Wabi Cycles Lightning RE steel road bike, red

If you’re fixated on fixies and think steel is real, you may be familiar with Wabi Cycles, a direct to consumer boutique brand from LA, California. The company started out by making competitively priced fixed gear bikes, and based on their successful Lightning single speed model (which we reviewed back in 2011), they’ve recently produced their first geared road bicycle called the Lightning RE.

Wabi’s founder Richard Snook believes people are missing out on affordable bikes that offer great ride quality by assuming non-custom built steel can’t make a high-end product. The Lightning RE is intended for anything from weekend cruising to race training, and to remind everyone that not everything has to be made of carbon to be lightweight and compliant…

Wabi Cycles Lightning RE steel road bike, black

The Lightning RE’s hand-built frame features a complete tube set of heat treated, triple-butted Columbus Spirit steel tubing with forged rear dropouts, an integrated fillet brazed seat clamp, and braze-on mounts for a front derailleur and two water bottles. The rear brake cable is routed internally through the top tube, with a tube-in-tube design for easy routing and to keep moisture out. The frame is not compatible with electronic drivetrain systems, but will accept any non-electric components. Wabi designs their bicycles with traditional road racing geometry; see the diagram below for the numbers:

Wabi Cycles Lightning RE steel road bike, frame geometry diagram
Wabi Cycles Lightning RE steel road bike, frame geometry chart

Component-wise, the Lightning RE’s weight is kept down by using a carbon bladed fork with a 1-1/8” aluminum steerer tube, and a very light set of 28-spoke wheels (claimed at 1650g/set) that are outfitted with Kenda Koncept Kevlar bead tires. The frame and fork combo weighs just 3.9lbs, and the complete bike with a 55cm frame comes in at 18.8lbs.

Most of the components aren’t from the big brand names, but were consciously chosen for being good performers with reasonable weights and fair prices. The Lightning RE comes with a Micro Shift 2×10 drivetrain with an 11/25t rear cassette mated to 39/50t front rings. The bike also features an FSA sealed headset, plus a sealed bottom bracket and hubs which are a nice touch for all-weather commuting or training.

Wabi Cycles Lightning RE steel road bike, components chart

With personal experience as a bike fitter, Wabi’s founder knows the importance of an ergonomically proper set up. So, their website lists the component sizes equipped on each frame size, and buyers can select several options for stem length, handlebar width and saddle as they purchase their bike. There’s even an online guide provided for those who aren’t sure about what sizes they require.

The Wabi Lightning RE is available online for $1,950 USD. The frame comes in 49, 52, 55, 58 and 61cm sizes in Ferrari Red or Pearl Black (custom colors are also available for an additional $250). The Lightning RE can also be purchased as a frameset with the fork, headset and seat clamp bolt included for $1,100.



  1. Clean. It will have some stiff competition at that price.
    Jamis Quest, Kona Kapu or Honky Tonk, Bianchi, Raliegh, Ritchey (different price bracket though)…

  2. 1) Frame and fork can’t weigh 3.9 lbs, that’s just impossible. That’s frame weight alone.
    2) People don’t like their bars like that anymore – you get more positions with a level upper bar.

    Otherwise I like what he’s doing, despite those ugly Microshift levers.

  3. $2000 for a 20 pound steel bicycle with Microshift? Is this a prank? Do they not know that Kona sells an 853 Kapu with 11-speed 105 for the same price?

    Oh, but don’t worry – there’s a Lead Tec handlebar and stem!

  4. (To just name one – there are literally dozens of other that don’t come with garbage components and don’t lie about the weight.)

  5. When I looks at this bike, I can’t help but feel like I’m on the bikesdirect website (maybe the handlebar…). But the price tag brings me back to the sad reality.

    Like other have said, you can find much better for this price.

    Also, why do they list the rake in the geometry table? It would make a lot more sense to give the trail.

  6. “Wabi’s founder Richard Snook believes people are missing out on affordable bikes that offer great ride quality by assuming non-custom built steel can’t make a high-end product. ”
    Richard Snook is assuming it takes steel to make a frame with great ride quality, somehow making it okay to charge what you could get carbon and 105, but only getting microshift(!) and steel.

  7. What greg said….

    Seems a bit dated with alloy steerer and nothing name brand at $2K? And 26mm clamp diameter for bars? Didn’t know that was still used on new bikes over $500. So factor in another $100+ for a modern stem and bars that work with those shifters.

    Lots of awesome bikes with Shimano, disc brakes, full carbon in the $2000-$2500 range. Sorry Wabi, this bike misses the mark. And the lack of branding does not make this look better.

  8. Or buy a Breezer Venturi with Ultegra, a very nice steel frame and RS21 wheels for $1700 on sale at a certain website based in Utah.

  9. This has to be a joke. But the sad reality is that dumb people will buy this online thinking its a great deal. The bike looks like an early 2000’s bike nashbar but with worse components. Maybe selling this for 750$ could warrant a good deal (I highly doubt that) but for $2000 thats just a rip.

    26.0 bar clamp. Ha. microshift. Ha. Oh man. My head hurts. If this bike ever comes into my shop I will officially quit.

  10. I put together a 18lb steel road bike, entirely brand new parts, for $250 more than what they’re charging for this and it’s full 6800 Ultegra. I just don’t get what they’re thinking pairing a high end Columbus Spirit frame with components that Bikesdirect would be embarrassed to put on a bike, and then having the call to call it “affordable”!

  11. Since you can find a basic carbon frame with 105 11sp at this price from a top bike maker at your LBS, and get a slightly heavier but better specced surly pacer for less, this whole talk of “at this price point” is ludicrous.

    The unfortunate thing is that the frame looks good, the geometry looks good, and the concept sounds good. Yet the lack of modern handlebars and that nonsensical-for-most 50/39 x 11-25 gearing just make this bike even more of a sad joke at that pricepoint.

  12. Hmm… Two observations.

    1. A 58 cm TT on a size 61? Ugh.
    2. My waterford R33 I bought on ebay for $500 is 18lbs with pedals. Uses the S3 tubeset…

  13. @Greg I am a huge fan of brand-lessness, especially when the paint job has little relation to the manufacturer itself. That being said, I see no evidence here that this is an American product, so I am confused what the hell Wabi even is. The same goes for any bike with a huge logo from a company that makes zero products in the country in which it is sold, like the overwhelming majority of the bikes sold in the US. This bike is for folks who ignore the fashion show.

  14. My Wabi Classic is one of the best handling bikes I have ever ridden. It descends like a demon. Couldn’t be happier with it.

  15. Some people here do not seem to understand the cost of a Columbus Spirit tubeset. I wouldn’t build a bike that way but there are not many spirit framesets in that price range.

  16. Tomi,
    Spirit is a good tubeset and I can only assume the frame is nice without seeing/riding one. However, one can’t also overlook that many high end Reynolds tubed frames are being made at the same price point with better component spec. Tubesets that at least match performance of Spirit.
    On the other hand, one can add maybe 1 or 2 lbs and get a lower spec tube and better components for the same or much, much less.
    Then there are the bikes like the CAAD10 which on a performance basis, is hard to beat.
    I like steel, but it is not the end all be all to a bike’s preferred traits.

  17. WOW that price is crazy….considering you can get a Waterford made OX plat Milwaukee Bicycle Co Frameset for 984.00! Granted that’s with an import fork. But even their full US made frameset is 1274.00

  18. Nice looking seat cluster – I’ve always been a fan of fastback stays. Of course, as everyone else has pointed out, the price and spec are awful…

  19. Most of the comments here are more telling of the lack knowledge about steel road bikes and the triumph of trendsetters. This is an incredible price for a bike made of such tubing, ask your local framebuilder. And I’m happy to see someone representing the 90s aesthetic. Not everyone needs a tall headtube, sloping toptube, nor beefy tubesets.

  20. What’s the use of a great tubeset and possibly skillful framebuilding if you then build the bike with cheap sh!tty garbarge components. Just deck it out with 105 or even ultegra. That tubeset deserves at least ultegra.

  21. @Elizabeth – You seem to be missing all the comments where people pointed to similar high-end steel bicycles, which cost effectively the same, yet feature non-dumpster components (to say nothing of the warranty and after-the-sale service of a real bike brand).

  22. @pilf – aren’t all steel bikes are similar? A rose is a rose is a rose, right? PBR does the trick, why spend more on similar beers?

  23. @pilf if you read the news correctly, the frameset is available too for those not interested with the buildspec of the full bike.

  24. I’m mostly just shocked by the geo. Need another hundy mm on the TT for the 61cm. My old Le Tour had similar numbers, and I felt like Quasimodo riding it.

  25. @Elizabeth a spirit tubeset costs around $250 if you are paying high retail. Also these are far from something you would get from your local frame builder, you can’t compare the two.

  26. @kg: Where can I buy a complete Columbus Spirit, or Reynold 953, or True Temper S3 frame for $1100 or less? Price of the tubeset is irrelevant when you don’t have the skill or equipment to make the frame.

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