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Lightweight Meilenstein Obermeyer review

4 Dec 2015

You won't find a lighter set of wheels than the Lightweight Meilenstein Obermeyers, but is that incentive enough to part with over £4000?

The Obermayer name is only given to the very best and lightest wheels that Lightweight produces, in honour of the man who first created this unique full carbon wheelset. 

In the beginning, Heinz Obermayer made each wheel by hand in his garage at home, at a rate of just one wheel a day. His method was far from sophisticated – he cured his carbon with a contraption made from parts of an old lorry heater and he used his experience and feel, not hi-tech equipment, to produce some of the best wheels on the planet. They soon caught the attention of the world’s top riders and demand quickly outstripped supply. Apparently Lance Armstrong, at his peak, requested several sets, and Obermayer responded that, not only would Armstrong have to pay full price for them, but he would have to wait in line like everyone else. 

Today each Lightweight wheel is still handmade, only at a considerably faster rate and without involving lorry heaters. The Meilenstein Obermayer is the cream of the company’s road wheel crop. 

It’s only money

Let’s be honest, if you’re in the market for a pair of wheels costing north of £4,000, chances are you know a bit about the Lightweight brand already. What you might have noticed is that the wheels don’t appear to have changed a great deal in the last decade, and that’s not far from the truth. It’s more a testament to Obermayer being ahead of his time, rather than the company resting on its laurels, but of course there have been subtle tweaks, meaning these wheels are the lightest yet.

Lightweight Meilenstein Obermeyer rim

When we weighed them, our scales read 948g (417g front, 531g rear) making the pair lighter than some high-end rear wheels alone. Wheelsets weighing less than a kilo are rare, and often impose rider weight limits. There is a rider weight limit recommended for the Meilenstein Obermayers, but it’s 90kg, so we’re not talking about flimsy wheels for 60kg climbers here. 

What stands Lightweight apart is its unique construction, where spokes pass from one side of the rim to the other, in one length, wrapping into the hub flange and with the fibres at each end then woven and bonded directly into the rim construction. This, Lightweight claims, creates the stiffest interface possible and is far more suitable for carbon structures than drilling (or forming) holes and inserting metal spoke nipples. It means the rims, spokes and hubs effectively become a single piece, and allows for much higher spoke tensions. 

This latest version has a slightly revised rim profile, but essentially it’s still a V-shape (although now with a slightly blunter edge) which might feel outdated in view of the current trend for wider, rounder rims shapes. Lightweight claims it is not interested in chasing the Zipps and Enves of the world in the wind-tunnel. It insists this rim shape is best for what it’s striving for: low weight and high stiffness.

Wow factor

Lightweight Meilenstein Obermeyer hub

When you slot a set of Meilenstein Obermayers in your bike, even if your previous wheels were considered high-end, you’ll probably knock half a kilo off the rotating mass. Add in the impressive lateral rigidity and the payout is instantly gratifying. 

I noticed immediately that accelerating and climbing took less effort, and not just by a small percentage. The difference was significant. Thankfully too, with the supplied SwissStop pads, this latest version has improved braking performance over its predecessor (upon which I once had a few scary moments on a rain-drenched mountain). It’s still not quite as reassuring as I’d like in the wet, but some of the grabbiness of old had gone, replaced by a more progressive, predictable braking feel.

So what’s the catch? Well, there is of course the cost, but let’s for one moment imagine you’ve just won the lottery and money is no object. If you’re a devout aero nut, you might look elsewhere. It’s not that the Meilensteins aren’t aero – they’re just not the most aero. Another downside is that the Meilensteins are not particularly robust, and a crash could leave you with a hefty replacement bill. Lightweight is aware of this risk, and so has come up with its own insurance policy to give you peace of mind. A one-off £320 payment covers you for three years for repairs, or if damage is catastrophic, up to two complete wheel replacements free of charge. 

If these still aren’t quite fancy enough for you, there is the Schwarz edition, with Ceramic Speed bearings and stealthy all-black graphics for another £380. If your pockets are deep enough, you won’t be disappointed.

Lightweight Meilenstein Obermeyer Front Rear
Weight 417g 531g
Rim Depth 47.5mm 47.5mm
Rim Width 20mm 20mm
Spoke count 16 20
Price (pair) £4,199

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