Saturday, June 9, 2012
If you are considering a new bike for racing, fast riding, training, and /or posing, you can no longer go without THEE boutique wheels on offer from German company Carbonsports. Yes, there are other wheelsets out there that are in direct competition that sell for less, but anyone considering these wheels are looking beyond aerodynamic parameters, wind tunnel results and yaw angle (whatever that means).
These wheels have been around for a very long time, ever since Jan Ullrich and Bjarne Riis used the first production models at the Tour. There were continuous arguments over who brought this evolutionary all-carbon construction to the peloton first but Carbonsports prevailed in the end as Cees Beers, founder of ADA wheels, lost that battle as no one, and I mean NO ONE rides his wheels.
The guys who put Carbonsports on the map retired a few years ago, and under new management the company has taken some twists and turns, especially with the issues surrounding support for their products in North America. After three generations of steadily improving and expanding their product range, the new Carbonsports website boasts what can arguably be considered some of the best wheels on the market for hard-core racers and enthusiasts with money to burn.
Pictured above are the new Meilenstein wheels, which are the generation 4 version of the venerable Lightweight Standards, the wheelset Carbonsports made its' reputation on. For those who are wondering if these wheels are technologically better than say, a set of Zipps, that's not the point. No way will deep-section carbon rims with conventional wire spokes ride like an all-carbon wheel. There are wheels that are lighter, stiffer and more aerodynamic than Lightweights, but none have all three unique qualities to such an amazing degree.
The one issue that has the weight weenies up in arms is the proliferation of wider rim width. Carbonsports has stuck with 19.5 mm, whereas carbon rim manufacturers like Enve Composites have gone to 24 and 26mm. This allows the use of a wider profile tire (like say, a 25 or even 27mm for seriously rough roads) without a break in aesthetics. Supposedly, wider rims offer more comfort, but if comfort is what you want maybe you should get a new leather recliner with a beer holder and stay home. That is just an example of the type of relentlessly anal-retentive over-analysis these cats spend their days marinating in. You want more aerodynamic wheels? Train harder so you can go faster. You want lighter weight? Lose weight yourself. You want stiffer? Get yourself some generic Viagra and keep it moving. I don't know what else to tell you.
Carbonsports offers the Meilenstein with a 53mm rim depth in tubular, clincher and the lighter weight Obermayers. They also have a 81mm deep section wheel for the aero freaks called "Ferweg" (yes, when the legs no longer respond, you can buy speed!!!), a shallow section climber's wheel called "Gipfelsturm", and an all-carbon rear for time trial specialists aptly named "Autobahn". You can check it all out on their website, so when considering a new rig, you absolutely MUST treat yourself to a set of Lightweights. And don't let anyone tell you differently-if you can afford them, it doesn't matter if you suck. The redemption lies in how many people will be jealous of you.