Crankbrothers Partners with Industry Nine on Synthesis 11 Carbon Wheels

Apr 1, 2019 at 16:25
by crankbrothers  

PRESS RELEASE: Crankbrothers

We have partnered with Industry Nine to offer Hydra hubs on its full range of Synthesis 11 tuned carbon wheels, bringing leading hub technology to its optimized front and rear specific wheel system. The Synthesis tuned carbon wheel system combines a compliant front wheel with a stiff rear wheel to achieve optimal ride characteristics of each. The compliant front wheel improves handling and control in turns, while the stiff rear wheel enhances stability and tracking at speed.

“As a brand, we are always looking for partners that are in line with our mission of improving the riding experience. Last year, Industry Nine presented us with an innovative hub that they were developing and testing for a long time. The product looked ahead of the market so we decided to ride and test it and we loved it. We decided then to add it to our Synthesis range, as we want to catch any opportunity for mountain bikers to ride great products,” said Gaspare Licata, Crankbrothers CEO.

Crankbrothers is one of the first brands to spec the new i9 Hydra Hub, which offers an industry leading .52 degrees of engagement. Hand-built in Asheville, NC, Industry Nine’s Hydra hub is engineered with 690 points of engagement for near instantaneous power transfer offering previously unheard of responsiveness.

“We are excited to partner with Crankbrothers for their innovative Synthesis 11 wheel lineup, which offers a unique execution of front and rear specific design. This innovative, divergent approach reflects the development of our Hydra Drive mechanism - the combination of these two technologies will yield an exemplary riding experience,” said Jacob McGahey, VP of Industry Nine.

The Synthesis range includes wheels for three disciplines, each tuned for a specific type of riding with unique rim widths, spoke counts and spoke types. Synthesis XCT 11 wheels come with i9 Hydra hubs; Synthesis E 11 and DH 11 wheels are available with i9 Hydra hubs or Project 321 hubs. Synthesis XCT and E with standard hubs are also available. All Synthesis rims are covered by a lifetime warranty.

For more information, visit:

MENTIONS: @crankbrothers


  • 126 34
 "optimized front and rear specific wheel system"
What even is this bullshittery?
  • 360 11
 I think it means they didn't put a cassette on the front wheel too.
  • 62 8
 its almost like someone thinks that the forces on the front and rear wheels are different
  • 28 1
 different rim widths ad spoke counts
  • 14 11
 Wow, how forward thinking and revolutionary of them. If only somebody had thought of this before?!
  • 34 7
 @Denning76: no cassette in the front - That's a missed market opportunity right there! you could have a spare cassette in the front, and you would need to widen the hub spacing, which would mean the need for new forks. You could swap wheels freely if the climb gets too steep.
  • 15 1
 @WAKIdesigns: its called a Pugsley or a Moonlander
  • 19 3
 @RoverDover: yes and you use it to cross Alaska, or just pick up a Soy Latte from downtown.
  • 24 5
 @sam264 So crankbrothers gets to use Industry 9’s reputation to validate their new wheel design. Sounds like a win for CB
  • 18 0
 Could be BS or could be different rim profile/wall thickness/carbon lay-up to produce a more compliance front wheel for better tracking/grip and a stronger rear wheel for more durability given the rear has more weight on it, typically takes more abuse and is less critical for grip/tracking (re: compliance)?
  • 67 1
 As a brand, when we first decided to pursue the category of carbon wheels, we tested what was already on the market. What we found was that most wheels fall into one of two groups; stiff or compliant. Amongst our 30 rider sample, the opinions were extremely mixed and it was hard to draw a conclusion. From there we decided to mix the wheelsets up, trying a mix and match of stiff and compliant front and rear wheels.

What the test group found, unanimously, was that a compliant front wheel and stiff rear wheel was by far the best choice. This is because a compliant front wheel allows for better handling, grip, and control in turns, while a stiff rear wheel allows for supporting peak loads, enhanced stability, and tracking at speed.

If you want to know more about the concept, check out our Youtube video: The Story Behind Synthesis.

Also if you’d like to demo a pair at one of our demo centers we’d be stoked to hear your feedback. If you’d like to arrange an opportunity to ride a pair, please contact
  • 9 0
 @rivercitycycles: they were using Project 321 previously, and they weren't slouches either.
  • 17 1
 @cerealkilla: The rim widths and spoke counts are different, yes, (31.5 vs 29.5 and 28 vs 32 on the Enduro) - but that, along with different spoke tensions, allows us to achieve a more compliant front wheel and a more stiff rear wheel, which gives the rider better control through turns up front, and better tracking at speed in the rear.
  • 12 0
 @crankbrothers: I suspect the carbon layup on the rear is different also?

Completely different rim profile and layup, in other words.

To me, the system makes a ton of sense.
  • 9 0
 @privateer-wbc: I've been on them since August and they work as promised. I've mixed in some carbon wheels from some other vendors and find the others pretty chatter-y in comparison. Cool to see that there is a CB demo program now - people really need to put some miles on them.
  • 1 8
flag m1dg3t (Apr 2, 2019 at 10:57) (Below Threshold)
 @crankbrothers: That's all well & and good, but I'll save myself $2k+ and just run different spoke counts/tension to get the same effect. I'm a fan of 25mm id rims, but one could also play around with that to some effect.

Edit: I see you do the same as well. Go figure...
  • 3 7
flag K1maxX (Apr 2, 2019 at 11:10) (Below Threshold)
 @WAKIdesigns: you could go even further, look those 29/27.5 bikes: install a flipchip so a 29 and a 27.5 wheel fits in the rear, when climbing put the 29 in the rear and vice versa.
now you could sell:
-new compatible frames
-new forks with "supermega squared by 4" boost spacing
-new wheelset
-different geometry for up and down the country
-and a additional cassette
  • 5 35
flag dwmetalfab (Apr 2, 2019 at 11:13) (Below Threshold)
 @privateer-wbc: then they screwed p321 over because they couldn't get their crap figured out. Crank brothers is one if the worst companies to work with. The stuff I hear is unreal. They need to hire people that know what there doing.
  • 25 0
 @sam264 Hey Sam, would you be interested in trying a pair of our Synthesis wheels?
  • 7 37
flag dwmetalfab (Apr 2, 2019 at 11:20) (Below Threshold)
 Good call crank brothers. Use everyones account that works there to down vote my comment to make it look like it's the unpopular opinion. Well played.
  • 2 4
 @Denning76: I have already built a front electric internal shifting 15 speed hydromatic hub for my E-trike out of an erector set. Take that industry.
  • 8 0
 @dwmetalfab: you clearly know something about their internal relationships that we don't... care to enlighten? To me as a casual observer, spec'ing the new i9 over the previous P321 hubs is because they believe the i9 is a better performing product -- tough to argue that. If you're charging what you're charging for the wheelset, why not give the people the best of what's available? My only reservations are how the new i9 hubs will hold up, P321 hubs did have a bit of growing pains early on. And you can still order the wheels with P321 hubs, so really, I don't see how any one is getting screwed.
  • 27 4
 @dwmetalfab: - I can personally vouch for one of your down-votes as someone who does not work at CrankBrothers. Troll elsewhere.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I was thinking you could have a rear wheeled drive geared system and then when you want swap to a front wheel drive singlespeed.
  • 4 0
 @crankbrothers: I call next.
  • 5 3
 @crankbrothers: I’m the perfect person to test a set, I love bikes and am a nice dude so what do ya say? Haha
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: AWD MTB!!!! Move over E-bike...
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: nobody drinks soy lattes anymore! (Soy among other things is bad for your manlyness because it contains estrogens as a predator defense) Its so oat milk cappuccino now, oh man, and you live in such a progressive country and are bot up to speed on nutritional trends?
  • 1 3
 @WAKIdesigns: This needs more up votes
  • 1 1
 @WAKIdesigns: And turn your frankenbike 27.5t/9er to a reverse mullet with the 29 in back for improved cornering on your 58 degree head angle trail bike, as marketing trends will inevitably dictate.
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: Öhlins actually made a prototype AWD motorbike at some point in the past. I think the power transfer from the engine to the front wheel was by hydraulic pressure.
  • 9 0
 @crankbrothers: I tend to agree, an example of, not your wheels, but Martin Maes is currently leading the EWS on two different wheels from Stan's, more compliant and lighter rim on the front, a stiffer more robust rim on the rear, it works for him and you can't argue with results no matter the choice of rim material.
  • 3 0
 Engaging article
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 @lognar: smashed it
  • 1 0
 @crankbrothers: genuine question, not hating....
Theory states that spoke tension has absolutely no affect on wheel stiffness outside of failure mode. The few empirical tests i have seen back up the theory. Spoke tension does not affect wheel stiffness...
Im sure a lot of r&d went into these wheels so i assume you have different test results. Can we see these please? I would like to get to the bottom of tension/stiffness argument once and for all
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: What theory and tests are you talking about? Sources please.
  • 1 0
Theory: the amount of tension on steel does not affect how much it deflects under a goven load. This is why coil springs give a "linear" spring rate. If you have a 100 in/lb spring it will compress 1 inch per 100lb load, wherever it is in its stroke. So a spoke should stretch the same amount for a given load no matter what the initial spoke tension is.
Empirical tests: numerous have been done. Sheldon brown gave a good write up on his site. Other tests have confirmed his results
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: I'm not an engineer but at the least, I think that you're conflating force vectors for two different applications. Sure, a linear spring may deflect/compress in linear fashion, but I don't think you can apply that concept to a wheel, as it is subject to forces in two dimensions.

Try lacing a wheel and riding it without tensioning the spokes. That's not going to be a stiff wheel.

Also, coil springs can be wound to provide a progressive rate.
  • 2 0
 @sngltrkmnd: “Try lacing a wheel and riding it without tensioning the spokes. That's not going to be a stiff wheel.“

Lmao can’t wait to see that one.
  • 2 0
 @krumpdancer101: Right? I'll hear gabriel out but I think he's mixing up his concepts.
  • 1 0
 @sngltrkmnd: Yeah I’m actually a special inspector and work on large buildings with the structural elements and a lot of buildings are designed now with post tensioning steel that gets a load put on it to help deflect.
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: am i right on saying that uniform steel structures (a wire for example rather than a more complex shape) will deflect a given amount for a given load, as long as it is within its elastic limits? I think this is the case, and this would suggest that spoke tension should not affect wheel stiffness. As long as you stay within the spokes elastic limits of course. Exceeding these limits would obviously be a bad idea. I could be wrong, but this is my current understanding.
  • 1 0
 @sngltrkmnd: i get the whole thing about spokes that are so loose they have 0 tension on them making a very floppy wheel. I fully believe that running spokes at such a low tension that riding forces cause enough deflection to temporarily reduce the tension on some spokes to 0, would make the wheel more compliant. I just dont think its a good idea. The window between "temporarily deflected" and "permanently taco'd" is too tiny to be of any use in the real world. Plus spokes going fully loose then snapping back up to tension puts huge strains on the spokes around them. Perhaps thats why they preload the structure of krumpdancers buildings, to avoid the same problems found in a wheel with loose spokes. Perhaps not. I dunno.

What i am trying to say though is that if you keep your spokes within a window of tension that means normal riding forces never cause enough deflection to lower any spokes tension to 0, or increase it to over the limits of the spoke/nipple/rim, then overall wheel stiffness should in theory, be the same at any tension within that window. I might be wrong. Id like to know for sure.
  • 2 0
 @gabriel-mission9: OK I was confused on your question. So what you are saying is that as long as you stay within the recommended spoke tension it will not affect wheel stiffness correct? I believe that to be true. I was saying that if you went past the window that was provided then it would definitely affect wheel stiffness. Also wires can be complex. Just look at all the different variations of spokes that are out there. Everything from regular spokes to blades to aluminum. Also the steels have different tensile and yield strengths which will affect the elasticity of the spoke and can affect what your tensioning loads might need to be. Then you start getting into the fatigue and failure of the spoke if you don’t get all of that just right also.

Ahhhhh that reminds me I want to give a big thanks to all those wheel builders out there who take some of my stress away.
  • 2 1
 @gabriel-mission9: the spoke tension variance front to rear is 10kgf I believe. Minimal or no difference/effect on its own. But factor in different spoke count, different rim widths, different carbon layups, these are all variables that have been 'tuned' to create the more compliant front wheel and stiffer rear wheel.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Or 2-wheel drive!
  • 1 0
Oh yeah absolutely. Spoke diameter, material, shape etc will affect wheel compliance. But i think spoke tension alone (within sensible limits) wont affect it at all. It sounds like we are on the same page here. Crank bros seem to be explicitly saying that it does have an effect. Id like to know whats behind their claims. They have probably done the science and im totally ready to be wrong, id just like to know for sure
  • 1 0
 @ronufoh: same as i said to krumpdancer, i agree a lot of the things theyve done will change the compliance. But the 10kg tension difference front to rear (i believe) will have absolutely no effect. Id like to know why crankbros disagree. I like learning stuff.
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: I don't feel they are saying or have said that spoke tension alone affects the compliance. The whole idea of Synthesis wheels is that it has been tuned as an overall system. I'm not sure you'll be able to get a % answer out of anyone, but much of the R&D of these were based on anecdotal rider feedback. That being said, 10kgf as an isolated variable may have absolutely no difference (good or bad), so in that case, why not just do it anyways if there's no detriment on the off chance it may "somehow" improve the system even if only by fractions of a % point.
  • 1 0
Why not do it anyway?
My concern is that dropping spoke tensions gets you closer to being able to make a spoke go fully slack during cornering, massively reducing the life span of your spokes for no measurable advantage.

Why do it in the first place, if there is no measurable benefit?
I'd like to think CB have a genuine answer for this question, other than "because it might somehow improve things in a way we don't know about"

Either spoke tension effects wheel stifness or it doesn't. There is no grey area. If CB are using tuned spoke tensions as a selling point on their wheel (they absolutely do say that that spoke tension effects wheel stiffness) they obviously believe there is a real measurable advantage. I'd like to expand my knowledge of bike systems by finding out their reasoning.
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: this is a good discussion and I too am learning. From what I understand, there is no perfect spoke tension number, typically it is anywhere between 100-130kgf (from what I recall). So a decrease of 10kgf, in real life, does that really get you closer to fully slackening a spoke and affecting its lifespan?

I see where you're coming from though, if there's no (or not enough) measurable improvement why do it. My take is that if there's no detriment, why not do it.

At the end of the day we all just ride our bikes, how much the science or empirical numbers affect the majority of our rides is probably quite minimal IMO.
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: Good luck. These guys are peddling techniques we've all been using for years as some new type of science. That they have pioneered. LoL

Thanks for bringing up different spokes as I left that out of my original comment.
  • 6 0
 @gabriel-mission9: First off to address the point of spoke tension, or any other aspect of a wheel build, needs be seen as individual characteristics that contribute to an overall system. If you make a change to any contributing element you change the overall performance and behavior of the system as a whole. So comparisons should be made from complete system to system, not individual characteristic to characteristic. There are many factors that contribute to the overall wheel set feel or performance; hub- flange spacing and diameter, spoke- gauge, bracing angle and tension, rim- shape, weight and materials . . . just to name a few. All of these individual elements and the interfacing loads they create end up needing to work together in a balanced manner to insure the best performance and durability possible for the rider in the end.

The Second point of clarification, the discussion around spoke tension needs to target deflection or movement of the rim/wheel which result in the riders sensation of stiffness. The reality is most historical (prior to carbon rims) high end wheel build methodologies were based on steel spokes and lightweight rims, primarily aluminum. The nature of the materials used would quickly find the limit of the rim stiffness or integrity during tensioning or load, so high tension builds were not an option. With the invention of carbon hoops and the improvement of spoke technology it has opened the opportunity to move into much higher tensions then in the past. Barring you don’t pull the nipple through the spoke face of the rim, the stiffness and integrity of a carbon hoop doesn’t deflect or deform like a lightweight aluminum product. This gives the opportunity to vary spoke tensions more than we could with aluminum rims and by doing so we can limit or allow the movement or deflection of the rim/wheel as desired. So yes, on a modern well designed carbon rim adjusting the tension changes the way the rim moves or deflects and in doing so changes the riders feel of stiffness.

Queue the CrankBrothers Synthesis Wheel System, we have now engineered the rim characteristics to move vertically but not laterally which is the next wave of wheel performance evolution. In addition we have optimized the spoke tensions on the front wheel to allow the rim for more deflection to follow the surface which maximizes traction and tracking. In the rear we upped the tensions to limit the deflection and create snappy accelerations and cornering. All these things combined to produce the best ride feel we have ever invented amongst all the mountain wheels that Mello and I have created in the past. I hope this is helpful! - Jason Schiers, SR56/Crankbrothers
  • 2 0
 @crankbrothers: Extremely helpful. Thankyou ! Smile
I still don't really see how spoke tension can affect anything, as the properties and resulting performance of the spoke won't be changed. If it stretches the same amount for a given load whatever the tension, then the entire system should react the same, whatever the tension. The only way I can see it working is if perhaps the extra preload on the rim itself does change the way the rim reacts to inputs? It's easier to imagine the rim will have a non-linear response to loads than a spoke which I'm fairly certain doesn't. I'm not as clued up about how rims respond as I am about spokes to be honest. I will research this. Cheers for your response.
  • 1 0
 I don't spose you have any numbers for how much effect is measurable? Eg, if I add 10kg load to the spoke, how much less does the rim deflect, all other variables being equal?
  • 1 1
 @m1dg3t: I'll just add that this rim weighs 470g incl. eyelets...
  • 1 1

ex471 27.5" 500g

29" 530g
  • 1 0
 @m1dg3t: and that (27.5) 500g includes Squorx alloy nipples and washers, FYI.

Synthesis rims aren't light at (27.5) 460gF/475gR - but they are on par with other good rims like the We Are One Agent at 480g.

I think however, if you are just chasing grams you are missing the point.
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wbc: We Are Ones is the way to go.
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: We Are One are pretty fantastic, I will agree! Just using them as the benchmark for weight.

Looking forward to being able to compare the two.
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wbc: I want to see that one!! Will be watching for it. For that 5 grams I do see the We Are Ones are $250 less a rim.
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: I am currently riding on We Are One rims and definitely think they are the benchmark - they are absolutely fantastic rims.

I am excited however to get a set of these CB hoops. I'll be building mine on Race Face Vault hubs, and quite likely CX-Ray spokes front and rear. Hopefully I'll have them up and running in a couple of weeks. First impressions on build will go up on my insta. Link is in my profile.
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wbc: Nice!!! Yes I have Agents on my king hubs and can’t convince myself to take them off and I am not even a 29er guy.
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: Agents + Kings = one fine wheelset!
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wbc: I'm not a gram counter. Just posted the #s/vid to show how light & strong an ex471 is.

For the money they are very hard to beat. Carbon rims are a waste of $ IMO, and the marketing spin is a waste of bandwidth. I guess they make you cooler on the trail with your friends...
  • 1 0
 @m1dg3t: I agree EX471 are a great value and hard to beat. They are a fantastic rim. I've owned a couple of sets myself.

But I don't agree with you that carbon is a waste. Not in my personal experience. I'll have to ask my friends if they make me cooler? Lol

Certainly I spend less time replacing dented and dings wheels. I think that is cool.
  • 1 0
 @m1dg3t: I also like that I can get a rim that's 5mm wider than a DT EX471 that weights less.
  • 1 1
 Done some more research. Again it suggests that the rims "stiffness" should not be affected by the amount of preload on the spokes. The rims reaction to loads will not be linear, but it will be more "position sensitive" than "pressure sensitive".

Basically the more I look into this, the more it seems that all this "tuned spoke tension" will achieve is a wheel with a shorter lifespan. It's actual ride dynamics won't be affected by spoke tension in the slightest.
Unless I have missed something massive. I kinda hope I have. It would be a bit shit if crankbrothers were knowingly selling snake oil. I expect better from such an established company, that owes so much to the industry...
  • 2 0
 @gabriel-mission9: any opinion on how that all interplays with different spoke thickness, and spoke numbers?

Its not just spoke tension that is at play. Its tension, plus spoke thickness (different in both wheels), plus spoke number, plus rim layup. I can tell you that last one alone, rim layup, will change your ideal targeted spoke tension. My own speculation, my perhaps the front rim has a different max tension than the rear, because it's a different layup. Different number of spokes, and elasticity of the spokes, will also impact that.
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wbc: Differing maximum allowable spoke tension for the rim lay up is genius. I think you might be on to something.

As for all the other things you mentioned, spoke thickness, count, etc, yes they will effect wheel stiffness. But spoke tension won't. A thinner, more compliant front rim that can't take the same max tension as a more heavy duty rear rim makes a lot of sense though. It would need lower spoke tensions even though the tension itself has no effect on the way the wheel performs outside of failure mode.
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: I don't think it's genius. It's just a result of the engineering. A thinner spoke bed layup, and rim layup in general, will handle less tension. It just is. I've seen some very "high end" carbon hoops distort completely over 100 kgf, and I have seen budget Chinese hoops ready much better at 130 kgf.

You realize different spokes and spoke thickness have different stretch right? And react differently. Even a Sapim Race 2.0/1.8/2.0 vs a DT Competition 2.0/1.8/2.0. I had this exact discussion just a couple weeks ago with a wheel builder who has 45 years experience who feels Sapims of the same spec are "softer" than their DT equal. Hard to argue with a guy who has spokes in his hands all day, every day, for that amount of time.

I won't argue with the academics you lay out, but there is more to it. Wheel building is as much art as science. Different rims, spokes, all the above, all react differently to one another - and it sounds like CB had wheel builders and riders come together and experiment with all sorts of options - some of that no doubt dictated by feel of builder and end rider. I can tell you that has more merit than you give credit for.
  • 1 0
 Im not saying the design is genius, i was complementing you on coming up with a possible solution to why they went down the route of lower tensions in the front. Because it absolutely isnt the "reduced tensions increase compliance" reason they state.
You seem to be missing the point though. Yes different spokes have different stretch. Different alloy mixtures, different manufacturing processes, different butting profiles all make a difference. However...
Changing the tension on a spoke does not effect the way that spoke deflects under load. Building a wheel to higher or lower tension does not effect wheel stiffness. Its a bit naughty for a big company to claim it does in order to sell wheels.
  • 2 1
 "Wheel building is as much an art as science"
Absolutely not. It is pure science. Science has rules that cant be broken. For example, spoke tension absolutely does not effect wheel stiffness.
  • 2 1
 I dont inderstand why people are struggling with this. I say tension cant effect wheel stiffness and people start talking about spoke count or thickness. I repeat TENSION cant effect stiffness and they come back with "What about the material the spoke is made from?" Again TENSION....response is "its art as much as science"
No it isnt.

Im talking about tension. Its quite simple...
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: Sounds good. Now go pull all the tension out of your spokes and hit the trails. Then come back and post your results...
  • 2 0
 You can all read about that on Sheldon Browns website according to which @gabriel-mission9 is right. And I would say with carbon rim, which is stiff as fuk, even at 400g, he is even more right. If you watch all the videos of rims being struck by anvil (like the ones ZTR did for the carbon version of Arch) you will see that rim flexes vertically and spokes are getting loose. For the record I built my wheels with 400g LB 33mm rims myself and at some point the rear lost tension. It was still stiff as FUK. It was tilted as a whole by a few mm but perfectly true. Also when building it, it was rather apparent that this rim doesn't give almost at all, neither vertically nor to the side, like even a tank of a rim like Spank 32 does, so no, spoke tension won't do much. Same was written in the comments long time ago by Jason Chamberlain from Specialized that changing spoke tension does not affect vertical compliance of the rim, and since carbon rims don't flex to the side almost at all then well... no.

Please browse through Sheldons page.
  • 1 0
 @m1dg3t: already covered that one aaages ago. Cant be arsed to retype it all. Its in the comments above if you look
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: Sure, I agree, *past a certain point*, tension does not really affect stiffness. But, a wheel has to be tensioned enough so that spokes don't go slack - when they do, a wheel will lose it's structure, or in other words, it's stiffness. Spokes need to be loaded to a certain point. A wheel laced to an average tension of 50 or 75 kgf is most certainly less stiff (stiffness being something that is perceived by the rider) than one that is built to 110 kgf. We could go down the path of how much elasticity is ideal also - and given variations in spokes, you will hit that ideal amount with, wait for it....different amounts of tension!

And sure, it's all science if you know all the facts, variables, etc. But no rim is perfectly round or flat, nearly every spoke in a box varies in thickness at least a little, as to length to some minor amount, every rim reacts differently to tension. There isn't a science text book of calculator to tell you what to do with all of this - in the end it comes down to feel and judgement - that to me is much closer to art, than science. I think you'll find most experienced builders will tell you the same thing - building a wheel is as much art as it is science. Until robots can build a wheel as well as an experienced human, it will continue to be an art.
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: Wheel building is a science if you can independently know and control each and every variable, every time. Until that happens, it cannot be a consistently repeatable process and unfortunately to that, it becomes less scientific.

I don't feel people are struggling with what you are saying, you are obviously very well read and researched. HOWEVER, I feel that you are getting stuck on spoke tensions alone, and a fairly minor difference at that. When in actuality the spoke tension is just one of the (small?) components of this tuned front and rear system. Now everyone is free to think or believe for themselves whether there is validity to this system or if its just all marketing jumbo, but to discredit an entire system based on the relatively minor role you believe spoke tension to play at this point is disingenuous IMO
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: the fallacy there is that you believe EVERY carbon rim is 'stiff as fuk'. Then we talk about stiffness in the vertical and lateral planes, and with the Zipp wheels now the twisty (transvers?) plane. Carbon allows manipulation of these movements as well as their degree of movement. You say that "so no, spoke tension won't do much": I don't disagree with you there, but you also don't say that spoke tension won't do ANYTHING. So it does do something, even if its miniscule and we don't fully understand or can calculate it, or maybe even its placebo. It's that little something that I believe Crank Brother's have tried to pursue and extract the extra little bit of performance, in conjunction with gains extracted in other areas of the wheel design. Because like I said up top, why not, if there are no detrimental side effects.
  • 2 0
 @ronufoh: Agree. They are using 110kgf front, 120kgf rear. That's completely sensible, especially factoring in different rim lay-up and spoke elasticity. To call the wheel system snake oil or whatever, or completely write them off because they have chosen to list that as one of the variances between front and rear tune is a little foolish.

And to the art or science bit - well @gabriel-mission9 , I ask, how many wheels have you built?
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: @WAKIdesigns: I can tell you these CB rims have vertical give. Definitely not stiff as fuk. I was leaning into and weighting the unbuilt rear rim yesterday evening, and has a good bit of compliance. And I imagine that will be a good thing.
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wbc: I have no problem imagining them having vertical give. Just not sideways and definitely not torsionally. That is why many alu rims just feel better.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: no, I don't imagine they have much in way of lateral flex.

Tortional flex, in wheel building terms, is a function of the spokes, not the rim. Number of crosses and elasticity of a spoke will change tortional stiffness of a wheel.

I suspect by tortional stiffness, you are referring to the likes of Zipp, where the rim can roll to some degree?
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wbc: I meant torsional stiffness of the section of the rim. Spoke tension cannot affect it to any bigger extent. One of the main factors contributing to “compliant” feel of the wheel is local deformation of the rim under impact, which carbon rims have almost none. Quite many top riders in DH and Enduro are walking away from carbon, against their sponsors will, I don’t know what other proof do you need. Carbon makes no sense outside of XC where it makes plenty of sense. A 50g thin area between 400 and 350 where alloy rims loose all stiffness and become cheese while carbon has relative strength, stiffness and keeps the light weight.

You can fuel your post purchase rationalization syndrome as much as you want. Hey, you got yourself a nice set of wheels, let’s call it art of wheel construction and be done with it. Because any functionality beyond the fact that carbon rims do not require truing (because they are stiff as fuk) and don’t dent (because they are stiff as fuk) so they are a great choice for someone who hates maintaining his wheels and is happy to live with harshness and ever present risk of cracking 2-8times the price of most expensive alu rims which last years under vast majority people.

My rear EX471 laced on 28 spokes is not perfectly straight, has a few small dents. And so fricking what. Costed 65€, withstands everything I put her through, weighs 500g and is smooth as hell. I can also use metal tyre levers carelessly (while they chip away clearcoat) and really don’t bother scratching it, throwing it around my workshop or when strapping it on Thule rack. If it fails, I can get another one within 1 work day almost anywhere in Europe with express DHL shipping fromst leadt 3 different online shops. So lifetime warranty on carbon rims is laughable. On top of all that I don’t need to worry whether my rim will literally explode while I am pumping up procore to 65psi and carbon rims need lots of reinforcement (making them too stiff) to withstand such pressures.

Whether you can alter compliance of a carbon rim with spoke tension or not is irrelevant, it will never be as compliant as a quality alloy rim like DT, Spank, Newman or ZTR.

High end DT Swiss alloy rims are pieces of art. Join us Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I am surprised nobody has done aluminum walls with a carbon spine yet. The mixture of aluminum and carbon seems to work for the frames. I also feel carbon rims would probably be best utilized for slalom racing. Having a super stiff rim would be great out of the gate and for the pumping sections and since there’s really not any roots or rocks on most of the courses to damage the wheel you would be able to apply full force without a worry.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I get what you are saying about the rims "tortional stiffness", but be careful how you use the term as tortional stiffness of a wheel has a pretty clear definition in relation to wheel building, and that isn't it. Tortional stiffness of the wheel is how much the wheel wants to rotate around the hub under acceleration and braking load. But I get you yes, tortional stiffness of a section of the rim, and not the wheel itself. Right now, I don't think you see a lot of that sort of compliance in many rims - including EX 471. Wide thin profiles will give you more of it I imagine.

Waki, I have owned numerous sets of DT EX471. They are great. I also own currently, a set of RF ARC30 offsets that's are fantastic. I ride alloy. And, I also ridden quite a bit of carbon. These CB rims have quite a bit of compliance, and I suspect that has to do with the shallow profile. All I'm doing, is giving you my observation. I am in no way rationalizing my purchase. If I don't like them, I'll straight up tell you once I've been on them.
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: The quality you are speaking about, for being good out of the gate, that stiffness (under acceleration) is what is widely known as the tortional stiffness of a wheel, and in that sense, rim material matters very little, I think anyway. It has more to do with the spokes. There are a ton of write ups on this - i.e. how one spoke vs another affects stiffness (usually different gauge spokes being compared), how 3 cross compares to 2 cross lacing patterns, etc.
  • 1 0
 @privateer-wbc: out of the gate... I swear if anyone mentions that in MTB world, he better be sending pro lines on BMX track or present a result chart with his name in top 10 of Worlds 4X series.

Shallow rim profile is a funny one with carbon, because I have heard it straight from ENVE rep, as well as contact person at Light Bicycle, that shallow profile is great on paper but due to too much flex, the rim starts to delaminate after time. Guys and Gals at LB mentioned it one their page long time ago, as one of the main reasons for failures of their early rims. Let's see how this profile works for CB and ZTR (their recent carbon rims are also shallow)
  • 1 0
 @krumpdancer101: I believe Shimano tried this, or something similar, with the XTR wheelset a few years back.
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: Let's leave words - conjecture/hyperbole - out of it. Take all the tension out of your spokes and film yourself on a trail. Post that vid.

  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: It will be interesting to see. Bouwmeester rims looked a lot like Zipp's new profile and those seemed to get a lot of good review - but I can't imagine there are many out in the Wild given the price. These CB rims are kind of a hybrid between those Bouwmeester rims, and your traditional double wall rim - not as deep as a lot of what is out there, but deeper thann Bouwmeester and Zipp.

I'm a bit of a rim abuser - I've dented and cracked quite a few alloy/carbon rims - so, time will surely tell if they work well or not.
  • 2 0
 @privateer-wbc: Zipp and Bouwmeester look legit. Really legit. They are more likely to “twist” across the section, they use wall thickness for strength but by doing it this way they also get more durable. In order to withstand hits you need lots of meat. Win-Win
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: CB is quite similar to them by design. Makes sense, given Bouwmeester is one of the two brains behind the CB rims.
  • 1 0
How many wheels have i built? ????
I have no idea. Literally thousands. Ten a day at times. Not so many these days though.

People keep saying to me "stop focussing on spoke tension alone, look at the whole system" but thats the entire point im making. Lots of the things they have "tuned" will have a very real affect. However as far as i currently understand spoke tension will have no effect so i dont get why cb are using tuned spoke tension as a selling point. Its like saying "we made this frame stronger by adding wall thickness, gusseting the weak points and massaging marmite into the welds" Two of these things will have a very real effect. One will not. Even when considered as just one part of a whole system. Its just nonsense
  • 1 0
 And to whoever it was that said that when the spokes go slack the rim flexes in a way that is beneficial to the rider (someone wrote it, i cant be arsed to read through it all again though)...
No. Just no. When your spokes go slack the rim loses all integrety and you are extremely lucky if it doesnt fully taco. Not even aaron gwin has enough bike control to push a wheel to the point the spokes slacken off but not so hard as to taco it. The strength literally falls off a cliff once the spokes have gone slack.
Its like saying you have modified your car engine to provide 3 more bhp between 6903 rpm and 6905 rpm. When the redline is at 6k. The extra power is in such a small window that it gives you no advantage whatsoever, and trying to use it causes massive damage to the engine.
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: having built so many, knowing how one rim can react so different than another to a certain range of tension, and knowing there isn't a science text book that will tell you how and why, it startles me that you don't see the art of it. The balance of tension/radial and lateral's all a compromise, or at least with some builds - I have yet to see a perfectly round and flat rim. To me there is an art there - but of course that is my opinion. I can understand being fast and riding on science as well, but you use your judgement quite a bit, and that's more of an art than science no?

I'm mostly with you. I think the difference between 110kgf and 120kgf in terms of stiffness and compliance is NIL. I don't think they mean to promote it as a selling point though - more so, list it as one variable that is different - which is legitimate I think. Again, if I were to speculate, I would say they are just running both rims at their respective best/safest tension - the front is wider and lighter after all, and probably reacts differently than the rear to high tension.
  • 25 1
 Dunno about all the haters but just toured the I9 factory and checked out the hydra hubs.... they are amazing and on another level. I’m getting them for sure. Oh and I’ve ridden mallets for years without any problems. Love them.
  • 16 0
 Great to hear!
  • 8 0
 dream wheel set right here, loamwolf loved em too.
  • 25 4
 Lots of people giving Crank Brothers wheels a lot of shit. But all I ever hear when I read reviews (long and short term) is how their carbon wheels are on another level. Are they still worth it at that price? That's another question. But I also think crank bros have sorted their reliability issues of the past as well and people are still pissed about pedals that fell apart a few years ago...
  • 22 1
 Yeah, the wheels/rims are a totally different product. I, along with several other people have been on them for a while with no durability issues. I can't say the same for a lot of other carbon wheels.
  • 9 0
 @danielsapp: +1 for Daniel's experience. I too have been blown away. Questions? Fire away.
  • 7 14
flag mdrrich (Apr 2, 2019 at 10:57) (Below Threshold)
 Can we ever forget snapped pedal spindles? The wrecks they caused will forever live in infamy.
  • 16 1
 Been riding their 160mm highline dropper for the last 6 months riding 3-4 times per week. Has been flawless. Came from a RF Turbine that was nothing but trouble. Was a little hesitant about buying CB after their past issues but 3 year warranty and the price (135USD on special) it was worth a shot and I'm happy to say I'm not dissapointed.
  • 7 0
 @sngltrkmnd: same experience for me. I've been riding their wheels and have nothing but positive things to say about them. They aren't about being the lightest, but they are super durable and confidence inspiring no matter what you're riding. Let me know if you have any questions
  • 2 5
 I bet they come in a pretty box.
  • 2 0
 @sngltrkmnd: Which chemical element has the shortest name?
  • 2 6
flag Ttimer (Apr 3, 2019 at 1:24) (Below Threshold)
 Considering that they buy all the moving parts from companies like I9 or p123, i'm not surprised that the reliability is better than what is typical for CB.
  • 2 1
 @sngltrkmnd: Gold Star!! for sngls.
  • 2 1
 @watchmen: Here to entertain!
  • 1 0
 @thebradjohns: I struggled through riding with the Kronolog for about three years that came spec'd on my 2013 Kona Process, actually had two and ended up using one to scavenge parts from to keep the other running because @crankbrothers was useless as far as support and spare parts goes. Never received any help or compensation for being a beta tester for a product that was clearly not ready for market, to which CrankBrothers essentially admitted in the product release for the Highline.
  • 18 0
 For anybody that has stayed clear of CB due to their past I understand (seriously tho I do, I worked in a bike shop when EVERYONE was getting their pedals and wheels...*warrantied*). I been on a set of Mallets the past year and with these I can comfortably say quality and durability issues have been addressed. Finely CB functionality with actually reliability. I'd like to try the wheels but could never justify the cost however
  • 13 2
 Thanks for the feedback! Let us know if you'd like to demo a pair of our wheels. Please contact
  • 7 0
 @crankbrothers: I mean, I would if they're not game
  • 8 0
 @Randomacity: all u gotta do is click the link
  • 16 0
 Clamor all you want about price tags and pedals blowing up but here is a proper collaboration between minds (Shiers and Bouwmeester) for sake of rim innovation. Adding I9 to the package is the cherry on top.

Looks like Crank Brothers is winding back from their overly designy aesthetics and prioritizing function. For starters their approach to re-engineering a simple concept is solid. They started with a unique approach for durability and took it back to the drawing board - looked at why it worked and developed at model tunable for ride characteristics according to rider feedback and then went a step further to reduce catastrophic failures. No marketing BS.

This was a good listen:
  • 13 0
 So Hydra is expanding again, eh? Well, don’t expect the Avengers to come to your rescue this time because they’re busy elsewhere.
  • 8 0
 Anybody purchase a set of these new wheels, with or without the Hydra hubs? I'm not looking for those that "have a set" as a brand ambassador, but someone who actually bought the wheelset with their money to comment on quality.
  • 13 0
 If I had just dropped $10k of my own cash on the latest carbon super bike or $2500 on a set of premium wheels, you'd 98.99% bet that my comment on quality would be that it rules and there is absolutely nothing better available. I have a set of these wheels, I'm not a brand ambassador, and I have nothing to gain or lose by commenting on real world quality or lack there of. Having said that, the CB team are a very passionate and well aligned group; they aren't shy to man up to their past and hope we give them a chance in the future. For the wheels, I have had zero complaints about performance or quality, and I haven't been shy about riding these into anything even on my hardtail -- had I dropped $3000+ Canada dollars on these wheels, I'd be hesitant ride these as hard as I have.
  • 8 0
 @ronufoh: Good to hear something positive about them and that you like the wheels.
If they are as passionate and well-aligned as you say (I have no experience with them), they would honor a warranty claim - ride them hard weather you bought them or had them given to you.
  • 7 1
 I don't get all the shit PB throws at companies like CrankBros. Yes they are expensive, but maybe, just maybe, they are a truly amazing wheelset. If you want to stick with the tried and true, go for it. I for one am happy CB continues to push on with new ideas. Loved their pedals. I suspect I would love these as well. Definitely want to give them a go.
  • 2 6
flag jcav5 (Apr 3, 2019 at 6:08) (Below Threshold)
 "Companies like CrankBros" Have you been riding bikes for more than a year? Because CB is notorious for components that fail and explode. They are on a huge push to change and improve (and it sounds like they are doing a great job) but it's an uphill battle and peoples opinions are slow to change.
  • 6 0
 @jcav5: Totally true about a slow uphill battle. But to be fair, CB's 'bad' products are really 2-3+ years behind them now. CB decided to try and go after the ultra premium market, always risky because when stuff costs that much people have greater expectations both in performance AND reliability. But I'd say the past couple of years they have done a good job on that front for those who are willing to pony up the $$
  • 10 1
 I've heard good things about the new Crank Bros products.
  • 37 29
 Ah the brothers known as crank Your pedals break and your wheels stank
  • 4 8
flag viatch (Apr 2, 2019 at 10:05) (Below Threshold)
 "offering previously unheard of responsiveness" LOL
  • 7 1
 Maybe the haters should try not to pedal strike and case jumps so much unless they want to qualify for Friday fails.
  • 7 1
 CB don't get into conversations with the fools . Just let them get on with it
  • 2 0
 Just yesterday I was tapping the end cap out my torch hub to swap the freehub and the bearing popped out instead, causing the entire freehub and axle to fall out. I watched my springs and pawls bounce all over my gawd damn garage floor. Spent the entire afternoon on my hands a knees looking for springs, cussing industry nine, and swearing to the mountain bike gods to never buy i9 hubs again. Once I finally got the end cap off I realized the o-ring was damaged.. Are these new i9 hydra hubs easier to service. Love i9’s feel on the trail but working on them can be an ass beating..
  • 1 2
 At least you didnt chip a crown like I did. Thanks DT Swiss!
  • 4 0
 Have a set, not laced yet, but have been toying with them and checked the service videos. No more spring explosions, for starters, and everything else seems pretty straightforward; grease it, press new cartridge bearings when need be. Into it.
  • 3 0
 Unfortunately I've had the same thing happen with the torch hubs I've owned. I just have a stash of extra springs now. I'm excited for the hydra hubs now though due to the spring and end cap design being easier to work with.
  • 6 0
 Totally feel your pain. Servicing the springs on Torch could be a pain. We've replaced the coil spring with a leaf spring on Hydra for that exact reason so you don't have to deal with a spring explosion when servicing the hubs.
  • 5 0
 @crankbrothers If buying rims separately can you buy the front rims with 32 hole drilling or do they just come in 28 hole?
  • 5 1
 If I'm buying industry nine hubs I want them in fancy colors with the industry nine logo on them
  • 3 0
 Shut up already and give set to Danny Mcaskill! That's the true test of wheels we like to see here in PB!
  • 2 0
 I was thinking Paul Aston. I Enve his wheel smashing abilities
  • 12 9
 Sweet so atleast the hubs will last!
  • 8 11
 @crankbrothers: oh come on, skip that cheap lifetime warranty talk. Why do you need to feed the hydra of BS marketing. We all know, yes all of us know, that some of your rims will break, if you’ve done tests on DH circuit you just know. Lifetime warranty is a gamble scheme with high possibility of positive outcome, not about fantastic durability of your product. You simply lure in more clients to offset the potential damage.

I just wonder when will we move on as species so that there’s less of “you know, that I know, that you know”. Be more than this, especially since you seem to be out of the reliability trenches

  • 11 0
 Tough crowd. Granted the CB wheels have not been around very long, and priced at a premium price point in the aftermarket, it's not like they are everywhere in the wild either. But I have yet to hear any discussion about common day to day failures on these rims, but if/when they do come, it's nice to know there is a lifetime warranty backing them. They know everything breaks at some point. I don't see how a lifetime warranty can in any way be a negative; if I was to buy a premium carbon wheelset, I would expect it to carry a lifetime warranty and nothing less.
  • 4 2
 @ronufoh: I agree, when you pay so much for a bicycle rim you want a lifetime warranty. The cases like Enve, Enduro and DH racers opting for alu, shows rather clearly that carbon rims are not good for anything else than XC where at sub 400g weights alu becomes a jelly, while near 500g it becomes a fully competitive material. Tough crowd? Yeah non XC Carbon rims and cranks deserve no less than the tough crowd. And the best warranty is the warrant you do not need to use.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: Fully agreed on the best warranty being the one you don't need to use, but in our sport, breaking things is a way of life and knowing the manufacturer has you covered WHEN this happens carries a certain value.
I think anecdotally its been shown that carbon rims can be a good upgrade for the average or even higher end rider, because we don't put the same amount of abuse and demands into our gear as do racers and pros. I think if we took a poll today of people riding carbon rims, the majority will report positive experiences. Carbon rims have had their growing pains, as has anything related to gear in our sport over the years. If we quit on everything that broke, we'd still be riding Norco VPS' with square tapered cranks and bb's.
  • 3 5
 @ronufoh: people break stuff, always had. Replacing EX471 or Spank 33 which are very durable yet carbon light rims costs me so little I wouldn’t bother sending them on warranty. It seems though that Enduro level carbon rims are not more durable than quality alloy rims, weight gains are almost none, so all you get is carbon for the sake of carbon. So the “warranty” is a feel good thing for people who overpaid. It has nothing to do with any carbon rim maker being so sure of their product.

Carbon rims and cranks make perfect sense for xc racing because it offers stiffness and basic durability at weights af which alloys turn to cheese. I’d appreciate if we moved past this bit.
  • 3 0
 Who would buy a 3k$ wheelset in the aftermarket if it isn't at least backed by amazing warranty? (Conditional on being insane enough to even consider spending this much money on a wheelset)
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: right. i think when a product has a lifetime warranty from a company you can trust, it changes from being a consumable part that needs to be replaced once in a while to something that you don't need to worry or think about anymore.

For example, i don't own Santa Cruz, but like the idea that it's a lifetime warranty with lifetime bearing replacement. It just makes it so... it's not a factor. I can imagine it also helps SC with having used bikes as the warranty only applies to the original owner.

Same thing for lifetime warranty on wheels. People can say, well, they shouldn't need life time warranty... but having dented my alu rims bad (because i'm a newb), it is an attractive proposition that i don't need to worry about whether my rims are going to break. Just one less thing to consider.
  • 1 0
 @joewlo: True. The thing is though, "lifetime" is a fairly pointless proposition with wheel standards and bike trends changing every few years.
What good would be a lifetime warranty on 26" wheels or non-boost hubs now?

And if the wheelset doesn't fit anymore and you want curb your losses by lacing the expensive rim or expensive hub to a new counterpart, any warranty is void.
  • 1 0
 @Ttimer: I never said it shouldn’t be covered by a lifetime warranty. I criticized the official reason given for existence of such warranty, which is always: it is so good we give you lifetime warranty, which is not the case, since the reason is: it is so fkng expensive we give you a lifetime warranty. In reality, it will break just like any alu rim in that weight range, that costs 50%-80% less.

@joewlo - so this is not a consumable item that needs to be replaced once in a while? Are you kidding me? Yes it is, the only difference is, you pay 2-4 times more and when it breaks you get another one for free instead of paying for it. I do not consider a quality alu rim as a consumable/ disposable item, in fact I buy really tough alu rims in same weight range.

And as a newb you will break carbon wheels. They don’t go out of true, they don’t dent like alu rims, they crack. And if you are so much into sustainability alu rims can be trued (spoke wrench tadaaaa!) and their dents can be straightened with pliers to a great degree
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I get what you're saying about warranty -- in its current form it can be viewed as a mandatory insurance premium of sorts when you pay more to buy a product. You'd rather see cheaper products with no warranty but engineered and produced better -- as a consumer that's a pretty bold gamble even if you're saving 25% at initial purchase with no offer of warranty. Especially in this sport where lax warranty claims have become pretty much an expectation.

So really lifetime warranties, and paying more for them, have been born from consumer demand.
  • 1 1
 Was really hoping for a raw video so I could hear the freehub rip in capable hands.
  • 6 5
  • 3 3
 Does-aaa ahneebuddi speaka da engleesshhh ahneemoreee?
  • 1 0
 hail hydra!
  • 18 20
 'Hand-built in Asheville, NC.', soon to be rebuilt in your garage when the rims fall apart.
  • 16 2
 Asheville, NC is the I9 HQ. The press release is only refering to where the hub is built.
  • 3 4
 April Fools?
  • 1 2
 If you buy this crap
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