The Light Blue Wolfson Ultegra review£2,100.00

Classic British road bike with a touch of the Cambridge blues

BikeRadar score4/5

The Light Blue brand was established back in 1895, and has been under the ownership of the Townsend family since. Historically, the brand was associated with performance bikes, but over the past decade it has concentrated on producing the Parkside and Chesterton city bikes. These traditional basket-up-front and 'sit up and beg' riding-position town-cruisers have been hugely popular with students in company's home city of Cambridge.

The Wolfson is simply a great steel bike
The Wolfson is simply a great steel bike

More recently, The Light Blue marque has expanded into a range of classic-inspired road bikes, gravel bikes and the Wolfson, based around the clubman-style road bike.

The Wolfson isn’t a retro-replica as its geometry (73-degree seat, 72.5-degree head angles and 1022mm wheelbase) makes it handle like a thoroughly modern road bike. That said, the ride quality is far removed from modern carbon, which, when it’s used cleverly, can emulate steel in compliance terms. 

What carbon can’t match is the natural spring and life of a great steel frame, which is exactly what the Wolfson gives you. It’s made from Reynolds 853 tubing that has the benefit of a light, seamless construction and is ‘air-hardened’ to give greater strength in the weld areas over more standard steels.

Air-hardened and heat-treated Reynolds 853 steel makes for a strong frame
Air-hardened and heat-treated Reynolds 853 steel makes for a strong frame

The 853 steel is also heat-treated to further increase its strength and resistance to damage. The added toughness means you can make the tubes with thinner walls, so it’s lighter yet highly resistant to fatigue.

In real terms, that adds up to a bike with real character. Would I choose the Wolfson for a hard-riding-in-the-red, heart-rate-busting road session or power-producing intervals? No, not a chance when compared to modern race bike. But for spending long sociable days out riding with friends or epic distances, we would go for bikes like the Wolfson every time.

Light Blue has balanced the frame with a skinny-legged carbon fork to create a really nice, balanced feel. The circa 1500g Halo Devaura wheelset is a decent match for the frame too, the freehub is quick to engage, and the wheels ride with no discernible flex. The rim profile is a great match for the 28mm Schwalbe tyres, which add another level to the overall comfort.

The Genetic saddle may be a little garish with its union flag pattern compared to the understated blue frameset, but the textured surface and shape only add to the luxury feel of the Wolfson.

With its quality Reynolds 853 frame and carbon fork it’s understated but very well-thought-out
With its quality Reynolds 853 frame and carbon fork it’s understated but very well-thought-out

To get an 853-framed bike at this price and one with an Ultegra groupset will mean some compromises, and on the Wolfson it’s the brakes. The Tektro Quartz units are decent-enough stoppers — I like the low profile QR design and dual pivot action — but the pads are a little hard and a bit waxy, which means, in the dry, they work but feel a little dead. 

In the wet that feeling is exacerbated along with a drop in performance. Swapping them is an easy enough upgrade to make, though, and I’d be happy to pay extra for the full Ultegra setup.

If you prefer riding in comfort on a bike that can handle sporty licks yet still look after you all day, the Wolfson is a great choice.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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