The Knight 65 Carbon Fibre clinchers offer very good stiffness, but their real skill is in cutting through the air at high speeds and feeling stable with it.
We have to start every aero product reviews with the same caveat as other cycling media: we don't have a wind tunnel. In that respect we can only report the manufacturers' wind tunnel claims, and Knight says that the 65 carbon fibre clincher outperforms the Zipp 404, Mavic CXR60 and Enve 6 (across yaw angles from 0° to 20°, 2.5° increments, at 25mph, front wheel only).
Knight says that the difference between the 65s and its competition is greatest at higher yaw angles. Go to Knight's website to check out the claims in full. Of course, the other manufacturers might well dispute these findings.
It's worth pointing out that the Knight 65s – the 65 referring to the rim depth in millimetres – are 7mm deeper than Zipp 404s, so you might expect more aero efficiency there.
Out in the real world, these wheels – Knight's own rims laced to DT Swiss 240 hubs – have a whole lot going for them. Okay, at 65mm deep they're never going to be particularly light, our pair coming in at 1,680g (including rim strips and skewers), but that's not unusual. For comparison, Zipp's 404s are a claimed 1,505g (you also need to factor in the weight of the rim strips and skewers) and Bontrager's 70mm-deep Aeolus 7s are a claimed 1,610g.
If you're swapping from a super-light shallow-rimmed set of wheels you might not be blown away by the Knight 65s' acceleration, but it's on a level with other wheels of this type, and the same goes for climbing: good, but not spectacular.
It's when you fire the Knight 65s up to speed that things get impressive. I have a few routes that I ride regularly as personal time trials for reviewing bikes and kit – rolling rather than hilly – and I've used these wheels to help achieve consistently fast times over several weeks and in a wide variety of conditions. I measure power every ride and my view is that these wheels are offering impressive speeds for the wattage I'm putting out. It's unscientific and highly anecdotal, so take it or leave it, but this is my experience.
Knight reckons that the speed is largely down to the fact that it concentrates on 'trailing edge aerodynamic manipulation'. What's that? Well, you have the section of the wheel that first hits the air – the tyre-leading edge – and then you have the trailing edge, at the back of the wheel, where the rim hits the air first. Knight says that its parabola rim profile "offers a gradual widening of airflow around the trailing edge, which produces less disturbance over the down tube and frame".
Putting speed to one side, the other thing you notice when riding the Knight 65s is that they're usually very stable in crosswinds. I have a section of road on the edge of Salisbury Plain where I always take deep-section wheels during reviewing – a slight downhill that goes on for a couple of miles, where the wind nearly always comes from the side. Taking the 65s there I found that, yes, a strong gust might put a bit of pressure on the steering, but not nearly as much as you might think – not much more than you'd expect with wheels of half the depth, and not enough to cause any handling issues in the vast majority of circumstances.
I found the Knight 65s to be pretty stiff wheels. I set the brake pads close to the rims and had to throw the bike about in an exaggerated comedy fashion before I experienced any brake rub.
When it comes to braking, the Knight 65s perform like most other carbon-rimmed wheels out there in that you don't get the same bite that you do with aluminium, but you adjust to that to an extent. Wet weather braking isn't amazing but, again, that's carbon fibre for you.
The road.cc vernier callipers say that the Knight 65s are 28mm across at the brake track, providing a wide seat for your tyres. I've been running them with 25mm Continental Grand Prix 4000s and that combo has provided good, sure-footed handling.
As I mentioned, Knight makes its own rims but not the other components. The hubs are from DT Swiss, the spokes are from Sapim (20 front, 24 rear) and the nipples (which are hidden away internally so they're not particularly easy to access if the wheel goes out of true) are from Pillar. All high-quality stuff.
The DT Swiss 240 hubs used here have a great reputation, but if you want to save weight you can get the same rims on DT Swiss 180 hubs with ceramic bearings. You'll save about 36g, but the wheelset will cost you £2,198.
We had the Shimano/SRAM freehub version, but both the 180 and the 240 versions of the Knight 65s are available in Campagnolo options (same prices). After several weeks of testing there are marks on the freehub body caused by the sprockets, but nothing alarming.
Aero wheels that come into their own at high speeds and provide good stability
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Make and model: Knight 65 Wheelset
Size tested: Black
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Knight says that the 65s will "enhance your performance on flatter road races and crits, as well as technical or windy triathlon courses".
That tells you what these wheels are designed for, and I'd agree that this sums up where they'll perform best.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Knight says that its wheels are designed with Trailing Edge Aerodynamic Manipulation in mind. What doe that mean?
"TEAM Tech focuses on the trailing edge of the rim, specifically how it affects the air as it flows from the rim, to the yire and onto the down tube and rest of the frame. Our TEAM Tech shaping is designed to maximize the airflow attachment around the down tube and then the rear triangle.
"As our engineering team continued through the design process, they moved on to defining the shape. After running numerous shape options through Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and several wind tunnels, they determined that a parabolic shape offered the most aerodynamic benefit. Starting with a NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, now NASA) airfoil-based shape, the engineers reworked it by manipulating the arc and elongated the shape.
"The result is a propriety shape that:
* Eliminates flaws in more common 'V' and 'U' shaped frames
* Offers a gradual widening of airflow around the trailing edge, which produces less disturbance over the down tube and frame
* Provides the optimal curve in rim for best air trajectory around tyre/interface"
Very well-made wheels using high-level components.
The sprockets have eaten a little into splines on the freehub body after a couple of months of use, but not much. Everything else is almost as good as new.
These wheels are built for aerodynamic efficiency rather than a light weight. They're a fairly typical weight for wheels of this type and depth.
Wheels do have an effect on comfort, of course, but tyres have a much bigger effect. The fact that these wheels are wide enough to seat a 25mm tyre very well is the important factor here.
Value is never an easy one, but although £1,600 is a whole lot of money to shell out on a pair of wheels, of course, check out the price of Zipp 404s! These seem cheap in comparison.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
They performed very well, coming into their own on faster sections of road.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Their performance at speed. I also like the DT Swiss 240 hubs. The stealth graphics are cool too.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
I hope the wear to the freehub doesn't develop into anything worse. The hidden nipples mean that any little tweaks will involve taking off the tyre and rim tape.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? I would.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your score
The Knight 65 wheelset puts in a high level of performance and comes at a decent price compared with most of the opposition.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.