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Knight Composites is composed of three industry veterans who, after largely defining the current state of aerodynamic racing technology, decided it was time to push that technology into the future. The 35 Carbon Fibre/Aivee SR5 Road Wheelset is the label's always-appropriate model, regardless of terrain or conditions. Knight's rims are typically laced to DT Swiss hubs, but this model features Aivee SR5 hubs instead.
Compared to the DT Swiss option, the Aivee hubs enjoy some nominal weight loss, which is always appreciated in an all-purpose wheel. Knight cites an overall increase in strength as the real benefit of Aivee's hubs, and it credits the French manufacturer's peculiar flange design for that increase. The hubs' bodies are machined in France on equipment that also produces aerospace and medical-grade equipment.
Hub geekery aside, aerodynamics are these wheels' primary concern. Toward this end, Knight's Trailing Edge Aerodynamic Manipulation Technology (Team Tech) reimagines the typical approach to aerodynamic rims. Instead of creating an aerodynamic leading edge, or even just an aerodynamic tire-to-rim transition, TEAM Tech designs wheels as part of a bicycle-wide system of aerodynamics that includes tires, rims, fork, and frame by focusing on the rim's trailing edge.
Without going into the laborious details, the result of the TEAM Tech process is a cross-section that describes a tapered parabola rather than the sharp point of a NACA airfoil or the overly-rounded "U" shape of wheels that Knight's founders helped develop and that are dominating the market today. This new shape meets TEAM Tech's mandate by gradually widening airflow across the rim, which swells from the 25.5mm brake track up to 28mm at the widest point before tapering into the spoke face. This creates a gradually widening air flow from tire to rim to down tube in order to minimize the drag caused by pockets of stalled air in the wake of the bicycle system's separate components.
The wheels aren't built for wind tunnels and virtual software environments; they're built to manage airflow across virtually all of the most common yaw angles we encounter in the saddle, maxing out at a claimed savings of almost 200 grams of drag force compared to a standard box clincher. They also maintain stability in wide yaw angles. Like all deep rims, they do react to cross winds, but their rounded cross section shifts the side forces of cross winds to the back of the rim, which makes steering more predictable and correction relatively intuitive under changing conditions when compared to non-rounded spoke faces.
All the penchant for low-drag speed in the world eventually comes a cropper if the brake tracks have the performance characteristics of spongy snack cakes, though. To address the braking issues that so often plague carbon hoops, Knight updates the standard model of a textured carbon surface with the inclusion of a nanofiber layer designed to grab the pads when you grab the levers. It also modulates well, a pleasant feeling for cyclists used to carbon braking that operates at only two speeds: spongy and unresponsive or locked-up and squealing. Finally, the brake tracks are about twice as thick as Knight's competitor's models — up to 3mm from around 1.5mm. This effectively diffuses heat, helping to keep the rims from violently deforming by hitting the dreaded glass transition temperature.
- Item #KNI0004
- Q & A
Since I can't seem to find any good reviews online, can any of the Competitive Cyclist employees comment on the Knight 35 clinchers? Can you compare them to the Enve 3.4's? I do most of my riding in the hills, so I'm looking for a nice light, stiff climbing wheel with the benefits of an aero design. Are the Enve wheels really worth the extra dough? In either case, can you recommend the best hubs for the Knight and Enve to minimize weight and maintenance, but with low rolling resistance? Thanks in advance.
Mark did you ever get an answer to this question?? I'm looking for an alternative to the 3.4s as well and was wondering how the aero compared. emailed knights and they haven't answered yet either.