Friday, July 2, 2010
Mad Fiber launched these wheels at the Tour of California, and they’re just gone into full production and should be on the market soon. Besides the obvious design differences (look at those spokes!), they’re supposedly just as fast straight on as in crosswinds and climbing…and they tip the scales at just 1085g/set!
Shown above, the first production from Mad Fiber is a full carbon road wheelset. Mad Fiber marks the return of Ric Hjertberg, company President, to wheel manufacturing. Founder of Wheelsmith, Wheel Fanatyk, and previously New Technology Manager for FSA, Hjertberg says, “For me, all roads have led to this. Mad Fiber is the culmination of everything I’ve loved my whole life, and ultimately, it’s about a very simple vision: the dream of creating the perfect wheel. Not with preconceived notions or existing technology, but rather with carbon optimized engineering.”Joining Hjertberg is Max Kismarton, chief technologist, and an instructor in aerospace engineering with Kansas University. Max is also an engineer for one of the world’s largest aerospace firms, with engineering and production responsibility for some of the world’s most innovative aircraft, both commercial and military. His career success, accomplishments and numerous patents revolve around his ability to develop product that is simultaneously aerodynamic, reliable, and lightweight – and that can be consistently and efficiently produced – making him exceptionally qualified to develop high performance bicycle wheels.
The front wheel uses a minimal, carbon shelled hub. Technically, the wheels aren’t all carbon, there is an alloy axle running through the body, but it shows off the unique build of the wheels. When they started out, Mad Fiber threw out the conventional notion of how spokes, hubs and rims went together. Rather than emulate traditional wheels, the wide carbon spokes bond directly to the hub and rim, eliminating the reinforced, high stress areas caused by drilling or molding a spoke bed into carbon rims.
To create spoke tension, the spokes are first bonded directly to the rims and the flanges, which are initially sitting near the center of the hub. Once those are set, the flanges are pushed to the edge of the hub, which “stretches” the spokes to create tension and lateral rigidity needed to make the wheel rideable. Mad Fiber says this creates a wheel that’s perfectly straight and will never go out of true.
The icing? There’s no rider weight limit, with tests showing them hold up a 600lb static weight. They claim the wheels exceed every standard test by a considerable margin, plus several harsher manufacturer specific tests that various cycling industry folks like to use.
In tests to simulate brake heat, they’ve subjected their wheels to 220º F temps for 120 hours with no effect on the bonding or resin, and they’ve tested structural integrity with lateral (ie. brake pad) forces at 250º F.Where the front wheels use a straight pull design of spokes aimed square at the center of the hub, the rear wheel’s spokes create a two-cross pattern by lining up perpendicular to the hub flange.
The rear hub internals are built by White Industries with a titanium freehub body, here’s their description of it:
Lighter than steel, and more durable than aluminum (no notching from the cogs), titanium may be the perfect freehub material. A three pawl/24 tooth ratchet mechanism strikes the right balance between durability, strength and quickness of engagement. Including the 15mm cro-moly axle (steel remains an exceptional material choice for delivering strength and stiffness when space is limited – like inside a hubshell), White Industries delivers a freehub and axle assembly that makes an excellent, highquality, high-performance complement to the Mad Fiber carbon wheels. It will serve you well for years to come.
Freehub body: Shimano 9/10 or Campagnolo 9/10 speed
Included: Lightweight skewers, cork brake shoes, wheel bags, valve extenders
Warranty: 4 years
Crash replacement program: 4 years