Revel Bikes recently made a splash in the mountain bike market with carbon rims it claims are stronger, lighter, more cost-effective, and 100% recyclable. The technology used is dubbed “Fusion-Fiber” and it does away with the industry norm of using epoxy to hold together the individual carbon fibers.
Now the mountain bike company has broadened its scope and used the novel technology to produce a gravel-friendly 23 mm-wide rim. The idea of a less brittle, smoother-riding, more cost-effective, and recyclable gravel wheelset sure is appealing.
What is Fusion-Fiber?
Fusion-Fiber is the brainchild of CSS Composites, a Utah-based engineering, design, and original equipment manufacturer that has turned its attention to producing rims with an aerospace-derived technology. Revel Bikes is licensing the technology, and in turn, handling the marketing and sales for the product.
Fusion-Fiber is effectively a modern take on thermoplastic manufacturing which uses an advanced polymer (think nylon) to bind the strands of carbon fiber together versus the normal approach of thermoset epoxy.
Where it’s incredibly difficult, costly, and potentially hazardous to separate common thermoset epoxy used in a traditional carbon composite, the binding thermoplastic can be relatively easily melted down and repurposed. CSS can recycle returned components by chopping them down and resetting them into smaller products such as tyre levers and stems.
The thermoplastic approach is also claimed to have numerous other manufacturing benefits over the commonly used pre-preg carbon fiber: it has an unlimited shelf life, doesn’t need to be refrigerated prior to use, and overall is more stable. The polymer material also offers greatly reduced curing times (less than a minute) and doesn’t require epoxy to be manually removed.
And then the more flexible material is said to offer better impact resistance and improved vibration dampening. Meanwhile, it’s claimed that the less brittle material allows for rims to be made lighter, too.
All of this sounds rather unbelievable, but if it’s so good then why isn’t everyone doing it? It seems CSS owns a number of patents related to the technology and the specialist automated machinery is surely a large barrier to entry, too. For now, Revel is the first to partner with CSS to bring Fusion-Fiber to the cycling world, but it seems likely we’ll see other brands partner up in the future.
Pinkbike’s article covering the release of Revel Bikes’ RW30 wheels is worth a read if you’re wanting to know more about the technology.
The Revel RW23 wheels
Revel Bikes’ RW23 is a 700c diameter, 23 mm internal width rim made with Fusion-Fiber. Like the company’s mountain bike rims, these feature a hookless rim bed that requires the use of tubeless-ready tyres. Revel recommends the use of tyres ranging from 32 to 47 mm in width.
Revel is selling the RW23 as an individual rim or built as a complete wheelset. Priced at US$699 a piece, the RW23 rim is quoted to weigh 400 grams and is available with either 24 or 28 spoke holes. It offers a shallow 24 mm depth profile, and the external width is quoted at 29 mm. Tubeless tape and valves are included.
Complete wheelsets feature 28 Sapim D-Light spokes front and rear, and a choice of either Industry 9’s (I9) Torch or lower cost 1/1 hubs. The I9 1/1 wheelset (US$1,975) is quoted to weigh 1,585 g, while the more premium Torch version (US$2,200) sits at 1,520 g. Quoted weights include tubeless tape and valve stems. Both hub options feature centerlock rotor mounts and are available with Shimano HG, SRAM XDR or Shimano Microspline freehub bodies.
The rims are covered by Revel Bikes’ lifetime warranty, and if an issue does occur then that includes return US-based shipping so that they can recycle the damaged rim.
For more information, head to revelbikes.com.
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