Review: Quai's ISOS 33 Carbon Wheels - Unique Looks, Reliable Performance

Aug 22, 2019
by Mike Levy  
Quai 33


These days, it seems like every Tom, Dick, and Harry has their own carbon wheel company, and there's also a load of house-branded carbon hoops out there, too. Many of the big bike brands now include their own carbon wheels on high-end builds, usually with a different name on them so you still feel special after handing over so much money, and the once-exotic rim material is now a relatively common sight at many trailheads. Unless you're on Quai's unique looking ISOS 33 Pro+ enduro wheels, that is.

The 1,779-gram wheelset can be had with DT Swiss' 350 hubs in the Pro+ spec for $1,599 USD, as tested below, or with Quai's hubs if you're okay saving $300 and adding 30-grams.

ISOS 33 Pro+ Details

• Intended use: Enduro / all-mountain
• Rim material: UD Carbon fiber
• Rim width: 33mm (internal)
• Diameter: 27.5" or 29" (tested)
• DT Swiss 350 hubs
• 28 straight-pull spokes
• Rim weight: 490-grams (claimed)
• Weight: 1,779-grams (actual)
• MSRP: $1,599 USD
• More info: www.quai-bicycle.com
With their strangely shaped RSL rims, the ISOS 33 wheels are anything but ordinary... But does the unusual design actually make a difference in the dirt? We've put 30,000-meters of descending (and climbing) on them to find out.


Quai 33
Quai's $1,599 USD ISOS 33 Pro+ enduro wheels use their RSL stepped rim that's said to provide more equal spoke tension. In theory, that should make for a stronger wheel. It also looks pretty neat.



The Details

No reason to beat around the bush: What the hell is up with the funky stepped 'RSL' rim shape that Quai is using? Those three letters are short for Radially Staggered Lacing, and the idea is to have the spoke tension be as even as possible from left to right. Equal tension, or close to it, is a key ingredient if you want your wheels to be as durable as possible, but because there are a bunch of cogs on one side and some important braking stuff on the other, and the rim can't be dished centrally over the hub, it's not an easy thing to do.

One of the most common ways to approach the problem is to have the hub's spoke flanges be a different height, with the drive-side taller to help equal the tension and provide a better bracing angle. The other common route is to offset the spoke holes to one side of the rim bed, which Quai does, and that can help in the same way as offset flanges.


Quai 33
Quai 33
The 33mm-wide rim bed requires tape, and Quai has gone with a hookless bead design.


Quai uses offset spoke holes for their ISOS 33mm wide (internal) carbon rims, but they've also gone with a wild-looking stepped rim shape that's said to help equalize spoke tension in much the same way that a taller drive-side hub flange would. In effect, the drive-side spokes are shorter because the rim is taller where they connect, and the spoke tension on both sides should be closer to being even.

So why didn't they just use hubs with differing flange heights? Steve Metz, the RSL patent owner, explains his thinking: ''Although I was looking for a technical advantage to the rim, it was also the need for visual differentiation that I was interested in. Black anodized alloy rims and carbon rims of all types do not differentiate or enhance bikes from one another visually. I was also after something that would communicate the unique quality of the rim/wheel and therefore bike.''

On top of that, making the difference at the rim means that you can use hubs with equal height flanges, like the DT Swiss 350s on these test wheels, but hopefully still benefit from left and right side spoke tension being closer to equal. ''We don’t want to claim that Quai wheels and/or RSL tech is the endgame design for cycling wheels,'' Frank Chin, Quai's USA brand manager, explained. ''Our goal is to give our customers the ability to stand out from the crowd with a sick looking wheel while having the advantage of great tech.''

Moving inwards from the strange rims, Quai uses 28 straight-pull butted (2.0-1.8-2.0mm) spokes, and ours showed up with a set of DT Swiss' 350 hubs in the middle. You can get them with Quai's hubs, too, as well as rim decals in a bunch of different colors so you can pop or blend in. They also come with rim tape and some nice aluminum valve stems that save a few grams over cheap steel ones.

All that comes in at 1,779-grams on my scale, which is reasonably light for a set of $1,599 USD wheels intended for enduro use and smashing into things. Some more numbers for you: Crankbrothers' Synthesis E11 enduro wheels weigh 1,825-grams and cost $2,399 USD, and Specialized's Roval Traverse 29ers come in at 1,840-grams and $1,200 USD.
Quai 33
28 butted, straight-pull spokes tie everything together.

You can spend way more if you want to, and there are both lighter and heavier options out there, but Quai's ISOS 33s seem reasonable on the price-to-weight scale when it comes to today's carbon wheels. If you want to compare them to an aluminum option, though, Newmen's Evolution A.30 wheels weigh 1,760-grams and cost €698.



Quai 33
The ISOS 33s saw plenty of action in Whistler and Squamish while bolted to a Santa Cruz Megatower.


How'd They Perform?

Our ISOS 33 29er wheelset has been through more than 30,000-meters of climbing and descending while bolted to a Santa Cruz Megatower over the past few months, all of that with either a set of Minion DHF/DHR2 EXO+ or IRC's new Tanken enduro tire (review soon) mounted to them at 20 to 24 psi depending on the conditions. The wheels arrived with a roll Quai's tape and their valve stems, and it all went together without any sweating or swearing.

Both companies tires mounted, seated, and sealed on the hookless rim near-instantly with just a standard floor pump - the fit is snug enough that no compressor or air canister was required. And since we're speaking of tires and air, there were no rude burping incidents, either, even with a 180lb rider going as low as 20 PSI.


Quai 33
The rim's shape sure does look neat, but does it make a difference on the trail? I'm not so sure...


Many riders are wary of carbon rims for a good reason - they're damn expensive and if/when they fail, they're usually going to do it in a shower of black splinters and a mix of crunching and flushing sounds, the latter somehow coming straight from your wallet. It's not all that of an uncommon sight, either, with most of the Pinkbike editors managing to at least crack, if not completely destroy, a carbon rim or three over the years. Quai's carbon hoops are still running strong, though, despite a handful of rock strikes and tire bottom-outs that felt harsh enough to leave some lasting damage behind if it had been an aluminum rim on the back of the Megatower.

Both the front and rear rims have seen some of the rockiest, nastiest descents that the Whistler area has to offer, and they've both shrugged off that sort of rim-eating terrain without issue. Carbon fiber rim beads often get scarred and gouged, even if they don't ever crack, but the ISOS 33's show next to no impact damage whatsoever. In fact, they look nearly unused, even though they've seen more than their fair share of sharp edges and low air pressure.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing about the tires that have been mounted to the rear wheel.

While I can't be 100-percent certain that the rim's bead shape is at fault, especially because it appears to be similar to everything else out there, we did manage to put three different slices into a poor Maxxis EXO+ rear tire, all of which seem to have been caused by pinching it between the rim and the ground.

Thing is, this wasn't happening before or after with the same EXO+ casing tire pumped to the same pressure on a different wheelset, which has me believing that the rim might be to blame.
Quai 33
This Maxxis EXO+ tire had been fine on We Are One's Agent rim, but suffered three different slices after being installed on the ISOS 33s. Just a coincidence? Maybe not.

My other concern, albeit one that hasn't been an issue yet, is the silly straight-pull spokes. Not only can they be tricky to find (or make) if you don't have a decently stocked bike shop close by, it also makes truing the wheels trickier as you might need to keep them from spinning in the hub flange while turning the nipple. It's not a deal-breaker, but something to keep in mind.


Quai 33
Want carbon wheels that stand out from the crowd? These will do that for you.


How do they feel out on the trail? In a lot of ways, they deliver that stiff, precise sensation that stout carbon rims are known for. No, you won't ever mistake the ISOS 33s for a set of aluminum, low-profile Stan's wheels that are obviously more forgiving, but it certainly doesn't feel like you're sitting on a paint mixer while riding them, either. The 28-spoke lacing surely adds a bit of suppleness to them, and I suspect that most riders will find them to feel a lot like, you know, wheels rather than being too harsh or not stiff enough.

Alright, let's answer that question I posed at the top of the review: Does the unusual RSL rim design make a difference in the dirt? I want to say that the answer is no and that they're different just for different's sake, but the Quai wheels have also shrugged off some very hard impacts that might have troubled other rims. I doubt that the stepped design provides much as far as ride experience goes, but it might be a factor in their reliability.


Quai 33
Quai 33
Regardless of how they look, the ISOS 33s proved to be very reliable and were trouble-free.



Pros

+ Relatively light given their enduro intentions
+ Unique appearance
+ Durable carbon rims

Cons

- Rim bead might be cutting tires
- Unique appearance
- Straight-pull spokes



Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesQuai's ISOS 33 wheels have proven to be a durable option that can handle some serious abuse, and the 33mm inner width makes a lot of sense for modern mountain bikes. I'm not convinced that the unique rim shape is anything but unique, but I am convinced of their reliability. Mike Levy








171 Comments

  • 93 9
 If you’re running 20 psi and no insert I don’t think it’s fajd to blame the rim for cuts in your tire, blame the person who set the bike up like that.
  • 12 1
 *fair
  • 5 2
 Ofc you can't blame the rim for tire cuts, but they can share some blame for burps. Some rims hold onto beads a lot better than others.
  • 31 0
 I think the point was that it didn't happen when riding a similar wheelset (We Are Ones) with similar psi etc.
If it happens 3 times on one wheelset and not at all on another over the same test period and same terrain, it hints that there may be a correlation (not yet implying causation).
  • 8 1
 I think its more a mark towards whatever maxxis is doing with their new casings... just fitted a replacement Rekon + to a rim I had previously been running with no issues... only to receive a cut like this on the first ride.
  • 8 0
 @blackparents: Ruh roh...
  • 11 1
 In my experiences if your running EXO(+, -, whatever) casings on the rear in any situation with rocks you are asking for flats.
DD casing plus insert for me on the rear of the enduro rig always always always.
  • 10 0
 @Bmontgomery87: I think I like fajd better...
  • 2 1
 Actually on the ibis 35mm internal rims I was running 18F 20R on some 2.5 DHR2’s without any folding issues and 0 burps. The wide internal rims let you run low pressures.
On my normal rims I have to run the same tires at 24/28 to keep me safe.
  • 41 4
 @Bmontgomery87 - No way, gotta disagree with that one. That's a blanket statement that just isn't true; rider weight, terrain, tire construction, rim and tire width, etc are all factors. At 155lb, I'll run EXO casing tires between 17 - 23 PSI with (usually) zero issues.

We used the same pressures with the same tires on other rims with zero cuts. Those pressures with the same tires on the Quai wheels and they were cut. I don't think I'll be taking the blame for that one Wink
  • 9 2
 I run 20 psi and no inserts, have never cut a tire.
  • 5 0
 @seraph:

30 psi in my minions.......
  • 1 0
 @Yetimike2019: definitely only running ibis rims from now on, although I did manage to dent one it too a ridiculous amount of abuse for an alloy rim before showing signs of any damage.
Cant imagine how beefy thier carbon rims are.
  • 2 0
 @blackparents: this has been a topic I’ve seen a lot of lately. Lots of exo casing tires failing on the first ride
  • 2 0
 @Yetimike2019: On the Ibis 942(35 internal) rims with 2.5 Aggressors I have to run 25 in the rear or it squirms all over like crazy and mashes the rim. What pressures/sizes work for you is really dependent on your weight.
  • 2 8
flag Explodo (Aug 22, 2019 at 10:38) (Below Threshold)
 @mikelevy: Jeez....155 lbs? That will certainly color how I read your reviews.
  • 6 0
 @mikelevy: I experienced similar things: went from a Stan's Flow rim to a Light Bicycle burly carbon thing, and immediately got 3 snake-bite pinch flats on an EXO+ tire in like 3 weeks.

I get the impression that with the noodly Stan's rim, on a big sharp impact they kind of 'get out of the way' either by flexing vertically/laterally or by denting. This makes sense, since I was truing my Flow wheel every ride and was collecting new bead dents on the regualar..

The LB wheel is super stiff. So I imagine for the same sort of sharp hit, it's holding shape and plowing straight through the sidewall to rip the tire open, with little deflection.

I'm on a 2.5" DD in the rear now, which is faring way better at the same 22-23 psi for this 172lb rider.
  • 1 1
 True that. Carbon rims are as strong as the rider's tire pressure.
  • 10 0
 @Explodo: Sorry, I'll start eating more donuts.
  • 3 2
 @mikelevy: LOL...It's all good, man. It's just that riders who weigh 200 lbs have different needs than those at 160. Hell, when I weighed 180 in college people thought I had an illness.
  • 2 1
 @mikelevy: I'm running EXO tire casing as well, am 135lbs and no way I could run 17-23lbs. I'm running 23-28lbs, but it is really sharp rocky terrain and probably less travel bike than I should be running.
  • 1 0
 2019 and the 'wheel debate' is alive and well. Instead of size, it's 'can I justify stretching my finances to purchase ridiculously expensive carbon rims because they will be sooo worth it'.
  • 1 0
 Lol@endlessblockades:
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: I had this same situation awhile back when switching to a different carbon rim myself. I agree that while there are many factors, this particular one looks directly at the rim, just like yours. Did you also notice this rim having a stiffer ride than the ones you took off?
  • 3 1
 @WasatchEnduro: don't care about your opinions...
  • 1 0
 @Yetimike2019: how did you get your hands on 2.5 DHR2’s #unicorn
  • 1 0
 @blackparents: You reckon they're making the old casings shitter on purpose?
  • 1 0
 @twodogsfighting: maybe with the introduction of EXO+ Maxxis went and made EXO thinner to have more competitive weights
  • 3 0
 @PinkyScar:

approx. cost 2x alu for carbon rims from LB, Nextie, Tandell. Just as strong as name brand and for heavier or aggressive riders that are flexing and denting alu 29er rims on the reg it can be a nice upgrade. if i was on 27.5 i'd stick to alu tho. or if i were a welterweight.

I know lotsa riders on china-direct carbon rims and even shops that build with them instead of pushing the name brand stuff. $200 a rim is a ridiculous cost for a lot of consumers but not for others. $500 or more for name brand carbon rims?..... GTFO!
  • 1 0
 @kleinblake: no but they went from 60tpi to 120tpi
  • 36 2
 At least this is a rim you can't accuse them of re-badging from the Chinese big rim manufacturing giants.
Looks different, does the same job, maybe fails less.
I still have a big issue paying $600 for a wheelset, let alone $1500!
  • 50 1
 Think how much faster you'd be with all that weight reduction in your wallet.
  • 5 0
 @slovenian6474: It'd be more due to trying to get away from the police chasing me for the bank I'd just robbed to afford them!
  • 8 0
 $500 wheelsets all day! Get some Hopes laced to Stans and forget about it!
  • 1 0
 Laughing my wallet off
  • 1 2
 @scar4me: That's not how weight reduction works...
  • 30 0
 You had the chance to fit these to the FrankenTrance to make it one bike to completely screw our heads and missed it, c’mon Levy - we need to see this
  • 18 0
 I dropped the ball
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: well get back in play and fit em soldierSalute
  • 19 1
 If you like to see those wheels in Europe, you can meet us in Germany at Eurobike, booth B1-105. Or contact EU distribution via www.quai-wheels.eu and we will be happy to assist you. Jan, Quai EU
  • 15 0
 looks like ABS for V brakes
  • 2 0
 no, abs for v-brakes is 20psi on really cheap aluminium rim...
  • 11 1
 I have been running a test set of these wheels for over 6 months now. I have found them to be incredibly strong and reliable, having cased some reasonably sized jumps pretty hard (on a hardtail), they still run true. I have suffered a pinch flat on the back as well, but I was running a 120TPI, fairly lightweight casing at the time too, so I think it was the tyre, not the rim.

I would say that they are a good buy, and can highly recommend them. Hubs have been faultless too (Quai Hubs).

Dan, Bird Cycleworks
  • 3 0
 Our Quai test enduro riders in Czech rep. do not have issues with puncturing tires by rim bead. Even when wheels were tested on DH race with very low pressure. No bad news from customers also, so I would bet on tyre as you.
  • 1 0
 They still run true? Carbon rims dont bend so I guess running true is the norm ?
  • 1 0
 @enduroFactory: they don’t bend in the way alloy will, but they can and do go out of true.
  • 13 6
 I’m not to sure on the comment about straight pull spokes hard to come by and they spin when they true... I’m gonna have to think at this point most good shops have straight pull blanks and some sort of spoke clamp(for non bladed) for truing. Not really a valid critique for 2019
  • 18 4
 Yeah except whole straight pull thing is a bloody theoretical exercise. I have had many wheels in nearly 20 years I ride, ai have built many myself, and never ever had as many problems with broken spokes and nipples as since when I went for straight pull. I broke at least 10 spokes in 2 years on a SP wheelset, each of which can be difficult to replace, which is more than al my other wheels combined. Just because you can hold a spoke, doesn’t mean it makes sense. There are tens of thousands of performance bikes with wheels built from Jbends, and they fricking work. Straight pulls are a solution to problem that does not exist.
  • 2 4
 Any decent shop should stock common sizes of straight pull spokes. Should be easy to find unless they are 26" or something weird.
  • 8 0
 Not all locations have bike shops with everything you need at all times...just how it is. I own wheels with straight pull spokes and every time I tru the wheel I have a moment..."Dammit!!!", when the spoke is spinning as I try and tighten. I then have to grab a plier to try and grip the spoke as I tighten the nipple. Then it's me yelling at the wheel.."why do you have straight pull spokes??!!" They're not worth the extra bit of hassle
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Yep. Nothing but a nuisance
  • 1 0
 Ever trued and enve? Especially a road wheel which requires a true braking surface. It makes me want to shoot myself. At least they're not internal nipples on this. I like nipples on the outside of everything...much easier and satisfying to get your fingers on. Spoke type, not as big of a deal. Btw, I thought everyone had a pair of knipex spoke holders by now...
  • 2 1
 @takeiteasyridehard: we are told ENVEs do not require truing
  • 5 0
 @WAKIdesigns: they do require changing the rim
  • 8 0
 @qreative-bicycle: I am told Enve has the best customer service in the business...

After 5 years of owning DT Swiss alloy rims weighting only 20grams more than Enves I did not have a reason to contact DT customer service to check whether theirs is as good as Enves...
  • 3 0
 @Cbyronoh - I think you'd be surprised re the LBS and straight-pull spokes, but the critique is more for the home mechanic. Bike shops *should* have all the tools so of course they can handle it. The average rider who trues his own wheels? Maybe not...
  • 1 0
 @takeiteasyridehard: agreed, i have no use for nipples on the inside.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: EX471 27.5 500g; M525 341g. XM421 at 440g may be a fairer comparison. If I cared that much about winning, I'd take the -99g on race day.

FR560 595g; M930 629g: Amaury Pierron-tested. Also DT wheelsets are straight-pull, unlike Enve J-bend. Go figure.
  • 3 7
flag rideonjon (Aug 22, 2019 at 10:12) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: Hilarious response,straight pull spokes are just fine and eliminate the weak point of a j-Bend spoke.If you can't figure out how to hold a spoke so it doesn't spin well maybe you shouldn't be working on bikes.
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy: Bike shops *should* have straight pull spokes and tools to handle them. The problem is that some shops don't. And the shops that don't tend to be in remote areas where there are no other options. This isn't a theoretical problem. I've personally witnessed it at least three times that i can remember.
  • 1 1
 @rideonjon: Wrong, straight pull spokes also have weak point, they are "invented" just because they enable easier wheel lacing, especially for mass produced wheels (which are laced by machines)
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy: if you're a home mechanic, it's smart to stock a couple spokes if they're not widely available. The problem then becomes mood.
  • 1 0
 @Mac1987: I'm a home mechanic and try and keep straight pull spokes in my box, but I also break said spokes which in turn causes me to use them, and eventually run out, and...my closest bike shop isn't the most prolific when it comes to selection...(they always have J bend though) , so if I don't order my own spokes online then I'm stuck.
  • 1 1
 @rideonjon: Geez, that's harsh! I've been wrenching on bikes for a long time and I'd much rather use J bend for ease, and I snap plenty of straight pull spokes. And sometimes(on an older wheel for example) the nipple may get a little extra stuck and this can really create a nuisance when trying to tru or replace the spoke that keeps spinning despite using a tool in your other hand to hold it still.
There are always exceptions
  • 2 1
 @rideonjon: Only office engineer with soft perfumed hands can come up with such idea. One that probably hasn’t built a wheel himself. J bend spoke has more material at the bend. I broke several spokes in my life and no more than 2 at the bend. Building a SP wheel is a pain in the arse, minimized only a bit if you use expensive aero spokes.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Office engineer?I've been a machinist for 20 years and a bike mechanic for 5 years previous to that,built hundreds of wheels.So.....
  • 5 2
 @rideonjon: so it’s even more depressing... J bends make everyone’s life easier with coat being adding a few grams. At the hub. Where it doesn’t really matter. They also simplify hub production. SP is pretentious wet dream, only “conneseurs” find attractive.
  • 1 0
 @dthomp325: Not all shops are "decent" and not all areas have "decent" bike shops...if you travel enough you find this out, and have to make due with what is available. J bend is everywhere....Straight pull, not so much, including the bike shop closest to where I live. I once stopped by an auto mechanic shop while traveling in a foreign country in hopes to find oil for my brake line after an incident...no luck so I opted for the next option...olive oil. It worked! Kept my chain lubed over a couple weeks of muddy riding too!
Too many people live in their bubbles and assume everyone else has the same experiences
  • 2 0
 @rideonjon: considering your first post...do you also talk down to and belittle the customers in the shop if they have a differing opinion to yours?
  • 1 0
 Forgive my ignorance, but what are the theoretical benefits of straight pull?
  • 4 2
 @hamncheez:
Pros: no bend thus less weight.

Cons:
- higher complexity for making a hub, often resulting in more expensive hubs
- much harder to build a wheel
- expensive bladed spokes are preferable
- harder to true the wheel during use
- harder to replace a spoke
- harder to source a spare spoke locally
  • 1 1
 @GlassGuy: What shop?What are you on about?Read my comment fully next time and don't jump to conclusions.
  • 1 0
 @rideonjon: You said you were a mechanic and built wheels, so apparently you worked in a shop and dealt with customers, and your previous comment that I responded to you seem to belittle anyone that doesn't want to deal with the extra sometimes hassle of a straight gauge spoke. Not much of jumping to a conclusion
  • 2 0
 @GlassGuy: Jeeessus it was 20 years ago,i've gotten much grumpier since then.

www.pinkbike.com/news/To-the-Point-DT-Swiss-Talks-Spokes-2013.html

Maybe have a read.
  • 4 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Pros: no bend thus less weight. *not really

Cons:
- higher complexity for making a hub, often resulting in more expensive hubs*not true
- much harder to build a wheel*not true
- expensive bladed spokes are preferable*not true
- harder to true the wheel during use*not true
- harder to replace a spoke*not only false but the opposite is true
- harder to source a spare spoke locally*might be true depending on your area

Nice try Waki
  • 1 0
 @rideonjon: It's good to admit grumpiness...like I'll admit my under stimulated brain for the day and jumping on comments, but...I've owned many sets of J bend and now still riding straight spokes wheels, and I know from my experience I snap spokes either way and even though I did true my rear wheel today with no issues(straight spoke), there have been days the nipple is slightly seized and it becomes a burden..or, a straight spoke isn't available wherever I am, so, I'd rather have J if given the choice
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I think I found an actual benefit: You don't have to take the cassette off to replace a spoke!
  • 2 0
 @GlassGuy: Fair enough,i run both j-bend and straight pull.Inherently by design straight pull are stronger.I don't know how anyone could dispute that.I haven't broken a spoke in years but i like building wheels so mine are always fresh.
  • 1 1
 @hamncheez: you are dreaming. Off course you have to. For DT Swiss, if you break the spoke closest to the cassette, you need to remove the cassette as well as the spoke next to it. When I broke a spoke in Mavic deemax, I needed to remove cassette as well.

@rideonjon: how is straightpull stronger by design when J-bend is thicker at the bend to compensate for that? Straight pull is stronger... by theory.
  • 7 0
 So, instead of adding weight at a central location (hub) to equalize spoke length they went with adding weight at the rim to give their rims a "visual distinctiveness." Form over function. That's some fine engineering there, Lou.
  • 2 0
 well, they are pretty weight competitive....
  • 6 0
 My fifth or sixth set of wheels to build was a set of pulstar hubs. Right then and there I decided that the devil had a pair of straight pull spoked wheels on his flaming red Salsa. Pass...
  • 5 0
 Agreed on the straight-pull spokes - nothing but trouble. Probably less trouble on carbon wheels, though, as they require less attention. J-bend everyday, please.
  • 10 1
 The only wheel reviewer I will ever listen to is Paul Aston.
  • 11 3
 Who cares if your wheels ‘stand out from the crowd.’
  • 81 3
 All Enve riders
  • 30 0
 @BT180: no they stand in the crowd...because their wheels are broken
  • 2 0
 I mean.. what else actually matters? Pimp-factor = speed.
  • 1 0
 @MrBurger: they do feel nice to ride... if you ride a hardtail especially. going from a mediocre wheelset to a super light titanium spoke bla bla bla wheels on bmx was shockingly different. rotating mass is the most important mass but your average rider won't benefit from the cost vs pay off for average riding. way more flickable and pedal up and braking as well as just rolling across a smooth patch!
  • 3 0
 New bikes and parts of understated appearance are more likely to go unnoticed by my CFO.
  • 2 0
 @hrvatski88 - I kinda, sorta do. I mean, a lot of us won't buy a bike that we don't like the looks of, regardless of how well it performs. I wouldn't seek out something just for how it looks, but I do like that the Quai wheels stand out a bit.
  • 1 0
 @MikerJ: I have to keep all my hardtail frames black and long travel bikes green to avoid detection by the CFO.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: ^^^ this coming from a guy that is willing to be seen in public with a Trust fork?? Your tastes are suspect at best Mike.
  • 1 0
 @garrisond5: Harsh but 100% fair as well.
  • 4 2
 Not related to the review, but some comments seem to "disapear". I can still find some of my comments and the replys to them on my dashboard, but they are no longer in the comment section..? Has anyone experienced the same. Happen to me three times already...
  • 18 3
 If you receive a -4 comment rating, your comments are hidden at the bottom of the comment section. Have you been saying stupid things or behaving nicely?
  • 2 0
 That's called shadow banning
  • 2 2
 usually there is a button at the bottom to show comments below threshold
  • 1 0
 @Germanmike yup happened to me as well and not below threshold stuff either
  • 12 0
 @ka-brap: Yes, you are right, I actually say a lot of stupid stuff! Found my comments! Thanks!
Didn´t know that and that if the top comment you reply to also gets into the hidden section all other comments do as well. How does Waki survive this?
Damn, now I have to find a new conspiracy theory... that moon landing has always sounded a bit unlikly Smile
  • 4 0
 @bankz: I'm gonna shadow ban you for mentioning shadow banning haha
  • 4 0
 @theunknowncustodian: Some comments get deleted if they're not appropriate, and some go o the below threshold zone of shame. We don't ever just delete comments. Your comment history (on your profile) will still show it, so you should be able to follow that to see it's still there. If not, message me and we'll sort it out Smile
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy: no I was suggesting you'd deleted it...thought it was maybe a problem with the site...
  • 1 0
 Is there really any advantage of carbon over aluminum rims? I know aluminum rims are considerably much cheaper, costing about $100.00 and there are many aluminum manufactures to choose from such as spank, Stans, WTB, etc...

I ridden carbon rims before and they feel a little wooden: that is too stiff. As a result, i had to decrease spoke tension. I noticed carbon rims don't go out of true as easy as aluminum.

I have been riding aluminum rims forever. the weight is close to carbon.
  • 2 0
 For me carbon rims are cheaper. Sure it is 500 up front but I don't have time or ability to replace and true wheels. Was going through close to a rear rim every season on aluminum and have 3 years with just 1 truing on the carbon rim. If you have the time and ability to lace your own wheels it probably makes aluminum the more attractive option. Though I like the stiff and precise feel of carbon rims too.
  • 2 0
 One advantage of carbon over aluminum is, as you said, they don't go out of true. Also they can be lighter or stronger or stiffer or flexier. It's all about the layup and how much material is used. It is easy to make things flexy or rigid with carbon, just use more or less material in the appropriate places. That also has the advantage of being able to do complex variations of thickness to acheive flex in some areas or directions but not in others.
  • 1 6
flag hsertic (Aug 22, 2019 at 10:38) (Below Threshold)
 @dfiler: Snake oil, rim material has nothing to do with the reliability of a wheel build. Just make shure all spoke tensions are equalized (on drive and non-drive side) and you can use wooden, plastic or paper rim, it will not make a difference.
Also, most of the flex in the wheel is in the spokes, that is why butted spokes usually last much longer.
  • 6 0
 WTF? The material a rim is made from makes no difference? With whatever you're smoking, you might as well make a rim out of play-doh. After all, it would make no difference.

Here's where you're wrong... aluminum is malleable and has memory. Once bent it wants to stay in that bent shape. That doesn't happen with carbon. That can be both good and bad. Either a carbon rim remains perfectly true or it is broken.

Also, rim flex is a real thing. For example, rims can twist relatively to the axle line under hard cornering. It is possible to build a rim to accentuate this or resist this.

Finally, there is effectively zero flex (in the sense we're talking about) associated with spokes, butted or not. They only counteract tensile loads. What you're thinking of is resistance to shearing at the jbend or nibble. The reason butted spokes help with this is they make the part of the spoke most likely to experience the highest tensile load (per cross-sectional area) not also the part of the spoke weakened by bending. In the real world, this tensile elongation is an immeasurable distance and does amount to measurable flex. So effectively the spokes to the side and above the hub are under tension and actually supporting the bike. However the spokes below the hub are under compression and will bow out prior to having any significant effect. The bottom of the rim is thus rather unsupported by spokes and as a result it flexes. Without a doubt, rims flex under heavy load while there is no "flex" associated with the load bearing spokes.
  • 1 0
 @dfiler: I've got E13 carbon wheels and when I snapped a spoke the rim went out of true, so....your statement isn't quite correct
  • 1 0
 In my meager experience, since aluminum rims are pretty much automated while carbon ones require hand layup, carbon rims have much worse QC and therefore a wider range of possible durability outcomes, even for the same model manufactured at the same time. Aluminum is aluminum, but a set of carbon rims could have an air void or misaligned layup that can lead to rim failure, while all the other carbon rims from that batch turn out great.
  • 1 0
 @GlassGuy: the reason for that is that the spokes are sort of like a web. That area of the rim isn’t being affected by spoke tension, so it returns to its original shape. When you build a wheel you’re trying to make the hub concentric to the rim, then make it run true. To do all of that, you need to tension the spokes to pull the rim into alignment. However, pulling on the spokes in one area, also affects the spokes on the opposite side of the rim and the overall balance of spoke tension. When one spoke is no longer exerting force on the rim, but all the other spokes are, it doesn’t matter how straight your rim was originally, whether it’s carbon or aluminum, it will no longer be true. However, IME carbon rims do hold a much truer shape when they have spokes break or lose tension. This seems to be because their original shape is more round and straight. Some carbon rims aren’t built that well and you can tell when you’re building the wheel. Same is true for aluminum. But it’s much much harder to get aluminum to bend into a perfectly round shape vs molding a perfectly round shape (obviously nothing is ever perfectly round but you can get closer using carbon than by extruding and bending aluminum). As far as QC, that seems to be entirely brand dependent and not material dependent. I’ll get shit on for this, but in the world of handbuilt road wheels, mavic open pros and dt r440s are the holy grail of aluminum road rims because they build so god damn easy. They are basically straight and round out of the box. With carbon rims all the builders I knew were so excited about how easy it was to build a really good wheel once the rims started becoming more reliable and ubiquitous. It’s easy to get the tensions balanced and everything running straight when you’re not fighting a shitty rim seam or an out of shape rim.
  • 1 0
 @bicimane: Good explanation. The bike came with the carbon rims...my choice is always alloy. I snapped that spoke on the very first day of riding the bike and my immediate thought was.."well, that's an $800 mistake!"(rear wheel of a $1500 set) I'm glad it's in mostly good form after the respoking.
I'm that guy that is usually pedaling around with slightly wobbly rear wheels(other bike has "normal" wheels), no matter how much I true them, so I'm not really bothered by it...being over 200 pounds and likes jumping stuff, I just have to live with it, ha ha
  • 1 0
 I still remember the two pairs I saw that got crashed while testriding on some enduro races. One of them was under rather small lady. It made for a good laugh when they threw some blanket over the wheels. I think I will pass.. TVYM.
  • 2 0
 Typical Czech hater, aren't you? It seems you did not read the article, check facts and you are twisting reality a bit...
This article is about newly developed enduro wheels, and I think Mike Levy is a reliable tester.

The correct information is: Wheels you had seen was the old model of xc/trail rims. Yes, they broke them in a bikepark. But there are completely new developed models for 2019. If you would read correct, there are new ISOS 33 for enduro and Isos 29 for xc models.
Well, I still remember how Petra went 4m jump and directly hit the rock in landing. (btw. then she came and buy all bike, just with Quai enduro wheels). And hurt guy who comes after crash and in a few minutes told us true. He hit directly landing edge by the rear of the bike and break the wheel. XC/Trail wheel. Then we just moved broken things behind booth. That's the truth.
  • 1 0
 I keep reading reviews waiting for someone to offer something competitive to Light Bicycle but haven't seen anything really offer better value yet... How can you beat ~$200-250 for 415g carbon rims? Full builds on DT240 hubs with DT Comp spokes are $1100 shipped. I am going on 5 years spanning 4 wheelsets without a single broken rim and only two flat tires.
  • 5 1
 What's wrong with me being totally happy with DT Swiss M1900
  • 3 2
 I also don´t get it...
quote from the article: "If you want to compare them to an aluminum option, though, Newmen's Evolution A.30 wheels weigh 1,760-grams and cost €698."
The DT Swiss M1900 are out there for 300-400€, 200grams more - why would you go carbon?
  • 2 3
 @Germanmike: Exactly. The article basically says why go carbon with that statement?! I just dont get it at all. Performance benefit (If any) wont be used/seen by 99% of riders. I dont think I could ever go 100% into ta rocky trail with carbon rims. Not something I even think about with alloy ones.
Just another fad for now.
  • 1 0
 @endorium: maybe those wheels are not mentioned to attract 99% of riders.
someone drive Lexus someone Fiat
  • 2 0
 @Germanmike: You are soo stuck in 2018, grandpa! Haven't you heard, its all about "custom tuned ride feel" and "improved vertical compliance while still being stiff and strong" and carbon being better=faster=more enduro=cooler because carbon!
  • 4 0
 Not all about wheel weight only.
Everything to do with rider prefer and need and speed above 15mph when gyroscopic effect starts to kick in.
Aka im fat enough that alloys feel like jelly unless you build 2+kg porkers which make the bike ride like a heavy straight line only tank .
By going carbon I get nimble 1700g wheel weight and all the precise stiff wheels I want. Lighter riders and slower riders won't get anything out of carbon in my experience.

Personally iv had massive improvements in durability aswell . But I might be the lucky exception.
  • 1 0
 Because carbon should be 14xx
  • 1 0
 I also have M1900 and I thought they will not last long due to non-butted spokes and 3-pawl hub, but they work perfectly well.
  • 3 0
 Can we have some possibilities for great Aluminum wheels that aren't crazy money?
  • 10 2
 DT Swiss EX511 rims on a Hope Pro4 hub are pretty much the best wheel you can buy.
  • 3 0
 We already do. And one of the probably best options is already mentioned in the review.
(Newmen SL 30)
  • 1 0
 I got some Spank Oozy 350 rims laced to I9 Hydra hubs for under $800. I value a good set of hubs more than a rim, and the performance benefits of carbon rims are not all that clear cut. I expect to go through a few rims before a new standard makes me change the hubs.
  • 4 2
 Sun ringle duroc, dirt cheap, wide and really fast rolling
  • 1 0
 @ctd07: pardon my miss downvote, Duroc is a great wheelset,
  • 3 0
 Stans Flow MK3 + Hope Pro 4
  • 1 0
 @Trabes: no probs, got the whole wheelset, brand new for $340, the low profile rims help flatten the bumps a bit and definitely increase rolling speed, they also knocked a chunk of weight of my stock wheels
  • 5 2
 Hunt enduro wide ,£359 and spend what you'd save on a riding holiday. Carbon doesn't belong on rims.
  • 2 0
 Tested em on pretty light trail, and smashed rear in 30mins (cracked to two halves): Thanks but Im gonna stick with alu, coz my rides are longer than 30mins...
  • 1 0
 I think you are wrong. We redesigned all ISOS rims for 2019 for much better durability than old ones and I personally know all CZ riders who ride this 33mm version and I would know... Sorry, just rumors, not true...
  • 1 1
 @mikelevy

"certainly doesn't feel like you're sitting on a paint mixer while riding them, either"
pure gold. It's why I always read your articles and not just look at the pics and scroll to the comments section. Thanks for the laugh.
  • 3 0
 Cush core. Bloody good. Saved my wheels plenty.
  • 5 0
 Yup, for sure. Incoming test of all the major inserts, too.
  • 2 0
 @mikelevy:
Can we strap a fat suit to you and fill you pockets with lead to give them a real world curvey figured rider perspective?
  • 2 0
 @markg1150: That's not a terrible idea. It's going to be a 'bro-science' video review, so I think I'll take you up on your idea Wink
  • 2 0
 All these weird designs to try to strengthen the wheel and make it better... XC sure, enduro + dh just ride aluminium...
  • 1 0
 Just don't get why people run carbon rims. The Newmen's Evolution comparison lays it out neatly; Carbon is 2x price for what?
  • 2 0
 every Tom Dick & Harry has their own $1500 wheelset. nothing new here. I'll move on.
  • 1 1
 30000 meters are 30km of elevation (sounds like 15k up 15k down). Pretty sure Mike Levy can do this in a long day haha. ./nitpicks.
  • 1 0
 Given the average trail is probably 15% - 20% grade at most, multiply that by about 6... unless @mikelevy has spidy sense and is out there riding straight up the sides of buildings.
  • 1 0
 I remeber the times I´ve been on straight-pull spokes, will never do that again
  • 2 0
 I build mine with straight pull bladed. The blade makes it easy to hold, though I've never had to true a carbon wheel.
  • 2 0
 @JohanG: well that's also true
  • 2 0
 Rim bead might be cutting tyre's lol, ace..... Bargain
  • 2 0
 Con: Cleaning wheels just took 3x as long.
  • 2 0
 Heavier than alloy. No benefits, only downfalls.
  • 1 0
 so slices rim, straight pull adjustability difficulty and design with heaps more failure riser possibilities.

#sold.
  • 1 0
 $1600USD for what look like carbon copies of old Mavic SLRs with DT 350 hubs LoL
  • 1 0
 Pricing aside, they're very different wheels.
  • 1 0
 to hell with the idea of carbon wheels. seat posts and handlebars. I LOVE ALUMINIUM
  • 1 0
 Fibers determine strength, not the shape. Right?
  • 3 0
 Not really. All properties (strength, durability, stiffness etc.) you define with fibers and their orientation, resin, shape and production technology...
  • 2 0
 Nice
  • 1 0
 What's the warranty on these?
  • 1 0
 It is lifetime warranty

www.quai-bicycle.com/warranty
  • 1 0
 @frankieq: But not a no-questions asked warranty like the Santa Cruz Reserve. Which are the same price. Not sure why I'd buy the Quai then.
  • 2 0
 Cushcore
  • 1 0
 I just click on rim reviews for the "broke them pic's"
  • 1 0
 what a coinkadink, looking at these to drop on my hightower
  • 1 2
 Why no EWS coverage from Northstar?!
  • 1 0
 Why no Downieville Classic "photoepic" coverage?
  • 3 1
 It's literally just started and we'll have some stuff Wink
  • 3 0
 I am actually looking for some in-depth coverage of the 1996 ABA Grand National BMX racers. I mean...Geeesh... Big Grin

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