German engineers, architects and designers have historically been known for their fastidious attention to detail. In the early 20th century, German architects in particular were at the forefront of Modernist thought. They rejected ornament–which they viewed as unnecessary–and championed the notion of using materials honestly. If steel was used to frame a building, this should be expressed clearly, and not hidden behind ornamental columns that mimicked those from Roman architecture. Sometimes, this way of thinking was taken to humorous extremes. The Austrian architect Adolf Loos, for example, wrote an angry essay in which he stated that cookies should look look like cookies (round) and never like people (gingerbread men). This, he said, was honesty in design. Even with such humorous extremes in mind, I generally agree with the sentiments expressed by early Modernist design. There is always room for stylization, but honesty in expressing what a product is made of seems like a sensible thing to do.
It was with this history in mind that I had to scratch my head when I saw the image above. Am I the only one who thinks that the Lightweight disc wheels look absolutely ludicrous, laughable and horrible? My brother and I saw these at the Tour last year. As we walked past the Milram mechanics, the white spokes on their Focus bikes stopped me. Although I would probably never own such a bike (even if I could afford it), they immediately got my attention. They were very good looking bikes. But then I saw a couple of these disc wheels inside their truck. I dry-heaved, and quickly tried to compose myself. But out of the corner of my eye, I got another look at the Lightweight monstrosities, so I went ahead and threw up on my shoe and a few innocent German bystanders.
Why on earth would you make a disc wheel look like a spoked wheel? Are we supposed to believe that those are actual spokes? Was the wheel designed by the same guy who gave us the amazing set of fake gorilla costume-like abdominal muscles on the HTC Columbia jersey?
Why are there so many fake spokes on the wheel? They do know that the wheel would sometimes be up against a surface that might be a color other than white right? Like all other great tragedies in human history, the Lightweight disc wheel raises more questions than it answers. It certainly talks about man's inhumanity to man...or to be more precise, the inhumanity of Lightweight designers to my retina. Wait, can you be inhumane to a retina? Probably not, but for the sake of this post, let's just go with it. What's next? will they start making those fiberglass kits that allow you to make your Pontiac Fiero look like a Ferrari?
Am I missing something? Are they referencing or trying to look like something I don't know about? I'm certainly open to that fact, as I've been wrong more times in my life than I care to remember. (Edit: I'm wrong apparently, read the comments.)
Oh by the way, how is their logo suspended amidst those fake spokes? Is it a spoke card from an alleycat race? Well, you know the world is truly upside-down, when one of the most expensive wheel-makers in the world is drawing inspiration from drunken, herpes-infested 20-somethings in Brooklyn.
If Lightweight is making a disc wheel appear to have spokes, why not take a spoked wheel and make it look like a disc wheel?
I could make a reference to Lighweight being a German company, and the use of the word "ghetto" in this picture...but I won't.