Atomik Carbon Go Back to Basics With Aluminium Wheelset - Pond Beaver 2020

Apr 9, 2020
by James Smurthwaite  

When we cover Atomik Carbon, we're used to speaking about new tech and crazy materials - be that spokes that look like string or rims with aerospace foam molded in. However, for their latest rim, they're taking things back to basics and releasing their first-ever aluminum wheel.

Atomik is pitching it as a more affordable option compared to its carbon offerings, but these are far from a bare-bones wheel and are built up with I9 1/1 hubs and Sapim Race spokes. The rim is made from 6069 aluminium, which Atomik say should stand up to the "abuse of modern trail, all-mountain and enduro riding." Both 27.5'' and 29'' versions feature a 30-millimeter inner width so that tires up to 2.8" wide can be fitted.

Atomik Carbon AL345 Aluminum Mountain Wheels

Weights come in at 460-grams and 475-grams per rim for 27.5'' and 29'' diameters. Complete wheelsets tip the scales at 1,870-grams and 1,900-grams, respectively.

Atomik is also offering a Carbon Upgrade Program good for the life of the AL435 complete wheelset. If at any time the original owner chooses to upgrade to one of Atomik’s carbon rim offerings, they will rebuild the wheel using existing hubs—including new Sapim race spokes, brass nipples, all labor and return shipping—at no cost to the customer with the purchase of carbon rims.

Atomik Carbon AL345 Aluminum Mountain Wheels

bigquotesOur goal was to make the performance of Atomik’s carbon rims and wheelsets available to more riders by offering an affordable, premium aluminum option. We decided to pair the AL345 with Industry Nine’s 1/1 hub for a complete wheelset that offers unparalleled performance and value without any compromises. Look at the AL435 as a lower cost of admission to the premium wheel market. When someone is ready to take the next step and go carbon, we want to make that as easy as possible.Wayne Lee, co-owner and founder

The Atomik AL435 is available now as complete wheelsets with I9 1/1 hubs and Sapim Race spokes starting at $699.99 USD or rim-only options starting at $99.99 USD.


  • 44 8
 So just a bit heavier than the new carbon Enve wheels, why do we need carbon wheels again?
  • 25 30
flag deonvg (Apr 9, 2020 at 17:02) (Below Threshold)
 They're stronger
  • 31 5
 You must mean, Why do we need heavy Enve wheels again?
  • 33 30
 If you have ridden a proper good set of carbon wheels you wouldn't have to ask that question along with everyone else who has asked that question.
  • 16 15
 @TheBearDen: Exactly. I'll never go back to aluminum.
  • 13 1
 @TheBearDen: I tend to agree. Good carbon rims definitely have a nice ride quality. But a good quality alloy hoop rides well too.

More so for me, I spend less time pulling dents and retentioning my own wheels - that's why I pick carbon more often than not for my own bikes. Instead of denting rims and writing them off, sometimes within a week or two of building them, I can ride several seasons on a good set of carbon hoops. I have cracked one myself, and it did not fail catastrophically (despite popular belief that carbon will just fail catastrophically) when it did - in fact I finished my ride, including some sizable features, before I realized the shot-gun sound I heard mid ride was actually my rim cracking.

That said I think alloy hoops are getting better too. Better quality alloy and better profiles make a difference. Wait and see how these Atomics do. We have seen some really good alloy come out in the last year.ot two, and perhaps these Atomics are among them? I like the round archy profile - would like to see thicker sidewalls though.
  • 6 23
flag radrider (Apr 9, 2020 at 19:30) (Below Threshold)
 Carbon fiber simply lets me ride longer and or faster. I don't understand why people still hate on it, except for the fact they can't afford it.. But they can afford it, buy used.
  • 11 9
 Sorry, but CushCore helps you ride faster no matter the rim + added sidewall support + better traction. Carbon rims are for people who like luxury things, ride sport cars and generally love high-end stuff and believe that light wheels are so much better - maybe on a road bike or XC. They are absolutely not necessary to ride fast nor comfortable.
  • 3 2
 To show people you have money
  • 2 1
 @lkubica: you are certainly entitled to your opinion. And obviously everyone's sense of value is different. But you can't argue physics. Lighter wheels, more importantly at the extremity - tires, rims, nipples, etc - accelerate faster with less effort. You can't argue the physics behind that.
  • 3 1
 @stumphumper92: I don't think that's true. There are a lot of people out there who have money who don't spend it on carbon. And there are a lot of people with a modest amount of money who believe in squeezing out every last bit of performance from their bike, and who are very passionate about that. Carbon rims have advantages.
  • 2 1
 @deonvg: True!!
  • 1 0
 Love my carbon wheels!
  • 2 3
 @stumphumper92: if you hate carbon your an idiot, Ive said it before and ill say it again. its stronger and lighter and usually has a better warranty than anything on the market. There is really no points to argue. Like comparing a ferrari to a honda civic. One is cheaper and you dont see anyone questioning why and what the benefits are.
The reason for the hate is pure jealousy.
Im currently riding full carbon niner jet 9 rdo.. it cost me $2750 canadian... cannondale flash ultimate, $1800...ibis mojo sl $3500...all these bikes I have bought with carbon frames and wheels, for cheaper than your base model Giant aluminum bike... you dont need to be rich to buy carbon, you just need to get your head out of your ass first.
Also have yet to break a carbon part, I have been through many wheels, broken an aluminum and a steel frame, and with a background in DH and BMX im not easy on my bikes..
  • 1 4
 @radrider: We get it bro you have money cool. I'll stick with my aluminum rims that are just as good and doesn't cost me an arm and a leg to replace if theirs an issue. Unlike the warranty you will inevitability have to use to replace your precious carbon rims that for some reason isn't covered by their warranty. Then who's the idiot? Probably the guy throwing money away on marginal gains that you convinced yourself was necessary. Arguing with people on PB isn't gonna fix that hole in your wallet. Douche.
  • 2 1
 @privateer-wheels: Yes, lighter wheel accelerate faster. But have you ever calculated how much faster? Definitely you can feel it. But you can also feel a fly on your forehead. Obviously you have taken into account that you with a bike weigh like 80-90kg at least and this mass also needs to accelerate. Rotating mass accelerates slower for sure, but weight difference in your rims is like 50 to 100g per wheel (alu vs carbon).
This is actually a great task for covid social distancing - calculate energy of a 1kg 29 inch wheel when riding 20km/h vs energy of a 75kg rieder + 12kg bike moving with the same speed.
  • 2 3
 @stumphumper92: moron.. The point is I dont have money.. All you need is to look around the used market. Again I have never broken a carbon part. And broken many aluminum parts. Whos the one throwing away money. I have resold my carbon parts for nearly the price paid if not more.. If anything carbon has saved me money. Bring in the jealous hate kiddos! Someday you wont have your life revolve around your parents 9 year old dt swiss carbon rims from the flash have been through nearly 40 broken spokes. And still perfectly true. Good luck with aluminum.
  • 1 0
 I am too lazy even in covid scenario, fortunately there are lots of geeks out there (google translate, so, you know):
The guy is an actual engineer, used to produce CNCed chainrings for example.
If you are as lazy as I am, more or less: when rider + bike is 80kg and with 27.5 inch wheel when riding ~30km/h dropping wheel weigh from 2000g to 1800g give you at best a whopping 0.5% faster acceleration.
  • 3 0
 @radrider: carbon wheels may be stronger, but are less comfy. Adding stiffness everywhere is not working. Just check rally cars and mx bikes, they made all of these power toys so rigid to just realise that less riding and more compliance is better for offroad. True story
  • 2 0
 @lkubica: aren't most carbon wheels now the same weight as comparative alu or even heavier?
  • 1 0
 @lkubica: i can definitely feel the fly on my forehead. Gawd damn I hate flys

You may be right. Gains are marginal between a lot of alloy vs hoops. But they are there and that's worth something to some people. Especially when you later then over other benefits.

For me, as stated above, I'm pulling less dents and truing less and rebuilding fewer of my own wheels when I use carbon hoops and that is where the value is for me. I already spend plenty time with a wrench in my hand, and I love that, but I don't feel the need to spend more time in front of the stand for my own gear.
  • 2 0
 @russthedog: all depends. Generally speaking if you want alloy to be as tough they are going to be heavier. That's my experience.
  • 1 0
 I don’t dislike carbon, I just think the return on investment isn’t worth it for me. But I’m just an average mountain biker, Sending it over 2 footers, like I’m clearing the Grand Canyon. So far my trail wide hunts have been the best ride improvement for money.
  • 23 3
 I've had 3 different sets of carbon wheels. My conclusion is : on a carbon frame I prefer aluminum wheels. But on a aluminum frame I can ride carbon wheels. Too much carbon rides too harsh for me.
  • 7 2
 It depends on so many different things. One of which you mentioned. Others inlcude: rider ability, terrain, what carbon rim, tire size, intended application. All of these things, and what you mentioned, are in a balance. In order to achieve the best benefits for any given person, all of these issues can make carbon right or wrong. People who say carbon is always better are not considering very much. They also are usually biased because when you spend that much on anything which in a way is consumable, you had better be convinced of its merits. But that still doesnt make you right. Maybe for yourself you are right.
But theres a chance you're wrong about your own needs or perception of performance, and you certainly are in no position to tell everyone it's better all the time.
  • 1 0
 My roval carbon rims pair well with my e29. Nice amount of compliance and they don't feel overly stiff. They are just right
  • 4 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: I simply stated what was good for me and not everyone it's better all the time. We are lucky as MTBers to have so many good products and options.
  • 3 0
 @robnj: yeah, I didnt phrase it well. I guess should have led with, I wish more people were as perceptive as your are. You seem to have formed your opinion using the actual performance or ride characteristics, and how the rims help or hinder things depending on all the other parts of the package. You make it very clear your not of the blanket statement mindset. I applaud you.
  • 1 0
 @makripper: is e29 short for e bike 29er? Or is that a specific bike? I am genuinely curious - with no other motivation for the question.
  • 1 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: Specialized Enduro 29
  • 1 0
 I just put on a set of aluminum wheels after riding carbon wheels for past 5 years. Aluminum wheels feels much more flexy in really rocky tech. Almost too flexy in the rear and probably want to stiffen it up. I'm thinking of putting a carbon rear wheel and have aluminum front. Going to experiment when this coronavirus thing lifts.
  • 1 0
 @tacklingdummy: what alu rim? 27.5?
  • 2 0
 @tacklingdummy: @makripper: and what spokes, how many and who built them? Aluminum wheels aren't inherently flexy. It's no different than the people chiming in excusing too stiff/brittle carbon wheels by saying they've rode "good carbon wheels"... Good and bad choices for both, and good and bad applications...
  • 1 0
 @stiingya: yeah more or less.
  • 8 0
 Think of how much of the market DT missed out on by not just upgrading the 350 to a 36t or 54t years ago instead of making it an additional upgrade cost.
  • 1 2
 Even with the upgrade cost... I'm still convinced that DT wheels are the best out there. The hubs are so damn simple and fit together so well, and they roll super fast.
  • 3 0
 @bikekrieg: I agree with the initial comment. There are far too many good performing hubs with better engagement for similar or less money. Reminds me of mavic taking years to make a properly wide rim that wasn't a tank. I also won't buy hubs that use alu drivers - they may as well be made of clay. Steel is way more real.
  • 5 0
 Love the upgrade for the non-dentist crowd. Well, actually, you could probably lump dentists in the budget population these days.
  • 4 0
 Upgrade program shows how much margin there is in carbon rims. No wonder there's so many options.
  • 1 0
 I’d tried to help get you out of the negatives because I get what you’re saying, however weight is not the determining factor for strength. The rims I was using on my last bike were 580 gram 26” NS enigma’s that required them being built with a heavy tandem spoke for them to stay true. My even lighter and wider 27.5 DT Swiss EX511’s are 535 grams and I’m using light supercomp spokes, two season of riding and my back wheel was only a little out.

I do agree with you on the idea 460 being too light for heavy riding, however until we actually put time on this rim it’s only speculation. Who knows maybe they actually designed a light / strong profile.
  • 2 0
 The look like Hunt rims. I’ve got a set of their Trail Wide rims (which these look a LOT like) and they go pretty well. Not Enduro tough though.
  • 1 2
 Nox rims are badass. My kitsuma wheels are burly and lite! I also have a new set of the ibis aluminum wheels with their house brand hubs. They are so nice I can’t believe it $500 delivered! I wouldn’t buy another carbon Wheelset after getting the ibis. The kitsuma wheels survive my 215 pounds of love smashing into everything wrecklessly on a hardtail so I have to complaints minus the price...
  • 2 0
 @Rideonjon is right, those dimensions should always be referred to as inner width and outer width....
  • 3 0
 101s getting spec’d a lot. I9 hit it out of the park
  • 2 1
 too bad everyone thinks they suck. They will tell you that without riding them.
  • 3 3
 460g for a 30mm id alloy 27.5 rim? Somehow i dont see these standing up to enduro abuse as well as hoped.
I wonder what the warranty is like...
  • 1 1
 I'm confused by the negs. Are rims this light really holding up for you guys? I weigh like 150lbs and am nowhere near pro speed, yet even in 26" and at narrower widths anything under 500g wouldn't last me more than a couple of weeks in the Alps without the rear being absolutely trashed. I tried wider rims but the extra material required to add the width made them even heavier for similar durability, or even weaker at similar weights And that was with DH casing tyres. Cushcore has solved the issue for me now, but that weighs something like 100g in itself... Without cushcore going sub 550g on a 27.5 rim just doesn't seem to be an option.

Not trying to be a dick, but I honestly can't see these rims lasting more than a couple of runs under a fast rider at that weight. 6069 is fairly run of the mill as a rim material.
  • 2 1
 @gabriel-mission9: between the wasted labor, spokes, and freight, it should be a rebranded 490g XM481. Or even Atomik's 460g carbon hoops on XT hubs!
  • 1 0
 Put air in tires.
  • 1 0
 @JohanG: nah. I like having grip. 25psi in a dh casing rear tyre. Im not going to put more pressure in just so i can save 100g
  • 2 0
 I don't think they know what ID and OD really mean.
  • 3 1
 I could use a wheel made out of cheese right now...
  • 1 0
 if you are arguing so much about the wheels, what about the titanium pedal axles? price / benefit
  • 2 0
 That’s wheely nice.

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