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May 1, 2013
BH Bicycles (Beistegui Hermanos) began as a gun manufacturer in 1909 in the Basque region of Spain. Following the First World War, BH took a 180 degree turn and began making a different type of weapon, this one in the cycling arena. Last month I tested their newest model, the BH Ultralight, and here are my thoughts.
BH Bicycles have had a bit of a hiatus over the past few years. They have a rich history in Spanish cycling and in 1935 the BH team had one of the best cyclists of the day in its ranks, the Belgian Gustave Deloor(1913 – 2002), who won the first two editions of the Vuelta a España in 1935 and 1936.
The first time that BH came onto my radar was when they sponsored the short-lived Liberty Seguros-Würth team (a reincarnation of ONCE) in 2005 and then sponsoring Astana-Würth in 2007. Just like Liberty Seguros, BH vanished from the ProTour scene and we didn’t hear too much about them. They’ve kept away from the top level of professional cycling, but are being distributed in Australia and quite visible around the roads of Asia and Australia with the Baku Cycling Project riding them.
Jeremy Hunt is heading up the Baku Cycling Project who are riding BH Bikes
The BH Ultralight that I test-rode was equipped with the new Dura-ace 9000 mechanical groupset, Titan brakes, Shimano C24 wheels, Zipp bars/stem/seatpost and full carbon Prologo saddle. The frame itself weighs in at 768g (56cm). The fork adds only 279g to the package, bringing the whole thing up to just 1,047g. With this simple combination, the bike came to 5.6kg (speedplay pedals included). That’s damn light, just as the name suggests.
I don’t have fancy test jigs, but my simple test to check the lateral stiffness of a bike is that I’ll put it up against a wall and press my foot against the crankset and feel the frame deflection. The BB386 is massive which no doubt makes this frame extremely stiff compared to others in this market.
I could tell you about BH’s “Hollow Core Molding Technology” and manufacturing techniques which they claim is “built from the inside out”, but I haven’t visited their factory or seen this for myself, so all I’d be doing is quoting their marketing materials. If you want to know more, you can read here.
The bike I ride regularly is a Specialized Tarmac, which is my immediate reference point. I put the Dura Ace C50’s that I had been riding onto the BH Ultralight just so I could take away the tyre and wheel variable and get a good feel for what the frame characteristics were.
The first and most significant thing I noticed when riding the BH Ultralight was that thethe frame had a lot less dampening on rougher roads than I was used to and was extremely stiff. It was void of the “feel” that I’m accustomed to. This isn’t necessarily a good thing or bad thing, but is definitely something that many pure racers will find appealing. It wasn’t uncomfortable in the slightest though. Three of the rides that I put it through were quite long days in the saddle (3 Peaks Challenge – 230km, Rapha Gentlemen’s Race – 170km, and one other 200km ride with some mates). BH didn’t exactly get their bike back looking new…
I have to admit, I changed out the carbon Prologo saddle for those bigger rides because I didn’t want to chance how that would go. Saddles are a highly personal thing and I didn’t find this one particularly comfortable. Not bad for short rides, but I know what I like for the longer ones and it’ll take a lot of convincing for me to change. However, at 85 grams, Prologo’s C.One Nack is one of the many parts that add up to making this bike so light.
Perhaps the only thing that I didn’t care for on this bike were the Titan brakes. Titan is BH’s own component brand and while I can’t find the exact spec on their weight, they certainly appear to be light. However, the rest of the bike is the new 2013 Dura Ace and I know from experience that their brakes are excellent in every regard. The Titan brakes were slightly clumsy to release the cable from the callipers, and they didn’t move in and out evenly when squeezing the levers. However, once on the bike I didn’t notice a discernable difference in the braking performance.
At 85 grams the Prologo C.One Nack is one light saddle.
As I said earlier, the BH Ultralight lives up to its name at 5.6kg. But when riding it I didn’t feel like it was unstable. I’m a heavier rider and I’ll usually have the bike loaded up with two full bottles and a seatbag which will weigh it down, but nothing indicated that it was unnecessarily light and fragile. Climbing was a pleasure (well, as much as this 85kg donkey can handle), but descending was the real treat. The bike requires minimal input to the steering and all you need to do is crouch down and lean. Okay, that’s the same with most bikes in this category, but now you know which category this falls into – the fast one!
For second opinion, you can see RIDE’s review of the BH here.
RRP: $6,999 AUD – Dura-Ace 11sp (as tested here)
RRP: $9,299 AUD – Dura-Ace Di2 11sp
RRP: $8,649 AUD – SRAM Red
For more information to go BH Australia.