The week in tech: Fernweg aero wheelset

This week's tech roundup also includes: SRAM mountain bike derailleurs, Wheels bottom bracket adapters, SRAM Red, Shimano patents and Friday flicks

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Lightweight reveals Fernweg aero wheelset

German wheel manufacturer Lightweight has been churning out top-end wheels for well over a decade, using unique carbon construction techniques to produce some of the lightest and stiffest wheels available. Until now, though, they’ve never produced anything deeper than their 53mm Obermeyer and Standard sets, and have always used traditional V-shaped rim profiles. They were light, beautiful, and stiff; but they were not particularly aerodynamic.

We’ve seen a prototype aero wheel from Lightweight at the last few industry trade shows, but details were scarce until now. Dubbed the Fernweg, the new aero wheelset is Lightweight’s answer to the 80mm-ish carbon tubular segment.

Lightweight says it was developed with input from numerous independent aerodynamic experts plus hours in the wind tunnel. The shape uses straight walls with a rounded inside edge, the latter of which should help with stability in crosswinds. Lightweight has bucked the trend towards wider, more bulbous shapes as found on the latest HED, Zipp and Enve wheels, though, and the Fernweg is only 19.5mm at the brake track.

Rim depth is 81mm, with 16 carbon front spokes and 20 rear. Total weight is an incredible 1355 grams claimed (640g front, 715g rear), significantly lighter than anything else near the same depth. The wheel is only available as a tubular.

Price? It’s nowhere to be found in the press materials. Perhaps a case of “if you have to ask, it’s too much.”


SRAM Type 2 roller clutch mountain bike derailleurs

With the introduction of their new Type 2 rear derailleurs, SRAM now has an answer to Shimano’s excellent XTR Shadow Plus design. Both systems are intended to reduce excess chain movement (and chain slap) by restricting forward pulley movement — Shimano does so with a steel band that can be clamped (or unclamped) around the pulley cage shaft, while SRAM uses an elegant roller clutch design. Both have the same effect, though: a much quieter drivetrain with a decreased risk of mis-shifts and dropped chains thanks to increased derailleur stability.

To simplify wheel changes, which are made more difficult by the stiff movement of the pulley cage, Shimano uses a small switch to de-activate the system completely, while SRAM includes a button that locks the lower cage in the forward position.

The new design will be available on XO and X9 derailleurs, and adds about 30 grams to both. XO will set you back $260, while the X9 will be only $116.


Wheels Manufacturing bottom bracket adapters

In perhaps the least superficially exciting but most useful announcement this week, Wheels Manufacturing announced a new feature on their website that quickly and easily explains the multitude of bottom bracket options currently on the market and, even more helpfully, which adapters are needed to make them all work together.

Wheels now makes nine different versions of their bottom bracket adapters, making them a one-stop-shop for anyone looking to make sense of the wild and crazy world of crank installation.


A look at SRAM Red from a design perspective

This isn’t new (in fact, the original post is from February 9th), but since media across the world have received their new Red test bikes in the last week or so and the group is back in the headlines, it seems somewhat fitting.

After the launch of new Red, bypassed the engineers and went straight to the designers, getting the inside story on the what, why and how of the group’s new look. The story includes insider photos from throughout the design process and in-depth looks at the various stages of development and how SRAM’s design team operates. Definitely worth a read for anyone interested in design (or just likes to see the work that goes on behind the scenes at companies like SRAM.)


Shimano leads patent race

Patents and patent applications are an excellent indicator of the motivation and ingenuity of a company’s research and development department. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News’ Matt Wiebe takes a look at the patent race among top companies in the cycling industry, offering a glimpse behind the scenes and even into the future.


Friday flicks

And, finally, we leave you with two well-done videos we came across this week. The first is titled “The Inverted Bike Shop”  and is centered on an interesting shop concept in New York City. The second is from Pro Continental Team NetApp, detailing the lead-up to their wildcard invite to this year’s Giro d’Italia, and is the first installment of an ongoing series. Give ‘em a gander.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.