Graphene is a modern technology wonder, said to be 200 times stronger than steel and yet extremely flexible and lightweight. Vittoria began experimenting with Graphene as a resin additive and found, “Graphene-enhanced composites have 10~30% improved material properties.” Among those improved material properties, the company found the additive made wheels more laterally stiff and that spoke hole strength was increased, which could lead to additional weight savings down the road.
To get a sense of how weird of an idea adding Graphene to carbon resin is, consider concrete. In concrete construction, steel rebar is placed, often in a grid, and concrete is poured around it and allowed to cure. Carbon fiber construction happens in much the same way: carbon fibers (the rebar) are woven together, and liquid resin is poured around the fibers and allowed to cure.
Keeping with the concrete analogy, adding Graphene to resin is like adding flakes of steel to concrete before it’s poured in place. As far as I can tell, this just isn’t done when it comes to concrete (for a number of reasons), but so far it seems this out-of-the-box thinking has paid off for Vittoria. Will we see Graphene-infused carbon fiber bike frames in the future? Perhaps. In the meantime, Vittoria is even sprinkling this “magic dust” into some of their tire compounds as well.
The first Vittoria MTB wheelset to receive the Graphene treatment is the company’s Race 29 wheelset, which unfortunately is not widely available in the USA right now. As one would expect, these wheels are lightweight–just 1552g–though they aren’t yet the lightest 29er wheels on the market. The Vittoria Race 29 wheels are also unique in that they’re compatible with tubular tires (not to be confused with non-tubeless or “tubed” tires). Vittoria offers tubular versions of both their Saguaro and Peyote tires in tubular format to work with this wheelset.
Deamion Plus Wheelset
The latest Deamion Plus, alloy all-mountain wheelset was also on display at Sea Otter last week, sporting some interesting features. For one, the Deamion rims utilize what Vittoria calls “Speedlock,” which is basically an asymmetrical rim bed that’s said to make mounting tubeless tires easier while also keeping the bead more secure. Of course the rims are also asymmetrical too, for added stiffness and stability. The Plus version of the Deamion rim measures 35mm internally.
Vittoria also uses their versatile off-road hub system in the Deamion Plus wheels, offering compatibility with most axle sizes and spacing standards. The hubs are convertible to run either 6-bolt or Shimano Center-Lock rotors.