Knight Composites 35 and 65 carbon wheel review

Two solid options that can help make your bike lighter and faster

Wheels
The Bend, Oregon area provided plenty of challenging testing terrain.

The Bend, Oregon area provided plenty of challenging testing terrain.

Lowdown: Knight Composites 35 and 65 Carbon Wheels

Formed in 2013, Knight Composites is still a relative newcomer to the carbon wheels game. But the experience Knight’s leadership brings to the table has made for a product that stands years beyond the company’s young age. So for those unfamiliar, here is an introduction to two of the company’s most versatile road wheels, the 35 and 65.

Stat Box: Knight Composites 35
Material: Carbon rim and brake track Size: 35mm depth, 25.5mm internal width
Wheelset weight: 1404 grams Base price: $2199
Hub: DT Swiss 240s Price as tested: $2299
Tires: Continental Grand Prix 4000s II 25c Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Pluses
Minuses
  • Fast, clean look
  • Not as aero as big brother
  • Damped carbon ride feel
  • Versatile wheel option
  • Aerodynamic in most conditions
  • Low weight
  • Little crosswind drift
  • Smooth ride
  • Good overall value

Stat Box: Knight Composites 65
Material: Carbon rim and brake track Size: 65mm depth, 28mm internal width
Wheelset weight: 1604 grams Base price: $2199
Hub: DT Swiss 240s Price as tested: $2299
Tires: Continental Grand Prix 4000s II 25c Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Pluses
Minuses
  • Fast, clean look
  • A lot of material to get to speed
  • Damped carbon ride feel
  • Drift in significant crosswinds
  • Versatile wheel option
  • Very aerodynamic
  • Low weight
  • Smooth ride
  • Good overall value

Review: Knight Composites 35 and 65 Carbon Wheels

Based in the small but rapidly expanding city of Bend, Oregon, Knight Composites fits right in. The brainchild of industry veterans Jim Pfeil (co-founder of Reynolds Wheels and a former executive at ENVE), CEO Beverly Lucas (former executive at Felt and ENVE), and chief engineer Kevin Quan (formerly of Cervélo), Knight Composites was a natural product of years of unique insights and experience from the trade. So, while young in spirit, it perhaps comes at no surprise that they’re progressing rapidly in a field that so many others have taken so much time to master. And what a time to be at the forefront in this arena.

Technological innovation in the cycling world is at an all-time high, including wheel technology. Between ever-increasing access to wind tunnel technology and the current state of carbon fiber production, this essential component is really hitting its stride. Knight’s first and primary product is the carbon clincher wheel, and for this test they provided RoadBikeReview two options for comparison: the 35mm all-arounder and the 65mm speedster.

The Knight 65s can make just about any bike faster.

The Knight 65s can make just about any bike faster.

Background

This review must be prefaced by the understanding that there are currently two primary types of road bike wheels. The first is the fabled tubular variety, in which the exterior of the rim features a small U-shape for the tire to sit in, but wherein the bulk of the adhesion between the tire and the rim itself is by means of glue or tape.

This variety has long stood as the pinnacle of wheel/tire technology, providing an unrivaled suppleness and thus speed to the sole contact points between the bicycle and the road surface (in most instances).

The second variety, which most of us are more familiar with, is the clincher where the rim features a hooked edge on either side that catches the bead of the tire upon inflation to form a temporarily closed fixture around an inner tube. This variation is far easier to manipulate, requiring nothing but a variation in air for adhesion or deflation (which comes in quite handy in case of a flat). What’s more, tubular tires are far more expensive and to deal with — unless you’re a pro racer being followed by a team car topped with spare wheels.

All of that maintenance and cost discussion aside, the allure of pure speed is too great for many riders who compete at higher levels to let such trivial matters stand in the way of the never ending pursuit of glory. But all this is changing. At the World Championships in Doha earlier this fall, the cycling community watched in awe as Tony Martin took men’s time trial victory on clincher technology. This performance stands as validation for many in the anti-tubular camp of the idea that modern tire and wheel technology has come such a long way in the past few years that these two varieties have now caught up in terms of speed and suppleness.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Knight Composites wheelsets review »

About the author: Dillon Caldwell

Dillon Caldwell is a native of Bend, Oregon with a big heart for the sport of cycling. He grew up to be a successful junior cross-country racer but got hooked on road racing during his time at the University of Oregon, where he ran the school's club cycling team for several years. He now spends the majority of his time as a road racer for both the Audi and the Canyon Bicycles - Shimano racing teams on the regional and the national scales, respectively. On the side, he is a mountain bike tour guide for Cog Wild, a cycling coach for Wenzel Coaching, a member of the board of directors for the Tour des Chutes cancer charity, and a passionate writer.


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