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Long before Litespeed became the renowned bicycle company it is today, the small Tennessee-based family-owned-and-run business functioned as a high end custom machine shop specializing in exotic metals. What was then called Southeast Machine manufactured everything from simple nuts and bolts for local companies to underground storage tanks for government agencies.
The eldest son, an active runner, suffered an injury and doctors suggested he turn to cycling. After visiting the local bike shop, he found himself unimpressed with the selection and decided to fabricate a bicycle using titanium from the shop. A few weekends later, the first Litespeed frame was born. The family brought it into the local bike shop hoping to find a fork for it. The staff at the shop jeered at their homemade creation, but no amount of mockery could deter the family from their newly-found forte.
Soon after, several regional athletes asked about custom titanium bikes and eventually, weekends at Southeast Machine were busy with crafting new frames. By then, praise had traveled across the country and several high profile athletes were inquiring about bikes. In 1986, the family was encouraged to show off a couple of their designs at an industry trade show in Long Beach, California. The response at the show was phenomenal and it was there that the Litespeed name came to life—“It’s light and it’s fast. How about Litespeed?”
Litespeed’s experience quickly earned a great reputation within the industry as the “go-to” guys for titanium manufacturing. It wasn’t before long that Litespeed was commissioned to create frames for many distinguished brands within the cycling industry—De Rosa, Eddy Merckx, Tommassini, Basso, Univega, the list goes on and on. By collaborating with these manufacturers, the Litespeed crew shared design philosophies and secrets with some of the greatest minds in the sport of cycling while soaking up every bit of information along the way. These joint efforts established Litespeed as a world leader in titanium cycling technology, and to this day, Litespeed has been pushing the envelope for titanium bicycles.