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Knight Composites: The Inside Story
How did Knight Composites start, and who was the driving force behind it?
Knight began as a collaboration between Kevin Quan, Jim Pfeil and Beverly Lucas. All 3 have a deep history in composites design and manufacturing in the bike industry. Kevin is well known as one of the leading aerodynamics design engineers in the bike industry- Parlee, Diamondback, Pivot, Cube, Cervelo- all have designs in their lineup from KQ. Jim started Reynolds Composites back in the day, and is responsible for putting the first production carbon forks and carbon clinchers on the market. Beverly first came up through the ranks at Felt, then later as Sales and Marketing for Enve, taking them from a no name to a brand name in less than 5 years. They came together after a discussion over drinks about how to design the fastest rolling wheel in the world. Kevin assured them that if they could build it and sell it, he could design it. A little less than a year later, they had their first 3 models in production. That was 2014. Now, we have 12 models and counting.
Tell us a bit about the research and design that goes into making Knight wheels.
Kevin runs Kevin Quan Studios, which functions as our design team. They work closely with the University of Toronto's aerospace engineering school, putting prototypes through wind tunnel testing and CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) validations. This allows us to run dozens of virtual iterations of a design before ever cutting the first tool. As a result, it takes us far less time to get a design from concept to production than most of our competition. Our manufacturing is equally unique. While all other major wheel manufactures are using an inflatable bladder molding technique, we use an EPS (expanded polystyrene) method. This method relies on a solid foam mandrel which expands under heat and vacuum to apply more consistent and intense pressure to the carbon. The end result is a more compacted and precise layup. It's because of this process that we're able to create stronger and more supple rims, at the same or lighter weight than our competitors. The result is a wheel that rides consistently smooth, durable, and fast. We make a better wheel, because we have better processes.
How many folks are on the Knight staff, and what's their background?
There are 6 of us. The original team of Kevin, Jim, and Beverly, plus Tyler Robertson leading sales and marketing, Nick Sande (formerly of Surly, Chris King and Ceilo) who is our wheel builder, and Scott Wolfe (formerly of Cane Creek) who manages our production.
Have you ever built a set of wheels for anyone famous, or new local talent that we should check out?
Katie Compton, 13-time National CCX champ, is on Knight for 2016-18. We hope she stays with us forever. Katie is an amazing athlete and even better product tester and ambassador. Nicholas Carmen, route mapper of the Baja Divide, is currently on Knights and tested the 27.5 PLUS last winter on the inaugural running of the BD....then turned around and did it again. That's 3500 miles off road in Baja, under load, with not one spoke broken or wheel out of true. Boom! Currently, Josh Kelly is our local sponsored rider.
With so much new technology evolving every year, what's next for Knight?
We're working on more MTB wheels, along with a new road wheel and a tubeless refresh to our existing road line. Look for a release date in fall 2017.
Take a ride on smooth, aerodynamic Knight wheels: shop here.