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Last Thursday while I was sauntering by Red Lantern Cycles, the owner, Matt Barkley told me to come in and check out a bike.
It was the Lightweight Urgestalt equipped with the Fernweg carbon wheelset, 60mm front and 80mm rear wheels, along with Shimano Dura-Ace Di-2. The wheels are extremely sought-after in the cycling world and extremely expensive ($8000). The frame alone retails for around $6900. It was breath-taking looking in matte black, like some sort of esoteric super-car.
He said: "Hey, why don't you take it for a ride? Give it back in a week or so". As if given the keys to a Lamborghini Huracan, I was nervous as heck, scared that I might scratch up this insanely expensive and sought-after bike and wheel set.
That said, of course I was anxious to test this super-high-end machine.
Lightweight has been making state-of-the-art, super-light race wheels for decades. Jan Ullrich used their wheels for multiple TDF stages; they feature carbon rims and spokes that were way ahead of their time in that they combined remarkably light weight construction with aerodynamics. Their advanced construction techniques with seemingly impossible light weight, limited availability (and high price) made them very exclusive.
The bike is a joy to behold with remarkably integrated features. For instance, they have fashioned a slim and elegant Di-2 holder that simply fits as another spacer under the stem. The seat post binder (while a bit difficult to access) is tucked away under the top tube. The brake pads and minimalist quick release skewers have "lightweight" emblazoned on them. The handlebars have a perfect compact shape which feature a matte finish, like the frame, that looks like alloy, even though they are carbon. Even the bar-tape plugs feature the Lightweight logo. This bike continues to delight the more you look at it.
Ironically, the bike wasn't super-light. In fact, it weighed 14.6 ounces (6620 grams) with pedals, likely due to the Dura Ace Di2 competent set and the high profile wheels.
So how did it ride?
I was expecting this bike to ride with a nervousness of being too light and likely flexy.
I was wrong.
It has a very solid feeling with no real flex in the frame and none detected in the wheelset. The road feel was notable; there was remarkably balanced feedback between the front and rear of the bike. You could feel every ripple in the road yet it wasn't fatiguing. This said, the bike didn't shoot forward on climbs as well as another recently tested bike, the Fuji SL, however, on flatter sections, the bike was phenomenally fast. It held speed and accelerated remarkably well. The handling was confident and quick. Descending, it felt rock-solid and confident - bullet-proof. The wheels were exceptionally fast; I was able to hold speeds as if on my triathlon bike in the aero bars. Unfortunately, during the test ride, there wasn't much wind so I can't attest to the cross-wind stability of the wheelset. This said, braking was remarkable for carbon rims; it was relatively silent and modulation and control felt on par with alloy braking surfaces. It was the most confident I've felt riding carbon rimmed wheels. The only nit was the minalmist water bottle holders. They don't grab the bottles tightly and, as a result, going over bumps there could be a thunk or rattle.
This obviously isn't a bike meant for the masses; it is very expensive. But does it deliver? If you have the budget and are looking for something different, I think this is a remarkable bike that deserves consideration. It is a bike that is exciting to ride and always interesting to look at. And a ride that you would look forward to riding at every occasion.
Again, many thanks to Matt at Red Lantern Cycles for this test ride!