Knight’s 35 clinchers are billed as its climbing wheels but also offer some day-to-day versatility for more regular use, such as training, racing and general riding.
On paper, everything looks about bang on for a set of 2019 rim-brake clinchers: 27.5mm external width, 22.5mm internal at the rim bed. You also have the ability to go tubeless, and to run 25–32mm tyres. The wheelset has a claimed weight of 1,430g with DT Swiss 240s.
I was keen to set the Knights up tubeless and had a pair of 28mm Schwalbe Pro Ones that fitted the bill. I know how difficult this can be, and I’ve spent many hours in the workshop with a perfectly good wheel/tyre combo that doesn’t want to seal, but fortunately I had no such problems with the Knights.
The tyres sealed first time using a Bontrager Flash Charger floor pump, and held air reasonably well — just needing a top up every couple of weeks. It’s no fault of the wheels, but I’ve found road tubeless need a little more care and attention when it comes to maintaining optimum tyre pressure.
Knight 35 wheelset ride impressions
I used these wheels for training, and even a bit of racing throughout the British Hill Climb season, which runs for about three months. All in all, I think they saw about five months and 180 hours’ ride time.
The wheels performed impressively throughout. Quantifying stiffness and a wheel’s ability to hold speed is almost impossible, but the relatively low weight and sturdy rim profile meant the 35s never left me wanting for more speed and punch when accelerating hard on numerous hill repeats.
Despite all my commuting and training, the wheels remained true, with the DT Swiss hubs running just as smooth as the first day I used them
Even with fairly wide 28mm tyres, there was no tell-tale signs of tyre rub on the inside of the chainstays, meaning they were plenty stiff enough for me.
What did make a real difference, though, was the wide rim profile and the aforementioned 28mm tubeless tyres. In recent years, the general consensus has been that wider tyres are better for comfort and speed, and I’m now more sure of this than ever.
You do have to remember to lower the tyre pressure to keep the casing tension of the wider tyre similar to that of a narrow one, and I settled on 80psi for my 63kg frame. That rewarded me with a real sense of comfort, security and grip when pushing the tyres hard into corners, yet I never felt like I was losing any speed on the climbs.
As already mentioned, this is almost impossible to measure objectively, but a wider rim with a wider tyre at lower pressures felt amazing, and is something I’d highly recommend. Just remember to check the clearances on the frame and fork if you’re looking at going down the wider rim/tyre route.
Durability was also spot-on. Despite all my commuting and training, the wheels remained true, with the DT Swiss hubs running just as smooth as the first day I used them.
Braking in the dry was good, with no judder and the kind of power and modulation you’d expect from carbon clinchers, so not quite as good as aluminium and a fair way off disc brakes.
I was using direct-mount Cane Creek EE brakes with the rims, which is an incredibly high-end brake, so cannot comment on how they would perform with a more regular set up.
Knight 35 wheelset quirks and conclusion
A product is rarely perfect and the Knights are no different. The relatively wide rim profile means dialling in the brakes can be quite tricky.
If you’re saving these wheels for race days, and your training wheels are an older, narrower style, you’ll need to factor in adjusting the cable tension each time you change them. That’s not a deal breaker, but it’s worth mentioning.
Just like any carbon rim, wet braking isn’t on par with disc brakes. Granted, the 35s are nothing like carbon wheels of old — that heart-stopping moment before the pads dig in, and even then modulation is poor — but they still don’t have the effortless modulation and savage bite of hydraulic discs in the dry or the wet. This is symptomatic of most carbon wheels with rim brakes, so I was kind of expecting it with the Knights.
The skewers were also fairly bulky, and the weight weenie in me would prefer something a bit more refined/slimmer in order to save those precious grams.
Finally, price. The Knight 35s wheels will set you back about £2,000, so they’re not cheap. And while it’s a decent wheelset, the price makes them unaffordable for many.
It’s also an incredibly competitive price point, with established brands such as HED, Fast Forward, Mavic, Specialized/Roval, Bontrager, Campagnolo and DT Swiss all vying for your hard-earned cash.
The Knights are available from shops, though, so at least you might get the chance to try a demo pair before you buy.
There’s no doubt I enjoyed my time riding on the Knights. Bar some inherent quirks that you’ll find on almost all carbon clinchers, I’d thoroughly recommend them if you’re keen on maximizing your bike’s performance.
If you can afford them, it’s also worth checking out some of the options from other manufacturers, but these should be high on your list.
Knight 35 wheelset specifications
Hubs: DT Swiss
External width: 27.5mm
Internal width: 19.5mm