BH ULTRALIGHT DURA ACE
A Full 10 out of 10! This bike does everything superbly! One of the best values on the market!
MSRP: 6 ULTRALIGHT options offered
- Ultegra Di2 bike
- Dura Ace 9000 bike
- Ultegra 6800 bike
- 105 bike
- Frame Kit
- EVO Ultralight Frame Kit
Sizes: 5 sizes offered (top tube length);
- Large (57cm) TESTED
- X-Small (53cm), Small (54.3cm)
- Medium (55.7cm), XLarge (58.3cm)
Source: Bike Shops
How Obtained: Manufacturer’s test sample.
- Same frameset for all models except for the extra-Ultralight EVO
- Wide range of group sets and price points offered.
- Complete bike with Full Dura Ace 9000 group
- Left chainstay is a little wide and some might end up hitting the left chainstay with their left hand.
User Review( votes)
BH ULTRALIGHT SUMMARY
To prove this, coming back down Jamboree, two motorcycle cops at the bottom of the hill forcing the cars to do 55mph and I was spun out in a 53/11 staying even with the cars! In fact, one guy honked and held up 5 fingers on both hands then a thumbs up! Yes, this bike is FAST!
If you are in the market for a new bike, you should definitely consider the BH Ultralight. Yes, it’s really that good! There are several cost-effective groupsets/options available and all are worth considering. Bottom Line: Would I buy one? Yes, definitely!
- How much Bottom Bracket Flex is there when putting power to the pedals?
- How does the frame behave when shifting the rear derailleur under load?
- How are its handling characteristics – high speed, slow speed, uphill, flats, downhill?
- Overall Value?
ALL IN THE NAME OF LIGHTNESS & HANDLING
John, the service center manager, opened one of them and pulled out a beautiful 95% assembled sleek-looking BH Ultralight bicycle. Since there were only a couple things that needed attaching- seatpost; front brake; front wheel and handlebars, John, in his Aussie accent said “be done in a minute mate.”
The rest of the bike was already fully assembled and I could tell a lot of care went into the assembly since even the matching Mavic rim/Tire logos were lined up.
John noticed that I was looking at a Pioneer Power Meter he had laying on the workbench.
Since a 11-28T cassette was on ready on the rear wheel, I said “sure, let’s install the Pioneer.” This slowed John down for about 30 seconds and before I could turn around, John said “done mate.”He warned me that both the Pioneer SGX-CA 500 head unit and SGY-PM910H2 dual pedaling sensors were woefully out of date and that I would need to update and resynch everything. I said sure, no problem. Little did I know what I was getting into – but that’s for a different review.
HIGH PERFORMANCE AT A GREAT PRICE
The G7 Disc makes for a great handling crit bike and does a lot of things well. It goes where you point it and gets there fairly quickly. So how does it compare to the Ultralight?
The ULTRALIGHT is FAST, plain and simple, it’s FAST. There is absolutely NO bottom bracket flex nor rear-end flex caused by the chainstays.
This bike is stiff, but not overly stiff. I’m 180 pounds and for me it is the perfect ride. So what about is you are lighter or heavier? You can fine tune the ride via the wheels. This bike came with Mavic’s Ksyrium Elite wheels.
A quick trip to mavic.com categorizes these wheels as ‘Endurance Road Wheels for Performance and Comfort.’ Mavic has 12 Ksyrium model wheels in their 2016 lineup ranging from the Ksyrium Pro Carbon SL T Haute Route at 2300€ ($2,500), all the way down to 450€ ($490) for the standard Ksyrium. The Ksyrium Elite is one model above the Ksyrium.
At an MSRP of 650€ ($708) for the pair, they are a pretty good value for the lighter rider. When standing and powering the bike up a hill, these wheels tend to flex to the point of rubbing the brake pads. For someone over 75-77 kg (165-170 pounds), I recommend a stiffer wheelset.
Not having any other Mavic wheels in stock, I put on a pair of Dura-Ace 9000 C24 clincher wheels and rode this configuration for a week. Less front and rear wheel flex and the bike accelerated faster.
Why? Performing a non-scientific spoke deflection test with my hands, the spokes on the Dura-Ace wheel were stiffer. Also, the Ksyrium Elite’s rear wheel was radial laced on the drive-side vs. the Dura-Ace’s cross-lacing on both sides.
Next, I installed a pair of Dura-Ace 900 C35 clincher wheels. The bike definitely felt stiffer than with the C24’s but, for me, the C24’s were the right wheelset for this bike. For those over 90kg (200 pounds), you might want to consider a stiffer wheel than a Dura-Ace C24. There are lots of options out there.
HOW DID THE BIKE HANDLE?
So far I have ‘hammered’ on this bike and have experienced absolutely NO bottom bracket flex, NO rear end flex NOR any fork flex. I have ridden this bike hard;
- Up hills – Sat down as well as stood up on hills as much as 17% gradient. Even did hill intervals at 800-900 watts for short bursts. I experienced no frame flexing but did experience Ksyrium wheel flexing. A wheelset like the C24 performs better up hills since I’m not rubbing the brake pads on the rims every time I crank on the handlebars. A C35-type wheel is a little heavier and doesn’t have the snap of a C24-type wheel. When seated, my weight is rearward and the steering is light but nothing really noticeable. The bike tracks straight and true. When transitioning to standing, there’s no need to worry about the steering going from light to heavy. This bike is totally balanced and predictable and stays straight and under control. This bike makes hills a breeze.
- Down hills – Some bikes have steering that is too light meaning that they are squirrely going downhill. Going up a 17% grade hill means, at some point, you have to go back down, and going back down a 17% grade hill you pick up speed quickly and speeds can be in excess of 81kph (50mph). Believe me, at 81kph, you want a bike that is stable … no shimmying, no shaking. Descending a hill, I clamp the top tube with my knees and experience a very stable and predictable 81kph journey back down to the bottom.
How about fast Switchbacks? For me, the Elite’s made the bike feel a little ‘soft/spongy’ during high speed switchbacks. Putting on the C24s, the bike came alive and was easy to flip the bike side to side descending the switchbacks, it was almost as if this bike was smiling when it saw the descent. I really enjoyed those fast descents on this bike as much as I think it did!
- Flats – I have been on other bikes that had several issues.
- Some seemed to have a terminal velocity and regardless of how much more power I would put into the pedals, other bikes I’ve test ridden just wouldn’t go any faster. There is none of that with this bike. The harder you push on the pedals, the faster you go!
- Others seemed to have flexy bottom brackets and flexy rear ends. Flexy bottom brackets rob power by absorbing energy instead of transferring this energy to the rear wheel. With a flexy rear end, every time you shift, the whole bike will shudder. Stability and predictability suffer and it’s not a fun ride.
- Rollies – For rollers, I just keep the power on and since there is not much loss of power through the drivetrain, this bike easily powers up and over the small undulations in the road.
DO YOU NEED DI2? IN ONE WORD, NO.
This question comes up all of the time. Clients look first at pricing – what can they get for a given price. If you look at the table to the right, an Ultegra Di2 equipped BH ULTRALIGHT is $500 more than a full Dura-Ace 9000 mechanical equipped bike.
Sure, the Ultegra Di2 bike shifts great and Ultegra has always been a workhorse, but, there’s nothing wrong with the shifting of a Dura-Ace 9000 group either. If you are looking for a real bargain, the 105 (5800 11-speed group) bike is only $2,799.
Same frameset as the others but you take a little hit on a lower priced wheelset, stem, handlebars, seatpost and saddle. In fact, a full 105-equipped bike is only $300 more than a bare frameset. The 105-equipped bike is definitely one to consider.
The next jump up is $700 which will get you full Ultegra 6800 and a higher price point wheelset, stem, handlebars, seatpost and saddle. In fact, the Ultegra bike shares most of the same accessories as the Dura-Ace 9000 bike which is a $1,300 jump from the Ultegra equipped bike.
- Campagnolo – Veloce, Athena, Potenza, Chorus, Record, Super Record
- Campagnolo – Chorus EPS, Record EPS, Super Record EPS
- SRAM – Apex, Rival, Force, Red
- SRAM Red ETAP
- ROTOR UNO
- FSA KFORCE WE
This bike would work well with anyone of the above.
I have always enjoyed bicycling and, through a series of coincidences, became a Bicycle Industry Consultant and Product Tester. I continue to test prototype products for companies and publish only off the shelf production products on biketestreviews.com.