For the last few weeks we have had our turn at another bike from the Axis stable… the 2015 LWP Ultralight.
Designed to go up hills all day long and equipped with an impressive build for a midrange road bike you’ll certainly stand out on this offering from Axis.
La Velocita’s Aaron Mulkearns has been living with the Axis LWP Ultralight for a month.
Photography Andrew Clifforth
Daniel Watts developed the concept behind Axis with his cycling group, the “Bakery Crew”. He tells us that the plan is to remain niche, offering quality frames built up to meet each individual customers needs, using high quality components.
Axis will work with you to get the perfect sizing and to source all parts. It’s a nice personal touch that we like.
The LWP Ultralight is a pleasure to ride, but don’t expect a super aggressive ride. This bike is about long days in the saddle, it’s about going up hills and enjoying the view.
I found the geometry is more on the comfort side than race. I was also struck by the smooth ride offered by the Axis LWP Ultralight on my regular ride routes.
The Axis is a mid-level bike that is well suited to the demands of the early morning rider or weekend warrior. The LWP Ultralight still ticks the efficiently and responsiveness boxes, but it was the smooth ride that stood out for me.
Being a lighter rider at under 70kg I found the front end was just stiff enough to provide confidence while providing a forgiving feel that removes the road buzz you don’t want on long rides.
It’s hard to say how the larger frame sizes would handle but for people that are more powerful or on the heavy side the Ultralight may struggle, so you’d be better off having a look at their LWP Aero.
Adding a 25mm tyre to the LWP Ultralight would add that extra few percent to really make it a solid endurance oriented bike.
The Axis was running a compact set up. While it’s a personal thing, I found myself crossing between chain rings a little too often. I was constantly chasing gears, never really finding something comfortable to my riding style.
Once out on the flat I could maintain a rhythm but again, once I found myself in undulating areas where I’d usually be trying to rip the legs off my mates, on the Axis I felt I was not where I quite there. While a compact set up can be changed, some of it is down to that slightly more relaxed position and flex in the frame.
Long slow uphill drags is what the LWP Ultralight is about, with the more relaxed position and ability to spin in the 34/27 you can go uphill all day long on this bike.
Our test bike build came in at $3,250
We had the build checked over by our trusty local bike shop, Essendon Cyclery. They we’re happy with how the bike had been put together. The LWP Ultralight came in at a competitive 7.1kgs complete with pedals and cages. While not quite ‘ultralight’ compared to a $10k bike it is very respectable for a bike at this price point.
Like the Axis LWP Aero the guys have gone for a gloss finish. There’s no integrated seat post (which we like) and the black and white paint and graphics are not in danger of dating any time soon. The finish is good and everything lines up nicely. The forks steerer tube has been kept long to allow for a relaxed riding position, or of course you can slam the stem to get a more aggressive feel.
Drive train and brakes
You won’t see many bikes at under $5k with Campagnolo Record shifters and under $4k it's pretty much unheard of, a very nice touch. The rest of the group set is Chorus, again a great setup at this price point.
Our test bike came with a 50/34 chain set and 11/27 cassette. A lot of people have argued that having compact setup may be the most versatile, but really their suitability depends on the rider’s needs and wants.
Riding SRAM on my own bike, I was very excited to try the latest iteration of Campy’s mechanical group set as I have heard very mixed reviews…well basically those that are Campag for life and those that are not.
I really liked the group set, it honestly was great. It is extremely precise and I picked up the mechanics of it straight away. I love that you can press your thumb right down if you want to drop the chain down into the cassette when you want to go for it in a harder gear.
From a personal perspective, I still find it hard to get used to being in the drops and having to get your thumbs up near the hoods to shift when changing a gear.
Of course, Campagnolo has been around a long time and has a huge following and the reason is fairly simple, they make a beautiful a group set.
Braking from the Chorus setup was solid, great feel, and paired with the Zonda wheels we experienced no brake grabbing, just a nice progressive stop. The Italians do it right!
Campagnolo Zonda clinchers. A wheel set that has been around a while and with good reason. They are well-built, strong, roll well for their price bracket and in terms of weight are competitive. As expected we had no trouble with the Zondas.
The Axis LWP Ultralight is finished with Ergosum Pro bars and a ARX II Pro stem from 3T and a Prologo saddle.
Our test pilot is 169cm and jumped on the 54cm LWP Ultralight.
$3,250 for the build reviewed.
For anyone looking at the LWP Ultralight, the appeal may be its exclusivity. Also, looking at other bikes in this price range you get a pretty high end build. There’s also the custom build option with Axis bike that may sway you away from choosing an off the shelf bike.
For $3,250 you have the chance to get a fairly strong entry to mid-range road bike.
And I can definitely say you’d be the only one rolling in your group or bunch ride on one of these. If you are after that ‘something different’ this bike is definitely one to look at.
Find out more at www.axisbikes.com