Yeah, but just because you own it doesn't mean it isn't an open mold. I mean, it's a nice rim and all, but the Chinese factory probably made like one thing a hair different than a bunch of other rims that leave their factory. After all, it is a Chinese made rim, correct?
No, not at all, we own it, it is not an open mold. We are the only ones who can get rims out of this mold. This is a contract manufacturing arrangement, not an open mold. You can not go up to whatever factory builds the Tarmac that you like and say "I'll take 100 Tarmacs please," and you can not go up to the factory building the Rail rims and say "I'd like 100 Rail rims, please." I mean, you could say that, but they wouldn't sell you the rims anyway. This is not a co-developed thing where the rims will be on the open market in 6 months or a year or whatever, it is ours and only ours, permanently.
It's not a Chinese factory, it's a Taiwanese factory, and they had no input in the (edit) shape (end edit) design. We had a prototype built (by a company that makes prototypes, not by a rim company) and tested, and then when those results turned out great we gave the drawing to the rim manufacturer for them to make a mold and start producing rims. The open mold wide rims that our manufacturer is producing look nothing like our Rail rims. Probably redundant to say they are Taiwanese rims and not Chinese rims, but they are Taiwanese rims and not Chinese rims.
You can read more about the design process in a blog I wrote here:http://www.novemberbicycles.com/blog/2013/1/2/a-blank-sheet-of-paper.html The title of that blog is very significant - we started from a blank sheet of paper. The spoke bed shape, the point along the chord at which maximum width occurs, the tapering of maximum width into the brake track, the transition shape from the spoke bed shape to maximum width - we designed all of it, and none of it was haphazard. Where you see things that are "a hair" different, I see things that look very much different.
You don't even have to take my word on it, though. We've designed a mark into the mold, so that you can easily distinguish a Rail rim from any other rim that might look similar to it ("similar" being subject to interpretation, of course).
We have a bunch of testing under our belts with the Rail (primarily wind tunnel testing) and will continue to test the for heat resistance, strength, impact resistance, and ride quality. People who buy Rails will know that the rims in their wheels, and their wheels as a system, have undergone all of these tests, and wherever possible will have hard data on the results of those tests. Unless it comes from us*, don't kid yourself - it's not a Rail and none of our testing is relevant to what you've got.
It's one thing to say "everyone wants wide rims, we'd better make something QUICK!" and quite another to begin from the ground up as we did. I would guess that we are the only ones who started from the fixed point of inside brake track width and worked from there, for example. We carefully considered AoA (often called "yaw") distribution in determining the shape of the rim's spoke bed and point of maximum width. We worked around a weight target that takes into account the less structurally stable shape that we were after (hang a weight from the bottom of a "U" and what does it turn into? A "V"! That's going to be something a lot of people are discussing on the forums before too long). Basically, we tried to identify each and every parameter that went into the rim and consciously address it both on its own and as part of the greater rim and wheel system. I would politely say that I don't believe that all of the flurry of new shapes arriving have been part of such a process.
*We do plan to have partners around the world who will be authorized to build and sell wheels with Rail rims. We are very far along with one. Rail rims will only be available in built wheels.
Sorry for running long.
**Edited - the producer developed the laminate schedule to which they are building our design. They are experts at carbon manufacturing, and will have to warranty their work, so it makes sense that they should be fully involved in that end. They had nothing to do with external shape design though.