There's more than one way to make a bicycle wheel stronger. For example, you can make the rim wider, deeper, thicker or reduce its diameter. Hubs are no less important and over the years many companies have tried unique flanges, asymmetrical and/or proprietary designs in an effort to keep optimum strength to weight ratios. In the spoke department, you can reduce length, increase thickness, or add numbers to increase strength. Bombshell's Crusher wheels take the latter approach, using a whopping 48 spokes at each end. Just for good measure, they use some of those other tricks to build the most indestructable wheelset I've not only ridden, but seen to date!It's no secret, I'm not the smoothest rider out there, in fact, I have a have been known to frequently make my 180 pounds seem more like 250 pounds on the trails (really, just ask my bikes). Whether I'm dirt jumping, in the park or downhilling, I have a tendency to make lightweight wheels square and more than a little wobbly. If I'm on a super strong wheel, I'm more likely to pinch flat and dent sidewalls. Then I got a package from Bombshell. Times, they are a changing my friends...
Using Bombshell's Magnum hubs and 1.75 inch wide Fatdaddy rims with a gargantuan 24mm sidewall profile, (just a hair under 1 inch for those of you who are metrically challenged) Bombshell's engineers have used simple addition to complete the equation. By adding more spokes, they've created a wheel capable of landing the biggest drops, taking hardest hits, and smashing the squarest edges imaginable. Do the math, Bombshell's Crusher wheels use 50% more spokes than your average mountain bike wheelset. Admittedly, I'm no expert, but as far as I can tell, when we're talking about spokes and strength, there's really no substitute for numbers. It probably goes without saying, but all this strength does come with a weight penalty. I'm no gram counting weenie and lack a digital scale to confirm my numbers, but I'd guess
the Crusher wheelset adds about 1.5-2 pounds over a similarly equipped 26 inch - 32 hole wheelset laced with 14 guage spokes. No small amount, but if you're a wheel crusher, the Crusher wheels are just might be for you.
For the sake of comparison, I've been riding a Paul's WORD rear hub laced to a 24 inch Intense Mag 30 rim with thirty two 14 guage spokes and brass nipples on my do-it-all-singlespeed for the last 2 seasons. It is, by far the strongest wheel I've owned. Granted, I've seen stronger wheels in my travels, but as far as "run 'em and forget" wheels go, it's been the benchmark. Until now...
If you've ever read any of my product tests, you've probably realized I'm from the school of function over form and given the choice between strength and saving a few grams, I'll take the beef thank you very much! For parts like wheels that see considerable abuse, why not run some extra strength and weight rather than wondering whether or not you'll make it home in one piece? Walking home sucks, getting injured because your lightweight part broke is even worse. Alright, enough of the rhetoric, how do they really work?
If I had to use one word to describe them, it would be STIFF
. As previously stated, I'd been thinking my 24 inch singlespeed hub was the shizzle when it came to a stiff, strong wheel. When I replaced the singelspeed wheel with the Crushers, I thought my fillings would rattle loose. I was stunned how much give there was to my old wheels. In comparison, the Crushers were absolutely flex free, and with the exception of the extra weight penalty, these babies put all your power to the ground. They also transmit all of the ground back into the bike. If, like me, you're on a hardtail and not particularly smooth, that most likely translates into your kidneys. I was beginning to believe I was less smooth (if that's possible), until I picked up another bike with "old school" wheels.
While the extra weight is definitely noticeable, in the air they were stable and I noticed no difference in suspension characteristics after adding to our test bike's unsprung weight. As a bonus, when running a 2.35 inch tire with only 30 PSI on a recent foray through some baby-head rock gardens, I couldn't pinch flat these to save my life. Perhaps I had recently done something to please the trail Gods, but I think it was more likely the Fatdaddy's rim profile that saved my (considerable) bacon. I've used some other burly rims (*cough* Atomlab Trailpimps *cough*) that while strong as hell, had me pinchflatting like mad, I was pleasantly surprised the Crushers suffered no such problem.
The rear hub uses a standard Shimano-esque freehub and like Shimano, engagement is crisp, if not immediate. Quick release is standard, but with a wheelset this burly, it would be nice to see a bolt on option available. After 4 months of spring and summer abuse, front and rear bearings run as smooth as the day they arrived.
All in all, I'd say the Crushers are a viable alternative to more conventional 32 and 36 spoke wheelsets especially when you consider their $399 USD/set MSRP. For an XC or downhill race wheelset, look elsewhere, but if you're looking for a super burly wheelset that can learn to 360 with you, be used for DH training, or a wheelset for riding at the Bike Park, look no further. After seeing how today's youth are hanging it out with little regard for their own safety, I'd go so far to recommend these wheels to all parents with little rippers in the house. No more, "Dad, can you true this rim for me" or "I need a new wheel Mom, this one won't spin anymore."
For more information visit www.bombshellparts.com
or call 1-888-2RACE-IT