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Tilt vs. Lithium

Which 29er MTB is Right for You?

 

The Tilt and Lithium are Canfield's extremely popular mid- and long-travel CBF mountain bikes. Both are incredibly fun, efficient and capable, so you might find yourself on the fence as to which one is the right MTB for you.

Beyond the obvious travel numbers, how do these two full-suspension bikes compare?

The key differences between these 29ers mostly come down to the following two categories, but some of the differences and ride impressions are bit more nuanced.

1. Front and Rear Travel
2. Geometry

TILT

29" WHEELS // 138MM REAR // 140MM FRONT

 

1. Front and rear travel: Probably the most obvious difference between both bikes (and what many people base their choice on), is the amount of front and rear suspension travel each bike has. The Tilt has 138 millimeters of rear travel and is designed around a 140-millimeter fork, placing it fairly squarely in trail bike territory. Meanwhile, the Lithium is sporting 163 millimeters of rear travel paired with a 170-millimeter fork up front—what most of us would call a long-travel or enduro bike. 

That being said, both of these bikes are surprisingly versatile. The Tilt punches well above its weight on the descents making it far more capable and confidence inspiring than its suspension travel might suggest. Chunk, drops and steeps don't make it flinch and thanks to the secret sauce of the patented CBF Suspension, it somehow feels like it has more travel on the descents yet less on the climbs (cliche, we know...but riding is believing).

Conversely, the Lithium climbs much better than any bike with this much travel has any right to. In fact, it pedals nearly identically to the Tilt, so if you decide a bike with more travel is the right choice, you can take comfort in the fact that there won't be much if any penalty on the uphills. Probably the most notable difference will be the slightly taller and slacker front end on the steepest of climbs, but it's still not a hindrance and you'd likely only notice the difference if you rode them both back to back. Yes, CBF is that good.

Now that we've got that sorted, let's complicate things a bit. 

Both bikes can run forks that are 10 millimeters longer or shorter travel than specced, so 130 to 150 millimeters on the Tilt and 160 to 180 millimeters on the Lithium. Additionally, rear travel can be reduced by running a short-stroked shock, dropping the Tilt to 125 millimeters and the Lithium to 151.

That makes some interesting combinations possible. For example, if you want to nudge the Tilt into "downcountry" or aggressive XC territory, you can run it 125/130. If your ideal travel is somewhere between what either bike offers, well a 151/160 Lithium is possible.

 

LITHIUM

29" WHEELS // 163MM REAR // 170MM FRONT

 

2. Geometry: Sizing between the two is very similar with identical reach numbers. Geo differences include head angle, which is 65 degrees on the Tilt and 64.5 on the Lithium. Something to keep in mind with the fork travel changes mentioned in the previous section is that every 10 millimeters in fork travel results in approximately a half degree change in head angle and a few millimeters of bottom-bracket height. 

One of the other most noticeable geometry differences between the Tilt and Lithium that will have a noticeable effect on ride and handling is the chainstay length. The Tilt comes in at 425 millimeters, while the Lithium is 430 millimeters.

Both are on the shorter side which should come as no surprise given owner and designer Lance Canfield's penchant for fun, maneuverable bikes. The Tilt really embodies razor sharp, sporty handling, railing corners and changing direction almost telepathically. The Lithium is certainly on the more playful side for a long-travel 29er, but balances its nimble nature with just the ride amount of stability for when the going gets fast and rough.

You can compare all geo numbers for both bikes here.

 

Conclusion 

Both bikes are extremely versatile, and while there is some overlap, it ultimately will come down to personal preference, riding style, terrain and your own priorities.

The Tilt is incredibly efficient, playful and surprisingly capable for a shorter travel bike. Even here in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it's probably the perfect bike for 90 percent of riding. 

For those riders who want a little more travel and slacker angles when things get steep and nasty or simply prefer a longer-travel enduro rig, the Lithium makes a great every-day bike that pedals incredibly well and doesn't feel like overkill on more mellow trails, but comes alive when gravity takes over and things get rowdy. It's incredibly confidence inspiring on the descents without the trade-off in climbing efficiency inherent to most bikes in its category.

Still have questions? Hit us up!

 

1 comment

  • I concur….. I own a Tilt and a Balance (mullet) and my riding buddy has a Lithium. Rotating through these bikes, I ride my Tilt 95% of the time . It’s way fast and pedals ridiculously well. While I can comfortably ride just about anything on the Tilt I do have to throttle it back on the extremely fast chunk (Hawes in Phoenix, watch vids) where as on the MX Balance or Lithium I can open it up with less physical fatigue as a result. Also for the GG riders, I had a Megatrail before my Tilt. GG was good but CBF all the way!

    Nick Dallaportas

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