German company Newmen are only a couple of years old, but Michael Grätz, the man behind the company, knows a thing or two about designing bike components. Michi previously started Liteville and Syntace, who have built an enviable reputation for precisely engineered bikes and reliable componentry. We took a 'First Look'
at the Newmen wheels last year, and I have been battering a couple of pairs ever since.
These Newmen Evolution A.30 wheels have a reasonable 1760g weight. That's not uber light for a 29" 'trail' wheelset, but testing proved they were much more capable than the 'trail' category would suggest, they turned out to be more than strong enough for enduro and even downhill.
Evolution A.30 Wheel Details
• 27.5" or 29" (tested)
• Aluminum rims, 30mm internal width
• Flared, hookless rim profile
• Concave spoke washers
• Equal spoke length throughout
• 28 Sapim D-Light straight pull spokes
• Newmen hubs, 36t star ratchet
• Weight: 1760g (29", SRAM XD freehub, rim tape and valves, actual
• MSRP: €698
The A.30 wheelset retails for €698 for the pair, are available in 27.5" or 29" sizes, with Boost or non-Boost hub spacing. Individual wheels and component parts can be bought separately.Details
To avoid any confusion with the images, I had four sets of wheels in total on test. The original wheels started their testing life in May 2018. I used the A.30 and the E.G.30 wheelsets that are essentially the same. The former uses double butted spokes and a smaller ratchet freehub system. The latter is the eMTB version that uses thicker straight gauge spokes, a bigger ratchet system, and the rims are slightly heavier with around 50g more material. These original wheels used Newmen's 'Tolerance Adjustment' caps which was a hub preload system that was designed to prevent to much pressure being forced into the bearings by various axle systems – Newmen say the forces from different frames, axles, and humans can vary from 3000N to over 10000N of force on the hubs. I had no issue with this system, aside from a little additional setup time. But, Newmen found that the majority of their consumers didn't fully understand the system, and set the TA incorrectly which lead to premature wearing of the bearing, loose-feeling wheels, and subsequent warranty cases.
The Tolerance Adjustment caps were a great idea that I had no problems with. But that system has now been scrapped for something more traditional.
So, the TA was scrapped at the end of last year and Newmen have returned to a standard system. So another pair of each wheelset later and I continued the testing with the new version of the hubs. The rims are laced to a set of Newmen's own straight pull hubs with 28 Sapim D-Light spokes, all of which are the same length, so you don't need a vast array of different length spokes as spares. The hubs use a 36t star ratchet system, similar to DT Swiss, for 10° between engagement points. The difference between DT's patented system and the Newmen version is that the DT ratchets are sprung from both sides, while the Newmen hub has one fixed and one sprung side.
Newmen's own hubs roll fast and use their 36t star ratchet system. The larger ratchet system is specific to the eMTB for a stronger connection under torque.
Newmen use aluminum rims with a 30mm internal width, hookless profile. They also use patented concave nipple washers
inside the rim to better distribute spoke tension and prevent the rim from cracking near the spoke holes, meaning some weight can be trimmed from this zone. The piéce de la resistance with the Newmen wheels is the flared rim sidewalls, which are barely noticeable to the untrained eye. Instead of vertical sidewalls they are slightly flared outwards, which is said to provide a substantial increase in impact resistance. Newmen found that dropping weights on to a rim vertically in the lab didn't correspond to wheels that were damaged testing on the trail. They deemed that most impacts that damage a rim come in at an angle, so flaring the rim out towards that angle improved the impact resistance where classic rims may just fold over.
The hookless sidewalls are flared out slightly, which is barely noticeable to the untrained eye.
The pickup of the hubs is solid every time, and although 10º between engagement points isn't radically quick, they were fine on the trail. Personally, on the trail the amount of degrees of engagement in the freehub is something that never crosses my mind – maybe if I was a trials riders or rode very slow technical trails all the time I would think differently. On the trail, the wheelset seemed to be compliant (maybe helped by the 28-spoke count) and never made any scary twanging noises that can come from carbon or bigger alloy rims.
I am also a fan of the straight pull spokes; even though I didn't have any issues it is nice to know that you could replace a spoke on the trail if needs be without removing the wheel, cassette, or disc rotor. This combined with the fact that all the spokes are the same length means that carrying a couple of spares in a bag could get you out of trouble without any 'hacks and bodges of the week' tactics. The downside of straight pull spokes is that they can rotate when trying to true the wheel, but if your wheels stay tensioned as well as these did, it is a non-issue.
I had zero issues with either of the hub designs, and no issues with spokes coming loose and barely even a buckle to mention. Despite months of abuse, an EWS race, and being lent to the 'World's Fastest Albanian,' Genc Marku, who acts as a useful test rider/demolition pilot with 100kg of mass and no interest in slowing down anywhere. The results were surprising as neither of us could ding the rims enough to cause any damage or lose the tubeless seal. I'm sure we have all seen rims with the sidewalls dinged, but the flared rim wall theory seemed to work perfectly – the best damage we could do caused a long flat spot in the rim, or slightly more outward flare that was not really noticeable, showing the design really dissipates energy across the rim rather than folding over in a concentrated area.
Considering the amount of time spent on theses wheels, and the time spent on many others that have failed over the last few years on the same trails, the Newmen rims seem to be some of the strongest and most reliable on the market.Pinkbike's Take