Strengths: Titanium Ride. Built to last a lifetime.
The Litespeed Siena’s tubes changed in 2006 making any report on 2005 and earlier Sienas not applicable to the latest bikes. The tubes now are flared sideways at the bottom bracket stiffening the frame, at the same time allowing vertical compliance. The new frame is also significantly lighter than the older Siena with the carbon seatstays.
There are very few “bad” bikes anymore, assuming you are purchasing a manufacturer’s better series of frames, which will all be stiff where required, and handle relatively well. The handling of a bike, aside from the geometry chosen by the manufacturer, is affected by your weight distribution on the bike, which is mainly decided by how long and how high your handlebar stem is. My medium Siena comes standard with a 110mm stem, which I mounted without any spacers underneath it. On other bikes I have mounted longer or shorter stems than standard, and although some have handled what I thought was quite well, none have had the stability of the Siena at downhill speeds along with the quick handling and cornering exhibited by this bike. I have never ridden a bike that handled better. This is likely due to my weight distribution being very close to what my Litespeed was designed to. Your results may differ.
To give you an idea of what I’m comparing the Siena to, my last 2 bikes were a Giant Team Once (Aluminum circa 2000, medium size) and a Specialized Ruby Pro (full monocoque carbon with Zertz vibration inserts). The Giant’s longer top tube made me use a shorter (90mm) stem; I used a 100mm stem on the Ruby Pro. In both cases the stems were mounted without spacers below them. The Giant was not quite as stable (although it seemed fine at the time) and did not corner as tightly, or as quickly. The Specialized was very stable, but due to its more relaxed geometry, was significantly slower in the tighter corners. There is one corner on my training route that I took at 34-35 km/hr on the Giant and Specialized that I now take at 37-38 km/hr. I think that’s significant.
Little differences make a big difference in how much you enjoy a ride. My Giant, being aluminum, is relatively harsh as compared to the Specialized and the Siena. (As I still have the Giant and use it for winter training, going back and forth between the two bikes accentuates the differences. When I was only riding the Giant, I never thought it was harsh.) The titanium Siena feels much like the carbon fibre Specialized when riding on rougher secondary roads. Although Specialized has done a relatively good job of tuning out the dead feel that is common to some carbon bikes, the titanium feels more alive and much more responsive when jamming out of the saddle, either sprinting or climbing. “Steel is Real” but “Titanium is Magic”.
I was warned that Titanium frames are not stiff and therefore not good for sprinting. This would be true for Titanium frames with tube diameters similar to steel bikes, as the first generation of Ti frames were and as some custom touring frames still are. However with the increased tube diameters and shaping that Litespeed does, this is no longer true. The latest Siena is plenty stiff at the bottom bracket and at the headset witnessed by how it sprints, climbs, and descends – rock solid.
A good titanium bike should last a lifetime and Litespeed’s warranty covers you for that. Carbon is the most popular material lately and there are very good carbon bikes available. However it’s hard to characterize the characteristics of carbon as you can for steel, aluminum, and titanium as the behaviour of the carbon tubes depend solely on the manufacturer. Most carbon frames are very light and stiff, but some are heavy. Some are compliant, some aren’t. You really don’t know the frame will feel without trying it out. Personally it will be a while before I purchase another carbon frame as my last frame, the Specialized, was destroyed by the tiniest nick on the chainstay, which would not have bothered a frame of another material. The frame lasted about 6,000 km with the nick, then it broke. The good people at Specialized have not offered me anything.
The Siena is made with 3/2.5 Titanium which is less expensive with slightly lower allowable design stress and therefore slightly heavier than 6/4 Titanium. However the differences in performance are miniscule whereas the cost difference is significant. 3/2.5 frames are a much better value than 6/4 frames and since the 3/2.5 frames are made of cold worked tubes versus tubes made of welded plates, 3/2.5 tubes or frames have been noted as being tougher than 6/4 frames. Litespeed’s top of the line frame, the Archon is now made with a mixture of 6/4 and 3/2.5, a departure from previous top of the line all 6/4 frames.
If it is in your price range and you want your next bike to last, I highly recommend the Siena. Titanium lasts a lifetime, does not rust, there’s no paint to scratch, decals may be replaced, and the smooth ride along with the “alive” feel will put smiles on your face.
Strengths: Weight, stiffness when climbing, comfort on rough roads
Weaknesses: none yet
This bike was my first Ti. Full DuraAce with ksyrium SL wheelset. I was thinking about a Trek madone 5.5 but when I rode both, the Litespeed seemed to jump out from under me. This bike weighs in at 16.5 pounds without cages or seat pack. I feel I am a fast recreational rider and the siena increased my climbing speed on my favorite hill ride by 2-3mph. I was riding a triple ultegra but the DuraAce double did not hinder my climbing. The siena was the best bike upgrade I ever made and will last a long time