Tech Update: Ric Hjertberg launches Mad Fiber carbon fiber wheelset
Ric Hjertberg and his new company Mad Fiber is bringing out a wild-looking carbon wheelset with a claimed weight of just 1085 grams and aerodynamics claimed to be on par with the best in the industry.
If Hjertberg’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s been associated with wheelbuilding, since founding Wheelsmith Fabrications in 1980. Now, a few years after ending his stint as New Technology Manager with Full Speed Ahead, he’s back on the scene with the new venture.
Hjertberg said he set out to make a wheel light enough for the steepest climbs, aero enough for the worst crosswinds, and durable enough for riders of every build.
Hjertberg points to several distinct aspects of the new wheel:
• Instead of building the carbon rim to mimic the shape and properties of an extruded aluminum rim, Mad Fiber builds the rim by joining three separately constructed pieces (two sidewalls and the tire seat). Hjertberg says it’s lighter and stronger this way.
• Instead of drilling the rim to accommodate metal spokes, Mad Fiber bonds wide carbon spokes to both the rim walls and hub flanges. Again, this preserves the integrity of the rim and makes it stronger at a lower weight.
•To tension the wheel, the carbon spokes are assembled to length and fixed to the flanges at the hub center. Then a fixture precisely moves the flanges to their correct position on the hub shell before they’re affixed in place. Spreading the flanges with the spokes already attached to both the flanges and rim creates spoke tension.
The wheels are handmade in Seattle and carry no rider weight restrictions.
The company says they meet and exceed multiple fatigue and durability tests, including DIN and CEN standardized tests plus a battery of tests of their own invention. They carry a four-year warranty and crash replacement program. The titanium freehub body is made by White Industries and sports three-pawl/24-tooth engagement and a 15mm chromoly axle.
The wheels will be available this summer. They will retail for $2600, and ship with lightweight quick release skewers, cork brake pads, wheel bags, and valve extenders.