through the ages
Liteville 301 CE Review

Liteville goes against its core principles with the launch of its first E-Bike. At first glance, the carbon frame might suggest just that. But is it really the case? And more importantly, does the shift from aluminum frame material really pay off in terms of ride quality?

Liteville 301 CE Review
The Liteville sports a mullet setup, carbon mainframe, and aluminum rear triangle, offers a plush 170 mm of travel up front, and carries a hefty price tag of 11,999 Euros.

There are bikes that have achieved dazzling fame in the German mountain bike scene. For instance, the Specialized Stumpjumper – perhaps the most legendary mountain bike of all time. Legendary is the Liteville 301 as well. A bike, whose name and design have become an icon of sober, no-nonsense engineering. There’s a certain irony in this fact: because the 301 evokes such strong emotions like no other bike. The 301 is polarizing – just like its creator and the brand behind it.

Liteville 301 CE on the Trail
Does the Liteville 301 CE have shred potential?
The Liteville 301 CE
For many purists from bygone eras, it's still something to get used to: A Liteville with a motor.

“Form follows function” is the guiding principle of the 301. Liteville has been consistently applying this principle for 20 years across more than 15 evolutionary stages. This steadfast adherence to principles hasn’t just earned Liteville praise and recognition. However, one thing is certain: the form of the 301 remains timelessly classic, defying all trends. A classic diamond frame, yet a full-suspension bike. The shock is mounted beneath the downtube and is actuated by a rocker link that also lies horizontally, with its pivot point just behind the seat tube.

The look is unique – yet technically sensible. The pressure on the rear shock mount counteracts the leverage exerted by the seatpost on the seat mast. This is just one of many aspects that have made the 301 a benchmark in the weight to durability ratio for years. The technical mastermind behind the 301 is Jo Klieber. He introduced the 301 to the world in 2004. In 2019, he electrified the 301 with the CE version.

Liteville 301 CE Motor
The Shimano motor isn't compact, but it integrates well into the aesthetic of the Liteville 301 CE.

Electrified Excitement: the 301CE is familiar yet so different

Liteville remained true to its iconic suspension system with its first EMTB, but when it came to frame material, it seemed they were abandoning their old virtues. For the first time, Liteville did not opt for aluminum; instead, they introduced the world to the 301CE, a carbon frame bike.

It appeared to be a departure from the long-standing belief in the virtues of aluminum as a material. However, it was only a perceived departure, for the 301CE still adhered to the principle of “form follows function.” To achieve a frame that was both light and durable with a removable battery, carbon was evidently the only way forward, according to Klieber.

Liteville 301 CE Shock Absorber
High-End in the shock department: The Fox Float X2 Factory Kashima.
Liteville 301 CE Procharging Port
The charging port in the top tube is well protected from dirt.

The 301CE MK2 Limited – available for 11,999 Euro

  • Frame: Carbon mainframe, aluminum rear triangle
  • Travel: 170 mm / 160 mm (front / rear)
  • Wheel size: Mullet (29" front / 27.5" rear)
  • Weight: 22.7 kg
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Engine System: Shimano EP8.1
  • Battery: 725 Wh, removable
  • Features: Steering Damper, integrated Eightpins Seatpost, integrated Rear Light
  • Bike Category: 4e
  • Max. Total Weight: 150 kg
The Liteville 301 Features
Typical Liteville. The Allen key hidden in the thru-axle for quick fixes.
Liteville 301 Stem
An optional light or phone mount can be fitted to the stem.

At a glance

The most importanten ratings of the 301 CE MK1-AIR X01 in comparison to the competitor bikes of following categorie: (10400) .

Light and Sturdy: The Numbers Speak for Themselves

The mainframe of the 301CE Mk2 is carbon, with an aluminum rear triangle. Despite robust equipment, a potent suspension, and beefy tires, the 301CE Mk2 Limited hits the scales at a svelte 22.7 kg. Sure – the Liteville sneaks in a minor weight advantage with its battery.

That’s because the battery capacity is slightly less at 725 Wh compared to a Bosch PowerTube with 750 Wh. However, the 301CE is chock-full of extra tech: a steering stabilizer in the headtube, a fully integrated telescoping dropper post, and an integral taillight. You won’t find that combo on any other brand.

The bike is tested and approved for a maximum total weight of 150 kg. That too is rather exceptional in the segment of sportive e-MTBs. So, the 301CE is lightweight. And considering its classification, you can expect a lot in terms of durability.

The Liteville Seatpost
The dropper marvel. The 8-Pins seatpost is fully retractable, outperforming conventional seatposts with its impressive travel.
Liteville Transmission Drivetrain
The frame is ready for SRAM's new Transmission drivetrains. However, our test bike was equipped with a conventional AXS derailleur setup.
Liteville Battery
The battery capacity of the Liteville is at 725 Wh.

Warranty promises instill confidence at first glance.

However, there is a catch with the warranty: Liteville offers a warranty for only five years on frame defects due to material and workmanship errors. The advertised 10-year warranty promise turns out to be a misleading offer when reading the fine print. From the fifth year on, Liteville relies on a crash replacement system with a 50% discount on the purchase of a new frame.

Even though Liteville’s warranty is not limited to the original owner, one finds that even budget brands like Vitus provide a five-year warranty. Premium manufacturers such as Specialized or Santa Cruz have long been offering their customers a lifetime warranty.

The 301CE MK2 Limited on the trail
The 301CE MK2 Limited is built to be ridden hard - however, it doesn't come with a lifetime warranty on the frame.

Equipment: What You Get for 10000 Euros

At 11,999 euros, the Liteville carries a hefty price tag. At such prices, the average earner might question whether the industry has lost touch with reality. That’s a decision the buyer has to make for themselves. The setup meets the expectations one should have for a bike in this price range.

The suspension system consists of a Fox 38 Factory Kashima fork and a Fox Float X2 Factory Kashima shock. Stopping power is provided by Magura MT7 brakes – and to endure even the longest descents, MDR-P rotors are used.

Liteville 301CE Brake
The Anchor. Magura's MT7 and the two-piece rotor provide top-notch braking performance.
Magura MT 7 Brakes on the Liteville 301CE
Magura's MT7 brake feels great in hand thanks to its short lever.

Disappointment kicks in with the drivetrain. Although the 301CE features wireless shifting, Sram’s latest shifting generation called Transmission is nowhere to be found. To be fair, it’s worth mentioning that smaller companies like Liteville have struggled in recent years to get their hands on components at all. The supply shortages of the past few years have been dominated by the global players. Without a hefty wallet, it was tough for smaller firms to access brand-new parts like the aforementioned Sram Transmission drivetrain.

Thankfully, many components on the Liteville are homegrown. Liteville is not an independent company, but a brand of Syntace. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the 301CE is decked out with the finest components from its parent company Syntace. The star of the show is the high-quality carbon wheels C33i. They are installed on the 301CE in a mullet configuration. On the smaller 27.5″ rear wheel, Liteville even mounts a beefy 2.8″ Maxxis DHR II tire – which translates the power of the Shimano EP8 motor effectively to the trail. Up front, an equally wide 2.6″ tire keeps you on track.

Shimano E-Bike Remote
The Shimano shifter operates well, although the feel could be improved.
Liteville 301 CE Wheels
The carbon rims from Syntace are among the lightest on the market.

Admittedly, a pricey Fox suspension, an electronic SRAM drivetrain, and carbon wheels are also available from other brands for significantly less. However, the 301CE wouldn’t be a Liteville if it didn’t stand out with its sophisticated details.

The seatpost’s stanchion slides directly into the seat tube – making the dropper post an integral part of the frame. That’s system integration. The advantage: less weight due to fewer components, durability thanks to large bushings, and most importantly, ample travel. The post extends a whopping 216 mm on a size M frame. This guarantees that the saddle will never be in the way, no matter the riding situation.

Liteville Seatpost
Smart move. The integrated taillight ensures a safe ride back home from the beer garden. Power is drawn from the central battery pack.

Steering Damper: What is K.I.S.?

A unique feature is tucked away in the headtube area of the 301CE. Here lies a steering damper – an invention by Jo Klieber, which is unprecedented in the bike industry. The system is named K.I.S. – which stands for Keep It Stable. Even though Klieber has also sold the usage rights for K.I.S. to Canyon, the 301CE is the first and so far the only e-bike on the market equipped with this innovation.

The K.I.S. system creates an elastic connection between the fork steerer and the frame. Although the fork is inserted into the frame, it is decoupled from the frame by 360° around the axis due to the headtube bearings. This means the fork can freely rotate within the headtube. With K.I.S., a coupling between the fork steerer and frame takes place. This is done via a cam ring on the fork steerer, with a tear-resistant strap attached to each side.

Liteville K.I.S. System
Liteville has developed the system and sold the usage rights to Canyon.
The integrated cable routing of the Liteville 301
The headset is ready for integrated cable routing. However, Liteville sticks to the classic method by routing the cables through an inlet on the side of the head tube.

These straps are connected to springs that are suspended in the top tube. And it’s these springs that exert a pulling force on the steerer tube via the straps. The springs always pull the fork back to center when steering. This creates a centripetal force on the front wheel, regardless of the speed at which the front wheel is turning.

But what does that feel like: The centering force of K.I.S. works in concert with the trail, which extends from the tire contact patch to the imaginary line of the steering angle. This trail has a tangible physical effect: for example, it stabilizes the front wheel. The more trail, the more straight-line stability. The slacker the head angle, the greater the trail.

However, this has its downsides: bikes with slack head angles and significant trail tend to tip over when initiating a turn. And this is exactly where K.I.S. comes into play – as the system counteracts the tipping over, resulting in a more defined and predictable steering response.

Liteville 301CE Hits the Trail with K.I.S. System
Always on track with K.I.S.?

From Theory to Practice: What Does K.I.S. Deliver?

The Liteville 301CE is a bike that craves the dirt. 170 mm of travel in the front, 160 mm in the rear, and a geometry that centers the rider deep in the bike—it delivers confidence. Yet, this bike is no lumber wagon, it’s surprisingly agile. The potent Shimano motor and the beefy rear tire ensure strong drive even on steep climbs. With the 301CE, you’re not confined to boring gravel roads when heading uphill. The summit awaits via the trail.

However, one thing is clear: when clawing your way to the top in technical terrain on an e-bike, even with substantial motor assistance, you’re often only traveling at walking pace. And that’s precisely the issue with modern e-MTB full-suspensions. Because the slack head angles make the front wheel wander at low speeds.

Liteville 301 K.I.S. System
The adjuster on the top tube allows for the tuning of the spring rate in the K.I.S. system.

The 301CE also features a slack head angle of 64.5°. Nonetheless, the front wheel doesn’t flop over – thanks to K.I.S. The steering stabilizer introduces pre-tension into the steering system, calming the otherwise twitchy front wheel. It’s a pleasant sensation that provides enormous control on technical uphills.

But K.I.S. doesn’t just make a difference at low speeds. Downhill, the 301CE feels very predictable. The pre-tensioned steering is akin to a carving ski. The more you steer into a turn, the greater the pre-tension on the steering – making the bike rail turns. If you open up the steering, the bike straightens out and tracks true – just like on skis. While it may feel strange at first, it gives you extra control through the corners. K.I.S. works – even if it takes some getting used to.

Liteville 301 Uphill
The K.I.S. system provides ample control on ascents and through corners.
Liteville 301CE Uphill
The front wheel may start to tip on steep terrain.

Uphill: Shuttle Alternative or Climbing Machine?

The suspension system of the 301CE is extremely comfortable. This is especially noticeable when sitting and spinning along the trails. The suspension effectively isolates the rider from the terrain – ensuring optimal traction. The beefy 2.8″ rear tire, in particular, provides an enormous amount of grip. Thanks to the steep seat tube angle, you’re sitting centrally over the bike – putting you in prime position for ascents. If it weren’t for… yes, if it weren’t for that problematic front end.

The 301CE features a headset for internally routed cables. Within the headset are two large spacers where the cable entrance is placed. This results in a rather high front end – and less pressure on the front wheel. The upright seating position leads to a lack of weight over the front end of the 301CE.

Liteville 301 Front Tire
The beefy front tire ensures stable, forgiving handling.

On steep inclines, you’re battling with a lifting front wheel. This is a real drawback of the 301CE – and one that Liteville could very well avoid. Because, paradoxically: despite the problematic headset, the cables do not run through the headset but rather alongside the gills on the downtube.

You read that right – the 301CE has gills – akin to air intakes you’d find in motorsport. These intakes allow airflow through the downtube, past the battery, and up to the motor, which helps cool the engine – an effective way to reduce the motor’s energy consumption. Smart, as the 301CE is a mild-mannered bike that excels on extended tours in challenging terrain.

The seating position is also spot-on, allowing the rider to transfer power to the pedals efficiently. So, if you’re into extra-long rides and mostly riding in Eco-Mode, you’ll progress efficiently and comfortably.

Liteville Rear Wheel
On the rear wheel, a 2.8" tire confidently translates the motor's power into forward momentum.
Liteville 301 Rear Triangle
Tire clearance galore. Despite the beefy rear tire, the rear triangle never runs out of space.

Downhill: Corner Slayer or Straight-line Charger?

The 301CE provides an immense sense of security. With a low bottom bracket and a high cockpit, it feels like you’re one with the bike. Unfortunately, the tall front also leads to a bit of under-pressure on the front wheel during downhill sections. The 301CE tends to understeer in corners. Fortunately, K.I.S. counteracts this issue.

Thanks to K.I.S., a well-balanced geometry, and likely also the mullet wheel setup, the 301CE eagerly takes on corners. However, the bike doesn’t feel quite playful, but more like a stable chariot. Those who aren’t chasing record times downhill but rather want to casually surf down to the valley will have loads of fun with the 301CE.

The suspension absorbs a lot at moderate speeds. However, when you let go of the brakes to blast through the terrain at full throttle, the rear end reaches its limits. Fast, harsh impacts can unsettle the back, and hard landings can bottom out the suspension.

The comfort and safety aspects are emphasized by the chunky tires. They can be ridden with relatively low air pressure due to their large volume and thin casing. This provides tons of grip – as well as comfort. Thus, on the 301CE, everything comes together into a coherent overall package.

Liteville 301CE Hits the Trail
The Liteville delivers a smooth ride with ample shock absorption at moderate speeds.

  • Highly precise and forgiving handling
  • delivers a tremendous amount of control
  • Comfortable Suspension System
  • K.I.S.
  • Super Seat Post

  • low pressure on the front tire (very high Front)
  • Headset for Internal Cable Routing

Conclusion on the Liteville 301CE Limited

Liteville knows how to craft mountain bikes—the 301CE Mk2 is solid proof. This bike is for e-bikers who relish lengthy rides rich in singletrack. The 301CE excels at trail surfing, not about chasing speed records.

For those racing full-throttle in pursuit of fastest times, there are better bikes out there. The byword for Liteville is pleasurable trail riding. This bike offers tremendous control, precise handling, and above all, ample safety. Thanks to K.I.S., the 301CE rides predictably and hence is very forgiving. If you dare to venture into extreme terrain, the 301CE will keep you on the safe side.

Competitive Landscape and an Overview of the Liteville 301 Models

As always, we provide not just an overview of all models, but also the option to compare individual models head-to-head.
Clicking on the arrow symbol on the widgets below allows you to match up specification and geometry data from various models against each other.

You can find all competing models for comparison in our extensive E-MTB market overview.

The Liteville 301 Lineup

About the author

Wolfgang

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