A mini series on proprietary components

You can have your big hair and shoulder pads and clothes with excessive zippers and cocaine, but for me there's nothing quite as 80s as the mini series. So here's one. 

(ok maybe this is the most '80s thing after all)

Fortunately, we seem to be out of the thickest woods of brands just straight up lying. How many bazillions of straight from the Novatec or Bitex catalog hubs have had the "it's got our name laser etched on it, so you know it's good?" treatment and promotional copy to match?

We've had two significant proprietary moments in our history - the Rail rims, and Nimbus Ti hubs. For both, we felt at the time that there was a market imperative for the product.

Rails were the first wide internal carbon clinchers. We never got any credit for that but such is life. The important point there is that they had a thing that Mike and I knew was beneficial (and he gets all the credit for origination on that - he was WAY early onto the wide road rim path), that could not be found anywhere else on the market, so we made it. Eventually the market caught up with us, expenses and cash flow costs for doing it were wicked high, rim brake carbon clinchers dared people to do dumb stuff, and that was kind of that. It's funny how easy it is to find open molds now that are just straight up copies of the 52, though. They were a good design. 

Lost River Classic pic

Nimbus Ti hubs were purely a play to reduce the price of high quality, and it was a production and sales experiment that ultimately didn't work out. The hypothesis was that we'd be able to walk in the door, change into our work clothes, build production wheels that were so good they spoke for themselves for a full and exceptionally efficient shift, and that would be that. What actually happened was that we spent half our lives fielding custom requests, being asked if you could get them in black, and telling the story that they actually were White industries T11s with slightly different aesthetics but 100% working parts overlap. I just read this old post and felt pleased with how I articulated that situation. 

So where is this all going? Two places. I'll expound and update some of the thoughts from here (which is something of a well supported hatchet job on proprietary stuff, rims at least), but I also want to explore how proprietary might have value in other areas. 

Stay anti-social, it's for a good cause. 


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I still have a pair of Rail 52s and another wheel set with Nimbus Ti hubs. Both are still in everyday use and going strong.


Still running my Rail34s on November by Novatec hubs (~15K miles), and my Nimbus CLD/Grails set are now my A wheels for CX (they were gravel wheels, but now I have a set if I9/GOATs for that).

Mike E.

Ahh… now I see, Dave. You caught me off guard. As a big fan of Falcon Crest, I read mini-series and was thinking it was a slip-up. I thought maybe you meant to reference Winds of War, Shogun, or perhaps V. (Now I’ve gone ahead and absolutely destroyed what remains of my dignity). While I’m here I will cast another vote in favor of the Rails. Great wheels.


Still riding bombproof Rails on one bike.


I am a proud owner of Rails and (on different rim) Nimbus Ti’s. Both still exceptional and going strong.


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