For the story, we have been tested several high-end wheelsets earl in October for the December edition of the French magazine “L’Acheteur Cycliste”. The results were really surprising, at least for the Lew Racing Pro VT-1 wheelset that performed quite bad in term of lateral stiffness. While the manufacturer claims a lot of stiffness, we found the wheels to be the flexiest, to high loads, on our lateral rigidity bench. The stiffness was so low that the left side spokes of the wheel even bent under the load. We then thought those wheels were pure hype, especially considering we couldn’t try them because of the lack of availability.
A few weeks after our test, TOUR magazine published their own test and revealed these very special wheels as a serious competitor to Lightweight and Mavic CCU. We were torn between our test and their one… where was the truth?
In front of all our questions and disillusionments, Lew Racing finally managed to get us a set to test… on the road. Nils from Fairwheelbikes, who is their official representative in Europe, arrived some days ago with his prototype set of the Pro VT-1 Tune version (840g) to test ride.
Inertia: a level never achieved in the past.
The most amazing thing about these wheels is perceptible from the first pedals stroke: the inertia is incredibly low and it reaches a level never achieved in the past. The accelerations are very, very easy, and it’s really destabilizing during the first kilometers. Even the set of Lightweight 922g we tested some months ago were slightly more resistant to accelerations. This weird phenomenon is caused by the outstanding weight of the rim which is only about 220g (270g as spare part). The drawback of this lightweight is that the steering is very sensitive and it is harder than usually to keep a straight direction, unless you are used to ride them. Furthermore, the wind seems to affect more the steering, once again because of the very lightweight rim and it’s depth (46mm).
Click to enlarge (955Kb)
Stiffness, adapted to the rider weight...
After a few hundred meters, the first road sign arrived at the top of a false uphill and, I couldn’t resist to sprint a first time with a big gear, to know more about their stiffness. The wheels were simply everything but flexy and we couldn’t see the rim moving between the brake pads at all. This probably would have happened a little differently during the summer when the shape is far better. But anyway, they felt plenty stiff and the result TOUR magasine published is closer to the reality than what we found. Actually, what we found is very interesting too: we realized that under heavier loads, meaning heavier and stronger riders, those wheels won’t feel as stiff. That’s why Lew Racing offers a Clydesdale version, which is 1050g, for riders over 85kg and up to 113kg (see here)
After a lot of questions to Paul Lew, president and engineer at Lew Racing and Lew Aerospace, it seems like these wheels are designed in a way never explored by any other manufacturer in the past. On standard wheels, during accelerations, the rim tends to rub the brake pads because of the torque transfer: some spokes pull the rim and get more tension, while the others push it while losing tension. Because of the difference in bracing angle between the two flanges, it creates a distorsion and the rim tends to move between the brake pads. On this very special wheelset, the central flange, which is perfectly in the plane of the rim, transfers all the torque and prevents the torque transfer differences between the exterior flanges. Thus, the wheel does not deform. This is what happen during accelerations.
In mountain, because of the low speed and the higher angle the bike does with the ground, the lateral load pushing the rim to the left and right is bigger so the wheels might not feel as stiff. We hope to test another set of Pro VT-1 longer, and during the summer to know more...
Ride quality… with Dugast tires
The wheels we tested were mounted with Dugast tubulars, painted black to match the wheels color. Although ride quality is merely subjective, and a lot of factors play a role, I found the wheels to be comfortable on rough roads. The vibrations didn’t arrive as usually to the handlebar and the saddle, they seemed more absorbed. Is this caused by the very low frontal stiffness of the wheels? Does it come from the boron/carbon structure? Does it simply come from the tubular itself? It’s hard to say but anyway they were a pleasure to ride.
Bearing resistance, hub mechanism in beta status?
The Lew Racing PRO VT-1 really pushed the envelope. Although they are very light with only 820/840g in TUNE version, they remain both stiff for a quite light rider (65kg) and aerodynamic. The materials, the structure, the design are all breakthrough. We would like to say it’s the revolutionary wheelset but a lot of manufacturers tend to misuse this verb these days. We will simply and obviously say, although it might be a bit strong, that those Pro VT-1 crush, or bury any other wheel currently on the market. However, although they are on the way to perfection, the hubs still need to be improved, particularly in term of play and spacing.
Any chance to sell them at 2500 euros instead of 5000? I’ll buy 3 sets!
What's good, what's not as good?
|Fastest accelerations||Very sensitive steering|
|Lightest "stock" wheels||Hub mechanism (on our proto set)|
|Stealth and class look||Rough finish|
Previous Roues Artisanales articles:
- Lew Racing Clydesdale version
- Lew Racing VS Lightweight Standard VS Mavic CCU
- Lew Racing 2008 rims
- Campagnolo 2008, Lew Racing, Colnago 2008
- Lew Racing wheels, why are they so attractive?
- Lew Racing, M5: the rims are unveiled
- Lew PRO VT-1: the new wheels