"We're in this because we love cycling, because we have faith in the people we work with and a passion for innovation," responds Bend resident Beverly Lucas when asked why she wanted to start Knight Composites, a world-class cycle wheel company in an industry already saturated with cycling companies producing products and components.
That enthusiasm has been contagious, and has provided the nucleus for a bustling company.
Mike Fusaro, Knight Composites' sales manager adds, "The first time I saw the wheels I basically begged to be a part of the company."
Same goes for Scott Wolfe, Knight Composites' product designer, who after leaving the industry to become an EMT was lured back into the world of cycle wheels when he found out about Knight Composites. "I enjoyed being a paramedic but I love wheels. And nobody is doing what [Knight Composites] is doing right now," says Wolfe.
Knight Composites, endearingly named after Lucas' father, has been around for just about a year, and although nascent, it is quickly becoming a leader in an industry that is experiencing a wave of innovation. The proliferation of carbon fiber composites as a viable material for wheel construction and advancements in computer modeling (Computational Fluid Dynamics) has allowed Knight Composites to set new standards in terms of rim construction quality, performance, and safety.
"After starting my career in the golf industry and then co-founding Reynolds Composites, I saw the innovations carbon could bring. And we would never have started this company had we not been able to bring something new to the table," says Jim Pfeil, the company's co-founder.
So what is it about Knight Composites? Clearly the combined 30-plus years of industry experience of co-founders Lucas and Pfeil, and the exuberant passion for cycling by all those now involved in the company, have helped Knight Composites move to the forefront of cycle wheel construction and performance. Specifically it is the emphasis on Trailing Edge Aerodynamic Manipulation Technology (TEAM tech) and the use of aerospace-grade Toray carbon fiber that sets Knight apart from its competitors. With the help of Mechanical Engineer Kevin Quan, Knight's wheel designs treat the wheel as part of a system rather than an isolated component and have managed to create what any cyclist wants, a wheel that lets them move faster yet use less energy.
"Knight Wheels are fantastic. They offer great performance for racing; fast, light, aerodynamic, and easy to accelerate, but also amazingly safe," says Bend local and Grand Tour winner Chris Horner.
With distribution spanning across the globe, Knight is quickly becoming an international company. But luckily for the Bend community, the company's roots run deep and they have no plans of leaving. "Bend is the common thread in our company and we want to use our love for cycling as an opportunity to globalize Bend," says Lucas.