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Carbon Offset: Mad Fiber Wheels

  • By Aaron Hersh
  • Published Dec 29, 2011
  • Updated Dec 29, 2011 at 1:04 PM UTC

Photo: Nils Nilsen

Instead of building carbon wheels by integrating traditional wheel structure, Mad Fiber created a process specifically for carbon components. The result is a unique wheel structure that truly rides and races differently than typical aero wheels with carbon rims.

Ride

Mad Fiber’s feathery weight (1085g) and ample stiffness give the wheels a kick of acceleration that is noticeably stronger than many wheels of similar depth. Although quick acceleration may not shave minutes off your bike leg, it makes the wheels a blast to ride. The broad spokes might look vertically stiff, but they are surprisingly smooth.

Strength

Although the bonded carbon-on-carbon structure appears brittle, Mad Fiber President Ric Hjertberg says the wheels utilize technology from the aerospace industry to “transfer force from one place to another in the most graceful way.” Unlike many all-carbon wheels, Mad Fiber wheels don’t have a rider weight limit—and they’ve never had a structural failure.

Aerodynamics

Hjertberg readily admits that aerodynamic performance was not his first concern: “We have too much respect for people who have made wheel aerodynamics their life’s work. To try to match them right out of the box, we just can’t do it.” Instead, Mad Fiber designed its wheels to maximize ride quality.

The Clincher

Mad Fiber is producing a tubeless clincher version with the same shape. The only difference on the clincher is the aluminum tire bed inserted between the carbon brake walls. This unique construction gives it three unusual ride attributes:
• It gains only 165 grams compared to the tubular version. Zipp’s 404 gains 279 grams to go from tubular to clincher.
• Tubeless construction helps the wheel avoid pinch flats and punctures. Very few deep-section wheels are tubeless-compatible.
• Overheating is one of the major challenges of constructing a carbon clincher, but the metal insert sandwiched between carbon brake walls changes that.

$2,899 with steel bearings, Madfiber.com

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Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh

Aaron Hersh is the Senior Tech Editor of Triathlete magazine. To submit a question, write Aaron at Ahersh@competitorgroup.com.

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