The AX Lightness stand is always good for a bit of Eurobike news. Remember their custom paintjob from last year? We still have nightmares. You;ll be glad to hear that everything was very much black and white for 2012.
This year AX Lightness had a complete homegrown bike on show, the Vial, featuring a selection of their components. More than that, in fact; they look to the Vial as a system bike with everything working in harmony. "Contact surfaces, stiffness and fittings are adjusted in such a way that components can develop their full lightweight potential, giving optimal power flow without pushing an individual part to the limits of its capacity," we learned. We learn a lot at Eurobike.
The frame itself is a monocoque and hand built in Germany; for now there's just two sizes, medium and large. It features a press-fit BB386 bottom bracket (86mm shell with a 30mm axle) for maximum girth where you need stiffness for power transfer, and an inch and a half lower headset bearing, again to stiffen things up. Main tubes are squarish in section.
Certainly it's a striking machine; the AX Lightness callipers are a favourite round here for their handcrafted carbon chic, and the rest of the bits look very tidy too. With the possible exception of the saddle. Built up with SRAM Red shifters and mechs the full bike tips the scales at a feathery 4.9kg; the frame alone is 745g. The frame with a 3T Rigida fork will set you back a salty €4,900.
Engage is an offshoot of AX Lightness and is basically their budget arm, although as you might expect the budget arm of a high-end composites manufacturer isn't bargain basement stuff. They launched the brand last year but since then they've been building up the product range so that now they've got almost enough stuff (minus the groupset) to put a whole bike together. The saddle, wheel set and frame were the missing pieces and they've now fallen into place.
The Engage components are derived from the AX lightness designs but they're more aimed at a mass market, so instead of being hand made in Germany the production is outsourced. They're also designed with a wider range of riders in mind; whereas an AX Lightness seat post might have a maximum rider weight of 80kg and require a very accurate torque key to fit, the Engage one will take a Clydesdale sportive rider without so much as blinking.
The frame is called Claude. No, really, it is. Okay, actually it's called Clade e11. But we're calling it Claude. It's specced with a BB386 bottom bracket and oversized headset just likie its costlier cousin, and it's only 50 grams heavier at a hardly-portly 795g for the medium frame. The Engage frame will set you back €2,480 and the bike as built on the stand (SRAM Red and an FSA SL-K chainset) weighs in at a UCI-frown-inducing 6.1kg
The Sphere 50c wheels use a 50mm carbon clincher rim and DT Swiss hubs, and weigh in at under 1,600g, not bad at all for a mid section wheelset. They'll cost you €1,570. The Aspis bars (205g) are €180, the Gavial brakes (130g a pair) will set you back €300 and the Fluke saddle (138g) is €249.
Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.