SRAM invited a small cadre of journalists to the South of France to ride its new 'Rise' trail/XC wheels and test some cross-country shock tunes for 2012. The news that SRAM was entering the crowded wheel market was suspected, but the Chicago-based parts maker kept the two-year project under a tight lid so when that moment arrived, it could launch the wheel program along with clear details about the origins, engineering and purpose of each product. Two wheel platforms are nearing production: the Rise 40 aluminum wheels will hit the stores in 26 inch and 29 inch sizes around November 2011, with the carbon-fiber-rim Rise 60 wheelsets in both 29 and 26-inch diameters will land around February 2012.
Rise 60 wheels: SRAM’s first shot at a carbon wheelset is pretty sweet. The Rise 60 can be configured by the customer for a number of axle option without tools, and weighs an impressively light 1330 grams a pair.
Rise 40, the aluminum alternative: A bit more than half the cost and nearly the same strength as the Rise 60, Rise 40 wheels share the Sapim CX Ray spokes, lacing pattern, and axle options of the Rise 60, but use a slightly less complicated hub design and a welded aluminum rim.
The launch was tailored to showcase the wheels where they are intended to live – out on the trail, for high-octane back-country shredding. The plan was to meet in Nice, France, get on a SRAM Rise-equipped Rocky Mountain Element, and ride off-road 40 or so kilometers a day from hotel to hotel until we reached the massive Roc d'Azur mountain bike festival in nearby Frejus. The weather was warm and breezy and the riding there is rocky, often steep and technical, and punctuated by rolling dirt roads. In short; the French Riviera is a great place to test wheels in early October – and the point-to-point riding format was sweet.
SRAM Rise Wheels - The Short Version
Blazing the last few meters of a rocky singletrack on the way to Frejus. The terrain in the steep coastal hills changes quickly from polished dolomite to sharp metamorphic stone. Rocks were the theme and the Rise wheels handled them without complaint.
If you want the short version: we had a great time riding with the SRAM wheel team. The new hoops will be a step up from most of their competition and should run shoulder to shoulder with the best in the XC/trailbike class. Weights for the aluminum-rim Rise 40 will run 1710 to 1840 grams in 26 and 29 inch respectively and the numbers for the carbon fiber Rise 60 models are 1330 and 1420 grams in the same order. Front axles from Quick release to 15QR will be served and the rear hub can handle quick release, or 10-millimeter and 142/12 millimeter through-axles. Yes, the hubs have interchangeable parts to configure all possible combinations, and the end caps can replaced without tools. Prices range from $550 US a set for the Rise 40, to $2000 US for the Carbon Rise 60 wheelset. Colors are SRAM red and white with either natural carbon or black-anodized finishes.Why SRAM Wheels?
SRAM is a components supplier to the world’s bicycle makers, so it makes sense to extend its range to wheels. Considering that it already manufactures everything that surrounds the wheel; brakes, suspension forks, cassettes and through-axle quick releases, the fact that SRAM has ignored wheels up to this point is the more pertinent question.
A number of years ago SRAM acquired Zipp, THE
wheel builder within the ethereal ranks of ProTour and multi-sport road racing. Zipp’s experience with carbon rim design and wheel engineering is unparalleled, so SRAM’s off-road hoops began their development curve where most of its present competitors ended. Carbon manufacturing and the final assembly of SRAM’s Rise 60 wheels takes place in the USA at Zipp’s Indianapolis factory, so there can be no question that the 60 is the real deal. SRAM is a global manufacturer, so its hubs are produced in a SRAM-owned Taiwan factory and shipped to the Zipp factory for assembly. SRAM announced that its aluminum-rim Rise 40 wheels will be built and assembled in Taiwan so they can directly service OEM bike makers with Taiwanese and Chinese factories.
Rim highlights: (Clockwise)
The carbon fiber Rise 60 wheel didn’t show a hint of strain after back to back 35-mile trail rides in the rocky coastal hills near the French Riviera. Lunch break on the beach. Woven carbon bridge of the Rise 60 rim and conventional drilled spoke holes of the Rise 60 carbon rim. The aluminum Rise 40 rim profile (left)
is slightly flatter in profile than the 26-millimeter-deep carbon fiber Rise 60 rim. Rise Wheel Technology
The Rise wheel team is based at SRAM’s Colorado Springs facility that the RockShox crew calls home. The two-year project began with a theoretical list of must-haves, and a bunch of relatively blank computer screens. SRAM said it began its journey into wheel building with six critical waypoints: low weight, minimum inertia, better freehub engagement, superior lateral stiffness, a degree of vertical compliance, and low rolling drag. The relatively blank screen part refers to the fact that SRAM’s intention to market its wheels to OEM customers in Europe required the team to adhere to strict ETRTO (European Technical Rim and Tire Organization) standards which dictate the profile, inner-width, height and bead retention design of the rim, and also confines various rim widths to existing tire sizes. For instance; the 19-millimeter inner diameter of the Rise 60 and 40 rims allows the use of tires from 1.9 to 2.4 inches. Choosing a narrower, 17-millimeter rim profile would eliminate the possibility for an OEM customer to spec 2.35-inch or larger tires.Staying within convention:
SRAM chose conventional building methods for the Rise project to ensure that its 40 and 60 wheels could be serviced by both individuals and bike shop mechanics worldwide. Spokes are Sapim CX Ray aero-profile with aluminum nipples. Front and rear wheels are laced two-cross with 24-spokes and the hub flange design allows the use of straight-pull spokes. Spoke tension is quite high, which means that Rise wheels feel responsive – and that they will need to be checked for tension when spoke-replacement time arrives.
Enjoying the warm sun and Mediterranean breeze aboard a full XX Rocky Mountain Element rolling on carbon wheels. The SRAM crew made life pretty easy for those who attended the Rise launch. Rim design elements:
Rise 60 rims are a trail-rider’s dream at 26-millimeters deep and about 28-millimeters wide. SRAM did not divulge the weight of its carbon rim, saying that its wheel was designed as an integrated unit. SRAM did admit that its rim was not the lightest in the field, because it wanted to build in more lateral stiffness and impact protection. To this end, SRAM uses a special high-impact-resistant composite material for the rim. Most of the Rise 60 rim is constructed from unidirectional fibers, while the inner well is made from bi-directional woven material. It should be noted that the deeper profile of SRAM’s 26-millimeter rim does not allow much valve stem to protrude from the rim. Riders discovered that some pumps would not seal well enough for trail-side inflation. The design, profile and construction of the 26 and 29-inch rims are nearly identical. Not quite tubeless
: Rise rims are drilled, so mounting a tubeless tire directly is not possible. SRAM is working on a rubber rim strip that will convert both 60 and 40 wheels, but that is up the road, perhaps as far as February 2012. Our test wheels were outfitted with Stan’s rubber rim-strip conversions, which put in a great showing when an Irishman popped off a loose valve stem and was happy to discover that he could seat the bead and re-inflate the tire with a tiny hand pump.
The Rise 60 hub (right)
features tool-less endcap and axle configuration and a lighter weight straight-pull hub shell. The 40 series hub is slightly heavier and features a quick-lace, straight-pull hub flange design. SRAM has no plans for a splined brake rotor interface, so six bolt rotor flanges are what you get. Both share SRAM's 6.7-degree ratchet and aluminum freehub body.About Rise Hubs
SRAM's wheel team built its hubs to last. There are five bearings in the rear hub: two to support the main hub body and three under the freehub body. The ratchet driver uses three special pawls, each with three teeth. The additional teeth allow SRAM designers to use a greater number of smaller teeth in the engagement ring (54) without sacrificing durability. Why? Because the Rise ratchet engages every 6.7 degrees – and short engagement means that you won't be blowing through the pedal stroke in low-speed, technical situations. While the Rise freehub has a short engagement, it doesn't drag profusely nor sound like the hub is going to catch fire when you are coasting. Part of this smoothness is because the ratchet pawls use flat leaf springs, the rest is due to the smaller teeth.
SRAM says its 31-millimeter quick release endcap adds a claimed, 15-percent stiffness to a suspension fork in torsion compared to the standard one on the right. The 31-millimeter RockShox-specific endcap is also compatible with the slightly smaller diameter Specialized hub interface.
SRAM wanted a laterally stiff wheel, so the hub is tied together with a large diameter tubular axle on both front and rear hubs. Endcaps, held firmly by rubber O-rings, slip over the ends of the axle to either make it smaller for quick release applications, or to guide a 10 or 15-millimeter axle through while achieving proper spacing. The aforementioned straight-pull hub flanges add durability to the wheel by eliminating the stress concentration at the turn of an old-school J-Bend spoke. Some say that a straight-pull spoke can be tensioned higher than a J-bend type as well - and there is a noticeable degree of tension in Rise wheels.
A cut-away of the Rise hub shows the triple-engagement tooth profile of the ratchet pawls. Leaf springs put even pressure on the pawls, which have a very short throw due to the tiny teeth of the engagement ring.
On the subject of lateral stiffness, SRAM's monster, 31-millimeter endcaps for the front wheel are almost comical. reportedly, the larger-than-Specialized-hub endcaps give a 15-percent increase in lateral stiffness over your typical quick release endcap. All 2011 and forward quick-release, RockShox forks accept the big guys, so those of you through-axle non-believers who need quick release axles on your trailbikes (or 29er owners stuck with QR front wheels)
Pull the endcap off the Rise 60 rear hub and the freehub mech slips off the beefy aluminum axle. Note the three-tooth pawls and large-sized sealed bearings. The Rise 60 front hub sporting SRAM's 31-millimeter quick release endcap. A cut-away of the Rise 60 front hub showing its large diameter axle and conventional endcap configuration. An array of SRAM endcaps in various quick release and through-axle options.
Dropping into one of many beautiful watersheds in Southern France. Should you get a chance to ride near Provence, be sure to get a guide so you don't miss the secret trails. Pinkbike's Take on SRAM's Rise Wheels
Good work for SRAM's wheel team. The Rise 60 and 40 are wide enough to interest aggressive trail riders and light enough to make them worthy for XC, marathon and even Enduro racing. The ease of maintenance, and adaptability are huge pluses, but we believe, however that the beauty of SRAM's new hoops is for fast-paced, technical back-country riding. Their energetic feel under power and rigid directional stability make cornering and bashing down tough terrain much easier. They look good too, which is a huge plus for bike makers, who live and die on first impressions. Look forward to seeing Rise wheels on future SRAM equipped bikes - and that would be a very good thing.Check out SRAM's website for more info.