Review: Atomik's BERD XC33 Wheels Use Spokes That Look Like String

Jan 20, 2020 at 15:13
by Daniel Sapp  
Atomik Berd Wheels Daniel Sapp Photo


Florida-based Atomik Components sells carbon wheels and handlebars. One of their most recent offerings is a 1,360-gram XC wheelset that's laced up using Berd's ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, or UHMWPE, spokes.

Spokes that look more like string or rope raise a number of questions right off the bat. The UHMWPE spokes, however, are designed to be more durable and lighter weight than traditional steel spokes while also offering improvements in ride quality, but they are a $600 upgrade from standard Sapim spokes.

As tested, this wheelset retails for $2,150 USD, and like all of Atomik's carbon wheels it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Atomik BERD XC33 Details

• Intended use: XC
• Rim material: Carbon
• Spoke material: Ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene
• Rim width: 26mm (internal), 33mm (outer)
• Diameter: 29"
• Hubs: DT Swiss 240 (tested) other options available
• 28 BERD spokes (f/r)
• 110/148 Spacing
• Weight:1,360g
• Lifetime warranty
• MSRP: $2,150 USD
• More info: www.atomikcarbon.com


Atomik Berd Wheels Daniel Sapp Photo
Carbon wheels are a dime a dozen these days. The polarizing component of this wheelset is no doubt, the spokes.


The Details

Atomik's XC33 carbon rims have a 33mm external width, 26mm internal width, and 24mm height. The hubs on my test set were DT Swiss 240s.

According to Atomik and Berd, the UHMWPE spokes used on this wheelset have nine times the strength-to-weight ratio of steel and are stronger than high-end metal spokes with a better fatigue resistance as well. Theoretically, they can be re-used in multiple wheel builds/rim swaps without issue. The spokes aren't cut-resistant, and they wouldn't fare well if an extremely hot metal object (say a brake rotor, heater, or vehicle exhaust pipe) came into contact with them. If disaster does strike and riders find themselves needing a replacement, a standard j-bend spoke can be substituted as most bike shops won't have a spare Berd on hand. The spokes aren't cheap, averaging about $8 USD a pop.

If you drop UHMWPE into your favorite search engine you'll likely generate results mentioning body armor or sheets of the material for sale. It's an ultra-strong material and is said to have the highest impact strength of any thermoplastic currently made. The material is non-toxic, highly abrasion-resistant, and resistant to corrosives, UV, solvents, degreaser, gasoline, etc... That means you should be able to clean your bike and wheels just as you normally would, and if you get bike wash or drips from the gasoline you just soaked your cassette in on them they'll should be fine. Of course, it's recommended you use soap and water to clean things up.

Berd claim their spokes offer superior strength to weight to traditional metal spokes.
Atomik Berd Wheels Daniel Sapp Photo
Atomik Berd Wheels Daniel Sapp Photo
The spokes ends that thread into the nipple attach to the UHMWPE spokes in a method similar to a Chinese finger trap, which is the only way to attach them being that the UHMWPE material is inherently slippery. This further differentiates the Berd spokes from spokes that seem similar, such as the ones from Pi Rope.

Building up a set of wheels with Berd spokes is a bit different than using normal spokes, however they can be built/rebuilt by any wheel builder using a few speciality tools. They cannot be machine built. According to Atomik and Berd, most hubs require a chamfering and polishing process and three tensioning sessions, including a “rest” period of 24 hours during which the Berd’s UHMWPE material naturally relaxes by up to 50 percent before being re-tensioned. They then undergo another rest period where the material can relax by up to 25 percent before the spokes reach their maximum length during a third and final tensioning.


Atomik Berd Wheels Daniel Sapp Photo
Atomik Berd Wheels Daniel Sapp Photo
Wash after wash along with plenty of concentrated cleaners and degreaser coupled with grime from riding and the spokes look no different than they did on day one.


Atomik Berd Wheels Daniel Sapp Photo
The Atomik Berd wheels have spent an extended period of time on my most frequently ridden bike, the Supercaliber.


Performance

I've had the Atomik/Berd wheels on a couple of different XC bikes, and over the last several months they've been through the full range of trail conditions. I've also taken care to spray plenty of cleaners and degreasers on the bikes and drivetrains, along with the wheels, in order to keep things running well. I've been using Bontrager's XR1 and XR3 XC tires for the majority of testing with air pressures in the neighborhood of 19-23psi. For consistency, this is the same pressure range and tire set-up I've been using on other sets of XC wheels we've been testing. I've also had several other test riders on the Berd wheels from time to time to ensure it's not just my 150lb frame running into rocks.

There is a noticeable difference in the way the Berd wheels ride compared to a traditional wheelset with metal spokes. While it would be easy to dismiss Atomik's claims of vibration damping as marketing hoopla, in this case, there's something to it. The Berd wheels are noticeably smoother when it comes to ride quality. I never experienced the sensation of getting kicked around in rough sections of trail as many overly stiff wheelsets do. Compared to the recently reviewed Bontrager Kovee XXX wheels, the Atomiks offer slightly more forgiveness/compliance but also weigh in a little bit heavier, and the acceleration doesn't feel quite as snappy, although it's still very quick.


The vibration damping from the Berd spokes is noticeable and, according to them, measurable.

A good (but very general) analogy to use for the ride quality would be the difference in the feel of a high-end steel frame compared to a high-end carbon frame. For some riders, this could be a point against them, but there are ample amounts of liveliness when it comes to pushing through and accelerating out of turns or putting the bike in the air. When I'm talking about reducing vibration in this respect, it shouldn't be seen as a "deadening" of the wheels, rather a quieting of feedback and a somewhat less harsh ride. For riders who are used to associating fast with a violent and jarring feeling, this may take some getting used to, but as far as actual speed goes, the wheels feel every bit as quick as other ultra-high-end XC wheelsets.

As far as durability is concerned, I have no complaints and have had zero issues from the carbon rims or the Berd spokes.


Pros

+ Compliant
+ Vibration damping
+ Lifetime warranty

Cons

- Spoke replacements are pricey
- Proprietary technology
- May be overly compliant for some riders



Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe Atomik/Berd XC Wide wheelset is a lot different than most of its competitors and it offers a unique feel to other wheels on the market. For the rider looking for a durable wheelset at a low weight that provides more forgiveness and a different ride quality than traditional j-bend spokes, these may be the ticket. While the Berd spokes are a polarizing product, throughout testing they performed as advertised without any issues or reason to question their integrity. Daniel Sapp








179 Comments

  • 434 9
 Reliable? A frayed knot.
  • 131 1
 We spoke about these puns before. Wheel never stop
  • 76 1
 A whole new meaning to lacing wheels.
  • 57 0
 I think they are just stringing us along.
  • 27 14
 Try knot to make any more of these
  • 32 0
 @BlurredVision: they’re roping us in
  • 12 7
 These same old puns keep going round and round.
  • 12 11
 These puns must stop! I demand your compliance!
  • 19 1
 It's the same old yarn with these puns.
  • 6 24
flag Grimes1405 (Jan 28, 2020 at 6:32) (Below Threshold)
 I hope the PB community doesn't overlook the language skill needed to write a comment such as yours. 6 people already have. Well done!
  • 35 0
 Seems to be a common thread among all these comments.
  • 14 0
 The tension, it is palpable.
  • 6 0
 Hoop-la
  • 2 19
flag chyu (Jan 28, 2020 at 7:40) (Below Threshold)
 Glass is glass and glass breaks.
  • 9 0
 These puns have me all tied up.
  • 2 8
flag Oddball117 (Jan 28, 2020 at 8:56) (Below Threshold)
 @Spark24: are you sure you can knot stop, maybe knot the puns are already rolling
  • 6 0
 This new line of thinking just demonstrates how we are tied to the old technology.
  • 6 1
 Its knot your single pun that created my tight smirk, but how we have strung multiple together to create nice tension among the more rigid readers.
  • 4 0
 @BenPea: Strands Flow EX or based on the price could this be considered Dental Floss?
  • 3 0
 @eshew: you think you're weaving magic but you're just g-roping around in the dark.
  • 7 1
 Berd is the werd.
  • 3 0
 String theory gone mad Eek
  • 15 1
 Break a spoke on a road trip and you’re stranded.
  • 4 0
 @sevensixtwo Naw, just put a can of silly string in your kit:
  • 4 0
 It was bound to happen
  • 2 0
 Who's berd were these spokes woven from anyway?
  • 60 7
 " A good analogy to use for the ride quality would be the difference in the feel of a high-end steel frame compared to a high-end carbon frame. "

I couldn't think of a worse analogy. There are so many different carbon frames and none of them have a similar ride quality. Same for steel bikes depending on the tubing used.
  • 7 6
 HA, wrote the exact same thing at the same time.
  • 19 3
 @dirtyburger: Agree. I use Berd spokes and a better analogy would be dropping several PSI from your tire pressure or going up a casing size or two.

It's difficult to separate one variable from another, since I changed rims, dropped a lot of unsprung mass, and changed spoke material, but one thing is certain: my wheels feel better than other wheels. I mean, they had damned well better be good, at this price, and they are.
  • 1 1
 I couldn't agree more.
  • 28 2
 I don’t see it as a "proprietary technology" as it needs no special rim an no special hub. You could say the same about bladed spokes then. Or carbon handlebars vs aluminium. The nipples maybe? Well there are a variety of them out there for "standard" spokes as well.
  • 9 0
 Yeah. Berd are clearly better than the other texile spoke options on the market, which all require dedicated hubs and rims.
  • 5 2
 They are patented, so yeah they are proprietary, but they are compatible with any normal hub, rim and nipple. Only problem, besides the semi ridiculous price, is that you have to round the bezel on the spoke holes of most hubs.
  • 10 1
 Ya berd is very protective of their proprietaryness.

There was a thread over on mtbr that had great detail on how to build your own uhmwpe spokes - with pretty good success. Berd threw a hissy (even though nobody was selling the stuff, just a diy in their garage) and it got shut down.

Cool product bros. Glad it's working for ya.
  • 3 0
 @onemind123: you don't happen to have that saved do you? Hahaha
  • 4 0
 @ktm87: just google "polymer uhmwpe mtbr" the thread is open and active.
  • 1 0
 @Mesmomesmo: thanks!
  • 25 2
 I kinda despise Berd after they made MTBR delete the thread one poster explained how to attach nipple to the spoke. That's just petty. They haven't come up with anything new.

R2 bike has similarly priced wheels that are same width but much lighter:
r2-bike.com/PI-ROPE-Wheelset-29-RL-Lucky-Jack-6TERS-Carbon-Gen2

Pi Rope+Newmen hubs seem much better designed with straight pull spokes that don't put pressure on the spoke like on J-bend with the knot and all.
  • 1 0
 any reason you couldn't use these Berd spokes in a straight pull hub anyway?
  • 3 0
 The thread is back and alive... just read through it. Lastest posts are from today.
  • 5 6
 That's sort of like saying having a patent is petty.
  • 7 1
 @TucsonDon: When you file a patent you are publicly disclosing your invention. In exchange you get commercial exclusivity. You don't get a copyright on the information and you don't get to send seize and desist letters to diy guys.

Your other option is keeping your methods a trade secret (like the Coca Cola recipe or Google's search algorithm). You can't really do both.
  • 1 0
 @jonnyboy: You certainly can.
  • 1 0
 The DIY thread never died nor was it deleted. It's been there all along.
  • 1 3
 @rainerle: actually that's exactly what you get, protection in both ways. Yes, you make your invention publicly disclosed and lose control over it, once the patent runs out. Until the patent expires and can no longer or is no longer renewed you are protected from all types of infringement and that includes Joe Hobbiest in his garage,
  • 3 1
 @cofo11:
As long as Joe Hobbiest doesn't sell his creations, there is nothing a patent holder can do. A patent protects commercial interests only, it doesn't prevent the DIY market from making things for their own personal use.
  • 2 0
 @tsheep: Yes, it prevents exactly what you claim it doesn't. That's an extremely common misconception. Additionally, even if Joe Hobbiest never even makes the thing but publishes instructions that enable others to do so he can be held liable for inciting the infringement. Patent law is very complicated. Actually, if, Berd in this case, does not go after Joe Hobbiest they can actually lose their patent due to lack of enforcement. It's in the holder's best interest to aggressively enforce their patents.

"Technically speaking, if an invention is patented, the patent hasn’t expired, and the owner hasn't clearly given you permission to use it, then you are not allowed to use it at all, even if you're just making it for personal reasons and not trying to sell anything. In the US, you cannot even use or recreate a patented invention for educational purposes."
patentpandas.org/resources/patent-infringement

Now stop spreading misinformation.
  • 3 0
 @cofo11: Id argue this should have never been patentable. This is how Dyneema winch line is used all over. The patent is literally for the use of the fibers the grab itself and whats inside it. Pretty weak patent for anyone looking to do something similar at home.
  • 2 0
 @partsgeek: It's a pretty standard patent. It's novel, unique and non-obvious. Yes, the concept has been explored before but how prevalent were those examples and how different are the technical details? It's easy to lament patents but without the protection of them a major incentive for invention is taken away.
  • 19 1
 "A good analogy to use for the ride quality would be the difference in the feel of a high-end steel frame compared to a high-end carbon frame"

Totally disagree. Such "differences" come from design, not materials. Especially considering one of those materials has anisotropic mech properties and hence can be used to produce structures with tailored mech response based on the design requirements.
  • 16 1
 Shouldn't expect much from editors not old enough to remember or have used previous synthetic fiber spoked wheel offerings. We had Tioga tension disc wheels all the way back in 1991 with kevlar cord in place of steel wire spokes. One of the things those wheels were most remembered for (besides the buzzing noise as they spun) was how much smoother the ride felt with them on your bike.
  • 15 33
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 28, 2020 at 2:19) (Below Threshold)
 Whole material compliance is one big load of theory and personal preference. Rode lots of sifferent frames from pretentious steel or carbon, own pretentious carbon. Changed from Cromo 4130 DJ to an alu DJ and can’t feel a bloody difference other than it doesn’t fricking rust!

At the end of the day you have to show up with a measurable result showing an improvement, but this pretty much never happens. What is always left of these discussions where somehow aluminium always comes at the bottom, is that: it feels better to me. And that is fine as long as people start and end with this sentence, eventually adding actual theory behind it, rather than stating it as a fact. Nobody has ever got back from a ride less battered because they changed from alu to whatever the hell they find more valuable.

There is no bloody way in the world this particular rim and spoke system offers any real life, evident advantage. Proprietary stuff is always a pain in the ass. That is the real price to pay here.
  • 3 3
 @WAKIdesigns: Exactly. Tyres @ 20psi, rims, suspension, saddle, seatpost, bars etc and you "never experienced the sensation of getting kicked around in rough sections of trail" thanks to the spokes? Really? I'm all for advances in materials, and spokes are somewhat overdue that as they haven't fundamentally changed in years, but to claim that these are anything but lighter spokes seems a bit hyperbolic.
  • 22 18
 @timbarnes: I am slowly transforming into someone like those youtubers taking piss at the fitness industry. The bunch of bollocks being thrown around is apalling. Someone just told me he bought carbon bar and he no longer gets arm pump. Bejesus... no, fk training giving you grip strength, screw learning the skill of braking that is braking hard yet rarely in certain spots, staying smooth, relaxing hands in smoother areas of the trail if run is long (including air time) - trying to get leaner, no fk that. If they at lest said: get stronger brakes no. Buy a carbon handlebar it will all go away! Fcking pile of bllshit and an army of clueless mongos with fat wallets, who have to stand behind their stupid purchases because they would come out as fools. - how's your super light spoke bro? - oh changed my riding!
  • 14 0
 @timbarnes: Agreed, spokes are overdue for some advances.

Back to back with other $2,000+ carbon wheels set up exactly the same, the Berd spokes do provide a different ride quality that is no doubt, noticeable in certain places, especially rough sections of trail. Will any of this make you a better rider? No. They're unique and offer something different. That's all.
  • 10 13
 @danielsapp: Totally. There is no research that can prove that carbon rims are too stiff. They feel too stiff to me. Some people love super stiff bike. Like Greg Minnaar. No amount of research or even timing, can prove that air shock with X chamber upgrade will outperform a coil shock on X track and vice versa. It's hard to argue whether 29" wheels are faster than 27,5" in XC since Nino won on 27,5 over virtually everyone on 29" wheels just like Hill wins on flats with literally everyone clipped in. That is why it is so hard to motivate certain expenditures, beyond "I like it this way" even given everything else on the bike is setup spot on. At this stage of development, that is quite dialed bikes and components across theboard, the chance of someone's experience with some whacky stuff being translatable to someone else is little.
  • 4 1
 @WAKIdesigns: it's often people relinquishing their own opinion to those who tell them something else is indispensable, because the latter a) want to sell them something, or b) have bought it themselves and want to add weight to their post-purchase rationalisation by sucking others into the same choice. Or something. It's hard to judge the various factors influencing us, be they internal or external. It's hard to know what "better" means for each of us.
  • 2 12
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 28, 2020 at 7:46) (Below Threshold)
 @BenPea: it just fascinates me, how does one go: aluminium bricks from Italy to attach to a frame, to supposedly save 3 seconds per lap... who the F goes: “what if there’s something in it?”, “what if nobody has never thought about it” - you know what you are right, nobody really thought about making living from selling stupid crap like that, but some corrupt douchebag decided that confidence, confidence, confidence will do it! And it does!

It’s like with women, they Pretty much all say they hate guys who flirt with every girl and look like they would screw anything. But ask them who would they shag if they were needy? The bloke who openly carries himself like he would screw anything.

I mean It’s some sort of cognitive dissonance: It’s suspicious, it makes no sense, why would I want that? This is exactly why I want that!
  • 1 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Interesting angle.
Maybe it's a combination of the possibility that life might be better with that new thing and the ability to afford it. i.e., this might be a stupid purchase, but I can afford it and it makes me feel good in some indefinable way/marks me apart as a connoisseur of shit/raises my social status. There's sometimes no objective measure of the worth of stuff, apart from when the sensations/speed/confort are clearly better.
  • 2 10
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 28, 2020 at 8:20) (Below Threshold)
 @BenPea: I do think it's all things combined. Evolutionary mechanisms: trying to outsmart everyone, a trigger to create a mutation that may or may not succeed, financial status, trying to be cool status, then post purchase Rationalization you mentioned, making it harder for us to determine whether something works or not. But that's all fine, we are all suspects to that in various disciplines of our lives (there are some whacky fitness supplements in my closet I will never use again...). We just want to believe.

What is awkward is that an individual who is into something for a longer period of time, has seen and tried a thing or two is still unable to tell the sht from bullsht. I do think it has to do with simply being clinically clueless. And please, I am not saying it's about Joeys only, in most cases yes, but it also involves top riders. Remember that video of Sam Blenkinsop explaining cornering? Or another story, my friends met Godziek riding around my hometown, it was like a year or two before his first Rampage - they asked him about pressures, he didn't really know, then about tubeless and he didn't know what the tire sealant is. I know a several stories like this.
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: We both know that the beneficial effects of wheels, holding your hubs off the ground, lateral stiffness, etc. come from the tensile strength of the material. The one difference I can see that might improve the ride, is that these spokes would transmit NONE of the compressive loads back up to the hub, whereas regular spokes would transmit some portion of these loads. That might make a noticeable, measurable difference.

I agree that production steel frames riding smoother than aluminum frames is a load of bollocks. Maybe a custom-designed steel frame with personalized tubing choices, where they're really running close to the edge of safe design for your weight might have some noticeable flex, but a production steel frame that's has to be designed to not feel like a noodle for a 250lb rider will feel just as stiff as any aluminum frame for a 170lb or 190lb rider.
  • 3 1
 @WAKIdesigns: That's ridiculous. I got some hand pain after buying a new bike with 35mm bars. I bought the OneUp carbon bars with rev grips and no longer have the issue, maybe I should have just went back to 31.8 but had Trek knock block stem. Sometime it DOES matter... But OTOH I agree not death-gripping your bars is most important!
  • 1 2
 @WAKIdesigns: You can also vary the lacing to make a wheel stiffer or flexier, same with rims, so using these cords for lacing is interesting but not really answer to a question, more just a very expensive novelty.
  • 1 10
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 28, 2020 at 12:41) (Below Threshold)
 @TucsonDon: It depends on goals. If I was doing miles and miles of riding, like trying to cross Scandinavia or Alberta, well, I could probably be after such compliance. A tire insert in a 2.6-2.8 tire and these spokes. Sure. But this is not Salsa-zine for people who wouldn’t ride without packing stainless areopress and miniature grinder. It is Pinkbike, wham, bam, roost, fest, 120 bikes with Minions, sendy sunday, fail friday weeeee!
  • 1 6
flag WAKIdesigns (Jan 28, 2020 at 12:46) (Below Threshold)
 @davec113: first of all vast majority of Carbon bars are stiff as fuk, that is as stiff as first alu Renthals Fatbars with wall thickness of like 3mm. The chance of getting a compliant carbon bar is really low. I can believe OneUp is actually good, since these folks actually do strive for doing good stuff. There is off course a difference in compliance that’s why for 160+ bikes I use exclusively Renthal Fatbar Lite 31.8. But even that doesn’t save me from arm pump. Barbell and braking technique does.
  • 1 0
 Topolino made road wheels using similar materials, but now only make wheels for wheelchairs. I'd be letting others buy the first generation of these things.
  • 1 0
 Force that you feel at your hands is a sum of the stiffness of the members connecting you to the ground IN PARALLEL. So if you replace one of those members with say, a marshmallow, you would notice a real change in handling. Here we have spokes that are made from a different material using a completely different process, I think it's more than possible that they feel different than steel spokes.
  • 17 0
 I can speak to the durability and strength of this material. I am a professional deck officer in shipping, we have been using similar material as is being used for these spikes for years. The material has been used to replace steel in applications where there is limited chance of abrasion, such as towing lines, and it has been used to replace many mooring lines. The benefit to the cable is it’s easier to handle by hand and is stronger and more tolerant to the elements. The reason it has been used to replace some mooring lines is because it is dramatically smaller and easier to handle when you compare it to conventional rope that would have to be dramatically bigger in diameter to still achieve a lesser strength (the only downside of this in mooring lines is that it realistically does not stretch... hard on deck components and pier components and causes higher dynamic loads on the lines if they are loose).

This stuff is strong, basically synthetic spider webs.

My only concern is how to adjust spoke tension accurately on your own... or if you had to install it yourself.
  • 6 1
 After reading this, I come away with the impression that you can simply replace your massive traditional mooring lines (and the fancy expensive new ones) with a bunch of cheap spokes?
  • 3 0
 My other hobby for 20 years has been small racing sailboats. I've used this stuff, at roughly this diameter, for years for small, highly-loaded lines. It is very slick, so even when it rubs against things it lasts longer than other lines. It splices easily. It is pretty spectacular, and plenty of people have used it for standing rigging, to hold up the mast. It seems like a good spoke material to me. The hub-end mounting is a little goofy, with the spliced loop passed through the hub hole, and then another length of line passed through that to jam it, then trimmed. They probably did that, instead of splicing directly to the hub, in order to make a home- or shop-replaced spoke look the same as the originals, but that just makes the originals look goofy.
  • 1 0
 "My only concern is how to adjust spoke tension accurately on your own... or if you had to install it yourself."

You can build the wheels, Berd can build from in-stock parts, you can ship parts to Berd for building, or a (very patient) local shop can build it. Some special finishing work may be required to smooth the hubs to reduce abrasion.

Tensioning once build it easy. Berd provides a tool to hold the spoke and you turn the nipple as with any wheel, except you'll need a low-profile spoke wrench - like a general-purpose, open-end wrench; I picked up one from AliExpress for a dollar or two.
  • 20 1
 Real question here: why don't shaving brands sponsor XC racing?
  • 29 0
 Because the racing is too cut throat.
  • 11 0
 Why would they sponsor someone with a 'berd'?
  • 3 0
 They might as well sponsor Bert and Ernie then.
  • 3 0
 aren't schwalbe's "rock razor" some kind of shaving equipment?
  • 1 0
 Didn't Braun sponsor cycling events? Not sure about XC but they used to have these flags at slopestyle events. They even used a section of the Roam video (Bearclaw riding the jumps in Jordies backyard) in one of their commercials.
  • 9 0
 UHMWPE is some serious stuff, and I love seeing it in another application.

Other common uses for it include replacing steel wire in Winches/cranes/other lifting cordage applications. As the article mentioned, it is stronger than the same size steel cable, lighter (easier to pull around/connect to things as it is much more flexible), floats. Plus its easy to splice. Not all knots work in it though, as it really is quite slippery.

I personally use it as my main suspension for my hammock while backpacking/camping. I use a 7/64" thickness cordage, which has a weight rating of 1600lbs. From the looks of it, the spokes are close-ish to the same diameter, so they should be plenty strong.

If you've got the cash, and like the vibration deadening they provide, it seems they really do drop the weight of the wheelset a noticeable amount. I'm not willing to pay that price, but I won't admit its a pretty cool option (imo anyway).
  • 4 0
 UHMWPE thats well made is the strongest weight-to-strength ratio material we know how to make. dyneema literally made a "net" from it that can catch and stop tsunamis
using it this way on wheels seems quite interesting... id definitely wait for a few more iterations on the wheels thought.
  • 2 0
 @bankz: One of strongest strength to weight ratio. Zylon, carbon fiber, and graphene all have a higher specific strength than UHMWPE.
  • 11 0
 Call me when they invent a wheel with no spokes whatsoever. Like magnets in the hub that repel the rim evenly.
  • 14 0
 I want the opposite: a solid disc of steel between a carbon rim and some infinite point of engagement hub that is so proprietary that it fits only on 1 frame. Not 1 kind of frame, one single frame.
  • 2 0
 @Ron-C: I too would like to know what it feels like to pedal boat anchors in circles.
  • 1 0
 Softwheel and Loopwheel come to mind, but they both seem to be focusing on wheelchairs now.
  • 7 0
 Quite some time ago I ordered some bare rims from Carbon Fan. I use them for Enduro style usage so I did All Mountain layup in the front with a 33 mm ID & 28 spoke holes. In the rear I did a Downhill layup with 29 mm ID and 32 spoke holes.
I then purchased some Project 321 hubs with ceramic bearings and sent the rims and hubs off to Berd . The approximate up charge over bladed spokes was about $350 compared to if I just laced them up locally. My total investment in the new wheels was about 1500 bucks all in.
The wheels came in weighing about 1450 g as I recall. They reduce trail chatter enough where you feel like you're going slower but times prove you're going faster.
They have taken a heck of a lot of abuse, plenty of jumps including one with a flat, and endless rocks.
As far as I'm concerned I built a superior set of wheels and would do the exact same thing again.
  • 2 0
 I also built up a set with black Berd spokes, Light Bikes 40i carbon rims and Extralite straight pull hubs with ceramic bearings and they came in at 1330g. I run them with 2.8 DHRII’s and they’re awesome! You can definitely feel a difference in compliance. Especially in high speed chatter and rock gardens
  • 1 0
 I see your wheels are compatible with the Avian Flew then.
  • 11 1
 Keep away from the camp fire
  • 4 0
 Exactly! How am I supposed to jump my bike over the campfire after a few beers with these?
  • 6 0
 I'll add a couple of more bits about my Berds. 1) mine are black, 2) they are NOT fragile and they survive sticks much better than metal spokes, 3) they don't stretch after the initial set up, 4) they seem to require no maintenance at all whereas I use to keep spare Sapims in my truck as I broke them so often 5) I can not even tell where my hubs were chamfered and I can go back to normal spokes any time, 6) Berd includes spare spokes however they told me that out of thousands of sold spokes, only 2 that they know of have ever failed, 7) I would have chosen straight pull spokes if my preferred hub manufacturer made them, but it actually doesn't matter so I chose my favorite P321 hubs in J bend combined with Berds.

As far as the above reviewed product, they should have utilized DT180 hubs for this application imo.
  • 5 0
 As far as the MTBR thread, yah members picked Berd's brain posing as potential clients and went about trying to sell actual product (I know as I was sent a test sample) and Berd sent a Cease and Desist letter to protect years of work and a patent.
Last I heard through PM 2 of those members that had received CaD letters were going to be producing product in China for mass production using UEMPH (or whatever it's called).
Not sure why anyone would be mad at Berd for that. I might also add that the thread is alive and well on MTBR right now it's just there info that intruded on Berd's patent has been deleted.
  • 4 0
 The one thing I can't get over is how bad the spoke holes look after their "Proprietary Chamfering and polishing process" For a $2100 wheelset, I'd expect them to get the hubshells custom so the spoke holes don't look like someone took a dremel to them.
  • 7 0
 Wonder if they’re strong enough to be used in DH wheels
  • 1 6
flag Ttimer (Jan 28, 2020 at 0:24) (Below Threshold)
 Probably yes, but why? The weight savings over conventional spokes aren't really worth it outside of top 10 Worldcup racing.
  • 17 0
 @Ttimer: cos' better vibration damping and extra compliance. I can see a lot of DH racers wanting to try these spokes.
  • 5 2
 I'm confused about these spokes maintaining tension. UHMWPE will continue to creep under load until they fail. In sailboat rigging, this material is used for 'running' rigging (like ropes) because the loads are varied to control sail shape. When this material was applied as 'standing' rigging (holding mast in place) it would constantly need adjusting, which is something that is not desired in standing rigging.
Spinergy used a fiber called PBO, which is very high strength and stiffness, but degrades in strength over time from exposure to moisture at elevated temperatures and UV light. A great deal of protection is required to use this.
  • 3 0
 The specific UHMWPE that Berd is using is DM20, which is specifically developed to more or less eliminate creep.
  • 2 0
 It seems like the majority of the creep comes out in the first 2-3 days under tension. Hence the retensioning protocol outlined in the build process of the article. Dyneema is used successfully for standing rigging, it just needs a similar retensioning protocol during the first few days of use.
  • 4 0
 I'm gonna hold out for wheels with spokes made of spider silk.

inchemistry.acs.org/content/inchemistry/en/atomic-news/spider-webs.html
  • 2 0
 Those spider silk harvesting contraptions looks medievil.
  • 5 0
 Yeah, but does it sound as cool as a Tioga Disc Drive? Smile
  • 4 0
 Should also add that I had the rear rim trued 1 time at the local bike shop with normal tools. No issue at all.
  • 5 0
 Huck to flat slo-mo is needed here
  • 2 0
 THIS ^^^ @Pinkbike !
And, add an unfinished whip landing in there too while you're hucking it up.
  • 1 0
 need more than a huck to flat test. need some square edge hits, sideways hits and cornering!
  • 1 0
 I have déjà vu... Smile

My SPINERGY Fall Line back in 2006 looked cool but were far from reliable.

I remember one day all noodle spokes got so loose that my hub became VPP Wink Since I didn't have dedicated spoke tool I used a pen (sic!) to tension them just enough to get home...
You had to remove tires, tubes and wheel tape to properly true them with 2 dedicated tools and a tension meter was a must.

Good times Wink

m.pinkbike.com/photo/510942

m.pinkbike.com/photo/509577

m.pinkbike.com/photo/509579

m.pinkbike.com/photo/8585500

m.pinkbike.com/photo/542699
  • 1 0
 Will be interesting to see how creep affects the long term tension of the spokes. Creep is the tendency for a material to suffer from reduced strength and stiffness after extended exposure to stresses well below yield point. Metals don't suffer from creep, many thermoplastics do. In other words, these spokes could stretch with time and the wheel will either become out of true or feel less stiff... or both.... or neither... I guess time will tell.
  • 1 0
 If they're $8 per spoke to replace and there are 28 spokes front and rear, how come the spokes are a $600 upgrade? 28×2×8 = 448. It would be cheaper to build the wheels yourself.
  • 2 0
 is the extra steps required to build it vs steel pokes.
  • 4 0
 The article doesn`t say if we can play music or tennis with them. Can we?
  • 3 0
 My mom is pretty much a pro knitter, I wonder if she could make me some of these wheels.....
  • 1 0
 Well I guess that would make "custom" much cheaper
  • 1 0
 I have no experience with these wheels, but I DO have experience with Berd spokes and I was not impressed. The concept seemed sound, but the execution was awful in my opinion.
  • 3 0
 I just can't decide whether to go back to clips ... It's doing my head in
  • 2 0
 8 dollars a pop. 600 dollars more than Sapim spokes. 32 spokes per wheel would be more like 10 dollars a spoke? Right?
  • 6 0
 Did you read the wheel building process? Labor.
  • 1 0
 @TheOriginalTwoTone: Yeah, that's an issue. I enjoy building wheels, but I let Berd build mine. My patience is finite.
  • 3 0
 Sorry, they're just knot for me.
  • 2 0
 Light, strong, not cheap. You had me at the vibration diagram. Put these on a gravel bike and rip.
  • 3 0
 Berd spokes on 3Zero Moto rims? Do I dare?
  • 1 2
 That's a bad idea. The 3Zero Moto Rims are a tuned flex system and you will get unreliable results messing with that system. Also I would not combine Berd with Onyx hubs because both products have a certain amount of give when you start pedaling, and I wouldn't want to combine those attributes. IMO, the give from either product is fine because you get it all back, in fact it's kind of nice.
  • 3 0
 @SunsPSD: The stiffness of the Berd spokes is comparable to 1.5 mm steel spokes.

I don't believe any product in the bike industry is so perfectly tuned that we can't experiment with it. If the 3Zero Moto rims can be used with 1.5 mm, 1.6 mm, 1.8 mm - maybe even 2.0 mm - steel spokes, then why not Berd's spokes? The material is different, but the properties are similar.
  • 2 0
 @SunsPSD: I didn't say anything about Onyx hubs.
  • 2 0
 Why not Titanium spokes? Even if they were double the cost of Sapim they’d still be cheaper right?
  • 1 0
 Fatigue qualities are not very good.
  • 1 0
 Titanium spokes exist. The strength to weight ratio of titanium spokes isn't hugely better than high-end steel spokes, but the price is a lot higher - i.e. the performance benefit doesn't justify the price. Berd's spokes are priced similarly to butted ti spokes and offer a little higher performance, albeit more hassle when building.
  • 1 0
 Reminds me of Spinergy Spox PBO spokes "3x the strength of steel, half the weight" Suffered from cool looking but unreliable hubs & brittle rims. Hubs are now door knobs.
  • 1 0
 Cool gimmick. 18$ for a 100ft spool of amsteel 1.6mm diamter @ 750lb test.

www.amazon.com/emma-kites-200-5500lb-Braided-Polyethylene/dp/B07BKQLFRB?th=1&psc=1
  • 1 0
 Sapp has got to be the worse reviewer ever. Analogies that make no fucking sense and pros and cons are always laughably stupid.
  • 1 0
 The theoretical damping curves had me sold. They are probably the only company that can come up with those theoretical damping curves
  • 1 0
 If can offer a life time warranty, would it not be better to offer at a more reasonable price first?
  • 1 0
 If they need to specially modify the hubs so they don’t slice the spokes, why couldn’t they just go with straight-pull?
  • 2 0
 “Berd spokes work with all J-bend hubs, all standard tangential straightpull hubs, and some radial straightpull hubs.” From Berd’s website
  • 3 2
 Meh. I used the same spokes to build lighter 29" wheel with 36 mm (internal) rims.
  • 3 1
 How long is a piece of string?
  • 2 0
 Yes
  • 3 2
 And if you want to have spokes like these, but in beautiful and with very good rims, then look after Pirope wheels ...
  • 1 0
 I know this article is about the wheels... but this girl's bike is really nice!
  • 2 0
 Highest performing wheels to date.... *No strings attached...
  • 2 1
 “$600 upgrade from standard Sapim spokes”

Huh, well the hubs look like the tines off a hay baler, not exactly a looker.
  • 1 0
 Y/T curve is very relevant and doesn't make sense why this material is being used for a highly stressed spoke material.
  • 1 1
 Stiffness is an important metric but oddly absent in the graphs. Very suspicious. It seems like every gimmicky product plays these marketing games. Weak.
  • 1 0
 That's 2 complete wheelsets built with DT Spokes/ nipples, Chrisking Hubs, and Stans Flow EX Rims!
  • 1 0
 That is exactly what is used for suture in orthopedic surgeries, just smaller size in surgeries.
  • 2 0
 Imagine putting these spokes on that single wall Zipp rim lolol
  • 1 0
 It would be an interesting experiment to see how much compliance we can get from the wheel and how that affects the ride. Maybe we find out there's such a thing as too much or maybe more is more.
  • 2 0
 Atomik is taking wheel building to the next level
  • 1 0
 Would love to read a thorough long-term review of that Supercaliber!
  • 1 2
 Well if you're an XC pro, then maybe. I get my compliance from a set of $220 custom wheels, albeit at a 600g weight penalty :-)
  • 2 0
 SPOX-ing
  • 1 0
 SOON!!! A cushcore wheels with maximum absorb, no need in inserts lol!
  • 1 0
 Spinergy SPOX, anyone? This was invented 20+ years ago.
  • 1 0
 I've been riding Spinergy Xyclone wheels on my bikes for close to 20 years. Only had to true one of them (out of 4)
one time. That was when my bike fell out of my friend's truck on the freeway.
Otherwise, they are all still running true. Hopefully these newcomers to the noodle-spoke world will be as good.
  • 1 0
 damn that supercaliber looks good!
  • 1 0
 As a climber all I see are 32 dynema runners loaded and ready to blow.....
  • 1 0
 Oom m-mow mow Pa pa oom mow m-mow Pa pa pa oom m-mow mow
  • 1 1
 I've got no strings So I have fun I'm not tied up to anyone They've got strings But you can see There are no strings on me
  • 1 0
 why the 34 stepcast on the supercaliber
  • 1 0
 Life time warranty no strings attached.
  • 1 1
 I like my wheels like my relations. No strings attached.
  • 1 1
 That’s cool, but I want to see Grim Donut part 2.... now please.
  • 1 0
 WHERE'S THE GRIM DONUT?
  • 2 0
 For real, outside of a joke, who cares?
  • 2 1
 Dental floss
  • 1 0
 Feel like wet noodles
  • 1 1
 Damn man, look like you broke a spoke. Wanna borrow a shoe lace?
  • 1 0
 spinergy looking spokes
  • 1 0
 In the same way that steel, aluminum, and titanium frame tubing are similar because they're metal and the tubes are often straight. Different materials, different construction, different properties.
  • 1 1
 Ermagerd they took ma Berd!
  • 1 0
 Atomic Beard
  • 1 2
 The mountain bike industry is a joke
  • 5 8
 Looks like a complex solution to a problem that doesn’t exist
  • 15 0
 To look at it another way: Other than the price - which hasn't stopped plenty of other high-end items - why not?
  • 2 0
 They probably said the same thing about suspension and disc brakes
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