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Wabi Cycles Lightning RE Review

I posted a first impression of the Wabi Cycles Lightning RE about two weeks ago. I mentioned that this road bike has been the most comfortable bike that I’ve ever ridden. I still stand by that statement. After ridden the bike on the streets, river trail, uphills and downhills I absolutely love the way this bike rides.

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But before I go into the specifics of why I love this bike so much, I want to get into what a buyer will experience when ordering a bike from Wabi Cycles. It all started with a call from Richard Snook asking me my measurements to ensure that the bike that I was going to receive would fit properly, after I gave him my measurements we decided to stick with a 49 frame. Richard will make sure that the bike that you will be ordering will fit properly.

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I also decided to ask Richard about Wabi, I could hear the passion that he has about his bikes by chatting with him. You can read Wabi’s story on the “Wabi Story” page. He also gave me brief explanation about the different types of steel tubing and explained to me that the Columbus Spirit Steel tubing used on the Lightning RE is the lightest in the industry. If you want to learn more about the different types of steel, click here.

Let’s get into the specs of the bike:

Frame: Hand built using heat treated, triple butted oversized Columbus Spirit super light steel complete tube set and forged vertical rear drops. Integrated, fillet brazed seat post bolt design. Rear brake cable routed through top tube. Braze ons for front derailleur and two bottle cages.
Fork: Carbon fiber blades with 1 1/8″ aluminum steerer and aluminum fork ends. FSA Orbit X headset with sealed cartridge type bearings
Wheels: Sealed cartridge bearing hubs, 28 hole 14/15G DB stainless, 3 cross lacing, 22mm depth aero section rims with CNCed braking surface. 1650g/set
Drive train: Micro Shift Centos 2 X 10 system, with 11/25T cassette
Crank/BB: Cold forged aluminum arms, 170mm, 39/50T chain rings, external bearing type sealed BB
Tires: Kenda Koncept Kevlar bead folding 700×23, 210g each
Brakes: Cold forged aluminum F&R with cartridge type pads

Why did I love riding this bike so much? Comfort, speed and handling with an emphasis in comfort. I’ve owned and ridden steel bikes before so I thought that it was going to be a subtle difference on how the Lightning RE rode. I was floored on how different the ride was right of the bat. Richard is right, the quality of the ride is unmatched to aluminum and lower grade steel bikes.

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I mentioned my reservation about the Microshift Centos drive train, I’ve never heard of them but what little I found in the internet was positive. My experience with the Centos was also a positive one, shifting was fast and crisp rivaling the feeling of the Shimano 105s. One thing that did bother me was that the shifting paddle does feel flimsy. I also had a tough time on the uphills; the Lighting RE boasts a classic 39/50T on the front and 11/25 cassette on the rear, I was left looking for more gears on over 7% grade uphills.

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Blasting down the hills on his bike was really fun. The bike was responsive with quick handling but the brakes were another story. The Tektro caliper brakes faded a bit and it took quite a bit of pressure on the brake levers to slow down the bike on the steep downhills. The saddle was comfortable and I had to issues with the Kenda Concept tires.

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At $1,950 the bike is not cheap, but if you value ride quality that easily surpasses aluminum bikes and rivals carbon fiber, the Lightning RE’s price point is actually an excellent value. If you can’t get over the Microshift Centos, Wabi also sells the Lighting RE as a frame set (Includes frame, fork, headset and seat post clamp bolt).

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