Light­weight Urgestalt Disc

Light­weight by both name and na­ture, but can it punch above its weight?

Cyclist - - Bikes -

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.

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