Composites are in the blood of Revel Bikes. So is sustainability. Now, Revel is combining these two aspects into their new Fusion-Fiber wheels.
The new Revel Wheels are made in the US and are said to be 100% recyclable. And, although Fusion-Fiber might be just another gimmicky-sounding name, the science behind the material distinguishes it from carbon fiber wheels.
For a bit of background: Last year, Revel launched their brand based on the idea of using the Canfield Balance Formula (CBF) suspension on a lighter carbon fiber frame — two carbon fiber frames to be specific. Revel Bikes is a direct-to-consumer brand, so when customers shop directly from the Revel website, instead of packing the bikes in a big ol’ cardboard box that might end up in a landfill, Revel ships their bikes in an Evoc bag and customers can either buy the bag, or ship it back to Revel.
Revel Bikes founder Adam Miller met Joe Stanish, the chief operating officer of CSS Composites in Ogden, Utah ten years ago on a ride. At the time, Stanish was the vice president of operations at ENVE Composites and Miller was working for another bike brand in Ogden. Over time the two developed a friendship and eventually a partnership.
Last year, shortly after Revel launched, Stanish talked with the group about an idea he had. CSS was developing a new composite material that was supposedly stronger, lighter, more cost effective, and made in the US, and they wanted to partner with Revel. What grabbed Miller’s attention was the fact that the material was 100% recyclable, unlike other carbon fibers.
Traditional carbon fiber is made with polymer resins that usually must be stripped from the fibers in order for the material to be recycled or reused in a different manner. The process of stripping the polymer is difficult and time consuming. There is also typically a lot of waste during production.
The raw Fusion-Fiber material is a mix of unidirectional, long fiber German and Japanese carbon impregnated with the polymer. In its raw form, Revel says that the material is completely stable, has an unlimited shelf life, and doesn’t need to be stored in a refrigerated room like traditional carbon fiber. “Think nylon, but on a whole new level,” says Revel.
During manufacturing, the rims are laid-up and cross-plied robotically for consistency, and they are then flash-welded together. Cure times are cut down from about 45-minutes for a standard carbon rim to 20 seconds with the new system.
When the rim comes out of the mold, there is no epoxy resin that needs to be finished and the material doesn’t need a clear coat, saving workers and the environment from health hazards.
Revel says that Fusion-Fiber has multiple patents pending, and has much better impact resistance than standard carbon fiber. The nylon used is said to be more flexible and provides a more damped ride feel.
The brand is confident that they have a decent rim on their hands. The Revel RW30 has a lifetime warranty and crash replacement policy. If something does break, then they will send a loaner set until the issue is resolved. With broken rims, buyers can send them back to be recycled. Revel also says that it’s more likely that in a bad impact, just a small part of the rim will fail, and it is less likely to spread to a larger crack forcing the tire off of the rim.
“We have a pretty big pile of rims from our development process that we have already recycled and turned into parts.”
For the recycling process, the rim gets its decals removed, and it is then dropped into a chipper which cuts it into pieces about a square inch in size. Then, they can be melted down and used for something else.
As far as the wheels go, Revel is making the RW30s in a 27.5- and a 29-inch diameter with a 30mm internal width, for general trail and enduro use. The rims weigh 440/470g for the 27.5/29-inch sizes, and they are coming with Industry Nine hubs and Sapim D-light spokes. The rims retail for $700 each and come in either 28H or 32H and configurations. Complete wheels range from $1,075 – $2,200 depending on the hub option. They will also be available as an option on Revel Bike builds.
For more info, visit the Revel website.