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History lesson please(21 posts)

History lesson pleaseLazy
May 29, 2001 10:49 AM
Some recent posts about how Litespeed is the proverbial "Evil Empire" etc... have started me thinking (a dangerous proposition indeed). So, I have a couple of questions:

1) How long has Litespeed been around compared with Merlin?

2) Who was the first company to bring the Ti frame into the mainstream?

3) How did Litespeed get started, and by who? Surely they too were once a small company that produced only the finest bikes to be had on the planet, weren't they?

Anyone care to enlighten?
Litespeed history...TJeanloz
May 29, 2001 10:59 AM
1) Litespeed is among the oldest Titanium bicycle manufacturers out there. Age compared to Merlin is very similar; they both started building ti bikes in the mid-1980s.

2) It depends on what you mean by 'mainstream'; I would argue that it was Litespeed that brought ti to the masses by introducing models that cost significantly less than the competition. Litespeed has always offered the greatest breadth of models in titanium.

3) Litespeed was founded just after WWII by the Lynski (spelling) brothers' father. For the first 40 years of their existance, they were essentially a titanium mill, working on military contracts and building things far less glamorous than bicycles (like titanium boxes for hazardous materials). The younger generation had a passion for bicycles, and used their knowledge of the material to build frames. In the mid-1980s, the company began to exclusively build bicycle frames. In more recent history, Litespeed was bought last summer by JHK Investments. This private investor then proceeded to buy Merlin, Tomac, Quintana Roo, and Real. And thus the 'evil empire'; but really, nothing compared to the Trek evil empire.
Thanks man, good info...nmLazy
May 29, 2001 11:03 AM
good post - you beat me to it - nmHank
May 29, 2001 11:09 AM
Do you care telling me (us) about Trek evil empire?Marc in Montréal
May 29, 2001 11:27 AM
I just love their bikes. I have a 540 and a 5900 and enjoy them very very much. Pleeeaaassseee, tell me about this Trek evil empire, right? Marc in Montréal, Canada.
Do you care telling me (us) about Trek evil empire?Larry Meade
May 29, 2001 11:39 AM
Trek has in the last few years bought several smaller companies in the bike industry. LeMond, Klein, Bontrager and Gary Fisher are some of the more notable ones. It gives people down here the heeby-geebys with one company owning such a big segment of the industry. I have a Trek 2300 frame built up with Chorus so I guess that since I also have a couple of Litespeeds I am truly consorting with the devil....

Come over to the dark side, Luke!!!Largo
May 29, 2001 11:52 AM
Luke, i am your father, and my name is Litespeed/Trek!
Larry?Bob in Indiana
May 29, 2001 12:13 PM
I'm a fellow Trekkie ('99 - 5200), and have been trying to get an email question successfully delivered to you to no avail.

If you happen to see this post, and don't mind, send me a note with your correct email address, and I'll ask you a quick question to a previous post reply you made to me.

Bob @
re: History lesson pleaseHank
May 29, 2001 11:07 AM
My short (and possibly inacurate) version is this: Merlin was around first as a bike company and should probably get credit for making ti popular. Litespeed was formed by a bunch of former defense contractors (among other things) turned bike builders. Merlin was started by bike guys, Litespeed was started by ti guys.
re: History lesson pleaseLarry Meade
May 29, 2001 11:20 AM
Actually, there was a company in the mid-70s, that made the first ti frames. John Howard rode them for a while but they were junk and broke more often than a Huffy at slickrock. I can't remember the name but it was something like Titan or Titec....maybe someone else remembers. I think it was Gary Heflrich who started Merlin and later left the company to do his own thing. He could probably be considered to be the "father" of ti bikes and he is still highly regarded in the industry. Not sure exactly where he hangs his shingle these days.
been payin attentionminor threat
May 29, 2001 11:48 AM
that would be the teledyne titan, from back in the day. it was made of cp ti and flexed and broke like crazy, but a mint one today would be worth a bit. g. helfrich is a freak living in nocal. other items to bear his mark include the infamous ibis ti stems from a few years back (remember when lemond BOUGHT a bunch of those for his euro bro's?) and the ancotech double butted ti tubes that ibis built into the first butted ti bikes. as for l-speed.....they have always been "ti guys" as the first poster noted. generally they follow, rather than lead when it comes to bike design per se. when it comes to ti fabrication, though, nobody can touch them when you figure what you get for the money you pay. you can definately get a better bike, but you will pay dearly for it. l-speed just has too much in the way of resources for anybody to run with them in a true value sense. plus, they can do things nobody else can dream of with the material. is it for you? you will have to decide what is most important to you. if you need ti, and $ matters get a l-speed. if you have $ to burn go ahead and get something a with a little more cachet. or, bag the whole idea and get a foco or ox platinum steel bike and really show some style.
re: History lesson please... TeledyneTom C
May 29, 2001 9:00 PM
Yes it was the Teledyne Titan, a very collectible bike if you can find one.
John Howard not on Teledynezelig1
May 30, 2001 2:02 AM
The rider was Ron Skarin from LA who rode in the US National scene in the 70's. Big John rode for CRCA and was mostly found on a Raleigh Team Professional during that period although when the National team toured in 1976, some of the members rode Exxon Graftek (carbon pipes with metal lugs) frames. Teledyne, subsequently acquired, was a large conglomerate involved with the aerospace business including the fabrication of titanium parts.
chronological order ?Breck
May 29, 2001 12:15 PM
Believe industry bike frame materials in our short lifetime have been in order ...steel, titanium, aluminum, carbon ...but don't have the dates or specific mfg.'s, etc. Beryllium showed up as one off sometime in the 90's?, Beryllium manufacturing process being highly toxic. And there may be some thermoplastic monocoque prototypes out there. Hows about bamboo & hemp :?)

chronological order ?Larry Meade
May 29, 2001 12:58 PM
Aluminum and carbon were seeing more widespread use before ti. I can remember as Alan aluminum bike frames as early as 81 and Vitus Carbon/aluminum frames as early as 83. I would put the correct order of widespread use in contemporary times as steel, al, carbon, ti.
Thermoplastic, like the Cannondale Raven?Mel Erickson
May 29, 2001 1:56 PM
They use a thermoplastic carbonfiber skin over a magnesium spine. Definitely not a prototype. I would also agree that Al and carbon came into widespread use before titanium.
chronological order ?fuzzybunnies
May 29, 2001 7:24 PM
Aluminum first saw use back in the early 70's but fell out quickly when the company came up with the bright idea of aluminum forks to keep the weight down. Since aluminum wasn't well developed at the time they had a real nice failure rate going. I can't remember the name but I've seen a couple on ebay still with the forks though the bids never went above 40-50 dollars. In the mid eighties there was also a plastic bike with no metal what so ever called the Original Plastic Bicycle. Very scary looking, there's a picture of it at . Also can't forget the eastern european magnesium frames from the early 90's. Though magnesium wheels and stems seem to have gained popularity with the mtbr's recently. TTFN
Isn't Woody Harrelson working on a hemp bike?mike mcmahon
May 29, 2001 9:35 PM
Or maybe it was that he's riding his bike while on hemp. I can't remember which.
How about 1972?pfw
May 29, 2001 10:42 PM
Article in April's C+ about a British company called Speedwell making "production" frames in the early 70's. Luis Ocana raced one succesfully in '73's TDF and Dauphine Libere. Prototypes have been around since '57 if you can believe it. Obviously I don't think we're talking "mainstream" or "bringing Ti to the masses" exactly, but interesting nontheless.
Isn't Woody Harrelson working on a hemp bike?cycleguy
May 30, 2001 12:36 AM
& Juliette Lewis?Breck
May 30, 2001 8:24 AM
the little tykes in their motorhome prob ride the bykes :)