Words By: Liam Woods
At this point in the mountain bike world, there is certainly no shortage of options for carbon mountain bike rims. The crew over at Revel Bikes just launched a new carbon-like rim called the RW30. That's right, it's not your traditional carbon fiber, the material is called Fusion-Fiber™. Let me explain. Until now, carbon wheels and just about all carbon bike parts were made of pre-preg carbon fiber with epoxy and then hand laid into a rim mold. The epoxy component is what not only makes the process harmful to workers but also makes it nearly impossible to recycle once the life of the carbon part is over. Revel Bikes’ manufacturing partner, CSS Composites, has managed to create a new material that removes all epoxy from the carbon and now uses an advanced polymer instead. Think nylon but on an entirely new level. In this manufacturing process, there are some clear improvements that come from making these wheels in the USA. These wheels offer amazing performance and the environmental improvements over other carbon rim options are undeniable.
This new manufacturing process has a few major benefits over traditional carbon rims. From a performance standpoint, the Fusion-Fiber™ material has a strength to weight ratio better than traditional carbon fiber. Because of this, Revel has been able to make an equally, if not stronger, rim than competitors while coming in quite a bit lighter than most. It's certainly one of the lightest 29mm internal carbon rims on the market; it's only 470g for a 29” carbon rim. Compare that to an Enve M730 with the rim strip, which weighs about 110g more at 580g. While in testing, Revel was able to retain as much strength as any comparable wheel. Although these rims are very strong, when smashed hard it's possible you will be able to crack one. Once cracked, however, the Fusion-Fiber™ is less likely to have a catastrophic failure and you could possibly continue to finish the ride.
These rims are also fully recyclable. Yes, if you were unaware, normal carbon made products are quite hard to recycle, especially once they reach the end of their life. Fusion-Fiber™ is completely recyclable and if you manage to break a rim Revel will take the broken rim back, melt it down and re-purpose the material to make another part. New parts are in the works right now to be added to Revel Bikes’ lineup but they did say some of the Fusion-Fiber™ test rims have already become a few tire levers, which makes those the nicest and lightest tire levers around. I think this is a really cool feature that Revel has been able to make a reality. It's one small step toward a better environmental impact a bike brand can have. We hope this will make other brands think about their processes as well. Maybe in the future carbon handlebars, cranks and even frames could be made from recyclable material like Fusion-Fiber™.
Of course, there is a lifetime warranty on the RW30 rim. If you do manage to break a rim, Revel will get you rolling ASAP with amazing customer support. If a rim is broken, Revel will send out a loaner rim while you ship your wheel back, it gets rebuilt and then you get the rebuilt wheel back for more riding and abuse. Then that broken rim is recycled and repurposed.
Another improvement over traditional carbon fiber rim manufacturing is the time it takes to make one carbon rim, from prep work to finished work. The material is laid up and cross plied by a robot, taking out any room for human error creating a very consistent final product. Fusion-Fiber™ cuts down on the manufacturing process from an average of 45 minutes in the thermoset down to under one minute. Once pulled from the mold, there is no finish work needed on the rim, nor cleaning, scraping and polishing the mold. Less time running machines at a high temperature not only makes this new process more efficient but it's also another small step toward environmental improvements.
The Revel RW30 rims are available as a rim only for $700, as well as two wheelset options using Industry Nine hubs. The RW30 laced to the Industry Nine 1/1 hub is $1975 and the Industry Nine Hydra hub option is $2200.
Revel was able to get us a wheelset to test before the launch and we were able to get some rides on them to see just how this new material performs. Right away, when getting after it on the first climb I noticed how responsive the wheels were. At over 100g lighter than many of the comparable 29mm internal rims, that is a decent amount of rotating weight to shave off. The RW30 wheels spin up fast and hold good speed while climbing, which isn't something all 30mm-ish internal rims can do.
Then once getting to hit some downhills is when you can really feel the RW30’s performance. They do ride how you expect carbon wheels to, from their stiffness to their precise ability to choose a line. I'd say the best way to describe them is damped and quiet. While most carbon wheels are stiff and don’t have much flex, they also tend to be loud. There are lots of “pings” and deflecting from the terrain when rim smashing some rocks. The Revel RW30 rims did not have that kind of reaction when smashing rock gardens. They remained quiet and overall feel more damped than other carbon rims I've spent time on. This is due to the change from epoxy to the nylon style material. Epoxy is brittle and therefore becomes loud under impact. The nylon takes impacts better and has slightly more flex than epoxy-made rims. As a whole, I really liked my few rides on the Revel rims. The weight and quiet ride are some top highlights of these wheels.
Revel Bikes has entered the rim world with an innovative new product that changes what can be done with carbon rims and hopefully will pave the path for other products as well. With a new material called Fusion-Fiber™, Revel Bikes made the RW30 rim with many benefits over any other competitors’ carbon rim option. With highlights like being 100% recyclable, a higher strength to weight ratio making a lighter rim that remains just as strong or stronger, and a great ride quality that not only helps damp the ride but also makes it quieter. There is also the lifetime warranty and Revel Bike’s customer support, all while being made in the USA. While only about a year old, Revel Bikes has already produced two great bike models and now they're bringing to market a new and improved way of making carbon fiber rims. We love to see this type of innovation in the bike industry and are excited to see Revel as a brand pushing the envelope.
This article was written / authored by Liam Woods. Liam has been in the bicycle industry for over 10 years as a racer, professional mechanic, service manager and as of late, media and content creator. Liam has ridden thousands of different bikes, ridden countless components, tested endless MTB apparel of all kinds and written reviews on it all. He's a key piece to the Worldwide Cyclery "All Things MTB" content creation puzzle. He also makes consistent appearances on the Worldwide Cyclery YouTube channel and Instagram.