Knight 95 Carbon Fibre/DT Swiss 240S Road Wheelset - Clincher
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- UD Carbon/Black Decals/Black Hub, Shimano/SRAMsale $1,799.95
The big one.
Knight Composites as a brand is relatively new to the cycling industry. In fact, the 95 Carbon Fibre/DT Swiss 240s Wheelset is the flagship of its debut line, so we admit to being more than a little skeptical about the impressive claims made by Knight's R&D materials. Considering that the company was founded by three veteran innovators of carbon and aerodynamics, we probably shouldn't have been. Knight's wind tunnel numbers bear the claims out and suggest that the Knight 95 may be the fastest wheel that we carry.
The Knight 95's impressive aerodynamic benefits top out at 15 degrees of yaw while traveling at 30mph with a claimed -112g of drag force. That's right, negative. The effect of this negative contribution is a claimed savings of 22.5 seconds over 40km when compared to its most aerodynamically-gifted competitor. Just by changing wheels. To put that in perspective, riding the Knight 95 could very well have put Fignon atop the final podium of the closest Tour ever.
Of course, unless you have the engine of a Fignon (or a LeMond, for that matter), 30mph is a bit excessive over the course of a long event, but those advantages also trickle down to speeds in the mid-20s, so the 95s actually help propel you forward once you've spun them up. The inclusion of DT Swiss' smooth 240s hubs also goes some way toward countering the deep rims' increased rotational mass, meaning that you'll hit those cruising speeds faster and with less internal friction.
To achieve these almost comical test numbers, Knight developed what it's calling Trailing Edge Aerodynamic Manipulation Technology (TEAM Tech), which reinvents the aerodynamics of the wheel by shifting the focus from the leading to the trailing edge. This change in focus helped Knight design wheels as part of a bicycle-wide system of aerodynamics that includes tires, rims, fork, and frame. This system began with Computational Fluid Dynamics software, proceeded through no fewer than two rounds of wind tunnel testing, and ate up hundreds of test models.
The result of the laborious 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 are dominating the market today — and that Knight's founders were instrumental in creating. This new shape meets TEAM Tech's mandate by gradually widening airflow across the rim, which swells to 28mm at the widest point. This rim shape helps air transition in stability 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.
Aerodynamics aside, safety is also a serious concern for any serious cyclist, and the Knight 95 doesn't disappoint. The rims are built from aerospace-grade Toray carbon fiber and subjected to testing of 12 different protocols — ranging from brake track failure to durability under impact — that exceed the CEN standards for safety, helping to ensure that the aerodynamic gains aren't undone by an untimely failure.