Lightweight Autobahn and Fernweg wheels review
The latest wheels from German composite legends Lightweight – the Autobahn VR front (£2,000) and Fernweg rear (£1,977) – are the most expensive wheels we’ve ever tested. But what does that buy you in performance terms?
Both wheels use an 81mm deep, tubular tyre compatible rim with a relatively wide, blunt-nosed but flat-sided 22.6mm section. Eight ultra-thin carbon spokes at the front and 20 at the rear are then bonded directly to the rims and hubs to create an immediately super-stiff, precise-steering and powerful feel on the road.
They certainly feel blisteringly quick in a straight line, with a very disc-like feel in terms of speed sustain. But they’re significantly more relaxing to ride in more windier weather than a disc.
While they’re not as biddable as the latest toroidal rims, the flat sides are easier to control in sidewinds and less stubborn when turning than we expected, and they’re not harsh either.
The eight-spoke front can start to weave on descents, though, and there’s noticeable pulsing from the different carbon panels under braking. The 975g front is heavier than most 80mm wheels despite the all-carbon construction but the 796g rear (yes, the front really is much heavier than the rear) is on a par with the obvious competition.
Their stiffness under maximum torque makes them reasonably climb-friendly too. The very slow 20-degree engagement from the freehub does mean noticeable lag when you’re riding hard out of corners though.
This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine, available on Zinio.