Lightweight wheels are a German brand of exceptionally high performance wheels that over the years have been used by some of only the most serious Pro riders and teams because the wheel maker makes them pay for them and being in the neighborhood of $6000 a pair, they aren't cheap!
Our Sea Otter weekend started off with a Lightweight product launch that in good German style was appropriately enough held at the beer tent. The big news was the release of their new Fernweg wheel which we were told was an aero wheel project that was three years in the making. As Frank from Lightweight told us, the name "Fernweg" translates roughly to "interstate" as in a closed road system that is the fast way to go. "For years our wheels were best known for their stiffness and weight, but not their aero qualities. The Fernweg wheels are now exceptional in all three of the important criteria for a bike racer: aero, stiffness and weight."
While the Meilenstein (or Milestone) wheel uses a the same carbon construction and design as other Lightweight wheels, it stands apart with its use of new braking surface that is designed to provide better heat dissipation. The 1100 gram Meilenstein is available in three models: tubular, clincher and the ultimate 975 gram (per set) Obermayer.
The craftsmanship found in the Lightweight wheels is first rate. The Fernweg wheels should hit the scales at about 1335 grams per set and they are available for either Shimano/Sram or Campagnolo freewheels.
The Fernweg wheels are 81mm deep. We were told that a radical eight spoke (front) version, the "Autobahn" will be available later in the year - we can't wait! Lightweight Wheels
Clement is a 130 year old tire brand that has been enlivened in the last year thanks to the efforts of a guy named Donn Kellogg who put together a new licensing deal with the brand owner Pirelli. Look for all new tread designs in both clincher and tubeless variety for road, 'cross, adventure and mountain bike applications. Clement Tires
BMC made a lot of noise last week with the release of their new GF01 road bike
, but not only did they roll out a ground-breaking road machine, but they also introduced a beautiful new 29'er mountain bike that shares similar frame shapes as the road bike. The Teamelite 29'er frame weighs a claimed 990 grams and is available in three sizes. Frame features include a short stack head tube, a BB92 bottom bracket and use of BMC's own Tuned Compliance Concept frame system. BMC Hardtail
Rapha's house of English style was in the full-effect at the Sea Otter, not only serving up hot espresso, but also their new Grand Tour shoes. With their combination of an upper made from Yak leather, the titanium d-rings and Easton EC90 carbon sole, the $450 Rapha shoes are an interesting mix of organic and synthetic materials. Rapha Cycling
Without a doubt, one of the most talked-about tech topics at the Sea Otter was the continued development of disc braked road bikes. Italian braking specialists Formula had their own version on display that will be the brake of choice for the 2013 production Colnago C59 disc bike. The system was designed around a Shimano Di2 drivetrain and although still a prototype was impressive to the touch. The only thing we hope to see changed would be internal cable routing for the front brake.
Giancarlo Vezzoli is Formula's project manager for the brakes and he said the young project started at last years Eurobike show when they were approached by Ernesto Colnago. "This is the first prototype and I began designing in November and we had some samples in January. Many aspects were very difficult to produce and the project made me so frustrated - I got really mad!"
Giancarlo said that as of now there are three different styles of Shimano Di2 shift levers and he was unsure what would make final production. Formula is also beginning to work on a version to work with Campagnolo's EPS drivetrain. Most impressive was the claim that the complete system is 15 grams lighter (per wheel) than standard Shimano Di2 parts and that they are still to finalize a carbon/titanium hop-up kit to save additional weight.
While the prototype Formula brake levers were still on the rough side,
they showed the potential of the design flair we have come to expect
from the Italians. The Formula version is easily the most refined of any hydraulic road
brake that we've seen to date. The micro-sized reservoir is hidden
inside the brake hoods and the shape of the brake hoods are just as
narrow as those with traditional brakes. Formula Brakes
Without a doubt, the disc braked Colnago C59
is one of the most intriguing new bikes for 2013. Both the fork blades and chainstays are reinforced (over those found on a standard C59) to withstand the added braking forces of the disc stoppers. That adds about 150 grams to the frame. Although the standard bike is spec'd with 140mm front & rear rotors, Colnago plans to release a mounting kit to run 160mm rotors for heavier riders. They are also working with their wheel maker (Artemis) to produce a lighter disc specific rim without the traditional rim brake surface and design.
You'll find two models of cyclocross bikes in the Colnago catalog and the World Cup is the entry-level version to the higher-end Prestige.
While still lacking some of the wind tunnel amenities of the most modern TT bikes, with it's new frame design and brake positioning, the Colnago K.Zero is still a much updated aero bike from the previous Colnago Flight. You can expect to see the new Colnago K.Zero TT bike at the Tour de France this summer under the EuropCar team.
Besides the beautiful carbon bikes, liberal doses of sunscreen were also put to good use at the Colnago booth as both Sandro (l) and Alex Colnago quickly realized that it gets quite a bit warmer at the Sea Otter than it does in Milano.