Since Knight Composites is a debut manufacturer and the 35 Carbon Fibre/DT Swiss 240S Road Wheelset is the label's top-end, do-it-all model, you won't be surprised to learn that the wheels are being touted as nothing short of revolutionary. Refreshingly, the Knight 35 actually lives up to the promised aerodynamic gains and impeccable build quality. With the inclusion of DT Swiss' venerable 240s hub set, the wheelset also manages to reach a claimed weight of 1,404g — 78g and 136g lighter than two ubiquitous leading models — so the Knight 35's revolutions are aerodynamic for flats and light for climbs.
Like much of the cycling world, you may be unfamiliar with this new manufacturer. We won't go too far into the details of Knight's history except to note that the collective résumé of the three founders reads like a checklist of all the names we've come to associate with carbon aerodynamics in cycling. Since the founders' work has largely defined the current industry standards, you might not be surprised to learn that Knight was formed as a vehicle to push those designs even further.
Toward this end, Knight developed its Trailing Edge Aerodynamic Manipulation Technology (Team Tech), which refocuses the aerodynamics of the wheel. Instead of creating an aerodynamic leading edge, or even just an aerodynamic tire-to-rim transition, TEAM Tech designs wheels as part of a bicycle-wide system of aerodynamics that includes tires, rims, fork, and frame. This system began with Computational Fluid Dynamics software, proceeded through no fewer than two rounds of wind tunnel testing, and ate up hundreds of test models to produce the Knight 35 alone.
The result of the laborious TEAM Tech process is a cross-section that describes a tapered parabola rather than the sharp point of a NACA airfoil or the overly-rounded "U" shape of wheels that are dominating the market today — and that Knight's founders were instrumental in creating. This new shape meets TEAM Tech's mandate by gradually widening airflow across the rim, which swells from the 25.5mm brake track up to 28mm at the widest point before tapering into the spoke face. This creates a gradually widening air flow from tire to rim to down tube in order to minimize the drag caused by pockets of stalled air in the wake of the bicycle system's separate components.
Since the wheels are designed for aerodynamics in the real world instead of the virtual space of CFD software or the sterility of a wind tunnel, the rims are built to manage airflow across virtually all of the most common yaw angles we encounter in the saddle, maxing out at a claimed savings of almost 200 grams of drag force compared to a standard box clincher. As with the heavier, more expensive competitive, the Knight 35 also remains stable in wide yaw angles. Like all deep rims, they do react to cross winds, but their rounded cross section means the response is predictable and correction is relatively intuitive under changing conditions.
Knight lays-up Toray's aerospace-grade carbon fiber around an EPS mold and inflatable bladder, which is then cured with incrementally increased heat and pressure for reliable, precise construction. The wheels are then subjected to testing of 12 different protocols — ranging from brake track failure to durability under impact — that exceed the CEN standards for safety, ensuring that neither wind nor fast descent nor pothole will throw you off your game.