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Carbon industry vets launch new wheel company

Published August 27, 2014
Knight Composites execs include veterans of Enve, Reynolds, Cervélo and more.

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — A new high-end road wheel brand is offering a fresh take on construction and aerodynamic features, as well as an international dream team of wheel and carbon fiber industry veterans as its founding executives.

Knight Composites is headed by CEO Beverly Lucas, a former Felt Bicycles and Enve executive; Jim Pfeil, the founder and original owner of the fork and wheel brand Reynolds Composites; and Kevin Quan, a former Cervélo designer and the head of an independent design firm that worked on frames for clients including Accell Group, BH, Parlee and NeilPryde.

Knight, which is launching here at Eurobike, will be offering three new carbon road clincher models, with rim depths of 35mm, 65mm and 95mm.

The rims feature something Knight calls TEAM (Trailing Edge Aerodynamic Manipulation) Technology, which focuses primarily on the trailing (rear) edge of the wheels. Knight claims the shape optimizes the aerodynamics of the aero-section downtubes on many modern bikes and provides a superior "sail effect" and "lift" in crosswinds of over 10 degrees

Knight is aiming to sell its 35mm- and 65mm-deep wheel sets for $2,600, and the 95mm-deep wheel for $2,900. The wheels use DT Swiss 240 hubs and Sapim CX-Ray spokes, and come with titanium skewers, brake pads, rim strips and tire levers.

The pricing is high-end, but still around $500 less than top-tier wheels from the likes of Enve and Zipp.

One reason for the competitive pricing is Knight's decision to have the rims made in a Taiwanese factory, Lucas noted in a recent interview with BRAIN.

"We never even considered making them in the U.S.," said Lucas, who is originally from the U.K. but now splits time between the U.S. and Australia.

She said the Knight founders used their experience in carbon frame manufacturing to identify a manufacturer that had the skills to manufacture a top-quality rim using technology similar to that used to make high-end carbon frames in Taiwan.

"Knight was fundamentally established with a global professional identity and we all agreed that it's the quality of the product that is the single most important thing to a consumer. So we chose an industry leader in Taiwan. We'd have been crazy not to partner with this kind of expertise," she said.

The first wheels are all clinchers and all made for rim brakes. Pfeil said Knight deals with the heat issues that can destroy some carbon clinchers in part by making the braking wall about twice as thick as most comparable rims: about 3mm thick. 

Knight will likely make a 35mm-deep carbon tubular available later this year, for use in cyclocross or on the road. Disc brake wheels will be available next year.

Knight wheels will be sold through international distributors to IBDs. Lucas, a former bike shop owner herself, said the brand was not planning on selling through discount online retailers.

More information:

Knight's 95 mm clinchers.
Topics associated with this article: Eurobike

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