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Model history – Litespeed Vortex road frame

The Vortex is Litespeed’s most celebrated frame model.  The Vortex was first available in 1995. The Vortex gained much positive publicity during and after the 2002 Tour de France, in which it ridden to multiple stage victories.  The Vortex has always been the road frame that Litespeed used to showcase the most cutting edge titanium fabrication and design elements, even more so than the Litespeed Ultimate.  The Vortex uses a 6/4 titanium tubing throughout the frame, which is an extraordinarily difficult feat to execute.  The extent to which the choice of the 6/4 alloy matters, compared to using standard (less strong) 3/2.5 alloy, is the subject of debate.  What ultimately matters is how the Vortex performs. My personal opinion on that front reflects what you would expect from a frame that earned Tour de France stage victories.

While reviews from Vortex owners are generally extremely positive, there are some reviewers who report that late-model Vortex frames became so light (see weight range specs below) that the frames became a bit too flexy to remain stiff under the load of some riders’ weights.  Having ridden a late-model Vortex myself, I agree that aggressive weight-reduction does come at the price of some loss in lateral stiffness. I spend much more time climbing than sprinting, so I am a rider who is happy to sacrifice a bit of stiffness at the altar of weight reduction.

The lightest incarnation of the Litespeed Vortex is the 2006 model, the final model revision of the Vortex, incorporating exquisitely shaped 6/4-titanium tubes throughout the frameset.

Note: the information below was culled from Litespeed marketing materials, which show inconsistent information over time. I have highlighted the year-to-year changes in design and/or specs. Please comment on omissions and discrepancies below.

1995

  • 6/4 tubing
  • Standard seatpost clamp
  • 1-3/8” front derailleur clamp
  • 68mm BB, machined from 6-4 solid bar
  • 49cm to 61cm, 2.29 to 2.91 lbs

1996

  • 49cm to 61cm, 2.26 to 2.88 lbs

1997

  • Radially-curved seatstays for vertical compliance
  • 49cm to 61cm, 2.67 to 3.03 lbs

1998

  • No changes

1999

  • New cable-stop adjusters near headtube
  • 49cm to 61cm, 2.83 to 3.21 lbs

2000

  • Engraved bottom-bracket shell
  • Sculpted dropouts
  • Custom Litespeed stainless steel seat collar
  • Cold-worked dual-bend radially-curved seatstays
  • Curved chainstays provide improved heel clearance
  • 1-3/8” top-pull front derailleur clamp
  • 1-1/8” headtube
  • 49cm to 61cm, 2.84 to 3.26 lbs

2001

  • Taller headtube
  • Diamond-shaped toptube

2002

  • 1-1/8″ integrated headset design

2003

  • Diamond-shaped down tube
  • Bladed, aero-profile seat stays
  • 49cm to 61cm, 2.6 to 3.1 lbs

2004

  • 10-sided seat tube
  • More aggressive teardrop-shaped chainstay
  • Oversized seat tube (31.6 seat post)
  • Tapered diamond-shaped top tube
  • Standard seatpost clamp
  • 49cm to 61cm, 2.5 to 3.1 lbs

2005

  • 49cm to 61cm, 2.5 to 3.0 lbs

2006

  • Flared-diamond toptube and downtube
  • Seattube transitions to transverse flat oval at the base (requires custom front der. clamp–included)
  • Billet titanium replaceable rear derailleur hanger
  • Reverts back to non-integrated headset design
  • 49cm to 61cm, 2.31 to 2.79 lbs

5 Responses to “Model history – Litespeed Vortex road frame” Leave a reply ›

  • In 2005, They quit Bladed, aero-profile seat stays.
    Maybe to lose weight.

  • I’m looking for a 2005 catalog?

  • From what I gather, 31.6 seatpost does not have the 10 sided seat tube. The 27.2 has the 10 sided seat tube.

    Based on that, I believe the 2003 has the 27.2 and 10 sided seat tube.

  • I have a 2003 and indeed it has a 10 sided seat tube (near the bb and becoming round near the tt) and 27.2 seatpost

  • Hi, so if I have a diamond top tube, a diamond (well more like hexagonal) down tube, non integrated headset, curved chainstays – its a 2006? Thanks all, Simon

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