Liteville isn’t a brand you see much of on this side of the pond. A sister company to German component maker Syntace, Liteville makes just three understated models, which, when examined closely, display some of the finest design and engineering in the industry.
Rather than complaining about what wasn’t on the market, Liteville was formed to create bikes its founders wanted to ride, but weren’t available and the 601 is an obvious example, with a whopping 190mm of rear travel, adjustable geometry, and a full range of gearing capable of going up as well as down.
The 601 attracts very little attention on the trail because its flat black, ball-peened finish hides enough features to fill the rest of this page. Some highlights: super smart cable routing, model specific Syntace chain guide and a rear derailleur rock guard. Liteville designed specific aluminum tubing for each size and model, and the amount of shaping is nothing short of impressive. The 601 looks like the bicycle equivalent of an assault rifle; all business, and in the right hands, very dangerous.
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Its adjustable geometry (with a Fox 36 180mm fork) is solidly between trail and downhill slack, with a head angle of 64.3 – 65.5 degrees, quickly adjustable with a single bolt. Chain stays vary with frame size, from a tiny 16.3 inches on the 24-inch rear-wheeled XS, to 17.5 inches on XL (my size L tester measured 17.3 inches.) BB height ranges from 14-14.5 inches—a pretty neutral place to be considering where it will end up when the suspension is properly sagged. Those looking for more slack can go another 1.5-degrees in either direction with an aftermarket Syntace VarioSpin angled headset.
One other key feature to the 601 is massive standover height, allowing riders to fit on more than one size, making it easier to get great performance even with proportions outside the norm.
So how’s all this understated technology actually ride? The Horst-link style suspension pedals amazingly well for something with this much travel and a downhill-specific shock. Long climbs had me twisting up the compression damping, and seriously technical climbs are probably going to result in some walking, as the slack head angle and long travel suspension combine to make things less than ideal for scrambling up the steep stuff. But for self-shuttling with fireroad access and more mellow grades, this gets an A+.
Going down is much the same, with the ride being most rewarding when speeds are high and moves are big. The suspension is impressively bottomless, with a smooth progression from a supple beginning stroke, a non-wallowing middle, to a not-harsh end stroke.
After switching to the slackest setting, the 601 proved itself more than enough bike for my bike park ability. Plenty of wheelbase (47.3 inches) to keep things in check and very forgiving suspension. A dual crown fork is an option, and something I would look into for more regular park use. The 36 is an awesome fork, but no replacement for a true DH fork in the park. The upcoming 601 Mk3 will have additional gussets and built in bumpers for better dual-crown fork compatibility, along with a redesigned downtube shock mount for a flatter leverage rate.
As a trail bike I was a little less happy, as all that travel felt like overkill most places. Most of our local gnar is in short bursts, rather than the sustained beat-down areas with more elevation are able to dish out.
This is a pretty oddball bike, but for the right rider in the right area, the 601 is going to be a revelation. It goes down like a DH bike, but has the gearing and pedaling performance to earn your turns. For less steep areas and sub-warp speeds, modern trail bikes can tackle 90 percent of most riders’ needs. For those always looking to go bigger and faster, the 601 is adaptable, capable, and unique. That is well-worth the asking price for the right rider.
- Price: $3,000 (frame and shock)
- Sizes: XS ,S ,M, L (tested), XL, XXL
- Wheelbase: 47-47.3 inches
- Top Tube: 24 inches
- Head Angle: 64.3-66.5 degrees
- Seat Tube Angle :72.5-74.7 degrees
- Bottom Bracket height: 13.8-14.5 inches
- Rear Center: 17.2 inches
- Weight: 33.34 pounds, without pedals