Lets be honest, we are a patriotic bunch here at [R]evolution Magazine and when we can, we like to ride the local variety, it just tastes better! We caught wind of something pretty exciting coming out of Adelaide a few years ago and have been following it intently since then. Now that Bouwmeester Composites (BC) have launched their wheelset to the masses, we thought it would be timely to check in and get a bit more information on one of the most promising Aussie manufacturers going!
It all started a few years ago when Mello Bouwmeester, who lends his surname to the company (which happens to mean master builder in Dutch) saw an opportunity to develop a better product for the carbon wheel market at a time when there were limited options, at a high cost and of questionable quality, at best. After being awarded a government grant for advanced manufacturing, BC teamed up with Luescher Teknik and the design process began.
We know what you are thinking, how exactly does one go about creating a carbon wheelset? This is not the stuff of backyard tinkerers! Fortunately with a 15 year background in the bike manufacturing industry, Mello had the know how and contacts to get the job done. The results speak for themselves, more about that in a second.
Initially starting off with the intention of entering the downhill market, they soon realised the technology they were developing would best be maximised in the enduro/trail riding scene and the emphasis for the first wheels was put on the 650B sizing. This path took them down 2 years of research and development with 100s of hours spent designing, testing and perfecting. This was done in a variety of ways including rider input, if you look closely you will find BC rims on Dave West and Kaine Cannans’ bikes at enduro races across the country. Testament to their ongoing development, feedback comes from the toughest situations. If these riders, at the top of their game can’t fault them, it says a lot for the process taken to ensure the final product is top of the heap bar none.
Let’s break it down and have a look at some of the specifications of the Tammar v4.8 rim. The first thing you notice with the rim is the width. It’s wide! The reason? The “wide platform rim and hookless bead correctly support tyre profile for handling and performance”, it is easier to see how the tyre looks squarer on the rim and the benefits of having more tread on the ground are obvious. Interestingly enough it also allows for lower tyre pressure which further increases grip. If you have seen some of the big manufacturers 2016 offerings then you will know that wide is the new 650B. It is only going to get more popular as riders realise the benefits.
If you look closely at the cross section of the rim profile, you will notice it is solid. Mello explained, this mirrors motocross rims and went onto further explain how this benefits the strength of the rim. We are not engineers, but sitting back and thinking about a solid profile, common sense would indicate it does make sense to be stronger.
It is worth pointing out that rims have different lay ups for the front versus the back, all part of tuning, optimising the ride characteristics and increasing impact strength in the rear.
Mello explained how they tuned the ‘compliance’ within the carbon ensuring performance but also comfort. Furthermore, each rim itself is asymmetric resulting in even spoke tension. If you have a look at the spoke/nipple interface on the rims you see another detail which really shows the bespoke nature of these rims. The nipple mounds are machined into the mould tool so they are angled perfectly between the rim and the hub. Instead of moulding in the spoke hole itself, BC drill out the rim so that there are no irregularities around the spoke hole caused by a build-up of resin. To give some indication of the strength of this approach there is no maximum spoke tension that can be applied to the rim!
The rims themselves are available as a complete wheelset only, built onto excellent DT Swiss hubs (or Chris King upgrade), the decision to sell the rims as a wheelset only means BC have complete quality control of the whole finished product. They weigh in at 1,780 grams and whilst not heavy, Mello points out they could have been built lighter a wheel but they know the majority of riders aren’t top level races and would prefer longevity over a few gram weight decreases here or there. At $2,999 AUD considering the quality of product you are getting, this is really a bargain.
We took a wheelset for a quick test ride and straight away the rims felt different to anything we had previously ridden. Once we have had a set for a long term test we will tell you more but initial impressions revealed a smoother ride and oodles of grip, partly due to the width and partly due to the lower pressure we could run. It was obvious that the features talked about translate across from paper out into the real world and onto the trails!
It has been great to see BC evolve Australian innovation and manufacturing over the past years and now that you, the rider, can get your hands on a pair, you too can benefit from this evolution. The cat’s out of the bag, but good luck trying to catch it if it has a set of these wheels on its bike!