Australian start-up 36T will soon begin production on some unique carbon clinchers, working in collaboration with Deakin University and the Carbon Nexus factory.
These are not your standard open mold carbon components, however, rather 36T has designed their wheels from the ground up. Both Simon Pilkington and Jon Partington are engineers, with backgrounds in aerospace and motorsports. In fact, Partington is currently completing his PhD in advanced composites at Deakin University.
“We are using the Carbon Nexus facility which is the only carbon fiber research facility of its size in the world,” Pilkington told BikeRadar. “We have some unique technologies built into the wheel, along with methods of manufacture, and some unique design features, too.”
36T is one of four Australian companies awarded a AU$25,000 (£12,700/US$19,7000) Smart Design Voucher by the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation. This voucher comes in addition to a small business grant 36T received from the Bank of Melbourne in November.
36T's wheels rim-to-rim spokes see the spoke wrap around the hub
With a patent pending design, 36T is using 16 carbon fibre spokes – front and back – that as Pilkington put it “are like nothing you have ever seen.” Instead of a straight length of spoke connecting to the rim and hub flange, 36T’s rim-to-rim design sees the spoke start at the rim, wrap around the hub and connect back to the rim.
The Victorian company claims their design alleviates some of the loads at the spoke-hub interface.
This unique spoke design also requires a proprietary hub which features oil lubricated hybrid ceramic rolling element bearings and a 48-point inverted ratchet freehub design at the back. When the wheels are first released, they will only be available with an 11-speed SRAM/Shimano titanium freehub body, with Campagnolo options following soon after.
The 35mm carbon clinchers were designed with Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to produce a rounded rim profile that 36T has said will perform “through a broad range of yaw angles.” The all-round 35mm rim design is claimed to be stiff while along with the spokes, still tuned for compliance. The wheels also feature a 25mm rim width that should provide a solid platform for large volume tyres.
The wheels from 36T will feature a bonded spoke design
All up, 36T's prototype wheels are claimed at less than 1kg for the set, however, the exact weight of the production wheels is still to be confirmed.
Quite unique in aesthetic, the spokes don't run down the centre of the rim but instead spread far wider to improve the spoke bracing angle for improved lateral stiffness. Furthering this stiffness, the rear wheel features asymmetrical spokes with a thicker gauge on the driveside.
36T is aiming to have wheels ready for sale in mid 2015, pricing is yet to be confirmed, but we don't expect these to be cheap.