Knight Composites Wheels
Charles Lee – 23rd Feb 2016
Jim Pfeil started his career in composites with Cobra Golf and then later moved on to the sport that he truly loved, cycling. Jim is also the original founder and owner of Reynolds Composites, where he and his partner came up with the idea of using a carbon steerer which at that time was not very well received by the industry yet, but they pushed on and this resulted in the Reynolds Ouzo Pro and Ouzo Comp forks being spec’d on many OEM bike brands throughout the world. Beverly Lucas enjoyed a career with Felt Bicycles during its formative years, and she was instrumental in placing Felt Bicycles on the industry map by taking them to their first Tour de France, she joined ENVE Composites thereafter where she refined and improved their composites engineering team with better aerodynamic R and D. Rounding up the Knight Composites trio team is Canadian born Kevin Quan, he holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Toronto and while working at Cervelo, he designed the iconic P3C and SLC models of bikes, and later opened Kevin Quan Studios in 2007 and pieced together a multi disciplinary team of engineers and industrial designers to focus on aerodynamics and mechanical development for bicycles.
Knight Composites has recently launched their road clincher range of wheels and these have already been very well received, and they are also very excited about their forthcoming launch of tubular road wheels as well as disc brake road wheels this coming March, and further down the pipe in April, they will be launching their range of off road wheels, starting with their 29″ Gravel and Trail models and the 27.5″ Enduro and Plus wheel models. Knight’s range of Road wheels are supported the industry’s best knowledge and experience, probably even more than some of the ‘big name’ manufacturers out there in the market, and when Knight claims of having the ‘fastest wheels in the world’, these statements are supported with actual proof and data as they have some of the best aerospace technology minds, testing facilities an equipment at their disposal.
Their 15 year partnership with a market leading carbon manufacturer in Taiwan ensure that failure is not an option, their partners were the first in the industry to perfect the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) manufacturing process, the very same process that creates all high end and World Tour level bike frames today. This same manufacturing process is used to also create all of Knight’s wheels, because this method of carbon layup and molding results in a lighter, stronger, faster, stiffer and much safer wheel that is not only structurally perfect externally, but internally as well, a huge step ahead compared to their competitors who are still building using traditional bladder methods. Knight wheels’ brake tracks are also perhaps the safest in the market where safety is their number one priority, most carbon rims have a wall thickness of about 1.5mm at the brake track, but Knight Wheels are designed with 3mm of thickness with additional carbon nanofibers, although this thicker section of carbon adds a bit more weight to the rim, it also adds significant heat resistance as well, resulting in better heat dissipation, allowing temperatures to stay cooler and adhesives to remain strong.
The very popular Knight 65 wheelset has a 65mm deep profile was developed using Trailing Edge Aerodynamic Manipulation technology and shaping to provide superior performance at all angles of yaw. It is also engineered to minimize ‘wind steer’ by moving a higher percentage of lift to the back of the wheel, and the proprietary parabolic shaping adds lift to reduce the watts required to get the same results, this enhances your performance on flatter road races, as well as on more technical and windy courses. During our brief encounter with this wheelset, they felt very good and stiff, especially when exploding out during a sprint and accelerating hard and fast, which allows the wheels to easily spool up quickly. Riding along the coast, the wheels were surprisingly not affected much by the cross winds, particularly for such a deep profile wheel, I’ve ridden lower profile wheels before which had worse effects than the Knights. The braking was rock solid, and even with a slight drizzle, slippage was almost undetectable, regardless of whether it was with feathering the brake lever or sudden hard braking.
Knight Composites have had a very successful year with Chris Horner’s professional continental cycling team Airgas-Safeway, and they will continue to sponsor them this year as well, but now under the banner of Team Illuminate. With Knight’s superb R&D and manufacturing matched with very tough true world testing and quality measures, it’s been their dream to have had ZERO problems with their wheels, apart from a wheel damaged during a big crash and some broken spokes, this fantastic results will itself resonate among the professional cycling circuit and you will definitely be seeing Knight’s wheels in the European circuit much sooner than later.
Email Interview With Beverly Lucas
Togoparts: What was Knight’s biggest hurdle coming into the carbon wheel market?
Beverly: The sheer number of competitors, I think. We made a stand immediately on speed, performance and quality – but it’s how you get this message over to your customers, that is the most difficult thing. Thankfully, more and more people are seeing that we have been in the bicycle industry a very long time, specifically designing and manufacturing cutting edge, next generation bicycles and wheels; so they are genuinely more open to listen to what we have to say and look at what we’ve achieved.
Togoparts: Will Knight be forging into the Tubeless wheels market as well?
Beverly: You bet we will….watch this space!
Togoparts: What are Knight’s views on introducing Road Disc brakes into the Professional Road Racing calender?
Beverly: Disc brake bikes are here to stay. Personally, I feel it will take probably another 3-5 for the rest of us – myself included – to catch up, and there will always be a need for standard rim brakes, so long as they are proven to be safe. That’s why we’ve continued to invest in developing superior systems for both disc and rim brakes.
Togoparts: And with the UCI continuing Road Disc brake trials into 2016, how will Knight be positioning itself in anticipation of (if any) an approval for road disc brakes to be used in professional road races for 2017?
Beverly: We made a road disc wheel that is stronger than our competitors’ equivalents by up to 30%. We’re already there.
Togoparts: Congratulations also on your partnership with Chris Horner and your very recent announcement about sponsoring the Novus OMX Pro cycling team with your upcoming range of off road wheels, are there also plans in the pipeline to maybe sponsor a pro road racing team as well?
Beverly: Yes indeed. We’ve had year with Airgas-Safeway, Chris’ pro continental team in the USA, and we will continue to sponsor them this year, under the banner of Team Illuminate. It’s been an awesome year with them and it’s been every manufacturer’s dream to have had ZERO problems other than one crashed rim and a few broken spokes. This result in itself is going to resonate with any pro team, and indeed I’ve had a couple of pivotal discussions I can’t talk about today…but you will see us on the European circuit sooner than later J
Togoparts: European pro road races get an incredible amount of exposure and publicity, so are we likely to see Knight wheels in any of these races in the future?
Beverly: Without a shadow of a doubt! I need another excuse to go back and visit my family in the UK and Europe more often, and I can’t think of a better one!
Knight Wheelsets are exclusively distributed by JR Cycle Services
18 Sin Ming Lane
04-05, Midview City