Buyer’s Guide 2017: BH Ultralight
At 15.3 pounds, the Ultralight easily lives up to its name. If you’re just looking for a feathery ride, you’ve found it. But that’s not the whole story here, and frankly, it seems unlikely that weight is your only concern…nor should it be. The Ultralight has a lot going for…
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At 15.3 pounds, the Ultralight easily lives up to its name. If you’re just looking for a feathery ride, you’ve found it. But that’s not the whole story here, and frankly, it seems unlikely that weight is your only concern…nor should it be. The Ultralight has a lot going for it, like peppy, quick handling and decent acceleration, but BH has also made some curious geometry choices that prevent it from standing out in the wide all-around category.
Let’s start with the massive 185mm head tube (size large). Given the 570 millimeter top tube, we think the head tube is a bit too tall, but it’s not beyond the pale for a bike this size. We prefer smaller head tubes that get us in a more aggressive riding position though, and the tall head tube here puts you in a more upright position than a racer generally prefers. It was the first thing we noticed when we got on the bike. If a race-oriented, climber’s tool is what you’re after, there are certainly more aggressive options out there.
Yet the 73-degree head tube angle helps make up for some of that height, and short 402.5 millimeter chainstays help keep the Ultralight quick and whippy in a crowded peloton. Overall it’s a peppy bike that handles confidently, but it takes some getting used to. We liked it on rolling terrain with quick ups followed by extended sections of flats.
In the realm of all-around bikes, the Ultralight’s compliance errs on the harsh side. The boxy downtube joins a large bottom bracket junction, so a lot of road vibration transfers right to the rider through the handlebars and seatpost/saddle. The bright side is a connected road feel: Corner aggressively knowing where your wheels are tracking and what kind of road surface you’re dealing with.
The lab data suggests the Ultralight is sufficiently stiff but it’s not toward the top of the list of our stiffest bikes. We may be splitting hairs however, since we’re talking about a difference of tenths of millimeters. On the road the Ultralight felt plenty responsive during hard efforts and jumped lively during short, punchy climbs and quick accelerations.
A Dura-Ace mechanical groupset and Mavic Ksyrium wheelset both dress up the Ultralight nicely, but it should be noted that the 2017 Ultralight model hasn’t changed from the 2016 model.