First made famous by Jan Ulrich in the Tour de France when he was looking for every weight advantage he could to battle Lance Armstrong, the handcrafted  Lightweight wheels made a huge impression  in the burgeoning two decades ago world of carbon wheels.  All of the wheels were handmade at the Lightweight factory located in Friedrickshafen, Germany – they were expensive, made one-at-a-time,  and hard to get.

Eventually, the wheel brand decided to expand outside their core competency and jumped into the frame (and bottle cage) business. Although frame production was moved to Asia, the German marque continued with their domestic wheel program. As an aside, we would always joke with them how crazy their price of $100 for their Edelhelfer bottle cage would be and they would always retort back that they couldn’t keep them in stock!

LOOKING BACK WITH LIGHTWEIGHT

Going over the latest Lightweight wheel tech with our old Pal Frank who used to rep the wheels.

RBA has had a working relationship with Lightweight for years and we would meet regularly at both the Sea Otter Classic and  the Eurobike show which was held in their hometown.  We still remember the meetings when we would do our best to prod them into making wheels that were disc brake friendly and with a wider internal rim width.  It was back in 2017 when RBA first got their hands on Lightweight Urgestalt test bike that had their first disc brake wheels.

Former RBA editor Neil Shirley first put the Lightweight frame and wheel combo to test at the Interbike show in 2015.

 

Made famous in the Tour de France by Jan Ulrich, Lightweight eventually moved from making just wheels to frames (made in Asia).

 

The handcrafted build of each Lightweight wheel was as impressive as the ride they provided.

 

WHAT ABOUT THE NEW GRAVEL HOOPS?

Still handmade in Germany, Lightweight has jumped into gravel with a new wheel that uses carbon spokes.

The Pfadfinder Evo rims are still handmade in Germany and feature the brands carbon spoke technology with 20 spokes used  in each wheel. Unique to Lightweight is their proprietary Pentagon hub shape which is intended to better resist the increased braking loads of disc brakes.  At first glance of the tech specs, (just as it took awhile for Mavic to catch on with a wider internal width)  Lightweight has yet to grasp the American version of what a gravel wheel  should  look like.

Yes, with just a 18.2 internal width the Pathfinders are still on the narrow side. And, owing to their 23mm- 40mm tire capacity (and carbon spokes), it’s safe to say that these  wheels aren’t intended for the gravel rider looking to  “send it!”  Truthfully, we stopped using  pinner 23mm tires for road riding  years ago! Lightweight’s legacy was built on road race performance and it seems like the Pfadfinder hoops, while oriented or marketed  towards gravel, remain more of an all-road/performance road racing wheel.

LIGHTWEIGHT PFAFFINDER EVO TECH SPECS

36mm deep
Tubeless compatible
Carbon spokes
18.2mm internal rim width
24 mm external rim width
Up to 40mm tires
Use of special high-modulus CFRP fibers
Claimed weight: 670 grams (f)/760 grams (r)
Interchangeable rotor for Campagnolo, Shimano und SRAM
Compatible with all current groupsets (Campagnolo, SRAM, Shimano)

Two versions of the wheelset will be available; standard and the Schwarz version that has unique graphics and CeramicSpeed bearings.

LIGHTWEIGHT PFAFFINDER EVO PRICE: $5000

For more: Lightweight

Although the bikes were made in Asia, they retained the quality build that made the wheels famous.

 

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