Business Insider Edition

These R113,000 bicycle wheels weigh less than a MacBook, and are in demand in South Africa

Lance Branquinho , Business Insider SA
 Aug 02, 2018, 07:41 AM

  • Hand built aerospace carbon-technology for your bicycle, at a six-figure price.
  • One wheel weighs less than Apple’s latest, ultra slim, MacBook.
  • The purchase price might be staggering, but special technology promises longevity and lower running costs.


 

In the world of cycling there is a distinct correlation between price inflation and gram reduction. The lighter and more structurally sophisticated components are, the more expensive they become.

You would imagine it odd paying more, for seemingly less, but the established cycling engineering mantra has always been: light, strong, cheap – choose two. In the case of the most crucial component on any bike, its wheels, to be both light and strong, certainly doesn’t come cheap.

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Lighter wheels are the greatest enabler of performance. You could save grams on a frame, but the exact same saving on wheels will yield a much better return in terms of performance, because wheels are rotational mass. The frame is static, yet the wheels rolling it along require rider power to rotate them, so any mass saving there yields a perpetual advantage whenever you go riding.

The Wissler group is a German holding company which has one of the world’s most credible carbon-fibre bicycle component specialists within its portfolio. In typically literal German fashion, the brand is simply named Lightweight and from its idyllic headquarters near Lake Constance, in Friedrichshafen, it produces some of the most meticulously engineered bicycle wheels available.

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Road cycling has undergone a revolution in the last few years with the adoption of hydraulic disc brakes, once the preserve of mountain bikes. The change from rim brakes to discs has required a new portfolio of road cycling wheelsets and Lightweight’s engineers have delivered, at a price.

The brand’s wheel set of destiny for road riders is called the Fernweg disc and it is miraculously light, immensely strong and appropriately priced. Unlike most traditional wheel sets, the spokes aren’t screwed into the rim, but chemically bonded instead – thereby preserving perfect tension and dramatically reducing life cycle maintenance.

How light? Total mass is 1.6kg for a set, with the individual front and rear wheels individually lighter than any 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro (1.8kg). Price? Lightweight has official representation in South Africa, illustrating how healthy the demand for premium cycling components are locally, and a fair quote is R113,399 retail. For that price one could easily buy two first class return tickets from OR Tambo to just about anywhere you could imagine.

Unlike a first-class travel, where weight allowances are generous, Lightweight has a caveat of ownership on its Fernweg T60 series wheel set – the most expensive of four build options.

Total mass, including the bike and kitted rider, cannot exceed 100kg.

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Considering most premium road bikes destined to roll a set of Fernweg wheels would be in the 7-8kg range, with the riders piloting them unlikely to exceed 90kg themselves - weight limitation shouldn’t be an issue. It does give owners a great excuse to not let anyone else ride their R100 000 wheel set bicycle,” you want to take it for a ride, could I ask how much you weigh?”. 

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