A Look at Lightweight Wheels

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11/24/2004| 0 comments
by Tommy Murphy
Photo copyright Roadcycling.com.
Photo copyright Roadcycling.com.

A Look at Lightweight Wheels

When it comes down to having the best, even professionals dish out the dough.

It?s hard to believe the thought of professionals still buying their own equipment, but when it comes down to having the best, even professionals dish out the dough. While hitting the rounds at Interbike (see Interbike Coverage Parts 1-7), we had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Stefan Behrens of CarbonSports GmbH, the makers of Lightweight Wheels. Lightweight Wheels have been ridden by the world's top cyclists, triathletes and duathletes for over 10 years, but most still don?t know the Lightweight name. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

 

 

Carbon wheels are every where now, but after a closer inspection of the pro peloton one will quickly find one wheel that truly stands apart; Lightweight. When describing the history and athletes of Lightweight Wheels, the company avoids mentioning the names of the riders that use their wheels and their victories won at the Tour de France, World Championships and other top professional races due to contractual obligations. But after one quick look at CarbonSports? website it is very clear who ?shops? at the Lightweight factory including Cipollini, Jan Ullrich, and Stefano Garzelli as well as Johan Museeuw, Lance Armstrong, Bjarne Riis, Joseba Beloki, and Erik Zabel, to name a few.

 

A Little History

During the ?90s, German engineers Rudolf Dierl and Heinz Obermayer started a revolution transforming the bicycle wheel. Dierl and Obermayer developed the first all-carbon wheelset in which the spokes were laminated directly into the hub and rim. Rudolf Dierl and Heinz Obermayer are both tool makers from the aerospace industry. Dierl worked at MAN, an aerospace technology company, for over 25 years and Obermayer worked for MTU, another aerospace company, for over 33 years. In their spare time the two built glass fiber spoilers and air dams for Mercedes cars in their garage. Their first wheels were disk wheels built for a friend?s horse-drawn race chariot. In 1989, they turned their attention to disks for bicycles and sold them under the name, ?Ultec?. The first disks had low-profile rims and were marketed by ?Heylight?.

 

In 1995, Lightweight Wheels introduced their spoke design which has been improved and modified upon to become today?s Lightweight spoked-wheel. Only a few wheels were made per year, but the public immediately took notice to Lightweight when their wheels were ridden to victory in the ?96 and ?97 Tour de France. Ever since then, Lightweight Wheels have been used by the world?s top professional cyclists in the top races.

 

In 2003, Dierl and Obermayer sold their company to CarbonSports GmbH. CarbonSports specializes in building carbon fiber components for many applications, not just in bicycles and bicycle products, but in aircraft, satellites, medical technology, and components for Formula 1 cars. The manufacturing base moved to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Friedrichshafen
at
Lake
Constance
, where the wheels are built today. All the same tools and original techniques, except for Dierl and Obermayer?s original garage oven, are used today in building the wheels.   Obermayer himself has trained the new employees and oversees the production process to ensure Lightweight?s quality. While Dierl has retired, Obermayer continues to press forward with his

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