For years we’ve looked on in amazement at the unique-looking Corima wheels used by the Astana team never knowing much about either the wheels or the company that produced them. As disbelieving as it’s been to think that any such minimally spoked wheel could hold up to the rigors of WorldTour racing, we’ve neither seen nor heard about them ever failing. What was the magic behind the wheels, we wondered? Who was behind the design and manufacture?
Recently, not only were we able to come into contact with Corima’s Hugo Poudrel, who was happy to answer our questions about the French wheel maker, but better still, he sent over a pair of the wild-looking MCC DX wheels for us to test. Yahoo!
THE FRENCH DISPATCH
Is Corima now a cycling-specific brand or are there other industries that work is done for?
Historically, Corima’s know-how and mastery of carbon came from the aeronautics industry, which was the company’s first market. Following the diversification, two companies were born—Corimatec, which keeps the aeronautical activity, and Corima, which is dedicated to the carbon wheel. Nevertheless, we still see traces of this common past in our production processes. For example, all our rims are made using an internal structural foam that is used in aeronautics.
We cover a wide range of products—from road, gravel, triathlon and track—where we have had a lot of success in the Grand Tours and Olympic events. We have also been working for years with the greatest handisport athletes. Our wheels have allowed many of them to win world and Olympic medals in hand-bike, athletic wheelchair and tennis wheelchair events.
We also put our knowledge to use to enhance the mobility of physically handicapped people. We have worked hard to develop a new benchmark product capable of enhancing their daily commuting. We’ve done this by building on all the knowledge we have accumulated in competition.
What is the current number of employees?
Corima is a part of the Look Cycle Group. In total, the Look Cycle Group has 220 employees, with many of them working for the two brands and some dedicated just to Corima.
How long had the technology for the MCC DX been evolving?
Our first version was launched in 2010, and the idea was to get a product as light as a traditional spoked wheel and as stiff as a monocoque wheel. The MCC is the ideal wheel for performance on courses with big changes of pace and steep gradients. The wheelset is very light (starting at 1295 grams in the 32mm tubular version) and offers incredible lateral stiffness capable of delivering power from the biggest efforts from the top riders. Beyond just the outstanding performance and responsiveness, it has a really iconic look. The MCC has a very specific construction utilizing 12 paired spokes. These hand-molded carbon spokes are bonded to the rim. That is to say that they are not tensioned or stretched, but rather they work on the principle of a house frame, offering an unrivaled level of rigidity.
Compared to the first version, the spokes have been optimized to improve the aerodynamics of the wheel. They now have an elliptical shape, while the first version was rounded. With an increasing number of disc brake bikes over the past few years, we have had to adapt the design, in particular the rear hub.
The Y-shaped carbon part, called D2T, had to be designed to allow the hub to withstand the opposing forces created by pedaling and braking. This new design also ensures a better distribution of loads all while offering an incomparable look. With these modifications, the aerodynamics improved by almost 18 percent on the rear wheel and 9 percent on the front wheel.
Each step of the manufacturing process—from the rim and spoke production to the Y-shape hubs, and then the final assembly and bonding of the spokes to the rim and hub—requires a complete mastery of production process. We have several technology patents inside the MCC. Each wheel requires more than six hours of work to make with a pair of MCC wheels, taking well over 12 hours to produce.
The MCCs have been raced in all the major professional tours with the Astana Qazaqstan team. The wheelset has won numerous races, including several Grand Tours and an Olympic gold medal in London.
The MCC will start their 12th season in the professional peloton with the Astana Qazaqstan team. They will also be found on a new professional team this year, with the French team Cofidis choosing Corima as their wheel partner for the new season.
On the MCC DX wheels the spec says it’s 26mm wide. What is the internal rim width?
The tubular and clincher versions both have a 26mm exterior width. The clincher version pairs the 26mm width and a 16mm internal width. The MCC DX is definitely the most innovative and one of the highest performance products on the market.
Are all Corima wheels manufactured at the French factory?
Yes, all Corima wheels are designed and manufactured in France in our own factory. We are proud of our manufacturing site and all our employees. Their passion and know-how are an integral part of the DNA of the brand.
Since 1988, we have been making carbon wheels with passion, always driven by innovation and performance. What distinguishes us deeply from our competitors is the fact that besides just designing the most efficient wheel possible, our engineers also work directly with in-house manufacturing and production processes. That’s why even today all Corima wheels are produced by our employees and by machines that we have mostly designed and developed in-house.
On the gravel wheel only six brands of tires are recommended. Why is that?
Our G30.5 wheels use tubeless straight side (TSS) or hookless-style rims, which are the same technology used by many of the top U.S. brands. This design allows us to manufacture a lighter, stronger rim. Our G30.5 wheels work with all hookless-compatible tires with a minimum size of 28mm. Among these tires we recommend some options to optimize your ride.
The maximum air pressure for our G30.5 rim is 5 bar (72.5 psi). If the tires that are being used have a recommended maximum pressure that is less than 5 bar, then riders must follow that reading.
The rolling-resistance tests we carry out confirm that the best-performing option is still the tubular and the tube tire. For this reason our performance road range is still available with the tubular and clincher tire options. However, we prefer tubeless technology for the endurance segment where comfort is more important than performance, or for specific stages. Our G30.5 wheels are already race proven and won the first gravel race in the professional peloton with the victory of Alexey Lutsenko of the Astana Qazaqstan team.
What level of wheel spec does Corima enjoy as an OEM provider?
At the moment, our target is the aftermarket, that’s why we don’t have a range dedicated to the OEM, even if we equip some bikes as original equipment like some of the most technologically advanced bikes at Look. We also supply some well-known pro teams with whom we don’t have a sponsoring contract but who choose our wheels for their performance