Rodin and the world’s first 3D-printed wheels

May 8, 2014

US-made 1,700g 5-spoke 26in wheelset for £235?

Wait- is that an e-bike?
One of these wheels is not like the other

While the company’s press release makes much of their prototypes having been 3D-printed using Fused Deposition Modeling and hand-finished to the tune of $3,000 apiece, it looks as though Rodin’s wheels will be built in a more conventional manner.  Apparently being put forth as proof-of-capability exercise for Fastcore, LLC’s Rapid Structural Replication technique, production wheels will be injection moulded from an unspecified material.  Dating from the late 1990s, Fastcore’s lost-core technology claims to speed injection moulding, reducing cycle times while allowing for the economical production of complex hollow structures. 

Mags are timeless
Mags are timeless

A descendant of the Spin wheels that were raced through the 90’s, ridden by stuntman Hans Rey in Pacific Blue, seen (on a wheelchair) in the film Avatar, and are “featured in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York,”  Rodin wheels are being offered in 26in only – yes, you read that right – and have a target weight of 1,700-1,900g.  Best of all, Kickstarter pricing is under $400 (£235), and target retail prices still reasonable at $600 (£355) per set.

CNC-machined hubs (thru axles optional)
CNC-machined hubs that look strikingly similar to those Hadley made for Spin

Doing away with Spin’s aluminium brake track simplifies construction and has allowed Rodin to design an outer profile that they claim is extremely resistant to pinch flats.  The hubs’ source isn’t mentioned- but those pictured look an awful lot like those that boutique hub makers Hadley made for Spin.

It’s almost too easy to poke fun at yet another Kickstarter project or another set of fantastic-looking wheels.  (In fact, that was kind of the plan.)  The choice of 26in wheels, availability of quick release axles, and the discussion of tubes and pinch flats (rather than emphasizing what could easily be a tubeless-native design) suggests that the Rodin crew may not quite have their finger on the pulse of the bike industry.

Rodin Wheel 1Which is fine, really.  Fastflow’s 3Drsr technology is already being used to successfully build aftermarket intake manifolds for diesel trucks and the wheels’ target price is surprisingly low. If Rodin can bring their wheels in under 1,800g, ensure decent durability and tubeless compatibility, and maybe even offer a 27.5 model, they are sure to find takers.

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