Yes, they're very expensive, but the Lightweight Meilenstein carbon tubulars are superlight and equally stiff, resulting in an exceptional performance out on the road.
As the name suggests, Lightweight makes very light wheels. Our Meilensteins, with 47.5mm-deep and 20mm-wide rims, hit the road.cc Scales of Truth at 480g for the front (Lightweight claims 475g) and 640g rear (Lightweight claims 625g). That's a total of just 1,120g. The skewers add 44g.
You might expect that because they weigh so little the Meilensteins will flex about all over the place as soon as you jack up the power. That would seem logical, but the biggest surprise in their performance is that they're very, very stiff.
From the first pedal stroke you can feel that these are light wheels and acceleration is little short of superb. Really, you'll be astonished.
It's the uncanny combination of that light weight with excellent stiffness that really gets you, though. Stand up on the pedals for a climb or a sprint and the Meilensteins just don't give at all. It's the same story when you're cornering hard. Lean the bike over as far as you like and the wheels won't waver, so descending at speed is an absolute treat.
Lightweight doesn't put a ridiculously low rider weight limit on the Meilensteins either. Our ones, with 16 spokes at the front and 20 at the rear, are approved for a 100kg (15st 10lb) system weight (rider plus bike), while it's 120kg (18st 13lb) if you go for the 20-spoke front wheel.
How does Lightweight manage this? It makes the spoke holes in the rims during the moulding process rather than drilling through any of the individual fibres and damaging the structure afterwards. Then, according to Lightweight, as the spoke passes into the rim, the spoke's individual fibres are bonded to the rim, allowing a much higher spoke tension than normal without the need to add extra carbon around the spoke holes to cope with it.
Lightweight makes the rim in two halves because it needs to fix the spokes to the inside. A spoke coming from the left flange is woven into the right side of the rim, and vice versa. As the spoke enters the rim, it runs up the inside surface in a straight line. Lightweight reckons it's this that gives the wheel such high stiffness for such a low weight.
The Meilensteins uses Lightweight's own hub at the front and a DT Swiss 240 at the rear that has been modified to save weight. This involves changing both the outside and inside of the freehub.
The braking performance is surprisingly good in dry conditions. The Meilensteins come supplied with Lightweight's own brake pads, made by SwissStop, and the two work very well in combination whether you're slowing slightly for a tight left-hander or hauling to an unexpected stop. I wouldn't say their wet weather performance is much different from many other wheels/pads out there, but they're very impressive in the dry.
Lightweight reckons that the braking surface is super-tough so that's likely to last the distance. Even when it does wear out, you can send the wheel back to Lightweight to have it replaced.
If you break a spoke or damage the rim, that's a job for Lightweight too. If you're worried about repairs you can buy into Lightweight's WheelProtection programme, although it'll cost you an extra €225 per wheel (about £320 all in). This gets you the option of immediate replacement or repair in the event of damage for three years.
Lightweight doesn't make any aero claims for the Meilensteins. The rims have a V profile and that's important for the wheels' stiffness; it's what allows the carbon spokes to pull in a straight line from the hub. With this design, Lightweight couldn't curve the rim profile in search of a reduction in drag without adding weight. If you want aero, Lightweight does offer the Fernweg (80mm-deep rear, 60/80mm-deep front) which has a snub nosed profile.
The one area where I'd say the Meilensteins lag a little behind some of the opposition is in crosswinds. We've had the tail end of Storm Barney over the past few days and I don't feel that these wheels are the most stable I've ever tried on very blustery rides. But for most other conditions they're an absolute dream, whether you're in the mountains or battling it out in a crit.
There's one large elephant in the room, though, and that's the price. These cost a lot of money and even the pros who use Lightweight wheels (often unbadged) have to stump up (that's Lightweight's PR story, anyway). The Meilenstein tubulars that we have here are priced at £1,420 (front) and £1,680 (rear) – so £3,100 for the pair. The clincher wheelset is £600 more.
You do get a padded wheelbag, brake pads, quick-release skewers, valve extenders and tyre levers as part of the package, but even so, buy these and you're going to have people giving you the old 'you could buy a car for that' line on a regular basis.
So, yes, there's no avoiding it, these are expensive wheels, but if you have deep pockets and you're after something superlight and super-stiff, the Meilensteins can't be beaten.
Incredibly light and stiff carbon wheels with an exceptional performance, but price makes them unattainable for nearly all
road.cc test report
Make and model: Lightweight Meilenstein tubular wheelset
Size tested: 700C, black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Lightweight describes the Meilensteins as the stiffest wheel in its range, calling it, "A perfect all-round wheelset, equally at home on the road, in the mountains and in road racing."
It's a performance wheelset designed for racing.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Rim depth 47.5mm
Rim width 20mm
Meilensteins are approved for 19-27mm tyres although Lightweight advises 22–24mm.
Each wheel rim features a magnet embedded within the laminate structure so there's no need to fit one to a spoke for speed or power measurement.
Such a hard one to mark. They're really expensive, but all the technology and workmanship that you're paying for does result in an astonishing performance. On the other hand, compared to other high-end wheels they're still very costly.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The combination of light weight and stiffness is second to none. Acceleration is fabulous and so is cornering.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The acceleration, whether seated or standing.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I didn't think the handling in a crosswind was class-leading. They don't feel particularly unstable, but they're not the best either.
Oh, and there's the price tag!
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I wish!
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No hesitation.
Use this box to explain your score
Rightly or wrongly, I don't think value is foremost in your mind if you're even considering buying a pair of £3,000 wheels. The price can't detract from the fact that this is an exceptional wheelset that deserves its iconic status and a place on many a cyclist's wish list.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.