The holy grail of wheel performance is to be lightweight, durable, excellent handling and have great stopping capability. Lightweight Meilenstein clinchers have always been the wheel of choice for climbing, snapping through switchbacks and instant torque in a sprint. Where they, and all carbon clinchers, fell short is controlled stops, especially in wet conditions.
I took my test ride on the new Lightweight Meilenstein Clincher Disc wheels to a 100K-charity ride with over 75 other riders, looking to turn the event into a race, rather than a tour. As we all know, it only takes two cyclists to make a ride into a race. Adding 73 more cyclists than that and you get a world championship.
It started raining ten minutes before the official start and you can hear the banter about the concerns of “going down” and “looking out for painted stripes”. The tension of 75 anxious cyclists standing in pouring rain is unnerving; a few of us put on our poker faces and looked like “we got this”.
I have thousands of miles on Lightweight clinchers and just started riding Disc wheels this season. So, combining both seemed like a no-brainer. Testing any new products on a group ride is never advised, however sometimes one has no choice. The official start rolled out and I chose to make it to the front, for a variety of reasons. First, I have learned that the likelihood of stupidity bringing you down at a start is too great to risk ruining a good day on the bike. Second, I don’t mind rain, but I do dislike the spray of the wheel in front of me pissing up the rooster tail in my face. And lastly, trying new brakes out in the middle of a pack is not the best place to be. You either get yourself to the front or hang off the back where you won’t surprise anyone with test piloting a new system.
I pulled the peloton for the first twenty miles in the rain. Anyone who has ever ridden with me knows that my time spent in the front of the group is kept to the absolute minimum, whereas I am known for spending most of the group rides in “the office”, sitting on the last wheel of a paceline.
It was clear that the group was happy with my pace, as no one challenged me to stretch it out. My strategy was that I was able to enter the turns with later braking, causing a gap as I exited every turn. The braking power with the Disc in the rain was a clear advantage and I was going to use it. Every braking situation stretched the rubber band for me without me using any more energy. This continued as we rolled through the Orange County countryside. The wheels gave stability and me confidence that is typically absent in anything other than perfect riding conditions.
We all pulled in for the first rest stop to fuel up and clear off our glasses, as the sun broke through the clouds. As we rolled out I noticed that I had a rear flat tire. Most people don’t understand the value of a wheel that makes changing a tube easy. However, those who have struggled with a tight rim/tire combination know the frustration of wrestling a tire off a rim and getting a new tube in without pinching it. The Lightweight Thru-axle Disc wheel came off with a few turns of the lever and the tire could be removed with one tire-lever. We were back on the road chasing the group in less than two minutes.
The Lightweight wheels proved to finish unfinished business of the ultimate preforming wheel. If you are a fan of motorsports you know that the better the braking power, the faster the vehicle can go. This isn’t lost on bicycles. Being able to stop late, with confidence, and then accelerate a light wheel out of a turn or up a hill gives you an unmistakable advantage over your competition. Not that we should think of our buddies as competitors, unless of course you happen to find yourself among 75 anxious cyclists out for a Sunday ride.