The legendary ‘weight weenie’ stalwart Vs it’s slightly overweight, significantly cheaper but no less good-looking counterpart. A fair comparison? No.
But it’s not so much a ‘comparison’ as an understanding of what each wheel offers. First up, the Mavic ‘heavyweights’…
Dear god these things make a great noise when you wind them up! Once you do get them rolling they’re nice and smooth too, and despite being 52mm you don’t seem to get blown about too much in the wind – I’m comparing to 46mm DT Swiss and Lightweights at 40mm, both of which I felt crosswinds on more.
One thing I did note was a touch of brake rub, although all this really indicates is that they’re not quite as stiff as the Lightweights are. Of course the offset here is that they do seem to over a better level of comfort, feeling less jarring than the Lightweights.
I didn’t notice any hesitation to the way the SLRs spin-up. If anything, if they were a bit slower to get going the extra heft of their claimed 1595g felt like it offered the counter-benefit of enhanced momentum and speed-holding.
Possibly the biggest selling point for these wheels – looks aside – is the Exalith brake surface (I also have the R-SYS SLRs with the same brake surface) which not only offers incredible braking power and control, but also makes a brilliant noise as you slow. Well, once the squealing has subsided, but I’ve covered that before.
And so to the feathery ones…
At a claimed 1195g the Lightweights certainly feel sprightly, spinning up effortlessly – although it does feel like you need a bit more effort to keep them moving. Don’t get me wrong, they roll beautifully. It’s just that it feels easier to maintain speed on the CC SLRs.
They’re flippin’ stiff too. I’ve previously run DT Swiss 46mm clinchers, and both those and the CC SLRs make the bike feel more comfortable. By comparison, the Lightweights seem to transfer a lot more road feel into the bike – their stiffness and rigidity being the only thing I can attest this to.
Visually the special order black logos make the wheels for me – the standard white logo offerings not being my cup of tea. At one point I was considering the lairy white special editions and I’m now really glad I didn’t, although they can look good on the right bike.
I’ve been off of the Lightweights for a while as some delamination appeared on one of them (the story is a long one that I won’t go into here). I put them back on the bike when the wheel was returned to check they were ok after the repair – they just felt amazing.
I almost wish I hadn’t put the Lightweights back on the bike because I was planning to sell them, so reminding myself how good they are was a bit stupid. The whole issue with the delamination has taken the edge off of the wheels for me, although the repair takes a while to find because it’s so clean. I’m starting to love them again now, but it’s taken a good couple of weeks…
The repair issue aside, the Lightweights are truly fantastic, special wheels. In fact both sets of wheels are very, very good. Are the Lightweights £1.5k better? No, especially not at only 400g lighter. That’s £375 per 100g! But they definitely do have a certain ‘something’ about them, there’s absolutely no denying that.
If you can afford Lightweights, get them – you will not be disappointed. If you can’t, the SLRs are the only clincher wheels on the market that look as good (in fact, de-sticker the CC SLRs and from even five meters away it’s difficult to tell them apart), and they brake better too. Until you get right up close the SLRs look very much like the Lightweights with their thick bladed carbon spokes, and I’d even say I prefer the look of the bigger carbon weave on the SLRs over the finer weave of the Lightweights. Well, some days I do…
I’ve recently been told the Lightweights are “too much wheel” for me by someone who is perhaps harbouring a touch of jealousy. The fact of the matter is no wheel (or single bike component for that matter) is too much for anyone – if you can afford to run Lightweights you will be very happy doing so, regardless of whether your capability on the bike suggests you’ve earnt them or not. And if it’s just ‘the look’ you’re after and the weight doesn’t bother you the CC SLRs are a genuine cheaper alternative, albeit very marginally less stiff.
One thing to note – if the CC SLRs had been available when I first built the bike I wouldn’t have even bothered with the Lightweights…