19 Nov Review : Lightweight Meilenstein Wheelset
Lightweight. The German carbon wizards that make wheels that no one else can. Mavic tried and got close with the Ultimates, but were not able to achieve full 100% carbon construction.
Lightweight wheels are effectively ‘one piece’. Rim, spokes and hub are all moulded together, under tension, in a secret process that produces some of the lightest and stiffest wheels in the world.
The Meilenstein came out in 2012 and refined the ‘classic’ wheelset with a deeper rim (48mm) and an improved braking surface. Weight for the tubular pair is 1100g.
Needless to say, riding such a light wheelset is an eye opener; Force = mass * acceleration. Take away mass and your same force results in more acceleration. It’s as simple as that.
Not only does a wheel have to be accelerated linearly, (i.e. from A to B), it also has to be accelerated rotationally.
Each pedal push seems to have less resistance as the wheels spin up so easily.
But lets not get too carried away. These wheels will not strip minutes off your favourite climbs; a few seconds maybe. It’s more about feel and way the bike rides. Because as well as the low weight, these wheels are stiff; just stiff enough. This has nothing to do with comfort – that is down to the tyre, it’s width and the pressure you run in it. No, this is about power transfer and lack of wheel flex. The power from the hub has to travel through the spokes and arrive a the rim. If the wheel is not stiff, the spokes can flex and buckle and allow the rim to touch the brake blocks. Not good. The Lightweight does has little flex – the power is transferred directly to the road and this can be felt when you put in a sprint burst in the immediate reactivity. And yet they retain a degree of suppleness that means that they ride very nicely over less than smooth surfaces.
With a depth of 47mm the Meilensteins are usefully aero and the carbon spokes are thin where they cut the air. In the crazy world of marketing where wheel manufacturers try to outdo each other with their outlandish aero claims, it is refreshing that Lightweight simply state that their wheels’ aero performance is ‘very similar’ to their competitors. They also make a lovely gentle hum when they roll fast on the road!
Braking, often a weak point of carbon rims is excellent in the dry, better than many aluminium rims. In the wet, it’s not quite so good! No carbon wheel manufacturer has yet to solve poor wet braking and these wheels are no exception. Much forethought is required, although once the water is wiped off, it’s not too bad.
These wheels are good for 100kg riders, so that’s almost all of us, whilst the 20 spoke front is rated to 120kg.
Lightweight famously refused Lance Armstrong’s request for their wheels, saying that he would simply have to ‘join the queue!’ So are they worth it for you? At about £2750 a pair, they’re not cheap, but if you’re looking for the ultimate wheels, you just found them!