If you are looking at Knight, the chances are, you already know a reasonable amount about carbon fibre rims. I will save the introduction. I will get to what matters in terms of comparing them to the established options:
- 5 year warranty. That is something that only ENVE match in the line up that I offer and I know of no competitor that beats it.
- Crash replacement warranty. Again, a similar taste to ENVE on that one and a nice feature if you are looking to invest in a serious set of wheels.
- Formerly wind tunnel tested with positive results received. A lot of composites companies talk about aero wheels without actually having data to back it up. Knight do, it is a costly development process but ultimately, if you want an assurance that your wheels will be fast this data is important.
- Available to wheelbuilders. It may not matter to everyone, it certainly matters to us. What it really means is you can have them as part of a custom set, rather than a pre-determined package. You can tailor your decision to what you are really looking for.
- Sponsorship on the professional circuit. This need not necessarily be a major consideration for everyone, it is nice to see your wheels being used professionally, it does represent something of a stamp of approval. It also demonstrates a seriousness for the company concerned.
- Run by experienced Industry professionals – the key owners were senior figures in Reynolds, ENVE, Cervelo, Felt, Accell group and others.
- High temperature resins meaning, to date, no returns from heat failure.
- UCI approved for racing.
Other important information that you need to consider. They use internal spoke nipples. From me, you get an enhanced warranty programme (contact for details). UD finish with a choice of decal options. Currently available only as clincher rims, tubulars to follow shortly. MTB now available with details to follow soon.
Knight use an EPS moulding technique. There is more details about this on their site. However, it is probably safe to assume it is the same EPS technique used by Alto Cycling as well, probably coming out of the same facility. EPS is the very best way to make composites of this nature.
There are currently three road depths (35, 65 and 95mm). That makes them essentially road, tri/crit and TT options for people. You can mix and match if you wish. As for the aerodynamic claims, well, the results are tested not only for wheels on their own, but also for wheels in frames. Importantly, that the wheels produce a less ‘scattered’ result against various frames in various conditions, making the rim profiles an excellent choice for aerodynamic gains in real world conditions. Simply quoting raw tunnel data can be very misleading. However, if you take for comparison the Zipp 404 (a good benchmark rim) vs the Knight 65, one has a depth of 58mm, the other 65mm. The Knight for the extra 7mm of depth has added a humble 11g in weight and has a significant reduction in drag across the spectrum.
If you want a broad range of images of Knight rims, their instagram is a good source for that.
The bottom line – price. Well, they are priced competitively, if you compare them to the established brands. You can expect to see up to £700 saving over a comparable ENVE set. Considering that the Knight ‘features’ are similar, it does make Knight a very appealing option.
Well, the full range has not yet been released, so here are the options that we know and estimated set weights to go with that. For reference, the sets are with alloy nipples, CX-Rays and Tune Mig70/Mag170 hubs. The deeper set weights are likely to be an over-estimate as the estimates do not take into consideration spoke length
35mm deep tubular – 368g – set weight – 1215g
35mm deep clincher – 445g – set weight – 1369g
65mm deep clincher – 545g – set weight – 1569g
95mm deep clincher – 655g – set weight – 1789g
I think that Knight Composites is the most exciting new entrant to the aero wheel market since ENVE’s emergence following HED and Zipp’s patent expiration in 2009. However, they are doing so in an ever more competitive marketplace, facing competition from all angles and at all price points. The range is more limited than the 6 (probably to be 5) set options with ENVE. Moreover, the rims are not systems, making them more like Zipp than ENVE in that regard. Knight do not appear concerned with that but it is a key USP that you get from ENVE. There are notable gaps in the Knight range, especially making a 45-50mm deep rim which is probably the most popular depth. The weights are good, but there is scope for competition there too. The price is definitely good but there are cheaper composite options too. The manufacture of the rims is not undertaken in the USA, so Zipp and ENVE have trumped them there. However, for my money, I would sooner see a well made rim using modern techniques, a high tg resin with a 5 year warranty and a 0% return rate at a lower price than I would have a rim that simply said ‘Made In USA’ written on the side.