Review: Crankbrothers Iodine 3 Wheelset

Sep 22, 2015
by Matt Wragg  


Perceptions change quickly with mountain bike development. We're certain that when Crankbrothers were re-designing their flagship Iodine 3 wheelset and increased the internal width from 21mm to 23mm, they didn't think that we would be using the word "narrow" when we were reviewing them. Yet, in a marketplace where many of their competitors are sporting widths than push towards (and even beyond) the 30mm mark, that is precisely the word that comes mind. Designed as an "elite level wheel for all-mountain," Iodine 3 wheels roll on 24 spokes. laced using their unique Twinpair design, and come tubeless ready. Weight for a wheelset is 1780 grams for 27.5" and 1850 for 29" and the MSRP is $900USD for the pair.

Details:
• Rims: 6061 aluminum
• Intended use: all-mountain
• Width: 23mm inner
• Diameter: 27.5" or 29"
• Tubeless ready undrilled rim design
• Spoke count: 24 Twinpair spokes
• Weight: 1780 grams for 2.5"/ 1850g for 29"
• 15 or 20x100 front, 135x10/142x12 rear
• MSRP: $900 for the pair, XD driver body available separately
• Contact: Crankbrothers / @crankbrothers


Crankbrothers Iodine 3 wheelset review
Crankbrothers Iodine 3 wheelset review
The unique look of Iodine 3 wheels is unlike anything else on the market. At the center of the wild Twinpair spokes is a less exciting, but well-built set of hubs.


Construction

Crankbrothers Iodine 3 wheels are nothing if not unique. The aluminum Twinpair spokes and lacing configuration is claimed to create, "triangulated load bearing structures" which Crankbrothers believe offer "superior strength" despite the wheel's reduced spoke count compared to others in this class. The spokes are matched in pairs and join the rim at either side of a threaded aluminum dowel which protrudes through a central flange in the rim. The two-piece spokes thread together at their midpoints and to tension the spoke, you screw the segments together like a turnbuckle. Crankbrothers claim that one benefit of this design is that much of the strengthening material is away from the rim, where the additional rotational mass matters most.

Inside the rear hub is a three-pawl freehub with 21 teeth for engagement. Wheels are shipped with Shimano HG-type freehubs, but a SRAM XD conversion is available for $99 USD at the Crankbrothers web-store. Both front and rear hubs run on cartridge bearings. Front hubs can be spaced for 15mm or 20mm axles with interchangeable endcaps, while rears are 12mm x 142mm. At present the Iodine 3 wheels are not available for bikes running Boost front or rear configurations.


Crankbrothers Iodine 3 wheelset review
Crankbrothers Iodine 3 wheelset review
At the base of each spoke is a formed head, so there is little chance of the spoke pulling through the hub flanges. Inside the rim, you can see the undrilled internal profile that makes tubeless setups such a joy.

Crankbrothers Iodine 3 wheelset review
Crankbrothers Iodine 3 wheelset review
The spokes are connected to the rim via dowels that pierce through a flange in the rim. Between the spoke interfaces, excess material is machined away to reduce weight.


Installation

Maybe the biggest and most noticeable advantage for the wheel's construction is their tubeless compatibility. Because the interior of the rim has an undrilled surface, save for the valve hole, this means that they are tubeless ready out of the box, with no need for an additional rim strip. Not only does this save a little weight, it also makes setting them up for tubeless theoretically painless (although a couple of tires we tried did require the use of a compressor). We did, however, mount them on a range of tires with no issues whatsoever.


Riding

While the weight of Iodine 3 wheels on paper is on par with much of their competition, they did feel sluggish to get moving. Once up to speed they were fine though, rolling nicely. While they didn't flex noticeably, and it is always hard to talk about qualitative terms like stiffness in a review, there was a certain deadening quality to the ride from these wheels - they didn't pop and dance on the trail. Their biggest negative was the freehub, which was slow to engage and not something we'd expect to see at this price point.

With recent developments in wheel design it is easy to lose sight of the fact that things have improved incrementally, that equipment behind the curve of the latest trends is not obsolete. The 23mm internal width was fine for mounting anything short of full 2.5" DH tires, in other words: pretty much all of the available tires for all-mountain riding will pair well with these wheels without any problems. That said, today's all-mountain rims average around 26mm (30mm is not uncommon), which means that the Iodine's 23mm internal-width is as narrow as one would consider to be in this class.


Durability

This is where these wheels really shone. The rims were absolute tanks - we put them through six months and 2,000km of suffering on the rocks of Peille in Southern France, the same trails Nico Vouilloz cut his teeth on. For extra punishment they even spent some time on an electric-assist bike, which, regardless of your personal view on such bikes, is an excellent test bed because the bikes tend to weigh upwards of 20kg and out on the trail, that weight tends to make them blunt instruments when it comes to technical sections. Even with the additional abuse, the rims did not flinch once - they required a little spoke tension here there and the 20mm adapter on the front hub did get a little bit loose after six months use, but that is all. They stayed mostly true, with just some minor flat spots that, most importantly, did not affect the tubeless performance.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind with wheels like these: the design is completely proprietary. That means that if you have a good local bike shop who sell Crankbrothers you should be fine and you can, of course, order parts online. If you are the kind of rider who tends to break kit, we would recommend keeping spares to hand so you don't find yourself stuck waiting for them to arrive. We tried a few local bike shops to check availability of spares and the results were not reassuring, freehubs were easy to find, but we struggled to get hold of spokes which are likely to be the part that breaks most often.




Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesMaybe these wheels tell us more about how high our expectations are these days than anything else. At the bottom line, Crankbrothers' Iodine 3 wheels are a tough, reliable, option for your trail bike. A few years ago that would have been something we would have been shouting from the rooftops, yet today we are left feeling that they came up slightly short, especially if we were spending $900. The looks are a love or hate affair, and if you fall into the love side of that, then they are certainly a distinctive addition to your build. The weight is ok, although somehow they feel like heavy wheels on the bike (although the scales confirm that the stated weights are about on the money) and the freehub is a shade sluggish. In the end, it is those missing few millimeters from the width and the proprietary technology that would lead us to invest our money elsewhere. It's not that the proprietary technology doesn't work, it's simply that there are other wheels on the market right now that offer identical performance without the complication. - Matt Wragg




Visit the high-res gallery for more images from this review.




144 Comments

  • + 76
 Proprietary spokes are dumb.
  • + 45
 Agreed...had enough of that with my Mavic Crosslines.
Also, whenever I see Crank Brothers, I assume "that's gonna break"
  • + 11
 Yeah, had some of the crank brothers wheels & they were guff. Absolutely shyte!
  • + 20
 Industry 9 seems to have gotten it right. They offer a legitimate performance (and eye candy) advantage over j-bend spokes and they throw a few spares in for good measure should something go wrong.
  • + 11
 Can't beat the Spank oozy 295 for bang-for-your buck. 1700g on a 27.5 set, 30 engagement points, and strong.
  • + 5
 ^^^ Just bought these from my LBS (they matched colorado cyclist price of around $450). That's half the price of the above wheels, with wider rims and bling to go with it as they come in 5 colors. I'm not sure about durability but most people view Spank as a very durable company. The bar has indeed been raised lately in the wheel world.
  • + 5
 With CRCs pricing in custom wheel builds right now, more expensive wheelers are a tough sell. A set of Hopes / DTS spokes / and rim of your choice is like $500 shipped.
  • + 8
 @ninjatarian - All manufacturers with proprietary spokes should include a few spares. It's a bummer they don't.
  • + 3
 Get these if you're bent on spending big money on wheels. Great warranty like CB, without the issues of CB.

www.pinkbike.com/news/Industry-Nine-26-Gravity-Wheels-Reviewed-2014.html
  • - 9
flag Alias530 (Sep 23, 2015 at 7:19) (Below Threshold)
 $1,200, in this day and age, is not "big money" for wheels. For aluminum wheels, maybe. I couldn't imagine paying that for alu when I could spend another couple hundred and get some nice Rovals that'll be way lighter/stiffer and not use proprietary spokes.


THIS is big money: www.wrenchscience.com/road/wheelsets/Lightweight/Meilenstein+Obermayer+Schwarz+Edition/2015
  • + 2
 Those are road wheels jack hole , there are much better options then this wheelset for $900 unless all you want is bling factor
  • + 5
 @Alias530 That's like saying a $275k Ferrari isn't big money for a car because the $2m Buggati exists. I think most people would beg to differ.

And on top of that- Those aren't even mountain bike wheels.
  • - 6
flag Alias530 (Sep 23, 2015 at 10:12) (Below Threshold)
 @ninjatarian - that's a bullshit example and you know it. When looking at carbon wheels, unless you're looking at Chinese stuff or clearance stuff the shop can't sell, $1,200+ is the norm. I never said that the ones I linked were the norm, but $1,200 is hardly "big money" for wheels.
  • + 0
 I tried those spank oozy's. I weigh 150 and put them on my trail bike. Absolute shite. Constant truing required, bearings blew out quickly, within 9 months they were relegated to a corner of the garage. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to go to these crankbros detonator wheels, just don't believe the hype on spank.
  • + 10
 @Alias530 - damn, $1200 isn't big money for wheels....? Can I borrow 500 bucks??
  • + 2
 @Alias530 And when looking at super cars from various brands $275k is the norm.

At this point I think it's safe to assume that everyone where you live drives around Ferraris, Lambos, and carbon rims since apparently they aren't "big money."
  • + 3
 @Alias530 Roval wheels are f*cking garbage, why would you ever suggest them as an "upgrade"?

The hubs blow up in a few weeks of riding and the radial lacing on one side makes them load up and make some horrible noises under hard braking. Not to mention that they're a monumental bitch to true, you're better of replacing them.
  • - 4
flag Alias530 (Sep 23, 2015 at 11:28) (Below Threshold)
 @ninjatarian - look at percentages though. What percentage of supercars are $2mil? Pretty close to zero. Now look at carbon wheelsets that are Chinese shit. What percentage of them are $1,200+? God damn near all of them. Do you see where I'm going with that?


@Nobble - you're out of your mind if you think i9's are better than Roval's. Just to be clear, I'm talking about carbon Roval's like the SL Fatties. i9's are literally the cycling equivalent of a fart can muffler and neon lights on a Civic. You're doing something wrong if you're blowing the hubs up... DT internals are about as tried and true as it gets.
  • + 1
 @Nobble Which Rovals are you referring to? There are many different levels from cheap to high end.

I weigh 190 lbs and beat the crap out of my Roval Fattie Alloys and haven't had that experience. They see full speed rock gardens and I don't tend to ride very smoothly. Under hard use I expect to get at least 3 full seasons out of them before a rebuild. Also, they use DT Swiss internals which I've found to be trouble free. The only thing I would fault them for I share responsibility in. I like to run low pressure, like 23-25 psi and I have let it go lower and incurred a couple dings. I think a narrower rim wouldn't be as close to rock strikes. I'd highly recommend them for the money. I ended up going with Spank on my wife's bike due to the great deal I got.
  • - 1
 @ryan83 - eagerly awaiting his response to find out that he's talking about a Roval Traverse alloy set from 2011 with a Joytech/Formula hub or something, rather than the carbon rimmed/DT internal version I was talking about. Leave it to idiots on pinkbike to twist an example in order to make a point hahahahaha
  • + 5
 @Alias530 I9's aluminium enduro wheels are lighter and stiffer than a pair of Enve M70's. "DT internals" just refers to the star ratchet mechanism, not the overall hub design. I've seen more premature bearing failures on roval than anything else at all pricepoints. Do you know how you true a pair of traverse SL wheels? You warranty them for a new pair because it's damn near impossible.

@ryan83 All Rovals. The stock wheels on my base model enduro had a shitload of drag after 3 rides. I've seen Sworks epics with a few hundred miles and shot bearings in the stock wheels. The only good roval wheels were the old ones when they were just rebranded DT's.
  • + 1
 Exactly. Just because it has the DT Swiss internal doesn't mean the hubs housing and the bearings are up to the same tolerance as DT Swiss. I had a set of Roval and the rear hub housing was just poorly made. At least with I9, they'll go out of their way to right the wrong directly instead of going back and forth with the LBS for weeks.
  • - 1
 @Nobble - they might feel stiffer because they rider harsher, but I assure you they are not stiffer. It's not physically possible for a well made lightweight aluminum rim to be stiffer than a heavier well made carbon rim.

How much do you weigh? I'm 6'6" 240lbs and spend a lot of time in the Clydesdale forums on MTBR. People bitch constantly about i9's stiffness, how they break, etc.
  • + 3
 @Alias530 I agree, an aluminium rim wont be as stiff as a carbon one; however there's a lot more to a wheel than just the rim. The stiffness of an I9 wheel comes from the oversized aluminium spokes and the wheel build. Aluminium has a higher specific modulus than steel so it creates a stiffer spoke for the same weight.

Lets see some sources for your claims because the entire race team (downhill and enduro) for the shop I work at has been smashing on I9 wheels all season. What carnage have they had from I9's terrible noodly fart-can wheels? 3 broken spokes across 7 pairs of wheels with a season of racing at northstar.
  • - 2
 So much talk about wheels, just buy some and ride them. Spank are shit too FYI. Made of cheese. Just buy good old fashioned wheels unless you have money to burn / throw away, on that point - if you have. I'll forward you my account details...
  • + 0
 @Nobble - what about weight limit? ENVE has no weight limit, while i9 does (and a low one at that). Obviously some companies are more conservative than others but ENVE wouldn't offer a 5 year warranty AND claim no weight limit if they couldn't back it up.
  • + 1
 I would like to interject for a moment. I work at a east coast shop. (a lot of rock and roots, very nice abuse on wheels) Maryland area. I dealt with Carbon rovals SL with the 38mm internal width and DT 240 internals. I've seen the damage of what square edges and jagged rocks can do. I've serviced a lot more carbon rovals with nipple heads breaking and hubs blowing up on those wheelsets then i9's. The star ratchets do get stripped and they also break. The hop up kit breaks as well, more ratchets, so better engagement but machined more so making them a little more fragile. Are they easy to service, Sure!!. However, I ride the I9's eduro wheelset. I'm 5'8" 200lbs. I haven't broken a spoke yet just marred a couple and there still going strong. The i9's are on my 6 inch travel bike which I ride everywhere. One thing I like most about I9 is the customer service is awesome. If I have a question about anything regarding my wheels I email them to get a prompt response moments later. Very good company. Weight limit on the enduro wheelset is 250lbs. Just my 2 cents. Dont get me wrong the rovals are nice. I perfer the little guy with great customer service then the big guy company.
  • + 2
 If I had to choose between buying Roval wheels and buying i9 wheels, price being equal, I'd buy the i9's as well. I've owned 3 sets of them, including the factory built ones with alloy spokes and concur with the above praise. However, the alloy Roval Fattie's cost $600 retail and shops will sell them for less. This puts them at 50% of the cost of base level i9's. They fall into a whole different category as far as I'm concerned (unless you get EP). Side note-what Roval SL's have 38mm internal width?
  • + 1
 Comes down to sound. For me I dislike the angry bee noise that I9's have. But each their own. Interesting reading others opinions. Riding Carbon Roval fattie SL's going well. Rode carbon traverse sl before that only popped two spokes in 3 seasons. No hub issues. Rode a set of Roval alloy's between those, very short time no issues either. I would recommend them to anyone.
  • + 1
 To be honest, I'm pretty stoked on my method... buy a set of Alex Supra BH rims for $70 (at cost, of course) every two years when I mangle and warp my old set (assuming that even happens). Heavy, yeah, but I'll be a monkey's uncle before I drop $900 on a set of wheels. You could buy a house in Cleveland for less than that.
  • + 1
 Yeah try having as much fun in a house in Cleveland as you would on a set of nice wheels. Report back.
  • + 1
 The only thing fun in Cleveland is Ray's. As far as I'm concerned, Cleveland is Ray's, and the Chipotle where I eat afterwards. The rest serves no purpose to me. Need I point you to the "hastily made Cleveland tourism video".
  • + 1
 I should have elaborated: I'd rather spend $900 on a set of wheels than live in Cleveland.
  • + 3
 @necros @cunning-linguist My buddy and I just ran Spank Oozy Trail 295's through the entire Oregon Enduro Series and they're still true and the bearing are smooth and tight. Best wheelset out for the money in my opinion.
  • + 1
 I believe their the rovals sl fatties. They're wide as hell.
  • + 1
 SL Fatties are 35mm
  • + 1
 Boost wheels are 38mm. The 27.5 ones for us people stuck in the ancient times are 30mm internal.
  • + 1
 Didn't even notice there was a Boost version yet... the regular ones are 30mm internal and the Boosts are 38mm internal. The regular ones are 35mm external but no quote on the website on the boost model, probably in the 43mm realm. Wow, huge.
  • + 29
 "rapidly evolving all-mountain wheel game" aha aha ahaaahahahahahahaha
  • + 0
 @mango123d Where is this quote from?
  • + 1
 the description of the article. duh..
  • + 1
 Oh...derp! I wish it were possible to downvote myself.
  • + 22
 My Crankbrothers wheels were probably the worst wheels I've ever ridden. Constantly has problems, blew the freehub about 8 times and each CB said "Wow! We've never seen that happen before!" and proceeded to charge me to get it replaced... Are you f*cking kidding me. The only CB product I will ride is Mallets.
  • + 1
 Correct. The freehand were so bad they all ended up on chainlove, and even there they didn't sell.
  • + 2
 *freehub
  • + 0
 about 8 times, thats about a bunch of bs
  • + 2
 Agree. You can't use the word "reliable" and "Crank Brothers" in the same sentence without the hairs on the back of your neck standing straight up.
  • + 1
 @NMackey Not BS. I'm not exaggerating either. 8 times the freehub pawls broke or were stripped and CB claimed it was something "they've never seen before." What got me is that they CHARGED me to get it fixed. You would think these things would be covered under some sort of warranty... At least they should notice that it keeps happening to me and maybe do it for free or replace the wheel entirely.
  • + 1
 If you have a receipt for your wheels and they are under the 2 year warranty, all of that is covered. Ive been running these wheels for 5 years at least and have built up plenty of sets. If you maintain your wheels which you barely have to do, they work better than anyone says. First Gen freehubs sucked and everyone knew that, once the new version came out, they worked pretty well but it was still and old design. 2nd gen wheels like yours could have the stronger 142x12 hubs or the 135mm hubs were a little bit weaker and with a call to crankbrothers after a pawl was damaged, they sent upgraded pawls and an axle which fixed the problem for good. Now all they offer are the strongest 142x12 hubs. Maybe you out of everyone in the world were unlucky with 8x free hub problems but with a simple call and proof of your receipt, they always take care of your issues.
  • + 18
 I've been running these on my Nomad since April of this year and I ride 3-4 times a week on some of the gnarlier trails in Laguna/Aliso. The wheels have held up really well. I'm stoked on em.
  • + 12
 I run the Opium DH on my everyday, everywhere ride. Close to 500 miles on them so far, everything from lift assist to all day rides. I'm impressed with them after the Enves the I sold to buy them.
  • + 1
 I always chuckle to myself when I see someone with CB wheels, hopefully they don't ride more than an hours walk back to the car when a spoke breaks!
  • + 4
 @gratefuldmb - Jeez, that's ballsy. Kudos. I like Crankbrothers too, but I don't know if I'd be adventurous enough to sell ENVE for them, considering all the negative press they get. Glad that worked out for you!
  • + 2
 They're nice wheels but from my experience require more frequent truing than I'd prefer
  • + 2
 Quite a luck you got there. Could give lottery a run.
  • + 2
 I picked up a set two years ago on an outrageous deal and they've been rock solid. fingers crossed that trend continues...
  • + 0
 @unrooted Yeah tbh I'm sure these aren't as bad as some people claim, but with this spoke design, if you break one spoke you've effectively broken 2 spokes, right? Granted that's only happened to me once, but it would suck to walk the bike home when you ought to be able to ride it out.

I do love the looks of them though. If I got a screaming deal on them I'd 100% give them a shot.
  • + 3
 If you break a spoke, it's only one. You can repair them without taking the wheel off the bike.
  • + 1
 Maybe I don't understand how the spoke/dowel connection works... if you break one spoke, doesn't the one on the other side of the same dowel also lose all tension?
  • + 2
 You will lose tension but you unthread the other nipple and swing the spokes down towards the rim. You can work on them wherever without having to even take a tire off. You can build these up in 20-25 min and with the correct build and spoke prep, the spokes never come loose unless you damage the rim. People shouldn't even expect to find their spoke at most bike shops and if you feel like you might break one, maybe buy a couple before you go ride? They are small and fit anywhere in your pack.
  • + 15
 another company abandoning 26", crankbros doesnt have that great of a track record to be that ballsy. "nobody is buying 26" anymore" yeah, because companies stopped making it.
  • + 4
 These don't sell like other brands like Mavic and such do, so to make a wheel size that fewer and fewer people are buying seems futile.
  • + 4
 would definitely want these on my 26" bike though.
  • + 6
 Oh well. You're better off with a pair of traditional, 32 spoke, Hope hubs laced to flow rims. You can get those in a 26" and will be happier in the long-run.
  • + 1
 Mines are one of the last 26" inch Iodines I guess. Been riding them for over a year in various trails (rocks, mud, sandy, etc.) and have no signs of terrible wear. I ride 2 or 3 times a week. Take a look if you like to...

www.pinkbike.com/photo/12714996

Cheers,
Beer
  • + 4
 smoranc, your bike is bad as shit. i like it.
  • + 1
 thanks man... Cheers.
Beer
  • + 13
 I will never ride crank bros wheels ever again, those wheels caused me nothing but problems.
  • + 6
 AMEN to that, I'm in the same boat. They looked great on the bike, but the amount of time they were off it made me want to throw them in the bin
  • + 3
 Beyond poo. Mine were just wank. Stay simple and enjoy riding! Just hope on mavic with decent spokes and hand built properly and you're in business...
  • + 6
 This review doesn't surprise me one bit! A long time ago I was tempted to buy the DH wheel set and luckily a buddy talked me out of it because every person I've spoken to about owning a CB wheel said they're garbage. Doesn't matter if CB upgrades their freehub or their bearings, this design just doesn't do the company any justice. It's like when CB offered their 50/50 pedals, those were nothing but a headache and I can't even remember how many stupid slider plates I went through because they just randomly fall out. Lately I've been hearing nothing but issues with CB's other products too and I don't mean to ring out a company but the only damn good thing they've even made were their clipless pedals. Rode my first set of Mallet pedals for 3 years without any issues and the day I sold them they spun just as great as day one. I'm now onto owning two sets of their Mallet DH pedals and these things rock!!! If CB could only stick to pedals then they'd be saving their companies name and a lot of other people's time and money. Just thought I'd add in my 2 cents
  • + 1
 plenty of neg reviews available. if muppets did their research nobody would buy this junk and then one less incompetent low quality/high hype company in the world of MTB & more business for Mavic who make proper serviceable parts, not flashy overhyped JUNK, of which there is way too much in MTB
  • + 1
 But you have to admit that Mavic stinks a bit of conservative elitism Big Grin They make quite narrow stuff and when it comes to aftermarket rims their alloys are cheesy even Maxtal. Their complete factory wheels are super strong but when things go south, replacement parts are very expensive and hard to obtain
  • + 1
 I have been happy and satisfied with crank brothers pedals on my last two mountain bikes and even one set of carbon bars. I wouldn't touch those wheels with a ten foot pole though.
  • + 4
 No idea why you're getting hit with neg props. Deemax are still 21 mm and yes I do realise they may not be the latest, hippest or most up to date wheelset around, but it would be bonkers to try and make out they were suddenly an incapable wheelset. Pick your wheels, go ride, enjoy!
  • + 1
 Deemax is a bit of a different story as you use 2ply tyres on them, which have stiff and stable casing. They want wide rims for toilet paper walled tyres like Schwalbe with Evo SS casings, which is a good thing if you are either worthless (your ide slow) or really good and smooth so you don't wreck the tyre while going fast. Having a bit of experience with wide rims now, I think PB staff is exaggerating it a bit. You don't really need 30mm inner width but 21mm is slightly narrow even in my books. I find 25-27mm to be pretty legit
  • + 2
 I sold off my 21 mm Roam wheels, for a pair of 35 mm Nextie s carbon: light, snappy and tons of support for the tire, when pushed on the edge. The grip on the trail is such a treat; running 20/ 23 PSI tubeless, Hans Dampf 2.35 SS, Trailstar rear and front. Though, I have had rocks chewing away on the carbon sidewall: so for, so good...
  • + 3
 I had 28mm inner carbon rims and sold them to get 25mm inner EX741s. No change in tyre stability experienced. What they say about lowering pressure is valid as long as you are a ripper with narrow rims, because then puncturing becomes of a lesser concern since you also want to keep the tyre on the rim. Once a ripper gets much wider more stable rim he can lower the pressure. But In terms of puncturing, running lower pressures for wider rims does nothing else than make you pinch flat a lot. I even pinched an EXO Minion. Schwalbes are a breeze to pinch flat sidewall on too low pressure. I have no clue how Nico Lau races on Nobby Nic on the rear, he is a wizard. Just for numbers, I weigh around 78, and on 19mm Mavics I used to run 2bars on the rear. On LB 35mm carbon and Ex741s I run 1.8, whereas Schwalbe and Syntace say it is okay for me to run 1.6 with 30mm internal width. And I don't even ride in Alps - so bullcrap
  • + 1
 The problem is still tires designed around the wide rims(& the lack of them.) We did see a prototype maxxis under an EWS rider this year, so hopefully, we'll be seeing the rubber needed to take advantage of these wider rims soon.
  • + 0
 Square pattern profile is a not a big deal for average Joes, rather advantage. But a good rider who can lean it will miss the side knobbs where he used to have them
  • + 1
 Well, my experience with 27.5+ , and some other wide stuff makes me think it comes down to more than just that, as there ARE some tires that keep a fairly round profile. When leaned hard on wide rims, tires tend to feel vague in a way I don't like, almost as if that tall casing is now flexing in bad ways(hard to describe, but it's almost like it's moving sideways.) Preventing it requires running more pressure than I would like.
  • + 0
 27,5+ is a different story - since tyre is so wide, leaning it starts to get optional.
  • + 1
 It wasn't something I only noticed on plus: I've got some 35mm internal rims on my DH bike, & have noticed weirdness with certain tires there as well, even with DH casings.
  • + 7
 Still wishing to see more reviews on DH products.
  • + 1
 Amen
  • + 5
 Have blown up a few pairs of these (older iterations) on used bikes I've bought...think I'll be sticking with my $900 Chinese carbon laced to hopes
  • + 1
 or toss those carbon rims for some Velocity Blunt SS. at 110 they are a great deal. I just laced a pair for a customer of mine who had Enve rims previous and we did a weight comparison between the two and the velocity rims were lighter. not by much but at a roughly 800 dollar price difference and lighter seems like a easy decision to me.
  • + 1
 velicity blunt ss? never heard of that. but thank you good sir for this info.
  • + 3
 I had Velocity Blunts - softest rims ever. So bad that at the time of the build I purchased a third rim for use as a spare but I didn't even bother lacing that up because it was just a waste of time. And I am a smooth riding 160lbs XC racer riding Canberra's notoriously smooth trails, not some fat-arsed hucker riding nothing but rock gardens. I built them up on I9 hubs to replace the stock Giant rims - went back to the stock Giant rims and didn't dent them at all riding the same trails. One of the few products in MTB that I will go out of my way to implore a fellow MTBer to avoid.
  • + 1
 FWIW: ^Not the only rider I've heard complain that Blunts are soft. On my personal shit list right now is KOMs. I hardly ever even dent rims, but my rear KOM was almost folded at the bead in several places after just a few months. If you look at a cross section, they have a LOT less material in the sidewall, compared with other stuff on the market. Frequencies, on the other hand, are nice, liking those on my 29er so far. WTB needs a rim in between, with no I-beam, but more material in the rim than KOM.
  • + 1
 Agree w the WTB comment about something in between. Frequency rims are strong but maybe a bit overbuilt, at least for my weight. And KOM look great on paper but bead is reportedly not resistant to hits (by design they say, to allow you to get home without major wheel damage). DT ex471 gets you 25 mm inner, but same weight as freq i23, and seemingly similar durability.
  • + 1
 Yea, but I don't get a deal on DT. Razz
  • + 1
 I went to flows a few years ago...havent let me down yet. tried and true. The WTB ST's are pretty strong too, but really heavy.
  • + 1
 STs are sleeved rather than welded. If I'm going to spend the time to build a wheel, it's going to be a welded rim(with the exception of SPANK.)
  • + 4
 Narrow, heavy, expensive, low spoke count, proprietary spokes, low engagement, and made by Crankbros? What are the selling points for this wheelset?
  • + 1
 haha pretty much ... BLING !!
  • + 2
 Bulletproof is not the first thing that comes to my mind, when thinking of Crankbrothers. I've owned both a set of the newer version Candy 3 pedals (with better bearings and more reliable, they said) and a set of Cobalt 3 29er wheels. The needle bearing in one of the pedals chose to explode during a fast descent during a mtb holiday on Gran Canaria, when they were one year old. They were well maintained and the grease were still looking good when I pulled them apart, but the axle was busted, since I had to ride them home from the mountains, approx 20km. Sent them back to the CB wholeseller who said that they haven't seen that on the better 3 and 11 models. They replaced the needle bearing and sent them back. Apparently they didn't consider replacing the axle, so it felt like shit afterwards, you could easily feel which pedal was the busted one. Sent them back again and this time they just sent a new pair - good service! But they broke after another year of riding, so I sent them back, they said that they have never had any issues with the 3 and 11 models (sounds familiar, right?) but sent me a new pair. I gave the new pair away and switched to Look, who uses real bearings!
And don't even get me started on the wheels! All the bearings in the rear wheel were rubbish after less than 500km/6 weeks, the spokes flexed so badly when ridden hard, that they creaked and wore on each other, both when pushing uphill, in sprints or going down... They felt heavy, slow to accelerate and soft when cornering, and they are the only wheels I have ever experienced a burbing tire on. Needless to say that I sold them pretty quickly again.
  • + 2
 seems like i'm the only one in THE WHOLE WORLD who's never had problems with his iodines 3 (2013 and 26"). Never had a problem. never trued the wheels after more than 1000 km on them. i must be the luckiest dude in the world ?_?
  • + 5
 keep the flash box they come in , you will need that when you send them back on warranty......
  • + 2
 that is if they even bother helping you out with the warranty.
  • + 1
 Kind of a shame; I was hoping they'd get a positive review. The strength and undrilled rim bed are really great assets, and I like the look too. Rim width and freehubs are pretty easy problems to remedy; I don't know about stiffness, though. A design with merit, perhaps, but one that will hopefully be executed a little better in the future?
  • + 3
 Remedy by who? Certainly not the end user.
  • + 1
 I have a set of these on my Covert and my biggest complaint is that the rear wheel needs constant truing. The rims themselves are plenty strong but 24 spoke isn't enough for a bigger dude who charges and maybe, cough cough, isn't the smoothest rider out there. They look shit hot though.
  • + 1
 They are different. Crank Bros suffers from quality control. Good ideas decent weight. In the test these wheels performed great. I had mallet pedals. They were junk! The axle races wore out far too early. I guess some people will see the shiny wheels in the shop window and buy em. Other than that this company has a long way to go in proving they have thiere sh.t together.
  • + 1
 I've got these in 26" version. Bought in spring. The rims are quite soft. I caught some dents very quickly. Never had such issues with ZTR rims (Crest and Arch EX). They are not as stiff as classic wheels, but not too bad.

Luckily I managed to get them on sale for only 300GBP, cheaper than Hope Hoops on ZTRs. It's hard to find any spares (converters/adapters). I had to file the rear hub spacers to fit into 135 frame.

But they look awesome and drag a tons of attention, some people might not like that.

Bottom line - they are not worth their RRP, but if you want the awesome design - just wait for sale. Hope Hoops offer better value for money.
  • + 1
 Have cobalt3 29 since may13, ridden roughly 30k vm, trued them twice since i have them. this year did the ratchet&berarings service, all good.
Very happy with them.
They ve even seen some park days, rock gardens &whatnots...
Very little flex, even compared to id26 carbon assimetrical.
Big volume tire burping (hd, purgatory 2,3) at low bar(-1,5) is a problem.
But the msrp is a joke, sale/2nd hand is the way to go.
  • + 4
 So my 721's aren't even Xc rims anymore........
  • + 1
 I have this wheelset on my mojo HD and have had good luck with it so far and it has been about a year. I do not ride lightly and they have been down the whole enchilada and several other tough rides and still going strong.
  • + 3
 I wanna see PB review a Nox Composites wheelset... I'm extremely pleased with my Teocalli 275's.
  • + 1
 For sure! Nox on DT swiss, I9 or other quality hubs with "standard" spokes/nipples is really a nearly faultless wheel.
  • + 1
 Agreed. I have the Teo 275 w i9 hubs. Couldn't b more pleased. 1450 gr. Under $1,500.
And did I mention they look great too.
  • + 1
 DT 350 + KOM i25s = less money for a lighter rims, better hubs and nothing at all proprietary. These wheels have no benefit over more traditional set ups. I really can't believe they still make them.
  • + 1
 I had a pair of Cobalts on my xc bike a few years ago and never had any issues with them. Seems like I was lucky though. Now I work in a bike shop, all the mechanics hate Crank Bros wheels with a passion.
  • + 1
 I use to ride 2013 iodines but in a 135 QR setup and they use to flex a bit more than the old regular 32 standard wheels, how do I notice that? Tire rubs appeared on the sides of the frame...
  • + 3
 I was riding with a guy who had these wheels. He broke one spoke. It was safe to say his day was over.
  • + 1
 I hope they've improved the rear hub as the set I owned didn't even last one ride before deconstructing itself (on an light ride!). Very poor, but it was a couple of years ago now, surely they've addressed these problems?
  • + 1
 It's funny, I've been working in bike shops for over 15 years and I've never seen anyone with a set of CB wheels.
How is that company still in business? I think their products are complete garbage.
  • + 3
 Great wheels for parking lot pimping!
  • + 1
 My two month old Iodine 2 bent irreparably on my hardtail riding a fairly rocky trail. they would not warranty. made mw buy the rim but they ate the labor.
  • + 1
 Easton Heist are the sleepers of the season. Got some Heist 30s as a backup set and they ride great... quite a bit cheaper than these too.
  • + 1
 I've been riding on Mavic 729s with Chris King hubs since 2004. True and rock solid. I'll keep my money in my pocket until they crack. Then I'll get another set of 729s.
  • + 3
 I like reviews... So i know what i won't buy
  • + 1
 Two and three cross lacing patterns are beautiful and dead functional. I never really understood what CB was trying to achieve with their wheel design.
  • + 1
 Can't we not get a wheelset just like these cosmetic wise but with regular spokes? love the design, hate the propriety spoke stuff.
  • + 3
 21 engagement points is just not acceptable.
  • + 0
 Agree... you know that moment when you really need to lay the power down, and all you get is nut-slammed before the hub engages
  • + 1
 23mm rim width? 21 teeth for engagement? Will I buy them for all-mountain? Interesting.
  • + 1
 On the bike for 6 months, doesn't have a picture of them on the bike or even with rubber on them...
  • + 1
 I can't take these wheels seriously. If a friend had these I would hang shit on them all the time.
  • + 1
 Once again, when a PB product review sub-headline asks a question, the answer is always NO. :-)
  • + 2
 Another nail in the coffin for Crankbros
  • + 1
 I got the cobalts and absolutely smash them albeit 1x a week. Holding up just fine.. for now..
  • + 2
 So, not good wheels then?
  • + 1
 Still competitive? They were competitive?
  • + 1
 I will gladly continue riding my mavic 729s laced to hadley's.
  • + 1
 Lightbicycle carbon rims and hope hubs. Lotta bang for ya buck
  • + 1
 untruable garbage
  • + 1
 Crack Brothers...
  • + 1
 Ahhh please die!
  • + 1
 Snap. Crackle. Pop.
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