NOB'S NEW WHEELS ... LIGHTWEIGHT MEILENSTEIN CLINCHERS.
NOB SAYS ...
I’ve recently received a number of telephone calls from very nice men promising me sizeable PPI payouts, grants towards loft insulation and several all expenses paid holidays to a number of different locations of my choice so I decided to channel the little sum I’d hidden away for such eventualities towards a nice treat to myself.
Ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper my dear mother always used to tell me that ‘you get what you pay for’ so over a period of many years I’ve remained committed to Campagnolo cycling components. They are, after all, the best (I’ll get my coat and dive for cover!). It’s only as my waist-line has increased in direct proportion to the disposable income I possess that I’ve been drawn towards something that may make allowances for the extra pounds I’ve accumulated (that’s pounds as in £ … not pounds as in lbs) ;-)
So what is it that’s led to me breaking a habit of a lifetime?
Well they’re what could be termed as the Rolls Royce of wheels. They come from Germany so you know that these are going to be quality as German engineering is renowned as being the finest in the world. The manufacturer in question is Lightweight and the wheels of choice on this occasion are the Meilenstein clincher wheel set … I wanted something a bit ‘blingy’ to add a touch more class to my BMC TMR01.
They arrived in a beautiful matt black box with distinctive white lettering and logo (right), and I could
tell from the start I was getting something rather special. The wheels were very well packed and
protected – individually packed to avoid any damage. Thought and care had gone into the packaging
… probably just as well considering the exchange rates on human livers isn’t quite what it used to
As I carefully slipped them out of the box, I could see straight away they oozed quality. I was also
immediately struck by their super light weight. Compared to the Campagnolo 80th wheels they were
going to replace these weighed next to nothing. Bearing in mind my weight (97kgs) I went for the
20/20 spoke count rather than the standard 16/20. This only added 25gms to the total weight which
came in at 1125gms. With the black 23mm Veloflex Corsas and inner tubes (which had the long
60mm presta valves to avoid valve extenders and possible air leakage) the total weight came in at
1665gms which feels light to me … but then I’m no weight weenie (as my 97 kgs would testify).
I just love the 19.5mm rim width as it looks so much more pleasing to the eye than those fat rims
that are all in vogue at the moment. I don’t think it looks quite right having overblown rims and mega
fat tyres. Even if the boffins say it’s less rolling resistance I prefer the more aero option.
With carbon rims you MUST fit the tyres by hand because after forking out huge amounts of cash
you wouldn’t want to butcher the wheel rims with metal tyre levers, crowbars, screw drivers etc. So
once again I paid a visit to my kitchen to partake in a bit of cooking rubber cuisine by soaking the
brand new tyres in boiling water for around 10-15 minutes. After wiping off all the excess water I
proceeded to mount both tyres on their respective rims with no problems whatsoever … all by hand
too. After checking the inner tubes weren’t pinched, I ramped the pressure up to 111psi (despite this
particular brand allowing for a maximum of 116psi max). As this is camel land where the heat gets
above 40 degrees I make allowances of 10-15psi lower than max to allow for any expansion issues
when heat is absorbed by the black rims and tyres.
Front ... ... and err ... rear
To compliment this particular wheel upgrade I fitted some Swiss Stop Yellow Kings which are recommended as a good solid match for Lightweight wheels although I have some Black Princes on the way which I would prefer as the yellow does not sit well with all the black with red accents of the BMC.
Again patience was required to set the brake blocks to the right clearance from the wheels. After 30 minutes of tinkering I was happy with the set up and ready to see the wheels perform on the road.
It was 4am so still dark when I ventured out to carry out my testing and luckily the dust storms of the previous day had subsided with the wind also having dropped off. A lot of sand particles on the road were however going to make cornering at speed a little dicey.
The difference to the Campagnolo Bullet 80th edition wheels these were replacing was sublime … straight from the ‘off’ too. The response was immediate from the very first revolution of the pedals. WOW! The feedback from the road was immediate and after a few corners I quickly got in to the swing of things and it all seemed quite effortless compared to what I had become used to with the previous wheels. Even with all the sand particles on the road the Veloflex tyres ran as if on rails giving me enough confidence to increase the speed … which I duly did. Boy … did they accelerate when I put the power down! And sprinting? Well … it was immediate and I felt as though I could sustain the length of sprint much longer. The wheels remained stiff even with my 97kgs of lard … so that was extremely pleasing to know. Braking at speed with the Yellow Kings was also smooth, powerful and assured. As for riding over bumps … it was so much better in terms of comfort for my backside and arms as there was a noticeable damping by the Meilensteins compared to the Campagnolo 80’s. I’d feel confident having these on the roads of Cebu as they’d help my poor climbing ability no end (and Lord do I need all the help I can get!). That’s something I hope to test in the future as well as the downhill braking factor using Black Princes brake pads.
This is probably the best road handling wheel set I have ever had the pleasure to ride and I would recommend any serious bike rider to, at least, try a pair of Lightweights before they kick the bucket. They are what they say they are (Lightweight)… and seriously so.
For those not as affluent as me, for the same price as a pair of Lightweight Meilensteins you could buy a Citec 8000 CX63 front wheel, a Citec 8000 Ultra disc and a pair of Dugast Pista Diamond Silks and still have enough left over to keep the peace with your Mrs by treating her to a day out at her local Spa (as in pampering / massaging / etc … not corner shop / ‘el cheapo’ own brand shopping etc).
Part 2 ... the sequel!
Whilst recently venturing out from my holiday home (ie my tax-dodging condominium hidden away from prying eyes in Cebu), I finally took the opportunity to test my Lightweight Meilensteins on a local climb called Buak.
Going up (which was hard!) meant I had to come down (which was easy. Probably just as well!) which would allow me to test the handling on the twisty technical descent back down to the main complex. The other items on test were Swiss Stop’s Black Prince brake pads which I was told were a good match for Lightweight wheels.
Buak is a climb in Cebu that starts at JY square and climbs up steadily as indicated
It’s quite a punishing climb and after Willy’s it gets considerably tougher than the profile suggests. (Willy’s is a kind of watering hole where lots of cyclists gather to talk shop, eat and partake in some social drinking … honest! Google it and see. On second thoughts that’s probably not a good idea. Just take my word there’s a watering hole over here called Willy’s).
So on this particular Saturday morning … bike checked … gearing checked … tyres checked … brake pads checked … I was on my way!
The climb began and for the sake of this test I started from the 10km point as per the chart. Weather was humid with 85% humidity; temperature was at 28degs at the time of start (5.30am) with an overcast sky.
Once on the climb I immediately engaged the small ring as my far from svelte figure weighs in at a hefty 210lb which makes going up hills somewhat harder than going down them. The first thing I noticed (apart from the fact that a full English probably wasn't the best choice for breakfast) was how light and responsive the wheels were on the climb. When out of the saddle everything felt extremely lively which was surprising for a deep section wheel set. I found it so much ‘easier’ sitting in the saddle though and rode up at a slightly faster and more relaxed cadence than I’d have done heaving a bigger gear round out of the saddle.
After Willy’s came the most punishing part of the climb and I had to engage 40 x 29 as I continued to push on at a slow but steady pace still remaining seated (if the truth were told I was too knackered to get my arse off the saddle!). For the sake of the test though, I did try (to get out of the saddle) but could feel the rear wheel beginning to lose grip so sat back down straight away (that’s my story anyway … and I’m sticking to it). This was very much how it was all way up the climb.
Having reached the top and a after a few big gulps of water and air it was time to turn and descend down to the starting point.
On the descent (in order not to cause any kind of heat overload) the ‘feathering’ technique of braking was used (alternating back / front braking). Lightweight recommends 116 psi max pressure but as heat would expand the inner tubes I had 105psi in both tyres (Veloflex Corsa 23mm versions).
The first part of the descent was quite steep with a pretty average road surface. I didn’t just have the terrain and surface to consider as the dogs over here have a tendency to play Russian roulette with other road users … which doesn't just make life interesting, but also requires good bike handling skills and a change of underpants an absolute necessity!
Once on the move and ‘feathering’ the brakes I felt I had full control of the bike.
After Willy’s the road flattened out and there were some really nice sweeping bends I could really tear into. With it being early in the morning (and my rear pockets stuffed full with a five pack of Tesco’s own brand Jockey classic y-front briefs … in black) I had the confidence to take on the bends and the dogs … I even overtook a few motorcyclists along the way J I was amazed at how light the wheels felt and how well they responded. Whether or not the road holding characteristics would have been the same with someone lighter on board is questionable, but I couldn’t fault it. The bike held its line very firmly when I pointed it into the corners and when coming out of them it gripped very well.
Overall the Black Prince brake pads were very good and totally reliable. They were a LOT better than the carbon wheel brake pads which are supplied as standard with Campagnolo / Zipp wheels.
Lightweight Wheels have to be ridden to fully appreciate what a top pair of wheels are really like. I would recommend them 100% to anyone who can afford them. Sell a kidney, marry into money … do whatever is necessary, but add them to your bucket list now!
I’d also consider Black Prince brake pads to be a worthy investment if you’re after sure confident braking. Tesco’s own brand Jockey classic y-front briefs are probably cheaper but don’t demonstrate as much confidence in your bike handling skills.