Knight Composites builds National-championship winning wheels, and sponsored athlete Katie Compton has relied on the company’s tubular models to win her last two National Championships. Compton will also be running the tubeless clinchers we are looking at today when she races the Tour of California that begins next week.
The company also builds tubeless models aimed at the road, gravel, cyclocross and mountain bike crowd, and a few years back, we were impressed by the lightweight 29 Race wheelsets. The lightweight hoops spun up quickly, remained round and true and didn’t have us breaking tire levers to install tight tires.
At the time, we found: “Tire installation and removal is easier, tight tires like WTB’s TCS models actually fit, but setup with most tires is trickier and tire choice matters more.” With some tubeless cyclocross tires, it was a bit easier to finger burp than we would have liked, but tires eventually sealed up and held air.
The Bend, Oregon-based company has heard our and others’ feedback and worked to redesign its rim profile to maximize both tubeless reliability and ease of installation.
The new TLA (Tubeless Aero) rims boast several new features to accomplish this.
While the company retains the relatively deep center channel and bead barbs we saw on the 29 Race rim, the new external sidewalls of the TLA rim taper inwards at the top, making it easier to get the tire’s bead into rim. At the Sea Otter Classic, we could install the second bead of Schwalbe road tubeless tire without a tire lever.
Knight Composites also redesigned the internal profile of the rim. Teaming up with Schwalbe, Knight developed triangulated internal pocket for the tire’s bead.
The new profile is said to lock in a tubeless tire’s bead better than a square or rounded pocket and offer more sealing surface area. Depending on your perspective, the rim beads are hookless or offer big round hooks that extend all the way down to the rim bed.
The new TLA rims come in two depths—35mm and 50mm—in both rim and disc brake configurations. The 35mm rim is said to weigh 420g, while the 50mm deep rim tips the scales at 470g. This is a bit heavier than the shallow 29 Race rim naturally due to more material needed for the deeper profile and to resist the higher pressures of road tires.
All four are offered only in a 19.5mm internal width. This may not be wide by today’s standards for gravel, but it’s versatile for road, cyclocross and gravel use.
The company offers several hub options, including DT Swiss, Rotor and the USA-made Project 321 hubs that were on display at Sea Otter. The 321 hubs boast a 1.7 degree of engagement, low drag and low noise. (The company’s website does not currently display the Project 321 hubs as an option for the TLA wheelset.)
Knight’s Scott Wolfe had his Turner Cyclosys decked out with the new TLA wheels with Project 321 hubs.
The base price for the Knight 35 TLA Disc wheelset is $2,300, and they can be ordered with several different color decals. The Chris King hubs bump the price up by $200-300.
Stay tuned for a review of the Knight 35 TLA Disc with Project 321 hubs in the near future.
More info: knightcomposites.com
For more on new gravel and cyclocross wheelsets, see our coverage of Boyd Cycling’s Pinnacle wheelset.
See what’s new this year with our coverage of the 2018 Sea Otter trade show.