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…
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:
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.
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.