Lightbicycle are a far eastern company that has been making bike wheels for a considerable length of time. Many of these wheels are used around the world. Lightbicycle have manufacturing in the far east and an additional distribution centre in North America. The wheels on test are their Falcon Pro.
The Falcon Pro are wheels have a very similar concept to Zipp 454 and Princeton carbonworks wheels in the sense they do not have a constant profile across the rim. Unlike the aforementioned wheels, the radial distance remains constant and instead, the trailing edge width varies on the Lightbicycle rim. The wheels have a 46.5mm rim depth and are approximately 30mm wide.
The reviewed front wheel was 610g. The rear wheel was 720g. Giving a total 1330g. They are light for their depth.
The test wheels were equipped with their standard hubs. Whilst these are acceptable, the bearings do have some wind up which is either due to excessive bearing clearance or insufficient preload. Riders who are heavy or engage in sprinting activities would be advised to go for a different hub – they do have multiple units available so the wheel can be customised to suit.
The freehub body faired well over the test period with little in the way of bite marks. A deeper cassette ring was used and this helped mitigate any ramp stress on the splines. The sealing on the hubs was good. Thee end caps had additional O ring seals to reduce the chance of water ingress.
The disc mount was machined accurately and consistent with Shimano specifications.
The light bicycle rims have constantly varying cross section and, specifically the trailing edge. Structurally, the blunt trailing edge causes the wheel to be extremely stiff and locally strong as it increases the second moment of area. The constant variation means that pressure gradients generated do not build to elevated levels before collapsing and thus the cross wind stability is excellent.
The wheel rims are 30mm wide with a 21mm inside width. The rims are tubeless compatible and have hooks.
The rim internals are quite clean. There were some areas of excess resin, compaction was generally good. There were some signs of light wrinkling around the spoke hole reinforcement.
Spokes and Tension
The test wheels had carbon spokes, these weren’t as deep as some of the others that have been tested (most noticeably 9Velo, Farsports and Elite). Unlike the Ascent and KPS wheels, the spokes did not delaminate over the test period.
The spoke tension across both wheels was even, with little variation over each side. Each wheel was equipped with 24 holes, a necessity given the use of disc brakes. The front non-drive side spoke tension was quite high, it was averaging around 130kgf which was at the upper end of normal found ranges.
Out of Balance
Given their non-constant cross-section, there was some risk of inherent out of balance but these wheels were found to be excellent.
Typical wheels are 50mm in depth. The lightbicycle wheels are fractionally shallower at 46mm and they are comparatively wide. Aerodynamic performance in a straight line is broadly inline with expected, the performance in windy conditions is considerably better than it’s competitors of the same depth.
In transient conditions the wheels perform extremely well
An item that is often overlooked is a company’s customer service. Dealing with Lightbicycle is a professional affair. They are extremely slick and it is quite noticeable how they have adopted largely western methods of customer service. Internet searches regarding their customer service are generally positive. From a reviewing perspective, they are more than happy to take the criticism and work on it rather than try to gloss over it.
The stand out performance feature of these wheels are their cross wind stability. They are exceptionally good given their depth is almost 50mm. The use of a constantly varying trailing edge results in little pressure accumulation in constant cross winds. Thus, the collapse of the pressure gradient is not as dramatic and the handling of the bike is largely unaffected. It would be akin to having the crosswind performance of a box section 20mm rim.
At high speeds, the shallow depth of the wheel limits performance. Riders who are racing at those elevated speeds would be advised to go for a deeper rim – Lightbicycle do offer these.
A benefit to having lightweight wheels is the reduction in rotating mass and inertia. This results in an appreciable increase in acceleration from traffic lights. These wheels were used predominantly for commuting which was a mix of urban and rural riding.
The wheels did not encounter any problems throughout their use.
This wheelset would likely be a good choice for a gravel rider owing to their strength and weight.
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