Lightweight Urgestalt Disc
Lightweight by both name and nature, but can it punch above its weight?
Lightweight’s David Bergmann is attempting to explain to me what the word Urgestalt means.
‘It’s a very German word,’ he says. ‘I don’t think there is a direct English translation for it. I would say it’s like “an origin” or “first version”, or something like that.’
Bergmann tells me that the name harks back to how Lightweight came into being. The brand may be best known for its highly desirable (and highly priced) wheels, but its first product was far from being round.
Back in 2002, entrepreneur Erhard Wissler bought up the carbon production arm of an aerospace company, and among the assets was the mould for a bike frame. He got his engineers to build it up and showed off his new Total Eclipse bike at global trade show Eurobike. To make it look as cool as possible, he borrowed a pair of Lightweight wheels, made by carbon specialist Heinz Obermayer.
In the end, the Total Eclipse frame wasn’t a success for Wissler, but he had spotted the potential in those esoteric black wheels, and so he bought the Lightweight brand from Obermayer. A decade later, Wissler once again turned his attention to bike frames and the result was the original Urgestalt frame, produced in 2013.
Fast forward to today, and I now find myself face to face with the company’s latest creation, the Urgestalt Disc.
Coming full circle
I distinctly remember that original Urgestalt. I rode it at the Endura Alpentraum, a 256km sportive that passes through Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy, and takes in 6,336m of ascent. During one of the toughest days I’ve ever had on a bicycle, I had possibly my closest brush with death when my brakes failed to work on a wet descent. Only by digging my cleats into the tarmac was I able to avoid sliding straight over a cliff.
In my review of that bike (Issue 23) my only real criticism, aside from the braking issue, was that I felt the frame was overly stiff and made very little concession to
comfort. Equally, though, I praised it for its incredibly light 6.1kg overall weight and how superbly it had dealt with the arduous 6,336m of climbing.
Four years on, I know at least one issue has been resolved by the addition of disc brakes, ensuring there will be no more white-knuckle descending in the wet.
Impressively, the Urgestalt Disc hasn’t put on much weight as a consequence either. Weighing just 6.7kg, it’s only a little over half a kilo heavier than the rim brake version, and joins an elite club of disc bikes we’ve seen that dip under the 7kg mark.
One issue that doesn’t seem to have been resolved, however, is the harshness. Lightweight claims this new disc bike is a ground-up redesign, with comfort higher on the agenda compared to the original Urgestalt. But on my early rides I still find myself getting home with numbness in my toes from the vibration coming though the lower part of the bike, and my other contact points are suffering as well. It’s time for a chat.
‘I like a bike that needs to be controlled – superagile and super-stiff. That makes riding more exciting,’ Bergmann says of his own preferences. However he admits he is probably in the minority, and that most riders aren’t thrilled by the prospect of getting beaten up by their own bikes.
‘Most of the comfort you get from a road bike comes from the tyres,’ Bergmann says. ‘We have plenty of clearance for wider tyres thanks to the disc brakes, and we’ve created our own seatpost with extra compliance, so a rider is able to tailor the ride feel to their preferences.’
The feeling of power being transferred into speed is one I’ll never tire of
No matter how strong a rider you are, this bike will make you
feel much faster
Time for some swift changes, then. UK distributor Vielo Sports sends me the Lightweight seatpost to replace the Deda Superleggero I’ve been riding thus far. I dig out a set of 28mm tyres to swap for the specced 25s, and head back out to my classic training routes.
And what a transformation. The Urgestalt immediately feels much more like I’d hoped it would from the start. The seatpost noticeably enhances my comfort – it’s not like I’m sitting on a feather cushion, but it is a marked improvement all the same, especially on longer rides. But the biggest change comes from the tyre swap.
With 28mm tyres at 80psi, the Urgestalt deals with vibration dampening much more adeptly, and my numb toe issue vanishes. The extra grip on offer also means I can brake with even more confidence in all conditions, and there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable loss of speed.
The Urgestalt Disc’s lack of weight, enhanced by the Meilenstein Clincher Disc wheelset, ensures that every acceleration is instantaneous, and climbing is a joy (as much as climbing can ever be a joy). The feeling of leg power being transferred into speed is one I’ll never tire of, and indeed it’s when I’m tired that I’m most thankful for it.
Doing the triple
It’s a rare beast that can deliver on all counts of the trifecta: stiffness, weight and comfort (we’ll ignore ‘aero’ as the Urgestalt makes no such claims). With the right seatpost and tyres in place, the Urgestalt Disc gets very close indeed.
The sensation of riding the Lightweight Urgestalt Disc is like driving a rally car. At idle things can feel a little clunky and unrefined, but a touch of pace and commitment transforms it into a thrill-seeker’s dream. No matter how strong a rider you are, this bike will make you feel much faster. It’s the bike Bruce Wayne would choose, but I would still advise him not to forget an ample slathering of chamois cream.
Words STU BOWERS
FRONT END The low weight of the Urgestalt fork (375g), Rennbügel handlebar (165g) and Meilenstein front wheel (645g) combine to create an exceedingly light and stiff front end that provides highly reactive steering.
SEATSTAYS The lack of a rear brake bridge creates a modicum of extra comfort thanks to extra flex in the seatstays, but even more comfort comes from the additional clearance that allows for much wider tyres.