Features & Details
Newmen are a small brand from the Allgäu region of Germany, very close to the Alps. And while some of you may not have heard of them, they've been featured on Pinkbike multiple times and received praise for their functional, clever approach to product development. Despite being a small outfit, they design, engineer, and test a hell of a lot in-house; 80% of their hub machining is done across the road from their headquarters. Their aluminum Evolution A.30 wheels received high praise
a year ago for their no-nonsense approach with solid performance, and now its the carbon fiber Advanced SL A.30 that we're looking at.
Newmen continued along the path of strong and light aluminum wheels, never really thinking that a carbon fiber rim would make much sense for enduro or DH applications. But customers and fans of Newmen pushed hard for exactly this, and Newmen decided to oblige.
Advanced SL A.30 DetailsIntended use:
27.5" & 29"Rim material:
Carbon fiberHub specs:
Newmen Fade, 15 x 110mm front & 12 x 148mm rearSpokes:
28 x Sapim D-Light, 2.0 - 1.65 - 2.0mmDisc mount:
740g front & 877g rear (29” actual, Micro Spline freehub)Price:
€680 front & €770 rearMore info: Newmen Components
Newmen's original plan was to engineer a set of carbon fiber wheels for XC, trail, and light all-mountain use, but what emerged was a rim that was standing up to enduro use. The new Advanced SL A.30 is the carbon fiber rimmed wheelset that came out of this story.
Newmen are happy to say that no mountain bike product is indestructible, with each having its own limits. And their transparency to this must be appreciated, as it's only due to the current pandemic situation that we couldn't do a factory visit to see the limits of their wheelset in their lab and see behind the curtain of how they develop their products. But as soon as the borders open and restrictions lift, we'll be heading to Germany to check that out.
The rims have an inner width of 30mm and use Newman’s flared-out flange design to align the material of the rim wall more in line with the oncoming impacts from the terrain. Rim profile is relatively shallow, at 20mm, which Newmen state helps maintain a good ride quality. Reducing the profile height further would then give them problems with impact resistance. There is also a molded channel in the rim to help keep the tire bead in place and reduce burping issues.
The wheels use Sapim D-Light spokes which go down to 1.65mm in the middle and 2.0mm at either end. Newmen did this to build-in some more compliance compared to the more common 2.0 - 1.8 - 2.0 spokes on the market. They also say that these thinner gauge spokes are strong enough for enduro use, and the wheels use the same spoke length all around: 304mm for the 29" version I have on test.
Newmen like to have durable products and so build their hubs with minimal clearances and tighter seals to ensure a longer lifespan than wheels with minimal friction out of the box. Their bearings are packed with a relatively thick grease, too. This means that out of the box their wheels would give the impression of a little more friction, but with some bedding in they will spin just fine while maintaining that performance for a long time.
The Fade hub now uses a pawl style freehub design with a large diameter driver to reduce the forces seen going through the pawls and ratchet ring. The freehub has 36 points of engagement for two reasons. One is to have a more robust design, bringing durability to normal bikes and e-bikes alike. Newmen say they've seen reduced durability in their testing with higher points of engagement. The second point relates to their consideration of MTB suspension and they become another wheel manufacturer to talk about this, something that shows the level of engineering behind their products.
A hub with higher points of engagement will be more prone to the effects of pedal kickback from chain elongation. Inversely, a hub with low points of engagement will pedal not particularly well. Newmen use 36 points of engagement as a good balance between the two, allowing fast enough pick-up for when you need to engage the freehub and pedal while not having hugely detrimental effects from pedal kickback in the speeds and situations that it may happen. They, as a company, like bikes with a little more anti-squat for an efficient pedaling response, and so the added possibility of kickback that can come with this is something that they took on board when balancing the factors involved in the hub design.
The pawl design in the freehub is intended to be a little quieter than some others, as the guys at Newmen are also fans of having as quiet a bike as possible. Shimano Micro Spline, standard Shimano HG, and SRAM XD driver options are available.
Accompanying the Advanced SL A.30 wheelset is Newman’s own tubeless strip and a Milkit tubeless kit, which allows you to keep an eye on your sealant level without taking the tire off. Rim graphics are applied under the clear coat and match the polished aluminum look of the hubs nicely. The front wheel comes in at 740-grams with the rear wheel coming in at 877-grams (Micro Spline freehub). A rear wheel with the XD freehub weighs 871-grams.Installation & Setup
Unfortunately, the tubeless rim strip and Milkit kit were not available when we received the wheels, so I taped them up with another brand's tubeless tape and valves to get going on them. Taping is really easy but does require a little more concentration than normal. I kept the tape from going into the outer molded channels in the rim, rather than tape over them. We'll give some feedback on the Newmen rim strip and Milkit kit in our full review on the wheels.
Tire fitting was a doddle and they seated with only a few gentle pushes on a track pump. The interface between the rim and a new tire is nice and tight, and even with a set of used tires there were no issues in getting them to seat on the rims.
Newmen did supply a hub end cap removal tool for aiding in swapping the freehub body, but it wasn't needed as the end caps could be swapped by hand. The rest of the setup and installation was a simple process. I ran 6-bolt rotors on the hubs, with a converter down to the Centre Lock fitment on the hubs. All in all, pretty easy and no issues at all in getting the wheels converted to my brake and drivetrain configuration.Initial Riding Impressions
Out on the trail, the wheels come across as feeling comfortable when you need comfort and supportive enough for when you need the wheels to remain strong and not fold under you. They remind me of a few sets of aluminum DT Swiss 1501 Spline One that I have. This is in no way a bad thing, as they just quietly go about doing their job while you're riding. Speaking of quiet, the freehub is notably a few decibels lower than some other hubs out there, regardless of freehub design. There have been no freehub slips or weird noises when really on the pedals and putting a lot of force through it. It's a personal preference, but I've not been left wanting more than 36-teeth for the enduro riding that I do or that the wheels are aimed at.
From the riding I've done so far, there they don't exhibit any surprising tendencies to store and suddenly release energy back to you, and despite hearing a couple of rim hits there are no visible signs of any damage. Newman’s claim to have a wheelset burly enough to endure the rigors of enduro riding are so far holding true.
The low weight of the wheels is also a very nice characteristic, coming in at 80-grams less than the DT Swiss EXC 1200s I reviewed at the beginning of the year. There's a noticeable riding effect from this, with less weight at the extremities of the wheels, especially given my love for DH tires and having less unsprung mass for the suspension to react with.
Ridden in the absolute bone dry and sketchy-as-hell wet, the Newmen wheels just keep on quietly going about their job. As yet, there's been zero issues with the rim, spoke tension, and hubs. Our lifts in Champéry are opening in a month so then we'll have more opportunities to push the extremes of the test. It will be interesting to see if that balance of stability and comfort that we've experienced so far continues with repeated runs down the vertical berm downhill tracks and longer, more punishing descents in the area. It will also be interesting to see the performance of the rims, with their flared side walls when the rims will inevitably encounter more impacts.
I'll continue to ride the Newmen Advanced SL A.30 wheels a bunch and report back with a full review on their performance and how they compare to some of the other carbon fiber rimmed enduro wheelsets out there.