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Eurobike 2010: AX Lightness debuts customizable carbon road frames

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The AX-Lightness Zeus stem uses uninterrupted carbon fibers that run from tip to tail along with incredibly minimal hardware. Claimed weight is 60-70g depending on length.

The AX-Lightness Zeus stem uses uninterrupted carbon fibers that run from tip to tail along with incredibly minimal hardware. Claimed weight is 60-70g depending on length. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Dropouts are all carbon fiber.

Dropouts are all carbon fiber. (Image credit: James Huang)
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AX-Lightness showed off its new Alpha carbon road frame at the 2010 Eurobike show.

AX-Lightness showed off its new Alpha carbon road frame at the 2010 Eurobike show. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The AX-Lightness Morpheus crank features a barely-there 380gclaimed system weight (arms, spindle, bearings, and cups) plus interchangeable inserts to adjust the effective crankarm length.

The AX-Lightness Morpheus crank features a barely-there 380gclaimed system weight (arms, spindle, bearings, and cups) plus interchangeable inserts to adjust the effective crankarm length. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Morpheus crank drops directly into the new Alpha frame but for standard threaded shells, there are also external-bearing cups.

The Morpheus crank drops directly into the new Alpha frame but for standard threaded shells, there are also external-bearing cups. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Rather than glue separate carbon rails into a carbon shell, AX-Lightness simply wraps the fibers around into a big loop.

Rather than glue separate carbon rails into a carbon shell, AX-Lightness simply wraps the fibers around into a big loop. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Some companies offer just one full-carbon saddle flagship in their ranges - AX-Lightness has five.

Some companies offer just one full-carbon saddle flagship in their ranges - AX-Lightness has five. (Image credit: James Huang)
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How light do you want to go?

How light do you want to go? (Image credit: James Huang)
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AX-Lightness's minimal skewers use tiny machined aluminum handles.

AX-Lightness's minimal skewers use tiny machined aluminum handles. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Carbon fiber reinforces the flanges on the Tune front hubs.

Carbon fiber reinforces the flanges on the Tune front hubs. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Chain stays aren't especially huge but AX-Lightness CEO Axel Schnura says he can still replicate the ride feel of nearly any frame.

Chain stays aren't especially huge but AX-Lightness CEO Axel Schnura says he can still replicate the ride feel of nearly any frame. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The Alpha's carbon bottom bracket shell features direct press-fit cartridge bearings for the matching Morpheus crank.

The Alpha's carbon bottom bracket shell features direct press-fit cartridge bearings for the matching Morpheus crank. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The AX-Lightness AX6000 fork uses unusually widely set blades that are supposedly more aerodynamic than narrowly set ones.

The AX-Lightness AX6000 fork uses unusually widely set blades that are supposedly more aerodynamic than narrowly set ones. (Image credit: James Huang)
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AX-Lightness's 69mm-deep carbon tubulars are built with special narrow-flange Tune hubs.

AX-Lightness's 69mm-deep carbon tubulars are built with special narrow-flange Tune hubs. (Image credit: James Huang)
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The sidewalls on the 69mm-deep AX-Lightness wheels are slightly concave.

The sidewalls on the 69mm-deep AX-Lightness wheels are slightly concave. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Tune's Mag 150 hub anchors the rear wheel.

Tune's Mag 150 hub anchors the rear wheel. (Image credit: James Huang)
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AX-Lightness showed off its 69mm-deep carbon tubulars at this year's Eurobike show.

AX-Lightness showed off its 69mm-deep carbon tubulars at this year's Eurobike show. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A single leaf spring provides the snap in the single-pivot AX3000 brakes.

A single leaf spring provides the snap in the single-pivot AX3000 brakes. (Image credit: James Huang)
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Claimed weight for the AX-Lightness AX3000 brakes is just 130g for the pair.

Claimed weight for the AX-Lightness AX3000 brakes is just 130g for the pair. (Image credit: James Huang)
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(Image credit: James Huang)
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AX-Lightness says its SRT CC mountain bike rims weigh just 230g apiece.

AX-Lightness says its SRT CC mountain bike rims weigh just 230g apiece. (Image credit: James Huang)
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A sub-1000g wheelset weight is impressive for dedicated road hillclimb wheels, let alone AX-Lightness's stunningly feathery Premium MTB tubular models.

A sub-1000g wheelset weight is impressive for dedicated road hillclimb wheels, let alone AX-Lightness's stunningly feathery Premium MTB tubular models. (Image credit: James Huang)
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AX-Lightness's shallow 24mm carbon tubulars are just the thing for when the road turns skywards.

AX-Lightness's shallow 24mm carbon tubulars are just the thing for when the road turns skywards. (Image credit: James Huang)

German lightweight component specialist AX Lightness debuted its first road frame, dubbed the Alpha, at this year's Eurobike trade show and it's not just another featherweight carbon chassis.

AX Lightness CEO Axel Schnura is instead touting the Alpha's tunability, claiming that he can not only create fully custom geometries from the tube-to-tube construction but also alter the tube shapes, diameters, fiber types, and lay-up schedules to yield a wide range of stiffness and ride feels.

Other companies already claim to offer such services but Schnura further says that he can actually precisely replicate the feel of other companies' frames based on an extensive database of in-house test data. Say, for example, you love the ride and personality of one high performance frame but its stock geometry doesn't suit your particular proportions the way you want it to. According to Schura, he can build his Alpha to ride and handle exactly the same but instead with a custom tailored fit.

Aside from the custom tunability, several design features also stand out on their own. The Alpha uses an 85mm-wide bottom bracket with integrated cartridge bearings pressed directly into the carbon shell while just behind, the molded-in carbon chain stay bridge is subtly embossed with the 'AX' logo.


The Alpha's carbon bottom bracket shell features direct press-fit cartridge bearings for the matching Morpheus crank.

Carbon fiber dropouts – with a replaceable derailleur hanger – link to drastically flattened seat stays, lending some vertical flex to the rear end without overly affecting drivetrain efficiency in the process. In addition, the seat tube is ovalized at the bottom bracket and both the front derailleur mount and all cable housing stops are crafted from carbon fiber, too.

Even the matching AX6000 fork bears a unique design as well with radically bowed-out legs that leave heaps of room in between the blades and wheel. According to Schnura, this extra space allows air to flow cleanly around the fork legs without being subjected to the aerodynamic interference of the spinning wheel in between.

With all this being said, Schnura's company name is 'AX-Lightness' after all and the Alpha chassis is, in fact, extremely light. When paired with Schnura's own Morpheus carbon crankarms, AX3000 carbon single-pivot brakes, Daedalus seatpost, total claimed frameset weight is an unreal 1,650g – barely heavier than many high-end framesets alone before adding any parts.

Naturally, such a machine would only be complete with other items from the AX-Lightness collection. One sample build includes a Zeus carbon road stem and AX4000 handlebar, Premium Road 42 carbon tubular wheels, Phoenix bare carbon saddle, a Campagnolo Super Record transmission, and Continental Competition tires for a total claimed weight of just 4.2kg (9.26lb) – and that's with a Nasdorowje carbon bottle cage, too.

Yikes.