2013 07 18 November 069 Rail 52 carbon clincher (2)

A little while back, we came across November Bicycles’ latest project – the Rail52 carbon clincher. Thanks to a wealth of information and data provided by November’s Dave Kirkpatrick, the Rails promised to be extremely competitive – especially if the price was anywhere near their RFSC wheels. Just over 9 months later, November’s babies are here and it doesn’t look like the price will be holding them back.

Are Rail52s the new carbon clincher to beat? Find out more, next.

2013 07 18 November 069 Rail 52 carbon clincher (1)

The Rail52 marks November’s departure from open mold rims which left many wondering how the price of the new wheels would compare. At only a 14% increase of their RFSCs, the Rail52s are a steal at $1,285 especially when you consider the design and performance. Built with an 18mm internal and 25mm external width at the brake track, the wheels promise a smooth ride and better tire performance. The 52mm rim profile is based on NACA airfoils and Dave’s extensive experience designing boats and sails. The result is a wheel that has proven in the A2 wind tunnel to be on par with or surpass most of the competitors while keeping the rim height to 52mm. During testing, the Rail52 proved to be faster at all angle of attacks than any of November’s previous wheels, even their 85mm rim.

No details just yet, but we just found out that this bike is a prototype of November’s upcoming new road bike for 2014.

Braking has been improved as well with new high Tg resins that can withstand up to 350°f. Since the wheels ship out with the new SwissStop Black Prince brake pads, the 35% reduction in heat of the pads plus the new resin promises better modulation and stopping power.

Weight? The Rail52s have a claimed weight of 1525g (670g front / 855g rear) – but that also includes the 20/24h Sapim CX Ray spoking for durability. Many wheels like the Zipp 404s use fewer spokes for improved aerodynamics. If you can achieve better aerodynamics with more spokes and a minimal weight penalty, why not?


Rail52s will be built with November’s own hubs in red or black, with the option for White Industries T11, CX11, or PowerTap G3 hubs as upgrades. The wheels will be Shimano 9/10, 9/10/11, or Campy 9/10/11 compatible and are built to order by hand in the Mid-Atlantic with current build times around 2-3 weeks.


  1. Saw these at the Civil War Century, they look awesome with minimal logos. I think the guy worked for November, or maybe just had a hook-up there.

  2. November says there’ll likely be a tubular version in the future. The rim weigh is, according to November, coming at 500-520g.

  3. jose – yes, they’re made in asia like most bike parts, no, they’re not the same as the $350 wheels, they’re a proprietary design.

  4. Heard the first couple prototypes of these blew up..good design or not I don’t think their are enough manufacturing control for me to risk it.

  5. I JUST CAN’T TAKE IT……… Theses wheels are purchased from YISHUN BIKE, IT’S THE 50T
    CARBON CLINCHER WHEEL SET. This set is available for $612.00+ shipping with 2yr warranty. Don’t be fooled . Another want to be bike company branding another companies product as their own. SEE THE LINK BELOW


  6. HubsGuy, someone is yanking your chain. We put over 10K miles on the prototype rims from our pre-production pilot run before we shipped our first production set, and they’re all right as rain and still racking up miles. We also haven’t had a single warranty claim or crash replacement in all production Rails we have been building and shipping since they launched in June. You heard wrong.

  7. @ Nathan

    We get it. Stop spamming our comments or I will have to take further action. I just deleted 5 or 6 or your posts on this article ( some of which appeared to be partially duplicates) only to realize that you had already left 4 on this page.

    Thank You.


  8. Nathan,
    Sorry to disappoint but you are incorrect. In addition to being significantly dimensionally different from the wheels you posted, our rims have a unique mark molded right into them. Plus the fact that we own the mold they’re made in, designed them, had a 3D prototype made and wind tunnel tested, etc.
    Our wheels may not be for you, but they are only available through us.

  9. @Nathan; how do you know these are Yishun wheels? What makes you think they are the same? Most of these deep dish wheel look very similar. And which of the frames do you say is the same? I looked at the frames and they don’t look the same to me.

  10. @ November Mike

    What do you do at the end of the product’s lifecycle? Chuck ’em in a landfill?

    Get some HED Belgium, DT Swiss RR, or Ambrosio rims and lace ’em to the hubs that come with your groupset.

  11. Nathan, it’s not really something they hide. They even list the novatec hub part numbers on the site. There used to be a blurb about selecting the best asian materials, etc.. but it appears to be gone now. What they are offering is basically a tidy’d up version, with skewers and a bit more QC than you get on eBay, with a few options for various parts. Better? I don’t know. I do know that many builders out there are doing this type of thing now, and while they’re all using the same basic parts, it’s pretty much on you to decide if the build quality is worth the price difference. Most custom steel frame builders use the same tube sources, too. (most) You’re paying for skill in choosing which tubes to put where, and how to join them.

    I’ve put tubes together in the shape of a bike, and spokes and rims together in the shape of wheels. Would I pay this much? Nope, not at all. I can make something myself adequately comparable. Should anyone? Well, that depends. Do you feel skilled/patient enough to make em yourself? Then go for it! Do you feel skilled/patient enough to make a few hundred sets and put them under strangers? I don’t. Let these guys do their thing. Building things to sell from existing parts is pretty much the foundation of the bicycle industry, with very, very few exceptions and innovations.

  12. @Chris, what do you do with all the things you use in your daily life when they’ve reached the end of their lifecycle?

  13. Chris, just curious – what made you think these guys don’t recycle? I may have missed something here. Not trying to stir the pot at all, just curious as i am a recycle and non-waste person myself.

  14. The November web site has an extensive blog on the design of the Rail rim. It is a good read with some interesting design discussion and wind tunnel results.

    I would probably try a pair if I didn’t already have lots of wheels in the basement.

  15. You’re right, rico. I reread the article and somehow overlooked the part that talked about how Rad Johnny’s Planet-X November Fast Sticker Company USA, Inc. LLC’s engineers carefully considered the impact of their new product and weren’t just using pollutants crapped out of Chinese factories to make a quick buck. I don’t know how I missed it the first time.

  16. @November Dave/Mike, any plans for the EU market? If you could market them for around €1,200 they would have little or no competition.

  17. You can design, test in wind tunnel… but at the end they are all the same – bulky wide peace of carbon. Asian version is just cheaper.. x2

  18. @Chris, I was just asking because I honestly thought I was missing something. Wasn’t giving you a hard time. I actually never thought too much about what these bike companies do with waste and it is interesting for sure. So, good point!

  19. @WC: Zipps are made in Indianapolis. Enve’s are made in Utah. HED aluminum is made in Taiwan; not sure about their carbon.

    I’d say it is safe to assume that any labor intensive product sourced in China is being produced under the same or worse conditions than those that are found in the factory which assembled your iphone. Until proven otherwise.

  20. HED carbon is made in Minnesota just outside Minneapolis. Rims are asian sourced (but I dare you to find a more durable, versatile, alloy hoop). Go visit them is you get chance. I did. Very transparent people. Nothing to hide. Just love bikes.

    Good luck November Mike & Dave! Hard going up against the big names.

  21. @EU, Strada Handbuilt Wheels in the UK is our European distributor – they can build up a set of Rails to your specifications and ship to anywhere in the EU.

    @bikermark, our rims are manufactured under contract in Taiwan, not China.

    @Chris, you’re right that we don’t have a formal recycling program (though incorrect about any bucks being “quick” – we’ve been doing this since 2010 and it’s hardly a layup). When most bike components reach the end of their lifecycles they’re in customers’ hands, not the brands’. But you’re also right that it’s important and if you have thoughts on how to put a recycling program in place for our customers I’d like to speak with you. You can get in touch here: http://www.novemberbicycles.com/contact

  22. It’s a distinction lost on most but our rims are produced in Taiwan. The manufacturing environment there was developed along a much different axis than mainland China’s was, wages are much higher, and working conditions are consistently reported as quite good throughout.

    There’s precious little waste in a proper carbon production facility. Production of carbon itself and epoxy require energy, but aluminum production is also an absolute archetype of ‘heavy industry,’ so over the length of the supply chain it may not be too terribly different. I don’t know. Having witnessed a lot of aluminum get extruded and anodized, there’s tons of energy usage and waste there. Because quality carbon pre-preg materials are so expensive, shop floor waste is tiny. Pressure and heat induction in the molding process is very efficient as well. Carbon rim durability can be crazy long – for example I’ve become 100% convinced that carbon mtb rims are more cost efficient because they are simply more durable.

    If we want to live zero impact lives, nothing about fancy bikes makes sense. I’m happy to say that because of bikes my car use is probably in the bottom 2% of car owners, and as a healthy athlete there are a lot of ways in which I use many fewer resources than the next guy. Hopefully the same is true most of you.

  23. There is just something off about a bike company that from the start was based solely on importing and rebranding existing products. I haven’t quite pinned it down. Whether it’s profit over passion, or profit over proficiency, in the end I just don’t have any respect for it.

    Granted, this is just my opinion. Not everyone can be Richard Sachs. But who would want to be Walmart?

  24. @November Dave. I agree that Taiwan is a totally different situation than China. If components can’t be sourced in the first world, then Taiwan is as good a place as any, and way better than China. You might want to take parts of your answer and post the information on your website. It’s good value-added and might get you a few extra customers. As you can see from the discussion board there are a few people who care that their bike components are manufactured under humane conditions.

    Let’s not conflate being a healthy athlete with a low carbon footprint. Racing has a huge carbon footprint.

  25. So why make such (relatively) expensive hoops and ruin them with caliper brakes? I went to discs (on my cross bike) and never looked back. I’ve read November’s blog before and they are adamantly against disc brakes in cross. The road revolution is on hold for now ( hope Cookson changes that) but the cross revolution is here to stay.

  26. For those who are suspicious of November, I would like to give a customers perspective. I heard about November wheels from my friends who race. They were riding the wheels in Crist, road races and time trials. No issues. Then came word of the Rail project. I read the large amount of information posted up by the November team. The rails were prototypes, wind tunnel tested, built and road tested. I ordered a set with a Powertap hub. I have ridden these wheels hard for a lot if miles, including three centuries and a double century this summer. They have been up step inclines and have taken me safely down steep descents at speeds in excess of 50 mph. They are my ‘go to’ wheel. There has not been a single problem with the wheels. They are a great value for money paid and provide the benefits of wheels costing much more. The only thing you won’t get from these wheels is the admiring glance of someone who is familiar with Zipp, HE’D, Lightweight, etc. but if the guys at November keep up the good work, that will change too. You can trust these wheels.

  27. I don’t own the new Rails but I have an older pair of RFSW 50s from November. November installed a Powertap for me. I have raced them for 2 years now and they have been great. Crits, Road races, training.. whatever. Lots of racers in MABRA (Mid-Atlantic Bike Race Association) ride November bikes and wheels. When I had any questions or concerns I’ve been able to get a hold of Mike or Dave and they have been responsive. I see that they have responded here to. Guys, keep doing your thing! And thanks for the great wheels, I would buy from you again for sure

  28. @randall smith. an american company manufacturing their product in asia will never be on the same level or be considered on the same level as the leading american manufactured carbon rims.

    you say value, some would say you get what you pay for.

  29. @K11, apparently some folks are getting a lot for what they pay for the November Rails. As for not being on the same level as American manufactured CF rims, there is nothing to substantiate such a claim.

  30. I’d say you get exactly what you pay for; Handbuilt to exacting standards, incredibly strong, durable and well manufactured wheels, by guys who use and stand behind their products, who answer every question posed of them in short order (and I know I had at least 20 before I ordered my current set of RFSC 38’s), at prices a fraction of similar types. I’m constantly amazed at the pontificating that happens from those who have no knowledge of the product or the people. I enjoy my November Wheels every day, look forward to another set at some point in the future and respect the honestly and integrity that the owners show throughout.

  31. dave and mike are awesome guys and put in a lot of work designing, testing, and marketing these awesome wheels. If you want to support two local guys from Washington DC who built a business from nothing, considering purchasing their products.

  32. @k11

    It seems odd that you would call out a small company like November when so much of the top end, and very pricey stuff, is also made in Taiwan. Everything from Specialized is made there as is much of Trek and many of the European bikes as well. A least they are up front about where their rims are made and pass the savings along to the consumer. The new Rovals are an additional 1000$ and made in Taiwan as well.

    I think a better point is that the US wheels (HED, Zipp, Enve, Reynolds) are still the cream of the crop in terms of overall performance.

  33. As a DC local I see/work on tons of these rims/wheels. And frames.
    They’re fine.
    They are exactly as stated before, re-branded china carbon. You pay more for a warranty, some engineering in the US, and a brand name. But, they’re china carbon. Sometimes they have flaws, as any product.

    I make this comment more to point out the value of “china carbon” – they produce high quality, low cost stuff, which is durable and affordable. That’s not something to hate on.

    These wheels will never touch the HMIUSA appeal of Zipp / Enve. Nor will they ever touch the level of engineering and analysis that goes in to those products.

    But for people who either can’t afford, or don’t understand why you should buy $2.8k wheels, these are an awesome alternative.

  34. Goridebikes, you apparently didn’t read very carefully as November Bikes has stated the wheels are proprietary, i.e. not an open mold rim.

    I think this is one of those “put up or shut up” moments for you.

  35. Ah Internet….the usual level of discourse and intelligence with a bunch of people commenting on wheels they’ve never ridden, without even bothering to read the article, much less the wealth of information on the November site. They have always been extremely up front about all of their products.

    The ‘get what you pay for’ angle is particularly hilarious. If one really thinks that those huge price tags flow directly to vastly better R&D and Q/C then they have never been offered the ‘team discount’, or seen a sponsorship deal or a national media campaign, or looked at wholesale or distributor pricing.

    I have about 25 wheelsets in my house – from the huge companies down to handbuilts from the LBS. 4 of them are from November: 2 of their older open molds, 1 set of their wide alloys and one set of the stock Rails. A set of the old RFSCs lives on my TT bike and I have over 15 crits and RRs on the Rails since they came out as well as lots of training miles. They are great all-around race wheels and at a price that’s fair and almost unheard of for a *proprietary* design – a good one at that.

    You couldn’t pick a more transparent or responsive company to buy from outside of your LBS.

  36. @mike and others that seem to try to inform me about who builds what and where. I am well aware of where certain companies actually manufacture their items. I choose to spend my money on companies that manufacture where they are from.

    At a certain price point a company should at least manufacture their top end products where they are based. A german company=made in germany. An American company=in the usa.

    BR readers are so touchy. Now i will wait for people to let me know that this or that company from this or that country manufactures in asia. Save your comments I already know.

  37. There are lots of other carbon wheels that claim they have their own mold like Boyd’s , Orr, Carroll , Rol and the list goes on and on…
    I would like to see the results of the wind tunnel and UCI crash test.

    Does Psi Squared ever say anything worth a crap???

  38. Zach, thanks for the overview on the Rails. Mike at November sent me a deme set to ride for a few weeks and I have to say I was really impressed. For someone who can’t afford to drop 3k on a set, but wants quality and performance, this could be the setup. Here is my full review if anyone has time to check it out: http://www.averagecyclist.com/2013/11/review-november-rail-52-wheelset.html

    More than anything, I have to say kudos to the guys at November for putting out a cool product and standing behind it. I can tell that’s not always easy, but they continue to fight the good fight.

What do you think?