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FORGE+BOND Introduces A Sustainable Approach To Carbon MTB Wheels

Mitch Ropelato pushes the new recyclable wheels in the most fitting of places. | FORGE+BOND photo.

Making bikes and bike parts out of plastic hasn’t exactly been the most environmentally-friendly thing the cycling industry has done. But, as we’ve seen in the snowsports world in recent years, manufacturers of bikes and components have put on their sustainability hats and are coming up with innovative new solutions to making stuff that not only lasts, but isn’t going to cause huge problems when it’s time for a replacement. A new brand just popped up out of Gunnison, Utah - they’re called FORGE+BOND, and they’re focusing on manufacturing and creating a sustainable supply chain for carbon fiber mountain bike and gravel wheels. Their US-made products are not only performance-oriented but from the get-go were designed to be recycled and reprocessed in any number of ways. According to FORGE+BOND, the material can be made and remade forever, with the net goal of wasting nothing. The brand is going to market with both the beefy F+B 30 EM enduro/gravity wheelset and their lightweight F+B 25 GR gravel hoops.

Carbon fiber technology on bikes isn’t anything new, but a few brands have been experimenting with new ways to actually manufacture the stuff recently. Traditionally, carbon fiber material manufacturing has been pretty simple: take a sheet of carbon fibers, shape it and overlay it in a way to optimize strength and weight, pour a bunch of toxic plastic resin over the fibers so they bond and hold their shape, and finally press it all into a mold. This works fine, but there tends to be a serious amount of excess material that needs to be trimmed after the piece comes out of the mold, and typically ends up in a landfill. That trimming also releases carbon dust into the air, which needs to be collected, and the epoxy resin itself is generally not the healthiest thing in the world. On top of that, the heat, cold and pressure that needs to be generated to complete this process uses up a serious amount of electricity.

A FORGE+BOND rim during manufacturing. | FORGE+BOND photo.

FORGE+BOND looked at the entire carbon-fiber production process from a sustainability viewpoint and decided to make some radical changes. That included eliminating using toxic resin, and using a new thermoplastic material they are calling FUSIONFIBER.

Unlike traditional pre-preg carbon fiber, the new material does not need to be cut from a roll or shaped by hand. F+B instead uses a fully automated cutting, layup, and shaping process, which allows a computer to calculate the exact amount of material needed to create the product. Once cut and shaped, F+B’s rapid curing process further reduces production time and energy usage. The rims also forego any sanding, deburring, or painting - instead, they are finished with vinyl decals and powder coating. The lack of painting and sanding eliminates carbon dust and volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. The lack of adding extra material like paint is what also makes the rims 100 percent recyclable, because the rim is made of just that - FUSIONFIBER. Finally, manufacturing and shipping from Utah reduces transit time and therefore the product’s carbon footprint.

We haven’t had the opportunity to take the new wheels out on trail yet, and look forward to doing so as our trails dry up. The $2500 F+B 30 EM Enduro wheelset come in 28 and 32h options, with a 30mm internal rim width. FORGE+BOND claims a weight of 1884g for the 28h wheelset (500g for the rim), and 1982g for the 32h wheelset, built around Industry 9 Hydra hubs. They are designed to fit 2.4"-2.6" tires and have a 4mm bead wall thickness. The rims are tested to 275 percent of the UCI standard for impact resistance and the flex properties allowed by the FUSIONFIBER nylon material provides a claimed 50 percent or greater increase in damping while maintaining lateral stability - all the properties we like in carbon wheels. It is promising to see brands looking to actually disrupt the industry and bring about some sustainability-focused change - all while make products that should perform just as well, if not better than ever before.

About The Author

stash member Max Ritter

I manage digital content here at TGR, run our gear testing program, and am stoked to be living the dream in the Tetons.