Total bike weight was 14.6 pounds, including Look Keo Blade TI pedals.

Total bike weight was 14.6 pounds, including Look Keo Blade TI pedals (click to enlarge).​

Lowdown: Lightweight Urgestalt Road Bike

Last Thursday, while sauntering by Red Lantern Cycles in Menlo Park, California, owner Matt Barkley invited me in to check out a bike. It was a Lightweight Urgestalt equipped with a Fernweg carbon wheelset and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 electronic shifting drivetrain. And while you may not of heard of the Urgestalt or Fernwegs, dedicated weight weenies will drool at their mere mention.

The wheels are extremely sought-after in the world of super components, thus the eye-watering $8000 price tag. It's a similar story for the frameset, which retails for $6500. Packaged together, the result was a breathtaking matte black piece of two-wheeled art that reminded me of an esoteric super-car. "Why don't you take it for a ride and give it back in a week or so," offered Barkley.

Of course I accepted, feeling like I'd been given the keys to a Lamborghini Huracan. I was also nervous as heck, scared that I might scratch up this insanely expensive money machine. Fortunately, that didn't happen. Here's my review after a brief but exhilarating test session.

Frame/fork: Lightweight Urgestalt carbon fiberSaddle: Selle Italia SLR (148 grams)
Fernweg tubular front: 60mm deep, 685 gramsClaimed frame weight: 790 grams
Fernweg tubular rear: 80mm deep, 795 gramsActual weight: 14.6 pounds w/ Look Keo Blade TI
Handlebars: Compact 123mm deep, 75mm reachWheelset price: $8000
Handlebar weight: 192gFrame price: $6500 (frame, fork, seatpost)
Drivetrain: Shimano Dura-Ace Di2Rating:
3.5 Stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Tires: 23c Fortezza Senso tubulars, 290tpi
Stat Box


Pluses

Minuses
  • Handlebars have a perfect bend and shallow drop
  • Price
  • Looks
  • Water bottle cages
  • Wheelset
  • Weight
  • Exclusivity
  • Finicky seat post and seat adjustment
  • Attention to detail: Hidden seatpost adjuster, smooth cable entry/exit points, exquisite seatpost/down tube/seat tube junction, Di2 mount, labeled handlebar plugs, brake pads quick release skewers
  • Exclusivity

Figure this complete package will set you back at least $15,000.

Figure this complete package will set you back at least $15,000 (click to enlarge).​

Review: Lightweight Urgestalt Road Bike

Lightweight has been making state-of-the-art, super-light race wheels for decades. Jan Ullrich used them (and some other stuff) to win multiple Tour de France stages. They feature carbon rims and spokes that were way ahead of their time in that they combined remarkably light weight construction with aerodynamics. Those advanced construction techniques with seemingly impossible low weight, limited availability, and high prices made them very exclusive. Lightweight wheels were typically found paired with limited-production and expensive boutique brand bikes from the likes of Colnago, DeRosa, and Pinarello.

Aero spokes and super lightweight hubs add up to a $8000 wheelset.

Aero spokes and super lightweight hubs add up to a $8000 wheelset (click to enlarge).​

But a few years ago, the folks at Lightweight decided that it was time to build a frame to complement their incredible wheels. The result is the Urgestalt (German for "original form"), which includes frame, seatpost, and fork. And as the Lightweight website says, the frame is meant to "frame the wheels." But this beautiful piece of composite tubing is no slouch. Claimed frame weight is just 790 grams.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Lightweight Urgestalt road bike review »



Crafty way to secure the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 junction box.

Crafty way to secure the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 junction box (click to enlarge).​

It also has a host of integrated features and elegant touches. There's a slim Di2 junction box holder that fits as a spacer under the stem. The seatpost binder, while difficult to access, is neatly tucked away under the top tube. The handlebars have a comfortable compact shape, and feature a matte finish to match the frame. And for pure aesthetic beauty, the brake pads, bar tape plugs, and minimalist quick release skewers have the feathery "Lightweight" logo emblazoned on them.

Ironically, the bike isn't super light, weighing 14.6 pounds with pedals. This is likely due to the full Di2 drivetrain and high profile wheels, which measure 60mm and 80mm deep front and rear respectively.

The bike's ability to maintain speed was truly impressive.

The bike's ability to maintain speed was truly impressive (click to enlarge).​

On Road Performance

I was expecting the bike to ride with a wispy (even flexy) nervousness. But I was wrong. The Lightweight Urgestalt has a very solid feel with no real flex in the frame or wheelset. Road feel was remarkable as well, with balanced feedback front and rear. Yes, you could feel every ripple in the road, but not in a fatiguing way.

On the down side, the bike didn't shoot forward on climbs as well as another recently tested bike, the Fuji SL 1.3. However, on the flats, the Lightweight was phenomenally fast, jumping off the line and holding speed remarkably well. Once up to speed, handling was confident and quick whether cruising along or bombing a descent.

The binder bolt is neatly hidden away, though it can be hard to reach.

The seatpost binder bolt is neatly hidden away, though it can be hard to reach (click to enlarge).​

The wheels also felt exceptionally fast. I was able to hold speeds heretofore reserved for my aerobar-equipped triathlon bike. Unfortunately, during my test session, there wasn't much wind, so for now I can't attest to the cross-wind stability of the wheelset.

But I can say that braking was superb for carbon rims, with little noise and great modulation and control on par with alloy braking surfaces. Indeed, it was the most confident I've felt riding a set of carbon wheels. My only real issue were the minimalist water bottle holders, which don't grab bottles very tight, resulting in rattling when going over bumps.

Shimano's best in class Dura-Ace Di2 handles shifting.

Shimano's best in class Dura-Ace Di2 handles shifting (click to enlarge).​

Bottom Line

This obviously isn't a bike meant for the masses. But what about the 1% crowd? I say, if you have the disposable income and are looking for something that will make you stand out on the next coffee shop group ride, you could do a lot worse than the Lightweight Urgestalt with Fernweg. Of course that damn well better be the case when spending in the neighborhood of $15,000.