review

Lightweight Meilenstein C Disc wheels

7
£4,779.00

VERDICT:

7
10
Excellent performance boost as long as it's not too windy – but they're super-pricey
Weight: 
1,370g

If you're looking for one of the lightest and stiffest wheelsets for your disc brake-equipped road bike, there are few better options than Lightweight's new Meilenstein C Disc wheels. They're incredibly stiff and highly responsive, but they come with a premium price tag.

The German company has – finally, some might say – released a disc brake version of its iconic carbon fibre wheel, where the hubs, spokes and rims are made entirely from carbon fibre. It's a design that the company pioneered during the 90s; it was revolutionary then, and still looks futuristic today, despite the increased prevalence of carbon fibre bicycle wheels.

> Find your nearest dealer here

Lightweight claims these are the lightest and stiffest carbon disc brake wheels money can buy. At 1,370g they're certainly close to being the lightest disc brake wheelset we've reviewed on road.cc, but it's in the stiffness department that these wheels really blow away the competition.

Lightweight Meilenstein Carbon Clincher Disc - rim detail.jpg

Without a doubt, these are the stiffest disc brake wheels I've tested. Plugging them into a carbon fibre Vitus disc brake bike I'm currently reviewing, the difference compared with the standard wheels was night and day. They endow the bike with a startling level of handling sharpness, with instant feedback and excellent power transfer.

Performance, whether it's climbing steep gradients out of the saddle, carving high-speed turns, sprinting over crests or descending through flowing curves, is truly stunning. The high stiffness gives the bike an incredible immediacy, precision and nimbleness that few carbon wheels can rival.

Lightweight Meilenstein Carbon Clincher Disc - tyre.jpg

The Meilenstein C Disc wheels feature a 47mm-deep carbon fibre clincher rim with a 20mm external and 17.8mm internal width, with a pointy V-shape profile. It's basically the same rim used in the regular Meilenstein wheels; they even have the brake track – it's not a disc-specific rim.

The rim dimension is the reason for the low weight and high stiffness, and is a shape that was common during the early days of carbon wheels, a time when Lightweight was one of the few credible options. It's still one of the only companies making a wheel entirely out of carbon fibre. It still manufactures the wheels in-house, each wheel apparently taking 20 hours to produce.

It's fair to say that the V-shape rim profile, while clearly offering some advantages, has been superseded by the current trend for a wide, rounded rim profile, pioneered by HED and adopted by Zipp, Enve et al. The V shape, still favoured by a few wheel specialists and not just Lightweight, offers good aero performance when the wind is coming directly from straight ahead, but the more popular toroidal rim shape arguably offers improved aerodynamics in a wider range of wind conditions and is more stable in crosswinds.

Lightweight Meilenstein Carbon Clincher Disc - spokes.jpg

It's this performance in a wide range of wind conditions that is the Achilles' heel of the Lightweight wheels. They simply aren't as easily controllable in strong winds and on high-speed descents in blustery conditions as rival wheels using the more modern rim profile.

Alarmingly, I found the front wheel can be really affected by wind force on high-speed descents, with the steering becoming heavy and the bike harder to control. It's something you do get used to, but the manoeuvrability is severely hampered compared with other wheels I've tested recently, such as the DT Swiss ERC 1100 Dicut DB wheels, for example.

> The pros and cons of carbon wheels

Worse still, I almost got blown off the bike when passing a gap in a hedgerow on one ride. You have to keep your wits about you when riding these wheels in the wind, especially if you're a light rider.

The wheels really gain back lost ground on the climbs, though. They're excellent climbing wheels. I notched up a slew of new PBs on my local climbs without really making more effort than usual. That's down to the low weight, high stiffness and incredible power transfer that makes climbing, even if you're not really a climber, a joy.

Lightweight Meilenstein Carbon Clincher Disc - front hub 2.jpg

Under braking, too, the Meilensteins feel very direct and reassuringly planted, with no twist or squirm when applying tremendous braking force, whether stopping at a T-junction at the foot of a 20% descent or scrubbing speed through a high-speed turn. There's no discernible flex, even when deliberately braking, steering and leaning the bike all at the same time to try to force the wheels into twisting out of shape. They were having none of it.

Snappy, responsive, instantaneous: they're the most direct wheels I've tested. They suit any riding with lots of sudden direction changes. That's down to the all-carbon construction, with the carbon spokes bonded to the rims and carbon hub shells – a new Pentagon design, so-called because the shell has five sides instead of a round one, creating a stronger hub shell that's better able to cope with the force and heat build-up of the disc brakes.

Lightweight Meilenstein Carbon Clincher Disc - rear hub 2.jpg

The new Pentagon hub secures 20 carbon fibre spokes in place on each wheel. You obviously can't pop down to your local bike shop to get a spare spoke if you break one, so Lightweight offers a repair scheme along with a crash replacement policy should disaster strike. Lightweight also offers a WheelProtection scheme, which provides extended warranty cover.

Lightweight Meilenstein Carbon Clincher Disc - rear hub.jpg

Inside the new hubs are DT Swiss internals, a byword for dependability. The end caps are interchangeable to enable the wheels to fit any current axle standard – I tested them with 12mm front and rear thru-axles, and Lightweight uses Shimano's CenterLock standard so fitting disc rotors is an easy task, while 6-bolt rotor adapters are supplied. You can choose a Shimano or Campagnolo compatible freehub.

> Buyer's Guide: 20 of the best 2017 road bike wheels

There are many pros (direct, responsive, light, flickable...) but also some cons (narrow rim, not tubeless, price, 120kg rider weight limit) to these Meilenstein C Disc wheels, but without doubt they inject a serious performance boost into any bike they're fitted to, but with the caveat of compromised handling in windy conditions.

Yes, they are prohibitively expensive, and if you want to tap into the advantages of wide tyres there are more suitable options, but if you want a very stiff, light and direct carbon fibre wheelset, then look no further.

Verdict

Excellent performance boost as long as it's not too windy – but they're super-pricey

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Lightweight Meilenstein C Disc wheels

Size tested: 47.5mm depth

Tell us what the wheel 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 says: "Our new MEILENSTEIN C DISC wheelset combines german Engineering excellence with our long-standing, class-leading expertise in carbon fibre manufacturing.

"This Lightweight innovation has been hand-crafted with our world-renowned passion for detail and technical excellence. Our unique carbon fibre hub design is the technological 'cornerstone' of the wheel design, while retaining our classic and recognized MEILENSTEIN rim profile. The pentagonal hub shell shape reflects the need for a secure connection between the wheel and the braking forces that a disc rotor experiences, as well as the heat generated during the braking process.

"Our engineering team designed this special mechanical interface in Germany, with the unique hub shell guaranteeing safety, but also enhancing one of our main benefits over any other wheel system in the market: Power transfer from the rider, direct to the road."

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

WEIGHT FW 645 gr

WEIGHT BW 725 gr

RIM DEPTH 47,5 mm

RIM WIDTH 20 mm

NO. OF SPOKES (FW/BW) 20/20

TYRE WIDTH 23-25 mm

MAX. SYSTEM WEIGHT 120 kg

Exceptional braking power & modulation in all weather conditions

Incredible acceleration under power due to class-leading stiffness-to-weight values

A perfect all-round wheelset, equally at home on the road, in the mountains and in road racing

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Impressive construction, they are a work of art.

Rate the wheel for performance:
 
7/10

Very stiff, ideal for climbing, and riding at speed with lots of direction changes. Not so good in the wind though.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheel for weight
 
9/10

They're definitely one of the lightest disc brake carbon wheelsets to pass through the road.cc office.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
6/10

Well, if you want one of the lightest and stiffest carbon disc brake wheelsets there are few rivals.

Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?

No issues at all.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

Very easy, but it's a shame they're not tubeless-ready.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Ideal if you want a lightweight and responsive climbing wheel.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

Very light and incredibly stiff.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Lack of crosswind stability and no tubeless compatibility.

Did you enjoy using the wheel? When it wasn't windy.

Would you consider buying the wheel? Only if I won the lottery...

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? If I had any rich friends.

Use this box to explain your score

They are definitely the stiffest and most responsive wheels I've tested, but stability in the wind is compromised compared with more modern rim designs, and there's no getting around the astonishing price tag.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180cm  Weight: 67kg

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, mountain biking

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

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