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The first of our Signature down under Q&A series features partington.cc.

partington.cc is a product of founder Jon Partington’s passion for cycling, engineering curiosity and persistent belief that things can be done better. Its mission? To build the best bicycle wheelsets in the world.

These wheels are built as an integrated system, incorporating unique ideas and manufacturing processes, processes that ooze craftsmanship and innovation, all built by hand. In short, partington.cc is uncompromised engineering for uncompromised performance.

We hope you enjoy this Q&A.

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SC: You were a Design engineer, working on transmissions and powertrains for companies like Prodrive, Antonov and Ford. The guys at Bastion were also car engineers prior to setting up, is there a connection between cars and cycling here?

P: Possibly. There has always seemed to be a healthy quota of people in the auto industry interested in cycling. I think the catalyst for both Bastion and me however was the fact that the auto industry was dying in Australia, indeed now dead. There are fairly few ‘passion’ industries that present opportunities for exciting engineering – in Australia at least. I think that’s what drove both of us to start our own.

SC: How did Partington start?

P: In a back bedroom on a second-hand computer and ~$10k (USD) inheritance. The initial intention wasn’t to go commercial with it. I was redirecting my career into the advanced composites space through a PhD. Experimenting at home with a carbon bicycle wheel project was just my means of getting some practical experience with the materials.

SC: At first glance, the R-Series look like a modern aero wheel, but we’ve used them and know how much more they are than that. What was the inspiration when designing them?

P: The R-Series is a family of technology designed and developed as a high-performance wheel exclusively for the road. Our first product offering was a mixed depth 39mm front, 44mm rear developed to be our most versatile wheelset. It offers a rounded balance of low weight, high-stiffness and good aerodynamic behaviours. Well suited to going up and down mountains, round crit circuits, mass-start road events, or spirited rides to the coffee shop.

The 39/44 combination will be soon joined by its 31mm and other depths, rounding out the R-Series family.

SC: At 1160g, they are incredibly light. What’s the secret sauce to weight?

P: Lashings of secret sauce! But that will remain secret I’m afraid. In essence though, its 2 things:

1. Extended use of carbon fibre – known for its high strength and stiffness to weight ratios

2. Use of design architectures that are sympathetic to the materials we’re manufacturing with. In this case, mainly carbon fibre

SC: Can you explain the difference you feel on the ride if upgrading to these from a mid-range aero wheel.

P: Shop based metrics are immediately apparent. The low weight is obvious, and the smooth, low friction bearings support the impression of efficiency, but on the road is where its most noticeable.

The lateral stiffness and low weight – really, low inertia, make for a very responsive wheel with notably improved acceleration. Often this has been described as a ‘lively’ feeling and very noticeable in both sprints and climbing.

The high stiffness also supports precise handling characteristics that provides confidence in not only cornering and descending, but on the flats too. We managed to develop stiffness characteristics that give their performance advantages, whilst also increasing rider comfort.

The comfort, coupled with the low friction bearing architecture means that even ‘slow roads’ feel smooth and fast.

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SC: Is the rim brake dead?

P: My opinion – yes… It will likely be reserved for a few, but in my mind its inferior to disc brakes, and not very compatible for carbon wheels.

SC: Your hub and spoke design is pretty radical compared to the status quo. Can you tell us more how they work?

P: The aim was to produce a carbon spoke with high structural efficiency that runs rim-to-rim, and good control over shape. Our proprietary process produces each spoke without the need for post processing. The cross section and trajectory of each spoke is set during spoke manufacture, to support the needs of our wheel as a designed system. The ‘V’ shape is product of the high wrap angle, that increases the bonded area between the spoke and hub.

SC: What are the advantages to this design?

P: An exceptionally stiff connection between spoke and hub, that translates to efficiency in power transfer. The integrated spoke and hub design also resolves to a very low weight design.

SC: Given the extremely low weight, have you had to compromise on other things such as strength or stability?

P: No, we would never compromise on those attributes.

We test to, and generously exceed all pertinent test standards such as UCI (approved) and ISO. We achieve 2x the UCI standard (80J) without causing any signs of damage and have developed a number of aggressive internal test standards to describe in-use fatigue under the most arduous conditions.

SC: You keep every process, from receiving raw materials to sending out finished products, in house. What are the advantages of doing this?

P: Yes, we do! The over-arching answer is simple. No one else can do what we do… All our manufacturing process were conceived and developed internally and remain proprietary to pcc. This includes years of development and composites experience and is the bedrock for all our IP. Sharing this knowledge and outsourcing makes us vulnerable to losing our IP and inviting copy-cat companies into the mix.

Freedom. We’re not constrained by the technical limits of others, and we can ideate, prototype and iterate exceptionally quickly. If we identify an opportunity, we can quickly evaluate it and deploy if appropriate.

Engineering feedback. Design, manufacturing, and product performance are so intrinsically linked. If we delegate any aspect of this, the picture of opportunity gets fuzzy. Having 20:20 vision on all aspects opens the door to the greatest opportunity to evolve and be better than the rest.

Control. Dependency on any 3rd party has always been our biggest headache. We had some rough times through Covid that almost floored the business and our direction ever since has been to bring everything in house, or at least be sovereign. With the exception of a few raw materials, we have achieved this.

SC: What’s your favourite local loop?

P: Torquay > Deans Marsh > Lorne > Torquay loop. Mix of flat, climbing, rural and costal. Returning home down the Great Ocean Road is always a treat!

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