The history of Lightweight

Every great story begins small.

1964 Rudolf Dierl and Heinz Obermayer get to know and appreciate each other at work. At that time, they could not even remotely imagine what a revolution they would be responsible for in cycling.

The first cooperation of the two, came about through their common hobby, the creation and duplication of copper relief pictures. Later they were commissioned by a master car mechanic. He commissioned the two of them to produce complex aerodynamic components for sports cars, such as bumpers and spoilers made of glass fibre reinforced plastic. The high demand for these car parts led in 1984 to a new partnership with Mr. Hans Kufer and the foundation of KDO GmbH. This made it possible to produce the components in small series.

The three had their first contact with cycling and triathlon sports when a friend of them had the idea that KDO GmbH could produce covers for the rear wheels of bicycles. These covers should protect children's feet from getting into the spokes. No sooner said than done. Soon some triathletes use the rear wheel cover as an aerodynamic aid for their own rear wheels of their racing bikes. Dierl and Obermayer didn't know about this and learned by chance, during a visit to a triathlon event, about the misappropriated use.

In 1988, KDO GmbH was dissolved to face new challenges. These follow on the foot with an inquiry about the production of glass fibre sulky wheels for trotting. The further development is a safety improvement to the Makrolon cover used up to that point. Dierl and Obermayer produce about one hundred aluminium wheels for the horse racing industry on behalf of customers. However, despite their superiority, the wheels were not accepted by the more traditional trotting sport.

This failure prompted an acquaintance to stir up the two of them and make the claim that the production of sulky wheels was meaningless and that their expertise would certainly not be sufficient for the production of technically sophisticated road wheels. Neither Dierl nor Obermayer wanted to let this statement stand. Motivated by this statement, both of them have dealt extensively with the construction of time trial and triathlon wheels. They quickly found a suitable material for the production of wheels in insulating foam construction boards and aramid. The discs made from these materials were reinforced with carbon threads, so-called rovings, on both sides, thus forming a perfect spoke replacement. The result is the ULTEC disc (later DO2000), which was launched in 1990 and was used in racing for the first time shortly afterwards.

Although no marketing was done, the knowledge about the fast disc is spreading very fast. The production simply can no longer satisfy the huge demand. When an offer was received from Heidenreich to support the distribution, the two accepted and renamed the disc Heylight. In 1993 Dierl and Obermayer developed a spoked wheel made of carbon, which immediately received UCI certification when it was introduced in 1994. Only one year later the first wheels with aero rim profile followed.

"I put my face to the wheel, turn it, and the less air turbulence I feel, the more aerodynamic it is."

Heinz Obermayer

in an interview with the Neue Züricher Zeitung (July 2004)

In 1996 the first great successes are celebrated: The Dane Rolf Sørensen wins the silver medal in Atlanta at the Summer Olympics, the Belgian Johan Museeuw a road race in Lugano at the World Championship and the Swiss Tony Rominger the bronze medal. Later he can also win the mountain classification at the Tour of Spain. They all ride the wheels of Dierl and Obermayer. When Bjarne Riis also wins the Tour de France in the same year, the wheels become the ultimate must-have in the cycling industry virtually overnight. From then on, some well-known manufacturers became interested in the Heylight wheels and wanted to buy the know-how, but Dierl and Obermayer strictly refused.

"They know the material, they have the measurements, but they don't know when we'll do what to make the wheels the way they are."

Rudolf Dierl

in conversation with the FAZ (July 2003)

In 1997 the road bike magazine "tour" wants to report about the wheels of the hour in a comprehensive article, but a name and also a logo are missing, because in the meantime the cooperation with Heidenreich was terminated. The originally intended name "Lightweight" would probably not have had a chance internationally, Dierl suggests the name "Lightweight". Heinz Obermayer, with little computer knowledge, designs the corresponding lettering, which is corrected by the "tour" and then glued onto the bike. The wheel achieves top marks in the magazine's test and thus becomes even more popular. Also in 1997 Jan Ullrich won the Tour de France, using Lightweight wheels, which he had to stick over with his sponsor's logo.

With all these successes behind him, the bikes from now on had a name in the industry. Although there is no official company address, there is the telephone number of Heinz Obermayer, who has become a sought-after insider tip in cycling. Orders were placed from all over the world, including Italy, Monaco, France, Great Britain, Norway, Poland and many other countries. As a result, the high demand can hardly be met, resulting in delivery times of over twelve months.

In 2000 Dierl and Obermayer moved to a farm near Munich to improve production. Previously, various garages and private workshops with simple and standard working machines were used for the production of the wheels.

2001 Lance Armstrong wins the Tour de Suisse and also the Tour de France, using Lightweight wheels.

Erhard Wissler founded the company CarbonSports in 2002. At the same time Dierl and Obermayer are looking for a producer, as the still high demand is connected with an enormous effort. At the bicycle trade fair in Friedrichshafen, the two found what they were looking for: Dirk Zedler establishes the contact between Dierl, Obermayer and Wissler. After the agreement in 2003, the lightweight production was relocated from the tractor garage in Munich to Friedrichshafen at Lake Constance. From now on, Lightweight wheels will be manufactured by CarboFibretec GmbH and distributed by CarbonSports GmbH based in Friedrichshafen. Both companies are subsidiaries of the Wissler Group, which was founded by Erhard Wissler and has been managed by him ever since.

"I have long convinced myself on site of the working methods and knowledge. The experience CarbonSports has with fibre composites is enormous - not only in the field of cycling."

Heinz Obermayer

in conversation with Radsport Rennrad (2007)

After the successful merger in 2003 Dierl leaves the company. The relocation of production enables above all the low profile wheel construction, which was previously almost impossible due to various technical difficulties. In the following years, production is continuously increased and improved in order to cope with the high demand. With the genius of Heinz Obermayer, who is also a shareholder in CarbonSports, and the know-how of the CarboFibretec engineers, Lightweight develops into a global player for high-end carbon fibre wheels.

"You can be curious about what comes next!"

Heinz Obermayer

in an interview with Der Spiegel (July 2004)

In 2004, Heinz Obermayer retired further and acted primarily as a consultant, but still worked on various details of the wheels. The result was the first signature wheel with the simple but clear title "OBERMAYER". A new layer structure of the carbon fibre, as well as the very light tune-hub let the weight of the wheels shrink to less than 1000 grams, without giving up the usual convincing performance values. In addition, the STANDARD wheels will be launched on the market.

Already in 2006 the second generation of the now highly sought-after OBERMAYER and STANDARD wheels is introduced. In the same year the Ventoux, the new wheel in the field of low-profile rims, is also introduced.

As part of the sponsorship for the TEAM MILRAM, the first "WEISS ED" with white spokes is built in 2007, which then goes into series production. In addition, with the RESERVETANK drinking bottle, the product range is extended to other areas of cycling.

The product range is constantly being expanded and in 2008 the STANDARD C, a full carbon clincher, the third generation OBERMAYER and the third generation STANDARD are added. In the same year the company also moves into the new high-tech factory building in Friedrichshafen. Here in particular the development and logistics of the company will find considerably better conditions.

In 2010 the aero wheel Lightweight Disc is supplemented by the front wheel VR8. This wheel has only eight spokes and a completely new design. With an incredible weight of 780 grams for the rear wheel disc and 650 grams for the front wheel, the wheels are primarily aimed at triathletes and time trialists who want to save even the last fractions of a second.

After the presentation of the third generation of the STANDARD wheel in 2008, the product range will be reorganized in 2012 and expanded by numerous new products. In addition to revolutionary innovations in the design and construction of the rims, new uniform product names will be introduced, which have become references in the cycling industry: GIPFELSTURM (the new name of the successful mountain wheel Ventoux), MEILENSTEIN (the new product name of the "STANDARD" wheel), RUNDKURS, FERNWEG, AUTOBAHN and of course OBERMAYER.

From 2013 all wheels will be laser signed and equipped with a chip to improve safety and maintenance. In the same year Lightweight presents with URGESTALT its first road bike frame. This frame is precisely tuned to the riding characteristics of the fast wheels and also breaks new ground in design. In addition, further accessories are launched on the market with the RENNBÜGEL, which is intended to complete the vision of the perfect road bike.

In 2014, the topic of sustainability will become an increasingly important part of corporate policy. A first, externally visible project is the new clothing line EDELSTOFF for racing bike enthusiasts. The high-tech fabrics used offer not only maximum functionality but also high load limits and are also produced in the most sustainable way possible. Leisure fashion and a business-suitable bicycle jacket are also being launched. In addition, the KOMPAKTBÜGEL is integrated into the portfolio as a new high-quality accessory.

In 2015 the accessories will be extended with the bottle cage EDELHELFER.

"There are 16 hours of manual labor in each wheel set and each one goes through the hands of eight to ten specialists."

Erhard Wissler

in an interview with the Tagblatt (2016)

At Eurobike 2016, Lightweight will present a new concept approach. The aim is to automate the manufacturing process of carbon wheels to the highest possible degree. As a result and therefore an absolute world novelty Lightweight presents the wheel series WEGWEISER. Its production process is automated up to 30% without sacrificing the proven Lightweight quality. Thus, the Lightweight technology will remain competitive in the future, not only technically but also in terms of price. The newly introduced MEILENSTEIN C DISC also represents an important step into the future for Lightweight, as from now on the MEILENSTEIN is also available with disc brake technology. The Pentagon hub, which has been completely newly developed for this purpose and features patented technology, offers increased braking safety, which guarantees an enormously long service life. The wheel also proved this in the Magura endurance test.

With the URGESTALT DISC, Lightweight will offer a frame for disc brake rims in 2017. This will ensure compatibility with new systems and technologies and respond to market demand.

During the Tour de France 2019 a large racing team will again rely on the MEILENSTEIN C24 E. Also in 2019 the "Generation EVO" will be launched. The carbon wheels MEILENSTEIN EVO, FERNWEG EVO 63, FERNWEG EVO 85 and WEGWEISER EVO have a new type of layer structure, are based on special CFRP fibres and are equipped with tubeless technology. In the same year, the companies CarbonSports GmbH and CarboFibretec GmbH are dissolved and the Lightweight brand is incorporated into the newly founded carbovation GmbH based in Friedrichshafen. So far, the companies CarboFibretec and Wissler Technologie as producers and CarbonSports as sales company and brand owner have been behind the brand Lightweight . With the Murtfeldt Group as a strategic partner, these companies will be bundled together and transferred to the newly founded carbovation GmbH. However, the change of name has no effect on the high-quality lightweight components for cycling. On the contrary: The partnership with the Murtfeldt Group strengthens the brand and paves the way for further innovations.

In 2020, Carsten Krumm will join the management board. The new management board now consists of Carsten Krumm (Chairman), Andreas Wissler, and Andreas Balla. Today, more than 100 employees of carbovation GmbH work on the development, production, marketing and sales of Lightweight wheels, as well as many other high-quality products related to road bikes.

2021 marks the release of OBERMAYER EVO, one of the lightest performance disc wheelsets on the market with impressive performance values. At the same time, Lightweight successfully renews its aspiration of competence even on off-road trails with the PFADFINDER EVO.

Click here for the milestones