KNIGHT 35 CLINCHER TLA–Product Test

When industry heads get together...

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Despite being a wheel brand for only four years, Knight Composites is brimming with a level of both bike-industry and carbon-manufacturing personnel that would be in line with a wheel company long in the tooth. 

Located in Bend, Oregon, Knight began with a simple goal of building wheels that erred on the side of speed, compliance and durability. Their product catalog includes wheels for every type of cycling. 

Befitting the world of road and gravel wheel technology that is slowly finding common purpose, no sooner did we receive our set of their 35 Clincher TLA wheels they were then immediately thrown into duty at Dirty Kanza. Once we returned from Kansas, we set about to test them on a wide variety of terrain.  

THE TECH

What goes into making the 35s is the combination of EPS construction and Knight’s TEAM (Trailing Edge Aerodynamic Manipulation) design. The wheel features DT Swiss 240 hubs, Sapim CX-Ray J-bend spokes and Toray Industries aerospace-grade carbon. As the name implies, the rims are 35mm deep with an internal rim width of 19.5mm and external width of 27.5mm. On the RBA scale, the pair weighed in at 1528 grams (699 grams front/829
grams rear).

Knight strays away from traditional bladder molding and instead uses expanded polystyrene (EPS) molding, where polystyrene beads are injected into the mold and heated to expand and then exert extreme pressure to form the desired shape. 

To improve aerodynamics, all Knight wheels are designed with TEAM, which, owing to the shape, they claim improves stability, especially in crosswinds. The premise for the design is to get air to stick to the wheel from the wind-facing side to the other side of the wheel to counteract the pressure on only one wheel side. On their deeper rims, Knight has achieved reduced drag by 30 grams at 15 degrees yaw. Similar savings are passed down to the 35s we’ve tested. 

THE RIDE 

Whether we were on tarmac or fire roads, the 35s held their own. With the 19.5mm internal width, we felt safe running our 25mm tires at 70 psi, which rode with less than average sidewall deflection. The tubeless wheels felt buttery smooth and damped vibrations significantly on our aluminum test rig. 

We especially enjoyed the wheels when we attacked the group ride up some short gravel climbs that heavier gravel wheels typically feel sluggish on.

The wheels also proved competent in performance-oriented pavement situations as well. The carbon rim’s lateral stiffness supported our out-of-the-saddle efforts, and crosswinds produced negligible feedback on the rim. Another noteworthy quality was how quickly the wheels spun up thanks to the lightweight and quick engagement of the DT Swiss 240s.

THE VERDICT

The crew at Knight have pieced together a wheelset with an ideal combination of performance, compliance and durability. Speaking to this last feature, they were proud to point out that their hoops have earned their spot aboard Katie Compton’s last three national cyclocross title-winning bikes.

We like that in addition to a choice of nine different color graphic options ($150 upgrade), you can also choose between three different hub options: DT Swiss, Project 321 or Chris King (the latter for a price upgrade).

PUNCH LINES

  • Lightweight option for gravel
  • Nine color graphic options 
  • Unique EPS construction
STATS

Price: $2300

Weight: 1528 grams

www.knightcomposites.com

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