Spotted at the recent 2008 Museeuw Bikes press day was the company’s Benelux media relations manager, Klaas Van Uden, on a pair of the new 850g Lew wheels. Much of the day’s riding traversed the Flemish pave over which pass such classic races as Het Volk and the Ronde van Vlaanderen, offering a severe test of such featherweight hoops.
That they passed with flying colours should come as no surprise to afficionados of Paul Lew’s previous efforts in the field. This time round he has taken cues from two existing technologies and combined them to great effect.
The all-carbon construction will bring to mind wheels by Lightweight and Mavic, both of whom employ a visually similar layout of carbon fibre spokes bonded into both rim and hub flanges. The interesting element is the use of a third, central flange in the rear hub to transmit drive torque from the hub to the rim in a manner reminiscent of wheels from FSA.
What is different, however, is the use of ‘pulling’ tangent spokes only. A look at the wheel layout will confirm that these spokes are not paired with opposing tangent spokes, as is the case with the FSA
design. Because carbon fibres are so exceptionally stiff, they can afford to have no initial tension when the wheel is at rest. Any drive torque at the hub is immediately transmitted to the rim with no discernible ‘wind-up’. A set of steel spokes arrayed the same way would initally stretch to a small but measurable extent before transmitting drive unless pre-tensioned, in which case an opposing set would be required to supply the counter-pull.
Instead, Lew has managed to use a mere 20 spokes in the back wheel, of which the outer eight on each side are radial and therefore shorter and lighter than tangent spokes while a mere four transmit the drive torque. Genius.