for $500. It came with DuraAce/600 mix, Ritchey cockpit, and Mavic Open SUP wheelset. The double crank and 11-23 cassette was way too over geared for my fitness level, riding style, and local terrain. The old 8 speed DA stuff has a different pull ratio than newer Shimano parts, so swapping parts to make the bike more hill friendly would not be easy.

    I stripped the bike down to frame and fork and rebuilt it with parts from other bikes. The Ritchey handlebars were like wet noodles, so I swapped in a threaded headset converter and installed my beloved 3T Ergonova stem and bars. I also put on a FSA carbon seatpost to smooth the already smooth ride. For the main drivetrain, I am using 9 speed Ultegra with compact crank, with a Deore rear derailleur to shift through the 11-32 cassette, all sourced from a mountain bike. Mavic Aksiums are a budget friendly set of wheels, mounted up with Continental GP 4000’s.

    When I purchased the bike, most of the decals were removed and the head badge was gone. I found a modern head badge on eBay as well as generic Litespeed decals in black block letters.

    My purchase and subsequent upgrades were an economical way to get on a quality titanium frame. My Catalyst is
    a classic, but doesn’t look too much unlike the current pricey frames you would buy new from Litespeed. I can guarantee there will never be another bike exactly like mine at any group rides, and I have the satisfaction of hand picking parts and building my own bike. It doesn’t perform too badly either with the smooth riding frameset, relatively light components, and the low gearing!

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