Recently I had the opportunity to take a tour of the Reynolds wheels facility in Salt Lake City Utah. While not quite as well know as other wheel manufactures, Reynolds makes some of the lightest and strongest carbon wheels on the market. Rather than make race light race day only products, their intent is to make durable wheelsets that the athlete can use everyday which just so happen to be very light and very stiff. I was able to take a few photos, but much of the manufacturing process is proprietary and I was not allowed to take pictures in those areas.
While many manufacturers talk about the weight of their product, not too many discuss the stiffness. All wheels flex a bit but too much flex can absorb pedaling energy and reduce overall speed. The Reynolds carbons rims are built so well that each spoke can withstand a force of 500 lb without pulling through the rim. This allows the rims to be built up with higher spoke tension and therefore a stiffer wheelset.
Below is a photo of Jonathan Geran (Reynolds Sales Manager) and the machine in the background pre-stresses every wheel build so that spoke tension is even. Most other carbon wheels fail when put on this machine as they are not build strong enough to handle the tension.
Carbon is just about everywhere in the facility and here is a photo of a cutting table as well as a huge pressure chamber. The chamber is use to remove air and heat the carbon products during the production process.
In addition to wheelsets Reynolds make carbon sailboat/windsurfing masts, parts for NASCAR safety devices (pictured below), and some products for the defense industry (which I was not allowed to see).
Thanks to the guys at Reynolds!