Beyond Carbon

Over the last year, we’ve been developing a decision which goes into effect tomorrow. Which is that as of tomorrow, we’re discontinuing our carbon rim lineup. There is a confluence of factors that goes into this. I’ll briefly explain them.

The biggest objective factor is the cost of insurance. Directly importing products of any sort generally puts you in a more expensive category, but the proper coverage for importing carbon increases that cost well over tenfold. [EDIT 10/6 8:20p - That sentence should have read better. Being in the "manufacturer" category takes your insurance up the first huge amount, carbon just takes it up higher]. Obviously we’re not going to sell wheels that leave you or us exposed if something goes wrong, but the economics of things as they are just don’t stack up.

Another part of it is production control. If domestic production was available (we’ve tried, hard), carbon still wouldn’t be easy but it would be manageable. As it is, with our production geographically, linguistically, chronologically, and culturally as far away as it could be on this planet, we don’t have the level of supply chain control that we want.

This isn't to say that all carbon rims are bad, and in no way is it to say that the carbon rims we've sold have been bad. All told, we've had a good record. But there are still serious limitations to carbon. As heat resistance improves, brittleness increases. Heat resistant resins are much more finicky in the molding process and generate much more scrap. Disc brake rims have no need of high heat resins and can significantly benefit from not using them, but that introduces complexity into the manufacturing process (keeping two lines separate) that a) we don't foresee any companies actually doing and b) if they do, the record keeping and shop floor process to ensure that doesn't get messed up aren't things to take for granted. We've never been able to reconcile the fact that bad technique and the wrong hill can overdome even pretty extraordinary heat resistance. Does physics offer a warranty? And heat is far from the only risk with carbon. 

The changes in the aluminum rim landscape over the past few years have been as profound as those in the carbon landscape, albeit with several orders of magnitude less promotion and hoopla around them. We’ve simply come to the conclusion that once you get past the “ooooohhhhh, carbon!” thing, aluminum clincher rims are simply the better choice for nearly every application (if you’re going for the TT worlds, carbon’s a good choice). 

As a small company, we have to focus on those areas where we can add profound value. At some point, it was inevitable that we’d have to choose between being a “products” company and being a “service” company. We’ve got some great stuff happening on the products side, but really we’re a service company. Between our product experience and expertise, our profound wheel building skill, and the awesome array of components we use, we’re comfortable stating baldly that we feel we offer the best value, execution, and service that you can find. You may be looking for carbon for the sake of carbon, in which case we'll have to part ways. But if you're looking for an insane set of wheels for your actual purpose, built with extreme skill and care and delivered at exceeding value, you're in the right place. 

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As an owner of 2 sets of rails, I'm disappointed in your decision.


re: ",,,we feel we offer the best value, execution, and service that you can find." Yes, this. I've got a set of the Nimbus Ti alloys and they are simply the best wheels I have ever had. They offer the perfect balance of characteristics that I want in my wheels, most important being that they are truly "bombproof". I can ride them any where, any time and not worry about them at all. Granted, I'm no racer, so I've never really understood the infatuation with carbon rims nor the marginal gains to be had at the expense of safety, comfort, and repairability. Why would I want something underneath me that could crack, warp, or melt from conditions that are fairly typical in my riding? Especially when the aluminum offerings are so damn good. So, I for one applaud your decision and hope you keep the focus on outstanding value/service. There really isn't enough of that going on anywhere, let alone in the bike business.


Scott and Martin – The realities of the situation dictate what we can and can't do in order to continue to be the business we want to be and that our customers deserve. Like every business, we have to respond to market conditions in all directions relative to ourselves. Mike has a bunch of additional thoughts relative to the supply environment, the competitive landscape, our customer demographics, and a bunch of other stuff that offers some more explanation, but I'll let him run with that.


I'm sorry to hear this.Your carbon wheels were easily the best value per dollar by far. I've beaten the crap out of my 52's… I've slapped on 40mm plus, and nailed babyheads with them- no problem, I was in a paceline and was blindly lead into a hole where the rear wheel slammed so hard it busted the bead of a Schwalbe ONE…I mean, I was freaking because sealant was gouting out of where the rubber met the rim…I pulled the tire off… Not a scratch, dent, nothing.Unearthly solid wheels.Frankly, I was really looking forward to the "what if?" starting with the Range and beyond. You guys were one of two companies that filled a very in the know niche which is reasonably priced, bombproof, carbon road wheels. The other brand is not so "bombproof," and doesn't offer the hubs you guys build with.There's a million builders of aluminium wheels.Your carbon separated you from the pack.Anyhow, be well and good luck.Martin


I'm still rather unhappy about all this. Imagine buying something and then having it discontinued 73 days after you received it, especially when the product was just redesigned for 2016. My biggest fear with choosing a small company was lack of support in the future… which is exactly what happened. Lesson learned. In addition, being a discontinued product Rails will now have significantly less resale value.I had a great ride yesterday and was reminded how good the Rails are… I'm going to hop on my bike when done with this (final) rant and enjoy another nice day fall day in Wisconsin. Dave, I am sorry you couldn't make this go, the Rails really are a good product.Scott

Scott in GB

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