Meet COPRO, the Small German Company Making Foam-Filled Carbon Wheels

Mar 22, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  


Henrik Borgwardt and Arne Stahl were working in the aerospace sector, developing methods for manufacturing carbon parts as efficiently as possible, when they decided their technology could apply to the bike world too. The two engineers, who worked for the DLR – Germany’s aerospace center, or the "German NASA" – decided to start making carbon wheels in 2019, and since then have headed COPRO, a small German brand that now makes three versions of the Lilienthal wheels.


The Lilienthal AM wheels are the original version, and they're still the flagship product.


The COPRO wheels are unique for a few reasons. First, the Lilienthal AM (all-mountain) and Lilienthal XE (eMTB) rims are filled with foam to help dampen vibrations and further reinforce the rim (though the XC version prioritizes light weight, so it doesn't use the same foam core). Also, the engineers behind COPRO have figured out how to automate a significant portion of the process, which they say helps minimize the potential for human error and keeps costs down.




Tech details
Internal width: 30mm
External width: 36mm
Spoke count: 28 or 32
Size: 29”
Weight: 400g XC, 485g AM, 495g XE

The foam core is similar to what we've seen in some aluminum rims, but the carbon version is something new.


The impetus for developing COPRO wheels was the development of a roll forming technology while Henrik and Arne were working for the DLR, which is made possible for carbon wheels by the use of NCF, a type of carbon fabric made up of unidirectional, parallel fibers. COPRO says that NCF, compared with woven carbon technologies, allows for lighter weight because the carbon fibers are straight, rather than squiggly, so they can create the same stiffness using less material.

The main benefits of roll forming are adaptability and efficiency, COPRO says. Production is easily scaled up or down, and the process is easily adapted to different rim profiles.

The carbon material comes pre-configured in narrow bands that are roll formed and laid directly into the mold, meaning there is almost no wasted material. The wheels are cured using a process called resin transfer molding (RTM), which involves creating a vacuum inside the heated mold while injecting resin to draw the resin into the carbon layers. Each wheel is cured in the mold before it is removed, then it undergoes quality control testing, has hub-specific spoke holes drilled by an automated machine, and has custom colored decals applied to finish the process.




Although the techniques used are new for the bike industry, the COPRO folks stand behind their products, and they offer a lifetime warranty and crash replacement policy for any of their wheels.

The wheelsets are also fully customizable using an online tool that allows users to customize the colors of the graphics independently for each wheel, as well as pick a driver style, specify hub spacing, and even choose oil slick spokes if desired.

Color customization can add a nice personal touch.

The Lilienthal AM wheelset retails for 1,449 EUR ($1,723 USD) with Hope Pro 4 hubs, and individual rims sell for 449 EUR ($535 USD). More information is available at copro.bike.


91 Comments

  • 175 2
 I’m foaming at the nipples just looking at these.
  • 93 1
 Mammary foam?
  • 5 0
 @mi-bike: Ahahahahaha
  • 3 0
 @mi-bike: this wins the comment section.
  • 43 1
 Search 'copro prefix' and see for example 'coprolite'. Science!
  • 4 1
 Awe, I am never going to think of that the same!
  • 5 0
 @Snfoilhat I read the whole article honestly expecting to find that the name COPRO was some kind of inside or witty joke Razz
  • 16 0
 My new wheels are the “copro”
  • 6 0
 The wheelset of choice for coprophiliacs everywhere.
  • 22 0
 Their rims are the shit.
  • 2 0
 @tbmaddux: zzzzzzzing
  • 1 0
 So, that's exactly like foaming shit frozen over time!
  • 35 0
 Reading the Copro article pooped me out.
  • 25 0
 I'll wait till the COPRO HERO9 comes out before buying.
  • 9 0
 I dread to think what you'll be filming with that.
  • 3 0
 @commental: what it is, certainly with a chesty mount
  • 23 1
 This has to be a joke... surely has to... the copro name, the epic skid/riding straight out of the 90s, stroking the little flaccid piece of rim at 56s...
  • 15 0
 "COPRO carbon rims: For Shredding the Brown Pow"

(I'll see myself out...)
  • 1 0
 Oh I'm sure they ride just as great as any other rim, as long as they're kept lubricated as part of a regular service regime.
  • 13 0
 If it can take the kind of abuse and hardcore of the limits riding style as seen in the video (0:37 - 0:44), I am all in!!!
  • 11 0
 Seem pretty light. Coprolite.

@Snfoilhat beat me to it!
  • 7 1
 It's great to have another brand available and this looks like a high-quality product. Customization options should be popular and are welcome, to my taste. Spank is obviously the original innovator here with Vibrocore (as alluded to, in the mention of alloy foam iterations), while Atomik Carbon has been making superb DH-capable carbon rims injected with foam for at least a couple of years now. I have built with the Atomik DH35 commercially, and it's an incredibly strong hoop laid up hookless and with significant weave reinforcement. Clearly there's something to this technology - and obviously the tech as IP is a fairly fluid affair. With numerous options now, hopefully more people will be able to get on foam-injected rims. My firsthand experience is that they're stronger, more compliant (in alloy especially, but also in carbon), and they generate a legitimately different ride feel: damped, but certainly not wooden. Neat tech that builds well.
  • 4 0
 I love my Atomiks and yes, they've been doing this for years.
  • 6 0
 Since these guys are from DLR I'm guessing they were trying to honor Otto Lilienthal when they chose the name for these rims. Too bad they didn't google Copro before choosing their company name because now they're basically taking a dump on this guy's legacy.
  • 7 0
 My Vibrocore wheels feel fantastic although super heavy. Skim a bit of weight and ad some precision with carbon and it could be a win.
  • 8 0
 Check out atomik carbon then. I use the DH35 on both my bikes. Carbon with foam. And they’ve had their design out for longer.
  • 1 0
 @kroozctrl: I had no idea they existed. Will take a look.
  • 1 0
 Vibrocore on rear with cushcore and lightbicycle on front, great combo and it's hard to get buckled due to the weight Razz
  • 4 0
 @kroozctrl: I'm a big fan of atomik rims.
  • 4 0
 @kroozctrl: I've had several sets of Atomik and they've been fantastic. Basically indestructible.
  • 7 0
 The riding in the video has given me full confidence to send. That skid!
  • 10 0
 Copro rims definitely leave impressive skid marks.
  • 5 0
 So do these rims get their foam injected after construction, or is this part of the carbon layup to negate the need for an internal bladder?
  • 4 1
 foam sandwich wheels.... isnt foam sandwich construction used where stiffness is required without the increased weight of a thicker laminate, seems pointless when you have many rims without that are too stiff, the wheels that i think make most sense are the zip motos, given that the trend of wheels in the last 5 years is making carbon wheels more compliant and impact resistant having a single wall construction with a thicker laminate makes a huge amount of sense!!!
  • 9 3
 I dont think oil slick spokes would be considered an upgrade
  • 5 3
 How about multi-colored spokes, as shown in the wheel above?
  • 6 4
 @mammal: oh they've changed the wording. Before it said "upgrade to oil slick spokes" so I was under the impression it cost more. Also no multi colored spokes suck and black spokes rule
  • 11 0
 Can I get those things that slide up and down to make noise as well? Everyone needs to know how expensive my wheels are and look at them
  • 2 0
 @toad321: if push comes to shove, use a clothespin to clip a playing card to your seat stay and in your spokes.
  • 4 0
 @toad321: Spokie Dokies?
  • 10 0
 Pick a spoke colour and be a dick about it
  • 2 0
 @CustardCountry: With a name like Copro, I think you meant "Spokie Dookies"?
  • 4 0
 @Kamiizoo If you ever see Copro's with oil slicks, that's more likely a sign of a bad dietary choices rather than any sort of upgrade.
  • 1 0
 @toad321: The annoying buzz from the Hopes will let them know.
  • 5 0
 #coprophiles for lovers of copro wheels!
  • 5 0
 Powerful like a gorilla, yet soft and yielding like a Nerf ball
  • 2 1
 Definitely interestin! And aerospace techs at that! Knowing what those guys do on a day to day basis, I might actually buy these (once I can scrounge up the funds) because aviation has huge safety margins nowadays (though most rules are written in blood)
  • 4 0
 Looks like a good product, but not a game changing innovation. I think the name is going to be what kills this brand.
  • 2 0
 I think you are right. Marketing plays as much a role as product quality. There are some big name rims out there, that are absolutely bunk quality, but sell themselves because of the name/marketing.

And vice versa, a more sterile brand and marketing approach can put the nails in a brands coffin despite having a solid product.

This rims look good though. Fairly conservative profile, very DT Swiss alloy looking - nothing novel aside from the foam which has been done by others. At least on the surface. Getting into the details, the different carbon layups and carbon types that are happening now are interesting. Non-crimp, filament wound, etc. I would like to test few of these. There is another builder in my area that I collaborate with frequently who is experimenting with these manufacturing techniques for his own brand rims and they look pretty promising.
  • 3 0
 Not new. @AtomikCarbon has been doing foam-core carbon rims for quite a few years now. Their plus and fat rims as well as their DH rim all have a high-density foam core.
  • 2 0
 I have several pairs of Atomik, and they've all been bulletproof. I'm over 200 pounds and I'm not gentle.
  • 3 0
 Like the spank vibrocore rims almost?
  • 2 0
 More like Atomik Carbon. They've been doing foam-core carbon wheels for several years.
  • 3 0
 Waiting for their new DH wheelset, the Hot Carl.
  • 4 0
 XC race wheels - Cleveland Steamers
  • 1 0
 @ReformedRoadie: I heard Dirty Sanchez is racing on those this season.
  • 2 0
 Atomik has been building foam-xore rims for a while. You can even get them with berd spokes if you wish.
  • 3 0
 Or encopresis
  • 10 10
 Don't get my wrong...I don't hate Hope Hubs, but getting into >$1500 territory for a wheelset build and seeing 44point engagement hubs is just a non-starter for me.
  • 2 0
 So if you love copro you're a coprophiliac?
  • 1 0
 Definitely a flawed trading name for this product. Should have been the Car-foam Warehouse
  • 1 0
 I dont know man. seems legit to my eyes that appear. im bored so im just sayin random stuff. someone drop there snap
  • 2 1
 Just me or are those 26" hardtails in the video?
  • 1 0
 he had me "Braunschweiger".
  • 1 0
 gives a new meaning to 2 wheel n 1 guy playing with copro
  • 1 0
 Copro means co-owner in french, bit weird for us.
  • 2 0
 “be a hero” -copro
  • 1 0
 hi im a huge fan
  • 4 7
 Riiiiight.... add the foam to 'inside' the rim where it adds weight and doesn't protect the rim. Instead of cushcore or tannus which does the same thing in addition to protecting the rim and sidewall support. Sign me up.
  • 4 6
 Except Cush Core doesn’t protect the tire in the way you imply. It keeps the bead seated in the rim. The rim cuts right through it when you have a rock strike.
  • 2 0
 Why not both?

I'm curious about a double blind study- can people really tell the difference?
  • 16 0
 @hamncheez: Riding blindfolded is not safe.
  • 3 0
 you realise the foam is there for vibration damping not rim protection.
  • 1 0
 @DHhack: Lets put it this way -> CC or Tannus are going to protect your rim a damn site more than these standalone 'foam filled' rims. I've saved my rims from all sorts of hijinks with CC (except sidewall slashes) which is why Tannus armor is next on the list.
  • 2 0
 @mtb-scotland: Dude. Yes. I get that. My point is CC / tannus will accomplish that IN ADDITION to providing other benefits..
  • 1 0
 @DHhack: na , I stamped my MAXXIS tires with less then DD on Huck to flats.
Snake bite on tires are possible. With that foam I guess it is way harder.

I still ride without that..
  • 2 0
 I bit the wall of my maxxis and it couldn't hold tubeless anymore. The tire was still pretty good, so I slapped a tubed-Tannus in there and rode until the tire had no tread left. When I got new tires, I put a tubeless Tannus in the rear of both of my bikes and I don't even bother to ride with a tube anymore. its head and shoulders better than other solutions I've used, and I think its one of the lightest ones.
  • 1 0
 @CDT77: I’ve ran Cush Core for a full bike park season on my last dh bike. I was able to drop 2-3psi from my normal range in dry conditions. Brand new professionally built wheel set (vibrocore rims ironically enough), CC and 2.5 wire bead dhf dh casings tires. The front had to be trued 3x during the season and the rear twice. The rear CC was toast after the season with cuts every 1-3” around the entire thing and the front had several cuts also. They were expensive, heavy, and didn’t help with reliability of the rim.
  • 2 0
 @DHhack: Would have been interesting to see the state of your rims without the CC installed (which were obviously doing their job by virtue of sustaining damage which otherwise would have been transferred to your rims). But to each their own.. I've found CC weakness' and it is sidewall slashes.. which I why I am exploring tannus armor next.
  • 1 0
 @CDT77: mainly it was I couldn’t hear those small rim strikes that cut up the cc otherwise I would’ve run my normal tire pressures probably. Same bike I killed a mtx33 rim on the rear at 30psi same tires with hd tube hitting a rock at Mountain Creek in NJ. That is what prompted the new wheels and cc. I’m now back to hd tubes and at least 30psi for real dh riding. Tempted to try my new dh22 set with tubeless... probably won’t though.
  • 7 7
 $1700+ for a Hope Pro 4 based wheelset..? Hard pass.
  • 2 2
 Not competitive on price, Tech, or weight. So what’s the point?
  • 2 0
 445 a rim seems fairly cheap for carbon rims is it not?
  • 2 2
 @mtb-scotland: not really, compared to China rims.
  • 1 0
 @mtb-scotland: WAO (weareone) rims list for $575 CAD which is right around $465 USD - lifetime warranty no questions asked.
  • 1 1
 @EdSawyer: I had some... Do you know how long they last? Less then 5min .
  • 3 4
 someones getting Spanked for infringement
  • 5 2
 Spank injecting foam into their alum parts is 1. Not patented 2. A completely different process than this.
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