These stunning-looking carbon fibre road wheels are the progeny of a collaboration between bike industry veteran Ric Hjertberg and aerospace engineer Max Kismarton.
Weighing in at a claimed 1,085g a pair, and costing a whopping US$2,599, they’re the first product from new company Mad Fiber.
This Seattle-based business was set up with the aim of combining aerospace technology and production practices with Hjertberg’s decades of bicycle wheel building and design experience – he founded Wheelsmith and Wheel Fanatyk, and was previously new technology manager for FSA – to create the ultimate carbon bike wheel.
Joining him in the new business is chief technologist Kismarton, an instructor in aerospace engineering with Kansas University and engineer for one of the world’s largest aerospace firms, and chief operating and financial officer (and cycling enthusiast and coach) Russ Riggins.
Mad Fiber were clear from the start that they didn’t want to simply try to replicate a metal wheel in carbon fibre. As a result, their wheels differ from other carbon hoops in two main ways. Firstly, instead of using the usual bladders and moulds, the rim is built in three separate pieces – two sidewalls and the tyre seat. The idea is that this minimises voids and eliminates the use of excess resin, thus increasing strength and reducing weight.
Secondly, rather than drilling or moulding spoke holes into the rim, wide carbon spokes are bonded to both the rim walls and the ﬂanges. This spreads wheel loads over a broad area, but raises the question of how the wheel is going to be tensioned. In this case, precise calculations are made as to where the flanges should be bonded to the hub body in order to achieve the correct tension.
The tubular wheels have 60mm (front) and 66mm (rear) deep rims, 12 front/18 rear bladed spokes and narrow ﬂange spacing. Mad Fiber claim they have excelled in wind tunnel tests, particularly when exposed to crosswinds.
They come with a White Industries titanium freehub body (Shimano or Campagnolo, nine- or 10-speed), with a three-pawl/24-tooth ratchet mechanism and 15mm chromoly axle. Also supplied are skewers, cork brake shoes, wheel bags and valve extenders. There’s a four-year warranty and crash replacement programme, and no rider weight limit.
We’re planning to catch up with Hjertberg at the Tour of California for the full lowdown. For now, if you want more information you’ll have to visit www.madfiber.com. The wheelset should be available to the public by the summer.