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. 

Back to blog


Thank You for Perfectly explaining Novembers thoughts & direction of the company . I was about to purchase a pair Rail 52's used . I have Ultegra tubeless WH-6700 , 4 years old at 13,000 miles . They are light , served me well , but the rims braking surfaces are wearing thin . I am a sport touring endurance rider on a Giant TCR . I don't need race day only wheels but I want to spoil myself with a Sexy November wheelset in the near future . A Carbon wheel with a Aluminum braking surface I have also thought about . What November Wheels would You suggest for my application ? . THanks again for Not only doing what is right & best for your company but also best for the customer in safety , value & Trust . Peace !


Wow.Came looking to buy a SECOND set of Rail52's for the upcoming season only to find this….I've had my 52's for 2 seasons now and they have served me incredibly well all the way into cat1/2. The quality, braking, and back end service you guys have provided has been top notch.Honestly speechless right now.


I'm sorry if I read it in a way you didn't mean.As to how the Al33 or any other of the rims that will be tested compares to a 404, I don't know. But thanks to our having established the protocol of testing against a 404 (for once I'm going to give us our due and take full credit for that) we will be able to see how they all compare to a 404. Until the test happens, we don't know nor does anyone else. And though we aren't footing the bill for this round of testing, we are the ones who pressed for it. Only you can decide if you need x number of seconds versus any baseline in a wind tunnel test. We will give the objective measurements versus communicable and relevant protocols, whether they satisfy anyone's needs or not is up to the individual. Depending on what one's definition of "comparable" is, it very well might be that we no longer have a wheel that compares to a 404. If not, Mike linked several closeout offers and more show up in my inbox literally by the hour. Which, again, is a part of the calculus of why no more Rail.


Just now finding about about this, bummer to hear but from a QC/Supply Chain perspective it makes total sense.Kudos to you guys for all of the transparency. I've had my Rail 52's for nearly 4 years now and they have been incredible.


As an owner of Alloy Nimbus Ti with Pacenti SL23 V2 which I love I am now in the market (or lust) for a set of carbon rims. Yes, I have not had the pleasure of being "done" with carbon rims. Naturally, I came back the November site to look for the Rail rims and, unfortunately, found this blog. From a business perspective, I totally understand. I should've pulled the trigger when the Rails came out last year! :(


Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.