Industry Nine 26" Gravity Wheels - Reviewed

Jan 28, 2014
by Mike Levy  
Industry Nine Gravity wheels review test


Traditional steel spoked wheels will likely never go the way of the dodo, but Industry Nine believes that there is a better solution when it comes to assembling a wheelset, and that involves large gauge, straight pull aluminum spokes that thread directly into the flanges of their radical hubs. It doesn't end there, though, as they offer pre-built wheelsets that use their own rims, with our downhill oriented test wheels being built using their 530 gram Gravity rim in chrome, custom anodized blue spokes, and chrome hubs front and back. These things not only look incredible, they're also very light given their intentions at just 817 grams for the front wheel and 976 grams for the rear. That adds up to a 1,793 gram wheelset that I9 says is burly enough for everyday use on your downhill bike. Compare that figure to other DH specific offerings out there and you'll find that the I9s impress. Low weight is one thing, but reliability trumps numbers when it comes to what's required of a downhill wheelset, doesn't it? With that in mind, we put five hards months of riding in on the I9s to find out how they hold up to everyday abuse.
I9 Gravity wheelset details:

• Intended use: downhill
• Alloy rim, tubeless ready (530 grams)
• Rim width: 33.5mm outer / 28.5mm inner
• 20mm thru-axle front hub (QR and 15mm compatible)
• 12 x 150mm rear hub (135mm QR and 12mm, 142mm, 152mm compatible)
• 9/10 spd aluminum freehub body w/ 120 point, 3 degree engagement (XD version available)
• 32 Aluminum 2.8/3.0mm butted spokes
• Standard Colours: all red or all black hubs/spokes with black rims
• Weight: 1,793 grams (claimed 1,750 grams)
• MSRP: $1,210 USD base price


Industry Nine Gravity wheels review test

Industry Nine's jewel-like hubs, with their threaded spoke flanges and easily interchangeable end caps, are the highlight of the wheelset.



Construction

What makes I9's Gravity wheelset more downhill specific than their other offerings? It comes down to the rims and spokes, with both being burlier than what you'll find utilized in the rest of their lineup. The aluminum rims feature 33.5mm outer and 28.5mm inner widths, making them wide enough for use with proper DH tires (as you'd expect), and their height should help to fend off pesky flat spots that might come from speed miscalculations. I9 also says that they are "tubeless ready", although this refers to rim bed and hook shape, not a sealed rim bed - they do require sealing tape that comes pre-installed from the factory, along with a set of tubeless valve stems, to get everything rolling sans tubes. Black is the standard rim colour on tap, but the eye catching silver colour shown here can be had for an extra $50 USD should you be looking for a bit more flash. Have your own rims that you prefer? Not a problem, I9 will do that for you as well.

Industry Nine Gravity wheels review test

With a 33.5mm outer and 28.5mm inner width, Industry Nine's own Gravity rim is certainly ready for true downhill tires, and it weighs a competitive 530 grams.



It's easy to spot a set of I9 wheels due to their large diameter, straight pull aluminum spokes that thread directly into the hub shell, often seen in flashy colours like the custom blue spokes on our test wheels. There are no nipples to be found here, either, with four wrench flats machined into the spoke at the rim end, as well as a shape to the end of the spoke that mates with the hole at the rim. While I9's standard spokes (featured on both their Trail and Ultralite wheelsets) use a butted 2.7/2.9mm diameter, they've gone with a heavier gauge 2.8/3.0mm version for their Gravity wheels that is said to improve strength while adding only minimal weight. Red and black are the two stock colour options, but silver spokes can be had for a $50 USD up-charge; or blue, gold, orange, pink, purple, turquoise, and green for $150 USD. Those who want to feel really special can combine two or more colours in their preferred lacing pattern for $260 USD extra, thereby ensuring that there is little chance of anyone out there having the exact same wheelset as you.

All those colours sure are pretty, but why go with straight pull aluminum spokes over the established standard steel spoke? It comes down to the two weak points found in a common spoke: the J-bend and the cut threads. Of the two, failure at the J-bend is far more common, since it is constantly being loaded and unloaded at the joint between the hub flange and the bend as the wheel rolls down the trail. As spoke tension lowers over time, slightly more slop can develop between the two, which can cause it to fail sooner than a wheel that can hold its tension longer. Not all steel spokes fail, obviously, and it seems that it happens less and less lately, likely due to quality control improving, but I9's straight pull aluminum spokes look to eliminate the issue altogether. The other talking point, according to I9, is the inherent rigidity in the design, with them saying that their ''stiffer spokes provide unrivaled cornering and tracking performance through the nastiest terrain,'' and that ''the added stiffness also makes tuning easier; eliminating the mushy, vague feeling most DH wheels deliver.'' Certainly some serious claims, but only trail time will reveal if they ring true.

Industry Nine Gravity wheels review test

Industry Nine's wheels use proprietary, straight pull aluminum spokes that thread directly into their own hubs. Wrench flats have been machined into the opposite end to facilitate truing.



I9's updated Torch freehub design delivers a quick 3° engagement via the 120 point drive ring set into the hub shell that mates with six pawls, with each of the pawls employing two edges that double the amount of bite. Rather than a single wound spring wrapping around the entire freehub, the layout employs separate coil springs to prop each of the pawls up. This should make for a much more reliable clutch system than if it depended on a single spring. The freehub body itself is aluminum, with a sealed bearing pushed into place at each end, and I9 says that their new sealing system helps to lessen drag compared to the previous design. Both the front and rear hubs are practically works of art, with machine work and detailing that makes them stand out from everything else. They're also compatible with pretty much any axle out there thanks to interchangeable end caps front and back - QR, 15mm, and 20mm up front; and 135mm QR, 12 x 135mm, 12 x 142mm, 150mm, and 157mm for the back. The caps also use an interference fit courtesy of O-rings, meaning that no tools are required to make changes. We love it when it's easy.


Industry Nine Gravity wheels review test

Six freehub pawls, each with two biting edges, and a 120 point drive ring, add up to a quick three degree engagement system.



Installation

We ran our I9 test wheels with two different downhill tires throughout the summer and fall riding seasons, with Bontrager's new low profile G2 rubber fitted out back when conditions were dry enough to take advantage of how fast it rolls, while Kenda's 2.5" Excavator Pro downhill tires were used for the majority of the time. We went to a tubeless setup straight off the bat rather than muck about with tubes, and were happy to find that the rims' "tubeless ready profile" is an apt description given how easy it was. The I9s were painless in this regard, unlike some options on the market that require that their rim beds be artificially raised slightly with a few wraps of tape in order to provide a tight enough tire bead and rim interface to seal easily. This obviously might not be the case with every tire on the market, with some combinations requiring a bit more grunt than the floor pump we used in our shop to get the job done, but they were certainly among the easiest to set up tubeless in recent memory.

GT Fury with Industry Nine Gravity wheelset review test

We tested the Gravity wheels on our GT Fury test bike that saw plenty of action in the Whistler Bike Park.



It was smooth sailing when fitting the tires, rotors, and cassette, but we ran into some rough water when we went to install the rear wheel onto the back of our GT Fury test rig, with the wheel refusing to spin when the bike's axle was tightened down. Slotting the wheel into the back of another bike showed that the problem wasn't specific to the GT and likely a tolerance issue within the rear hub that was causing the wheel bearings to be overly preloaded. We were able to get the wheel to spin freely by not tightening down the GT's thru-axle as snug as it should be, but that solution is obviously far from ideal. A replacement freehub body didn't solve the issue, either, thereby pointing the finger towards the hub itself.



Performance

Our chrome and blue I9 Gravity wheels saw quite a bit of action in the Whistler Bike Park, a location that can certainly highlight any shortcomings in a bike or component, as well as many shuttle runs on our local mountains. Our two main points of concern before testing kicked off centered on how I9's aluminum spokes would hold up, as well as their Gravity rim, an unfamiliar product to us. As it turned out, both proved to be non-issues, with neither giving us even a hint of trouble during testing. A handful of incidents that saw us coming up short failed to leave behind a single ding or dent in the rear rim, and we're not only talking about manicured jumps but some serious rock and square edge impacts - while obviously not indestructible, they certainly do appear to be quite robust relative to their 530 gram claimed weight. No dents or flat spots also went a long way to keeping the wheels from losing any spoke tension, something that didn't happen at all during our time on them. And not only did we never have to add tension, we also never had to true either of the wheels. That's pretty good in our books, and we now have more confidence in our Gravity test wheels than many much heavier wheelsets on the market. The rim's ability to shrug off our efforts to dent it is highlighted by the fact that tire pressures were often well under 20 psi, so it certainly wasn't like the Kenda and Bontrager rubber was shielding the rim from damage caused by our speed miscues. We did manage to burp a small amount of air and sealant from the rear wheel at those low pressures, although never once had an issue with pulling a tire off of the rim in a hard corner or awkward landing.

Marzocchi 380 C2R2 Titanium

Rough enough? Day in, day out, the Gravity wheels rose to the challenge and performed well.



Wheel rigidity is something that is talked about often, and it would be easy to assume that the I9 wheels would be stiffer than a more traditional wheelset given their large diameter aluminum spokes and tall rims, not to mention the claims made by I9 themselves. That very well might be the case, but we couldn't pick it up when they were bolted to a 220mm travel bike with wide tires deflated to around the 20 psi mark - there are just too many other variables that mute any expected gains when talking about rigidity, despite the fact that they likely are stiffer than a traditional wheelset. If you can't pick it up when pushing hard, is it still an advantage?

And what of those fancy aluminum spokes? None broke, which is always good, and they were also free of creaks and groans that we thought might pop up over time, especially at the cross where they make contact with their neighbor. The one caveat is that we didn't put any serious dings or gouges into any of them, which is obviously a good thing, but it also means that we weren't able to see how they fared after being damaged. Maybe the answer was to pick one unlucky spoke to intentionally sabotage in order to see how it held up afterwards, but damn, these things are simply too beautiful to do such a thing.

Industry Nine Gravity wheels review test

Light and sturdy, they were only brought down by a bearing issue within the rear hub.



The wheelset's chrome rims and blue spokes obviously caught people's eyes, but the real jewels of the I9 setup has to be its hubs. These gems at the center of it all are so pretty that you almost want to unlace the wheels and set the hubs on your desk simply to stare at for a few hours everyday. The sound emanating from the rear hub when coasting should be enough to keep you from ever wanting to do such a thing, though, and the loud metallic buzzing is also unique enough that at least a few other riders asked what sort of hub we were running on the back of our Fury test platform. The relatively loud humming won't be for everyone, and there feels to be a touch more freehub drag when turning it by hand than a less aggressively designed clutch system, but it also makes for a damn quick 3° engagement when it's time to jump forward. That's quick enough that it feels instantaneous underfoot.

Bearing life on our test wheels seems to be on par with anything else on the market, with the rear hub now feeling just a touch rough after five months of abuse, although it should be noted that our binding issue may have accelerated bearing wear in this case. The tool-free hub end caps do make accessing internals quite easy as well, but the inference fit with the front hub's O-rings was just loose enough for us to sometimes knock one of the end caps out of place when sliding the wheel into the fork. Have you ever arrived at the mountain to find that one of your hub end caps has been left at home on the driveway? We have. Small issue, no doubt, but worth mentioning given their $1,210 USD base price.


Issues

After a close examination it was discovered that the rear hub's non-drive side bearing bore was out of tolerance by 0.25mm, which turned out to be enough to add both excessive bearing preload and cause the freehub body to come into contact with the hub shell when the bike's thru-axle was tightened down properly. It's a bit of a shame for this beautiful wheelset to be taken down by what turned out to be a machining error that measured just a quarter of a millimeter, especially when we know that there are countless I9 wheelsets out there running smoothly, including the one that we originally reviewed back in 2008. This left us a bit deflated, regardless of their otherwise flawless performance, and we'd hope for more from a $1,210 USD wheelset. However, I9 did tell us that they have taken steps to prevent the issue from popping up again: ''We have added two quality control measures since we shipped this wheelset in order to preclude this happening on wheels and hubs in the future,'' I9's Operations Manager, Jacob McGahey, explained. "A more precise bearing bore check, as well as a final wheel and hub check where a high force is applied to the hub end caps to check for correct bearing preload and freehub drag.'' The other updates include the addition of a double-row inner freehub bearing, a change that should take bearing longevity to even higher levels, as well as added clearance to the backside of the freehub body to prevent any contact with out of tolerance components.

We had absolutely zero issues with I9's proprietary aluminum spokes on our current test wheels, but previous experience with a different I9 wheelset showed that they can be a bit more prone to failure when damaged compared to a common steel spoke. I9 owners should be aware of things like pedals from other bikes going into their spokes during shuttle runs, as a good sized gouge can lead to a spoke needing to be replaced. It's not terribly uncommon for standard steel spokes to break, of course, usually at the J-bend or the threads, but we're willing to bet our last cookies n' cream Clif Bar that regular spokes stand up better to general neglect and abuse that I9's aluminum version.


Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesI9 is adamant that the binding we experienced in the rear hub is the first time that they've come across such an issue, and also pointed out that their wheels come with a three year warranty (many competitors only offer a single year warranty) that covers all of the parts that they machine in-house - had our wheelset been with a customer, it would have been looked after. Binding issue aside, I9's Gravity wheelset did everything we asked of it without any objections. If you're looking for something a bit different - perhaps even a custom colour combo - and don't mind the proprietary spokes, then the I9s are worth looking at. Their relatively light weight and unique construction does carry quite the price tag, though, so it'll be up to you to decide if they're worth the extra coin. Are you building your downhill bike on a budget, or are you assembling a one-of-a-kind dream rig and want something a bit unique? - Mike Levy


www.industrynine.net


142 Comments

  • + 61
 That was an excellent (and very fair) review. Thanks Pinkbike!
  • + 7
 These are my favorite wheels I gave ever ridden. I have had the same wheels on my dh bike for over 2 years! I definitely plan on getting their trail version for my trail bike. They are also made locally to me in Asheville, NC!
  • + 23
 26" Check!….. 6 pawls Check!…... 33mm Wide rim Check! ……... $1200 ehhhhhhhhhhhhh
  • + 7
 dont forget the mad 120 point engagement!^^
  • + 4
 I'd seriously consider these on a trail build, they're certainly light enough, as well as seeming to be crazy strong
  • + 3
 i always thought I9s were pricey-er. 1.2k isnt bad for wheels made in the US. that puts it right up there with deemaxs, and id much rather try these out.
  • + 2
 I have a set of I9 torch hubs laced to stans ZTR flow rims and they're incredible. I would definitely recommend that you get some for trail. Mine are so light, looped out for the first few days whenever I tried to do a wheelie.
  • + 2
 I have their Torch Gravity and Trail wheels and I'm going to get another I9 wheelset when I can/"need" to! Absolutely crazy strength-to-weight ratio (especially the Trail wheels as they took mini-DH beatings) and the freehub drag is nothing compared to Chris Kings. Once you go I9, you never go back.......... at least for me with the Torch stuff. Puts up an ad: DT240 wheelset for sale
  • - 6
flag b45her (Jan 29, 2014 at 15:55) (Below Threshold)
 stopped reading at "propriety spoke"
  • + 3
 The 2012 Industry Nine DH wheelset is fucking awesomeeee. I love it.
  • + 1
 good to know! and i think i can deal with ordering a couple of spares (as for the 'propriety issues'), doesnt seem like that bigga deal.
  • + 2
 The wheels come with extra spokes and you can change a spoke out trail side by simply deflating the tire and running it in like a screw. I've done so at a DH race before when a huge tree limb flipped up into my wheel and snapped two. Wheel never came out of true for two full seasons. Had to replace a rim at year end due to flat spots from a full season of beating but it was still true as the day I bought it. Two years, two spokes. Oh, and I still have the other 4 that came with it. Their customer service is on par with Turner.
  • + 1
 I can't decide which wheels to get, the torch trail or the torch enduro wheelset for my carbon sight...
  • + 1
 I'm 163# @9% bfp and the Trail wheelset works, but I'll be getting the Enduro wheelset for my Nomad soon as the Trail wheelset seems to be a tad bit too light for aggressive AM style riding and the shuttle runs (it's been perfectly fine so far though); I will be putting the Trail wheelset on my XC/trail bike. If you're hitting up flowy trails most of the time, go for the Trail; if you have some big features and want to take it up on shuttle runs, go with the Enduro. Hope this helps mlr428
  • + 1
 Thanks man. I have the older enduro wheelset from them from like 2010. I'll prob just stick with the enduro wheel. I've had zero problems with them.
  • + 1
 No problem at all! You're going to really appreciate the lower rolling resistance and the rim profile for tubeless.
  • + 35
 Waki didnt comment about it yet !!!!!wtf !!!
  • + 19
 Nothing like made in the USA!
  • + 16
 I've raced I9's for 2 seasons and never had any problems. Plus i get endless comments on my gold hubs and purple spokes. Best investment I've ever made for biking. Frames may come and go, but my I9's are forever.
  • + 3
 just found my next pair of wheels! and that price tag doesnt look to bad either!
  • + 1
 I bought the I9 enduros for my Driver 8 they are light and super strong. I have had Mavic 729 mostly and some Spank Spike rims but these have really surprised me. Really good wheels. I am sure the new wheels will be that much better.

www.pinkbike.com/photo/9511313
  • + 0
 The price is a little steep, l could build a custom set with EX721's or 729's for around $700. Granted, these rims are 100g lighter than 729's....
  • + 2
 You build 729s up with proprietary I9 stuff and compare that to, say, Hope hubs with 729s, you're going to find that it's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay lighter. I used to think the price was steep, but the bling+weight savings+quality+engagement+whatever else more than makes up for it.
  • + 0
 No way will a 729 with a rear Hope hub and steel spokes be under 1000g, I've got a 729 with NS rotory cassette, which isn't much heavier than hopes, and it's a hair under 1300g
  • + 3
 f*ck. disregard that comment. I'm an idiot and didn't read your comment closely enough. Carry on with your day Salute
  • + 15
 Good insight how one small production misstep can cock it up for the end user - and the manufacturer. Sounds like they learned and improved things.
  • + 5
 Its pretty cool how a pinkbike review can make a difference in how a manufacturer produces a product. With such a large audience its one of the best forms of quality control: a quality, public review...even if it borders commercial.
  • + 9
 Steel has an endurance limit where it can be cycled infinitely under a certain load, but aluminum will eventually fail no matter how small the loads are, once enough cycles occur (not to mention aluminum being softer and thus more easily damaged by rock strikes or other bike pedals). They claim to be solving a problem with the threads and j-bend spokes, but straight pull steel spokes already exist for those who are concerned about it (you shouldn't be with good quality spokes like Sapim and making sure your wheel is properly trued and tensioned), and the aluminum spokes still have threads, just at the other end.

Proprietary technology that solves a problem nobody has? Pass...
  • + 5
 I agree with this. Also, aren't high quality steel spoke threads rolled in?
  • + 2
 Yup, the "cut threads" comment was inaccurate. All quality spokes have rolled threads.
  • + 6
 Well, just so you know, you can get i9s built with traditional j-bend spokes as well if aluminum spokes aren't your thing.
  • + 3
 Rolling threads hardens the material- AKA higher yield strength. Therefore their argument is inaccurate in that aspect.
  • + 1
 On spokes there is a static load which will get smaller and bigger as the wheel turns, but never schould be zero (if the spoke is a bit loose), there you get dynamic loads which will lead to failure. With a tension/load which is "allways" bigger than zero you schouldnt have problems of "tired material". And 7075 Aluminium (which you can`t weld), is more strong and durable than other aluminiums you can weld (7020,7005 and so on).
Greetings
  • + 1
 Yeah thats my issue with these wheels but I say that the cycle limit is a good trade off for a lighter wheelset... at the speeds we reach when biking those little spokes make a difference. They aren't cheap but they hold up pretty well. Just wait for carbon nano tubes spokes then all our problems will be solved Razz
  • + 1
 I'm with you on that MTBLegend. I'm also resistant to use propietary techonology components on DH bikes, no matter the price it should be built to last. I would give it a try on an XC or road bike perhaps.
  • + 1
 And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I9 makes a bad product or anything like that- I'm sure they probably make some very nice things. If you want fancy looking wheels with brightly colored aluminum spokes go for it, but just know you aren't buying the wheels for an actual measurable performance advantage, and your options are limited if something does fail.

timkoerber, and that should make you wary of their claims. If they say the j-bend is a problem here, yet they are still selling j-bend spokes, then they obviously don't fully believe their own hype, and they see the claimed benefits are very limited.

If people want to continue to downvote me that's fine, but I've spent hours and hours in a lab breaking hundreds of spokes from various brands/styles of spoke in a tensile machine, under static and dynamic loading conditions. I trust that a lot more than marketing hype.
  • + 2
 they dont actually sell j-bend spokes . jest the hubs with traditional flanges , you cant buy a pre-build wheel with j-bend's .

i built a set with ZTR FLOW EX and 2mm spokes (single gage) , with 16mm nipples - the full build is under 1,900 gr....
ofcourse u can make it lighter with DB spokes and "regular" 12/14 mm nipples
  • - 2
 You can weld 7075 I've done it not sure we're your getting that. Also does pinkbike have an editer because if noticed a lot of grammatical errors this last year sometimes it it's spelling sometimes peoples sentence structure is improper. I'm no expert myself but I feel like all posts should be reread out loud like in third grade, not trying to be rude or anything.
  • + 8
 @loganflores: Seriously!!!?? Have you proofread your own post?
  • + 3
 Logan- You metaphorically punched all of us in the balls with that statement. Assuming out brains are in our balls.

YES you can melt 7075 and YES you can add a filler material, but you break down the chemical composition (Thats the part that makes 7075 so strong) to the point where you might as well have pure aluminum (dog shit). It is considered unweldable because it is made structurally unsound when welding.
  • + 3
 I have 2 pairs of i9s, the new torch trail wheelset on my Enduro and the older version i9 on my fuel ex. Haven't had any trouble with either set. I even chewed up almost 1/2 of the spokes on the drive of my old i9s because of an overshift causing my chain to fall In between the hub and cassette when mashing the pedals on a climb. Sad day for me.. But I'm still riding around with the same chewed up spokes, only replaced 2 spokes. I realize there not on a dh bike but I ride my trail bike quick hard, and put a lot of lateral torque on them. And they still haven't failed me
I don't believe that alum spokes are that bad after all
  • - 1
 The last 2 times I had a spoke snap on me was with straight pull. I can't remember the last time a j-bend spoke snapped on me. I think it was back in the ninetieeeeees man.
  • - 1
 Does it look like I a own a massive online magazine/forum? no. Do I get paid for this? no. Places like pinkbike are some of the only places the outside world sees us as a sport and to have simple mistakes tarnishing our image is avoidable. As I said I'm not an expert but if someone could tell me what grammar mistakes were in my post.
  • + 4
 Holy runon sentences and fragments batman!
  • + 2
 That's a good point. I tend to ramble sentences. I didnt think people would be so offended over a little constructive criticism. The last 10 or so posts iv read from pinkbike have had small errors not a big deal just a comment.
  • + 8
 I'm co-owner in a small bike shop about a mile away from Industry Nine. We've sold lots of them and have never experienced the problem spoke of in this article. They are always willing to help if you need them. Some people will never be happy but I think they make one bad ass product.
  • + 5
 I run I9's on both my bikes and am a big fan of the performance. However, the best thing about I9 for me has been the customer service. I had a freehub body crack while tapping in a Chris King cog (super tight tolerances) and I9 replaced it right away. On my enduros I had a thru axle spacer that was off just slightly and they replaced that right away. I love a company that stands by their product so I will continue to support.
  • + 4
 I will always have a set of I9's on any bike I have. The dudes in Asheville are awesome and they care about their product. I have taken the worst lines on the trail and these things hold up and stay true very well. Cant forget about the 120 point engagement coming in clutch when climbing technical terrain.
  • + 4
 I have the 26" Torch Trail wheels on my SB66, and they have worked great for the entire season. Rode them all over Colorado, and Tucson, and they have been great. No broken spokes, no bad bearings, no loose bearings (my old ones front hub used to come loose regularly and had to have the bearing repressed). No blown beads, etc. LIGHT.

There are definitely more economical wheels out there (hopes to stans duh) but these are rad.
  • + 4
 I've been running a set of enduros since 07 replaced bearings twice one new rim and just broke my third spoke you get four extra with a set and thats 6 years of hard riding on my freeride bikes.I Love i9s
  • + 4
 Ive had mine for a year and haven't looked back. I wanted some wider rims so I stopped by the factory in Asheville and they hooked me up with the enduro rims for a great price and gave me a tour. Sold for life
  • + 3
 I have 2 pairs of i9s, the new torch trail wheelset on my Enduro and an older version i9 set on my fuel ex. Haven't had any trouble with either set. I even chewed up almost 1/2 of the spokes on the drive of my old i9s because of an overshift causing my chain to fall In between the hub and cassette when mashing the pedals on a climb. Sad day for me.. But I'm still riding around with the same chewed up spokes, only replaced 2 spokes. I realize there not on a dh bike but I ride my trail bike quick hard, and put a lot of lateral torque on them. And they still haven't failed me
I don't believe that alum spokes are that bad after all
  • + 4
 I've been running i9s for about 5 years now, 4 years on one set and they are still going strong and I beat the hell out of them. Other set is on Brooklyn RL with weird hub spacing. Great customer service!
  • + 2
 I worked for an I-9 dealer. Almost all of the wheels we had sold had either bearing issues or the rear hub binding issue within a few months. These new I-9s don't have the bearing pre-load adjust like the old style enduro hub. I myself went through 3 bearings in one season and I don't ride as much as many people. On the flipside a customer put 500k feet of climbing in one year on the new wheels with little problems once the bearing issue was fixed in the freehub. Even though we had issues with the wheels they were fast and friendly in fixing the problem. Finally, any company I can call and talk to a real person every time is good in my book. For how small the company is they make one hell of a product IMO.
  • + 1
 And I quote, ''stiffer spokes provide unrivaled cornering and tracking performance through the nastiest terrain,'' and that ''the added stiffness also makes tuning easier; eliminating the mushy, vague feeling most DH wheels deliver.''

Spokes are in tension in a wheel. Tension stiffness of a spoke is proportional to Area (A) x Modulus (E).

For a 2.8mm aluminium spoke, AE is proprtional to 2.8mm^2 x 70 GPa = 548 E6.

For a 2mm steel spoke (non butted usually used on DH wheels), AE is proprtional to 2mm^2 x 200 GPa = 800 E6.

Steel spokes build into a stiffer wheel. i9 is lying!

Yes they are pretty and sounds like they are good, but please no lies inb the marketing. Can we have a name a shame section on Pinkbike.
  • + 3
 I'll do some more calcs. It's dawned on me that it may be the j-bend vs. straight pull that has an effect.
  • + 0
 The J bend does have an effect. But with some conservative assumptions, the ally spokes still do not show any improvement in stiffness over steel.
  • + 2
 It does have an effect, but that doesn't mean your calculations are necessarily wrong. For comparable j-bend or straight pull spokes (ie both steel, unbutted 2mm), a straight pull spoke is definitely stronger because it only undergoes tensile stress. J-bends fail at the j-bend because they are under shear stress.

The most important thing is to regularly maintain and check on your wheels. Don't let them get out of true or let tension in the spokes get very uneven, and watch for wear around the spoke head and nipple corrosion or deformation (if aluminum nipples). Do this, and the only time your spokes should be breaking is if your derailleur hanger breaks and the derailleur rips through your wheel.
  • - 4
flag zemaniac (Jan 29, 2014 at 6:38) (Below Threshold)
 hey , phutphutend , dont forget that the I9 spokes are hollow....
  • + 3
 Not hollow
  • + 2
 Lol not hollow.

Phutphutend, higher spoke tension does not equal more stiffness. + I would assume the stiffness comes from the thickness of the spokes and the material.

More info (with experimental data) on wheel/rim deflection vs. decreasing spoke tension
sheldonbrown.com/rinard/wheel/index.htm
  • + 2
 I find the Construction section a bit confusing. It seems to start out explaining how aluminium spokes are better than steel, but seems to only explain why straight pull is better than J-Bend, which is a benefit both to aluminium and steel (not that it's ever done me any good in my experience - but that's another story). And it talks about cut threads being a cause of failure - but these aluminium spokes are threaded, at the hub end !

I'm not having a dig at the article - I'm just really interested in the mechanics of bike construction and want to know more !!

Edit - I should have replied to MTBLegend92's thread below...
  • + 2
 the minsta, I never said spoke stiffness varies with tension. The stiffness of a material is linear up until some plastic deformation takes place.
  • + 0
 Diabolicus:
the spoke thread on those is rolled not cut ( as is the case with every decent steel spoke too ). I'll spare the details but rolled threads are much stronger due to the material being cold worked... only downside is in manufacturing as it takes roughly 1/3 hp more to complete instead of cutting it ! Also that infamous J-bend is done cold too so again not much of a factor with quality spokes, I guess I'll have to bring spokes to my school and test them out !...
  • + 0
 The spokes are way thicker than any steel spokes and stiffer. Also it's the construction of the entire system that makes the wheel stiffer. There is no nipple and the head of the spoke is giant and in direct contact with the rim. On the other end the threads are again giant sized when compared with standard spokes and in direct contact with the hub. Really you should just ride a set before trying to slam something you obviously don't know shit about. I guarantee they are stiffer than any other wheel set you've ridden, especially some bullshit J-bend wheels. On another note, I've had a set of 29's on a steel hard tail for almost 6 years and every spoke on the rear wheel is bent, gouged, nicked, etc. and the wheel is still true and not a single spoke has actually broken. Plus that wheel isn't using the thicker gauge spokes found on the DH wheels.
  • + 1
 What about the vertical compliance of an aluminum spoke versus a steel spoke? The I9's may be super stiff but could it be too stiff in the vertical direction? It seems that you would want stiffness laterally but have some compliance vertically. I have heard that this would translate to a rougher feel on the trail. Any thoughts or experience with this???
  • + 2
 I find the I9 fast engagement to be amazing on the trails. Particularly technical sections where you need to stop and power over obstacles. Be careful of losing those end caps though. They come off very easily.
  • + 2
 I prefer a straight pull spoke, but the sensible engineering solution puts the threaded end in the rim where the effect of torsional loading is reduced and the chance of snapping a spoke on the thread is minimized.
  • + 1
 Bearing /quality problems eh? Well now, there's a huge surprise..........

I have these wheels and have had huge problems since day 1 with them - as have loads of other riders - checkout MTBR to see the woe being caused to riders who have forked-out a huge amount of money on a very unreliable set of wheels.
forums.mtbr.com/wheels-tires/industry-nine-torch-wheels-837586-11.html


Bearing problems, spoke detensioning problems, freehub problems, freehub falling clean-off the wheel when fixing a puncture - pawls and springs popping out and getting lost in the mud - crazy!!

Revised spacer design, revsed freehub design....etc....all of these problems should have been fixed in their QA process and never have reached the customers.

I've never ever had such issues on my Hope Pro 2's on Stans Flow rims, and they're less than half the price!
These wheels are great to look at, but put them into real riding riding conditions and their poor reliablility shows-up very quickly.

And it's all well and good poeple saying "Oh, I9 were so good at sending me replacements etc.." - well, you never should have needed those replacements in the first place if they had made a good quality product.

I got a warrantied freehub from them and they were so mean they didn't even include the pawls or springs with it - that's just lousy service for all the time my bike has been off the hill waiting for them to send me a part that should have never failed in the first place.
  • + 3
 Not sure what you're on about the poor reliability.... I9s are the only hubs that have never given me problems. Gone through quite a few DT Swiss, Hope, and even Hadley stuff, had to warranty or replace parts all the time.
  • + 3
 I've experienced the "freehub falling off the wheel" problem... Twice! You've just gotta be careful next time around as that issue is a result of it being easier to do maintenance on.. I9 did send me a new set of springs with my next order of wheels, which is super awesome of them. Don't forget that cries of dismayed customers ring loud on forums while the happy customers are usually too busy out riding. I'm one of those happy customers (obv)
  • + 5
 This problem has been taken care off. They changed the length of the spacer tube to not crush the bearing. They also changed to double roller bearing in the hub. I have 3 sets of their wheels with a new Enduro wheel I just got. These are some of the best wheels you can buy and you can call and talk to someone there if your having a problem. I don't know what your talking about they are mean? I always had a pleasant conversation with them about the wheels.
  • + 3
 "What a great price!I've just save twenty grams!"haha))
Have their gravity wheels-I love them.Marvelous review and test.Thank you!
  • + 3
 I've got 5 hard years at Highland mtn bike park on their DH wheels. Haven't trued them yet and I beat the piss out of them on a regular basis. Got my moneys worth.
  • + 0
 The best looking wheels I'd never buy. Just too dear.
I wouldn't buy straight pull again either, stronger or not. I've got a set of hope spam4s and while they work flawlessly, they are too big of a pain in the neck to clean properly. You just can't get in without taking the disc off and using a tooth brush, and who's got time to do that? It's standard flanges and centrelock discs all the way for me now.
The freehub pickup sounds rude though. I wish my hope and shimano hubs had quicker engagement.
  • + 0
 The "Issue" Pinkbike had with the rear hub is very common in I9 wheels. (Myself and 3 others I know) I loved my I9's but had to replace them because that quarter of a mm defect causes constant maintance and tunning. I wish I9 had stepped up and replaced the hub as soon as I had the issue but I was put through the ringer, replacing every other part and waiting for it to fail. After 3 months of hell, all said and done they finally replaced the hub and I sold them as soon as I got them back. You can build chris king hubs on Stans Flow EX for less $$ and have a far more reliable, lighter wheelset. I love the way I9's look but function always takes presidence over look for me.
  • + 5
 Dear Santa...
  • + 1
 still long long time to go before xmas, mate
  • + 3
 4 years, and several hundred rides later, and my I9 AM wheels are about to go on their 3rd bike.
  • + 2
 I've been running gold I-9's (spokes & hubs) laced to 823's for 4 years now.....had some loose spoke issues in the beginning, but they've been flawless since then
  • + 0
 "...but we're willing to bet our last cookies n' cream Clif Bar that regular spokes stand up better to general neglect and abuse than I9's aluminum version."
At $6 apiece, that's a serious concern, if one's bike is inclined towards taking bikepark abuse. But I'd happily run them on my enduro bike. A 100 gram penalty for a wheelset that would serve my enduro needs without requiring constant spoke replacement is a very attractive proposition. And given the weight, the price isn't all that steep either. Hmm...
  • + 1
 A set of Mavic Deemax Ultimates will set you back $1200 and those seem like the go- to for durability, hopefully these can keep up.
  • + 2
 Oh these are way harder to break.
  • + 3
 Best wheels around and i should know i have owned enough i9 wheels.
  • + 1
 10usd more than DeeMax's, lighter, custom colours, look sick and by than sounds of it, stronger. This is the ultimate wheelset!
  • + 1
 Like the engagement without the price? Check out project 321, based in Fresno California, same internals as the i9 but half the price
  • - 1
 Any sophomore engineering student should be able to tell you that in cyclical loading steel is FAR superior to aluminum. The spokes in a wheel are cyclically loaded. Steel is also stronger than aluminum so a smaller diameter steel spoke will be just as strong as a fatter diameter aluminum spoke, and the added weight of going with steel is negated by the need to make the aluminum one fatter to do the same task. Don't get me wrong I9 makes some damn sexy wheels. But I don't understand their drive to make the spokes out of a metal that for this given application is quite frankly inferior. Just sayin'
  • + 0
 These are proven dh wheels. Very stiff and strong. Having a part get past quality controll with a machining error of that magnitude is unacceptable. They better fix that flaw fast it can ruin a companies reputation.
  • + 3
 Loving my Gravity wheelset.
  • + 3
 Reasonably priced!
  • + 0
 How loud was the rear hub Mike? I had an I9 rear hub that was insanely annoying. Either this one is less loud or you're not as picky as I
  • + 2
 It's loud but not as loud as hope hubs. Personally I like the noise though.
  • + 1
 What timing for this article, I just picked mine up today. beyond stoked on these wheels right now!
  • + 2
 Ok great... So can we have a review on the new Zocchi stuff?
  • - 2
 I had a set of i9 wheels, they were not very good. Struggled with disk alignment as if the rotor mounts were about 0.5mm too wide. so always skimming on caliper / mount.

Tried Superstar (£130 wheels), Hope, Saint etc - all fit fine with no issues...
  • + 1
 looks like the same as deemax
  • + 0
 1200 for gravity wheels or 800-1000 for a set of motorcross wheels with sprocket and rotors :/
  • + 1
 Believe me, if i9 built a moto wheel like their dh wheels it'd be much more than $800-$1000
  • + 1
 Theres nothing setting them apart from excel or warp 9 so the price should be relative
  • + 1
 Did they ride these with tubes or tubeless?
  • + 1
 I'd have to guess tubeless if they're running 20psi. Just a guess though otherwise they'd get pinch flats.
  • + 1
 True, I'm interested in what they rode with at whistler. I'm going there for 3 weeks in August and I have to decide if I'm going to stay tubeless or switching to tubes for the trip.
  • - 1
 So what is it gonna be? Will dh wheels become as magical as the numer 275? I just would not like to stay out of fashion, not trendy with my close future shopping.
  • - 1
 What happens when some do it yourself kinda guy strips the hub threads? Needing a new hub? Very interesting concept and beautiful wheels.
  • + 1
 If I Only Had More Money.......
  • + 1
 I Know Right?
  • + 6
 I hear the black market for organs is hot right now.
  • - 2
 Can you even see 1/4 of a mm difference? It could just have come down to a manufacturing error or something. Probably nothing to worry about in my opinion. These wheels look sweet!
  • + 6
 They said it was a machining error, AKA a manufacturing error, and if it's enough to cause bad bearing preload and excessive play, it's something to worry about.
  • + 0
 I meant it shouldn't be an issue for everyone who is looking to get one of these wheelsets. One defect does not mean all of them will have this issue.
  • + 4
 .25 mm is quite a bit when you consider standard tolerances are plus or minus half of that or less.
  • + 9
 It's about 0.010" which is definitely too much. I'm no bearing expert but I do work around CNC machines all day. Should be more like 0.001" tolerance.
  • + 6
 1/4 of a mm is greater than the wavelength of light so yes, yes you can see it...
  • + 2
 I've never before compared a unit of distance to a wavelength of light.
  • + 3
 @jordanneedsafork: Actually you can see imperfections that are smaller than the wavelength of visible light. What you see is interference and there needs to be a lot of imperfection.
  • + 2
 I wonder how many other hubs had undersized bores. Assuming they are using good machines, you wouldn't get random errors like that Razz
  • + 1
 @wakaba: really? thats some interesting stuff. time to research that some more
  • + 1
 Dontfeelcold- you would be surprised what can happen on CNC machines. You can have the best machine on the planet but if joe schmoe cant load a part right, shits gonna hit the fan.
  • + 1
 There's a reason robotic loaders are used when tolerances are serious.
  • + 1
 100% correct. Machines are only as good as the operator. A tiny metal shaving or human hair in the wrong spot could easily throw these out of tolerance. Usually problems like this are due to operator error/sloppiness
  • + 1
 When I was an operator I'd always spend extra time making sure everything was perfectly in place but my boss wanted things done quickly so I was basically trained to have the "Ehh, good enough" attitude at his shop. It's not like we're doing high precision things though, so it's not a massive issue. Usually, if something's within 0.005" of what it should be, giving a 0.010" tolerance, it'll work just fine.

Something like a precision bearing, on the other hand... yeah no. That needs to be exact.
  • + 1
 Look fancy
  • + 1
 They are bad ass wheels.
  • - 1
 Is it me or are these hubs almost identical to crank brothers , all bar the treads in the spoke holes
  • + 2
 That's a pretty significant difference. Plus, these were around long before the CB ones were.
  • + 0
 I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, just noticed they are very alike . I do own 2 sets of cb so I'm not slagging them off
  • - 1
 For that sort of money I want what Shimano has, even in their cheapest hub. Bearing adjustability.
  • - 2
 Spend $1200 on a set, break a spoke. and spend another small fortune getting another spoke like that.
  • + 11
 They're $6
  • + 0
 yeah $6 each. Can you buy them one at a time? or do you have to buy them in packs?
  • + 8
 $6 each. Mavic replacement spokes can be up to $25 each
  • + 11
 new to riding? I remember freaking out at prices when I started...
  • + 1
 You do get a few replacement spokes with your wheels, but that being said, if you're going on a trip it would be wise to bring a spare or two with. Not every shop has i9 spokes readily available. But that should be common practice for anyone with a set of wheels with proprietary spokes (eastons, i9, etc). don't want to let a broken spoke end your riding trip!
  • + 1
 $1200 is relatively good price for DH wheels. Hell of a lot better than $2500 for a set of Enves...
  • + 5
 When i bought my I9s 5 years ago I got 4 spare spokes with them, I still have not needed them. Great wheels!!
  • + 0
 Not new to riding, but new to the high end market. I'm gonna have to take up a second career.
  • - 2
 Adding tubeless to these wheels would make them the end all be all of wheelsets.
  • + 4
 They are tubless, all of the torch branded rims are tubeless.
  • - 1
 Hadley FTW
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