Over two weeks without a post. Between getting live orders out the door, continuing to try and prep standard build stock for the season, getting Rail builds out as quickly as rims come in, a few days of R&R before we go on lockdown until about Thanksgiving, and keeping ahead of all the other stuff that has to happen, blog time has been hard to come by.
So, Range update. We're behind schedule. Even though we've kept everyone who's asked up to date with current info, we've been sheepish about being behind. But how and why we're behind illustrates some big differences between us and others.
First, this actually is our design, and our mold. The "oh, yeah, we tripped on a a crack in the sidewalk and would you look at that - three more new rim designs!!!" bs still happens an awful, awful lot. Not pointing to anyone specifically here, but when you're in our position it's painfully easy to spot open molds being sold as proprietary. Probably much less easy for the general public. But even if you're taking the reasonably diligent step of taking an open mold and doing your own testing (build tolerances, wind tunnel, heat, braking, strength, tubeless fits, etc) and then selling it as your own, those steps don't take all that long. And if you don't like what you get, you move on to the next that fits your basic parameters and try again.
The Rail tubeless development was somewhat less straightforward than that, but still pretty tame. When we first did the 52, the shape was fairly unique. It's still, in fine detail, quite unique, but the world has gotten more used to building wider rims with wider bead seat widths (someone actually called a Rails "sort of narrow" not long ago, which made me howl with laughter). Before we did the new mold, we were able to test the changes on open molds that the manufacturer has, and then integrate the things we'd tested in isolation on disparate rims into the new mold, test them more or less knowing that they'd work straight away, and go.
The idea of the Range and the overall parameters were set in August of 2014. The idea of what the Range is and does was obvious enough to us then, and still is. It's the rim that makes the most sense for what it does. By far. We went down a bunch of rabbit holes to see if we could get it made domestically, but that simply wasn't going to work. Once we shelved that concept, we started testing the various puzzle pieces the better part of a year ago. This depth and width. That tubeless profile. This layup. BUT (and yes, I'm trying to make my but look big there), integrating them all into an asymmetric profile has taken several more rounds than we'd thought it would. You know that the finite weight is going to amount to a known unknown despite what FEA tells you, simply because the FEA model is good but not that good. But spoke hole drilling in a deeper asymmetric rim turns out to be a fairly large booby trap, too. And that's far from the only pure product challenge.
Beyond that, you have the jejune (an absolute favorite word, been trying to work that one into a post forever) business BS of who owns what part of the spec, if the engineer said material A would work but it turns out that it only works if the rim is 40g heavier, but if we use material C which is 3x as expensive per pound as material A the weight can stay the same and then we have to argue over who owns that cost increase, and then the engineering time (most of these calculations take a good half day to run - that's a lot of looking at the stupid swirling beach ball on your MacBook Pro) and the time it takes to build that iteration and test it there and ship us a copy and we test it, blah blah blah. The way I've written that last bit is a good indicator of how and why my head wouldn't mind just exploding over the whole process.
So, when will it be ready? When it's ready. At this point, it could be three weeks and it could be 2017. It's far from our first time at this clam bake, so we should probably have been more prudent about announcing the product before it's set to go, but oh well we weren't. When it goes live, it will be unique, and awesome, and 100% ready for prime time.