First Look: E*Thirteen's New Sylvan, Grappler & Optimus Wheels

Jan 25, 2024 at 8:48
by Jessie-May Morgan  
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E*Thirteen is replacing its entire lineup of mountain bike wheels with the Optimus, Sylvan and Grappler series, with Race Carbon and Race Alloy rims. A new 28mm internal width rim finds its home on the Optimus wheels, while the Sylvan wheels roll on E*Thirteen's very first asymmetric rim with a 30mm internal width, serving the all-mountain and lightweight eMTB segments. Last but not least, the heavier, symmetrical 30mm internal width rims of the Grappler series step up for use on enduro bikes, full-powered eMTBs, and downhill bikes.

Gone (or more accurately, heavily discounted) are the long-standing XCX, TRS and LG1 wheels, replaced by this new range with new hub sets to boot. All see a spring-backed pawl drive mechanism, offering either 3° or 6° engagement, dependent on the intention. The brand say they have prioritized the strength-to-weight ratio in their rim and wheel designs but have also dedicated significant effort to improving low-profile radial compliance, to improve ride quality over the outgoing models.


E*Thirteen Sylvan Details
• Intention: all-mountain riding
• Internal rim width: 30mm, hookless
• 4mm offset asymmetric rim
• Wheel Size: 29" F & R, 27.5" Rear only
• Spacing: Boost & Super Boost
• Rim Material: Carbon (450g) or Alloy (567g)
• Spoke Count: 28 (F & R), 32 R for e*spec
• Hubs: Race SL (+ Race SL e*spec)
• Weight Carbon (29”): 760g / 920g, F / R (Boost, XD)
• Weight Alloy (29”): 896g / 1032g, F / R (Boost, XD)
• Sylvan Race Carbon: Front 699.95 $/€ - Rear 859.95 $/€ (869.95 $/€ Super Boost)
• Sylvan Race Alloy: Front 299.95 $/€ - Rear 409.95 $/€ (419.95 Super Boost)
ethirteen.com

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The E*Thirteen Sylvan Race Carbon (front) retails at $699.95 USD
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The E*Thirteen Sylvan Race Carbon (front) retails at $859.95 USD

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Both the Race Carbon and Race Alloy rims are said to have improved impact resistance over their predecessors, some of the to the tune of several hundred percent. I've had my hands on the E*Thirteen Sylvan Race Carbon wheels, and have had the joy of one single ride on them. My Hope HB 916 will roll on this 29"/27.5" setup for the foreseeable, likely for the whole of the 2024 season, or until something catastrophic happens. E*Thirteen reports a 709% impact resistance improvement for the Sylvan Race Carbon rim over the TRS Race Carbon rim, so the likelihood of said catastrophe seems low. Either way, a more detailed long-term review will be provided somewhere down the line.


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The Sylvan Race Carbon rim has a 4mm offset at the rim bed, a feature that enables the spoke lengths and tensions between the drive and non-drive sides to be more equally balanced. That gives a wheel that is stiffer laterally, and thus beneficial for the rigors of all-mountain riding. It has a depth of 23mm.

Not shown is the much more affordable Race Alloy wheelset. This one gets a welded rim that is shallower at 20mm. E*Thirteen claim it has a 366% improvement in impact strength over the outgoing TRS Plus aluminum rim.

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Four pawls on the Race SL hub
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In use on the Optimus and Sylvan wheels

The Sylvan wheels come in a standard version, or an e*spec version - the latter for use on SL type eMTBs. Both run the same rims, hub shell and drive ring, but they differ in terms of the drive mechanism. The Race SL driver houses four double-stepped pawls, with timing offset such that only two are engaged at any instance; that gives a faster 3° engagement. Meanwhile, the e*spec version has only three double-stepped pawls, but all of them engage simultaneously to give 6° engagement. It also gets 32 spokes (rear only), instead of the standard 28.

A well at the center of the rim is there to make seating of tubeless tires easier - and it works. That combined with the Quick Fill tubeless valves made life extra easy. On the front, I mounted a Continental Kryptotal Enduro, and on the rear a Vittoria Mazza Enduro. Both were seated onto the rim with inflation from a regular floor pump, and removal of the valve core was not necessary.

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After two rides, I noticed a discoloration on the rims. E*Thirteen say this is not a structural issue, and is only caused by a lack of pigmentation in the resin used on these unpainted rims. A full statement from E*Thirteen, below.

"First off, there is nothing structurally wrong with the rim. What we are seeing is a superficial glass scrim layer that, since the rims are unpainted, we use as a protective layer against abrasion and dings. The sidewall area in question is the part of the rim that is under compression from the mold without the air bladder. That sometimes results in some inconsistent resin outflow which is the white discoloration we see on the sidewall. Before the rims are built into wheels, the rims are polished with a wax material that actually makes a nice, uniform surface. That wax eventually can wear off and the discoloration then shows up. We are working on a solution in which we add some black pigment to the resin so this color inconsistency will not be visible. The choice to not paint carbon rims is important for environmental, worker health, and strength reasons. Rims come out of the mold and are not sanded, which means workers are not exposed to carbon dust. Additionally, there is no requirement to filter air and water in the facility due to sanding and painting. Last, we do not allow any sandpaper or other abrasive materials to touch the rims once they're removed from the mold. That means we can build them as light and strong as they can be without the concern of over sanding which can lead to inconsistency in impact strength of the rim. We understand that the marks aren't ideal and anyone unhappy with their e*thirteen wheels can get in touch with out support team and we will get them taken care of" - E*Thirteen.

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Replacing the outgoing XCX line is the E*Thirteen Optimus, available in Race Carbon and Race Alloy, in 29" only. These ones are aimed at lightweight trail bikes, and are said to deliver a nimble and dynamic feel, with exceptional durability for aggressive trail riding.

Both rim types get a symmetrical profile, with a 30mm internal width. The Race Carbon rims have a 22.8mm depth while the 6069 aluminum rims are shallower at 19mm. The latter is said to offer 166% greater impact resistance versus the outgoing XCX alloy rim. In both instances, the rims are laced to E*Thirteen's Race SL hubs via 28 J-Bend spokes of the Sapim D-Light variety.


E*Thirteen Optimus Details
• Intention: lightweight trail riding
• Internal rim width: 28mm, hookless
• Wheel Size: 29" only (Boost)
• Rim Material: Carbon (380g) or Alloy (477g)
• Spoke Count: 28 (F & R)
• Hubs: Race SL
• Claimed wheel weight (carbon): 756g / 876g, F / R (Boost, XD)
• Claimed wheel weight (alloy): 796g / 956g, F / R (Boost, XD)
• Optimus Race Carbon: Front 709.95 $/€ - Rear 869.95 $/€
• Optimus Race Alloy: Front 289.95 $/€ - Rear 409.95 $/€
ethirteen.com



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Grappler Race Carbon DH and e*spec Enduro rims are said to absorb 322% more energy than the previous version LG1 Race DH rims in impact testing


The E*Thirteen Grappler series actually comprises six wheel options, each available in 29" or 27.5", Boost or Super Boost. There's a wheelset for Enduro, Enduro eMTB (full-powered), and Downhill, each with their own hubset, and both carbon and aluminum rim options.

The entire lineup uses heavier duty J-Bend Sapim Race spokes. The Downhill wheels and the rear wheel of the Enduro e*spec wheelset are laced with 32 spokes, while the front wheel of the Enduro e*spec wheelset gets 28 spokes. Both wheels of the regular Enduro wheelset get 28 spokes apiece.

The DH wheels get a dedicated DH hub with integrated 7-speed 9-24T cassette - up from the previous 9-21T range of the outgoing cassette. The hub shell has flange spacing that is 12mm wider now, thanks to the outboard expansion of the drive-side hub flange and spokes. That gives broader spoke bracing angles and an almost dishless wheel architecture, which E*Thirteen say enhances strength dramatically. Different end caps make this one adaptable to 150mm x 12mm or 157mm x 12mm rear end spacing.


E*Thirteen Grappler Details
• Intention: downhill, enduro & enduro eMTB riding
• Internal rim width: 30mm, hookless
• Wheel Size: 29" & 27.5"
• Carbon Rim Options: Carbon Enduro, Carbon Enduro e*spec, Carbon Downhill
• Alloy Rim Options: Race Alloy Enduro, Race Alloy Enduro e*spec, Race Alloy Downhill
• Spokes: Sapim Race
• Hubs: Grappler DH, Enduro & Enduro e*spec
• Grappler Race Carbon Price Range (Front): 679.95 $/€ - 789.95 $/€
• Grappler Race Carbon Price Range (Rear): 799.95 $/€ - 999.95 $/€
• Grappler Race Alloy Price Range (Front): 309.95 $/€ - 319.95 $/€
• Grappler Race Alloy Price Range (Rear): 399.95 $/€ - 509.95 $/€
• 7-Speed cassette included in price for DH wheels
• See the e*thirteen website for claimed weights

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The Grappler Enduro wheels get the Enduro hub with a lighter weight aluminum axle, while the Enduro e*spec wheels get the e*spec hubs with an oversized hub shell, stronger steel axle, and a third 6808 bearing in the driver for improved durability.

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Grappler Carbon rim weights range from 515g (29”) for Enduro rims to 575g (29”) for Downhill & e*spec Enduro



Warranty

The Race SL and Grappler hubs of the new Optimus, Sylvan and Grappler wheels come with a 5-year warranty, as do the rims of all of the aluminum wheels. Meanwhile, E*Thirteen continue to offer a lifetime warranty on their carbon rims. Each wheel is sold separately, and the prices quoted include pre-installed rim tape and the rather impressive Quick Fill tubeless valves, as well as a couple of spare spokes.

Author Info:
jessiemaymorgan avatar

Member since Oct 26, 2023
53 articles

64 Comments
  • 44 8
 E13 claim it has a 366% improvement in impact strength over the outgoing TRS Plus aluminum rim. If e13 al rims were 10x more likely to fail than dt swiss, does this mean they're now only 6.34x more like to fail?
  • 6 4
 Every other rim manufacturer: "we made the hooks wider and now the rim is stronger and you get fewer pinch flats."
e13: "no hooks! tyre slicey good!"
  • 9 1
 The math ain't mathing.
  • 4 0
 sick wheels
  • 4 2
 @Highclimber: you're right...2.98x as likely to fail (assuming that 10x number was accurate). My personal experience is only with e13 aluminum rims and after three failed over the course of 8 rides I called it quits.
  • 3 1
 @hatton: so, what I’m hearing is 60% of the time they failed every time?
  • 2 2
 Hold those beers!

Further down in the article it says “ E*Thirteen reports a 709% impact resistance improvement for the Sylvan Race Carbon rim over the TRS Race Carbon rim, so the likelihood of said catastrophe seems low”

What were the one ones made of?? Who got the math job at e-13?

It feels like another way to say this is: the likely hood of a catastrophe on the old wheels seems…. HIGH
  • 7 0
 Hey folks - Let me take a minute to explain these numbers and where they came from. As part of our rim development and testing, we do impact testing on a machine we built in our test lab. This constitutes impacting a rim with a square edge weight repeatedly until failure. We do this with a tire installed and from multiple directions so that there are impacts on both bead hooks and on single bead hooks so that we can best simulate real world use. The improvement numbers come from the number of impacts to failure when comparing old and new rims. For alloy rims, the improvement not only comes from an improved rim profile design, but also from the fact that some of the older rims used 6066 or 6061 alloys and the new rims are using 6069 alloys. While the numbers seem dramatic on the surface, they indeed are what we found from extensive impact testing of these rims. We spent A LOT of time on the shape and profile of the new Sylvan race rim and while the old TRS Race rim was actually already pretty darn strong, the new Sylan rim puts it to shame on the impact test we use. The impact test we use is pretty violent and we'll have a video of it up on our YT channel in the near future.
  • 3 1
 @ethirteen: Thanks for the more detailed explanation!

I’m definitely a fan of e-13 products, just inherently skeptical of dramatic claims backed by statistics without deeper explanation of what those stats mean. Statistics without direct context just cause confusion (ex: www.weather.gov/media/pah/WeatherEducation/pop.pdf)

If you claim 709%, give me a direct link to the impact study. Otherwise please just tell us exactly what you stated here: you did extensive testing and these new rims withstood many more impacts than the previous version.

I’ll add here just for emphasis- I own e13 cranks, have the Helix cassette on two bikes and an XCX cassette on the other, and have a generally high opinion of your company Smile
  • 17 0
 My LG1 EN carbon rims have been bulletproof and trouble free for many years now. Stoked to give the Sylvan a try on my 140mm bike. I’m a fan of Asym rims.

Sounds like e13 is addressing some aluminum durability shortfalls of the past. I’ve heard their alu wheels have been fine the past 2 years or so (have a couple buddies on them with no issues) but before that their lowest end alu rims weren’t great. If Crankbros can do it anyone can!
  • 12 1
 E*13 rims are some of the most underrated IMO. Mine have been put through the wringer and keep coming back for more. They won't impress your dentist friends like Enves will, but they are absolute workhorses. They also have some of the best customer service in the industry and have been super helpful when I have done stupid things to my bike.
  • 8 0
 I'm going into my third season with the LG1 Carbon Race wheels on my bike. They've held up amazing for me in that time. If these new ones are as good as the outgoing model, I'd be happy to run them on all my bikes.
  • 4 0
 @ethirteen Can I ask what the procedure will be if we have a warranty claim on an existing LG1 carbon rim? Would you warranty them with old stock of the same rim, or maybe replace with the newer model? And if it is years down the line with the lifetime warranty and you don't make the LG1s anymore at all any more, would we get the newer model as part of the original warranty?
I ask because I've recently warrantied a carbon rim with you guys and I gotta say the service and turn around times were really great, so I'm hoping the lifetime warranty will remain unchanged for the original LG1 rims!
  • 36 0
 Hey Danstar10
Our policy is to replace warranty product with the same item that failed. If it is an older product which is no longer available we replace with the current equivalent in our product line. That said, we are happy to work with anyone if a different model is more appropriate for their use case so we can ensure they are on the best product for your riding style/terrain. Your lifetime warranty remains unchanged.
  • 3 1
 @ethirteen: Good to hear, thanks!
  • 4 0
 @ethirteen:

Wow. Ethirteen has got your back.
That right there is what will make me buy Ethirteen stuff over the same type of stuff from some other company.
  • 2 0
 @Danstar10: this is great to hear and I can’t rate the @ethirteen warranty process highly enough either. I bust an LG1r carbon rim after 5 years of use (cracked but held enough air to get me back to the chalet). They sent me out a new rim and another piece I needed so quickly that it actually shocked me. You hear all sorts of painful stories about warranty claims with companies, but theirs is genuinely worth every penny in my experience.
  • 5 0
 I’ve been running the 28mm wheels on my Enduro for a while and they have been bombproof. Lots of rocks and rim dings- haven’t had to true them once. Good job!
  • 3 0
 Thanks for the kind words @JMslo. Those 28mm carbon rims do REALLY well in our mechanical impact testing. They certainly perform above their weight class!
  • 2 0
 I had nothing but fantastic performance and durability with their products. My only complaint is that the DH wheelset is not available in 148x12 spacing, which is why with my last wheel set I went with WeAreOne strife's
@ethirteen - any plans on expanding the DH options?
  • 5 0
 @artistformlyknowasdan - We hear ya. That config is a bit of a tough one for us as demand is pretty low relative to 150/157 and wheel SKU count is always a challenge - offering both 29 and 27.5 and each of those sizes in multiple different driver standards. Especially for the lower volume DH category. This is a much easier config to offer if you are building wheels domestically like WAO does since your loose hub/rim/spoke inventory is modular. If we see enough demand, we certainly would like to offer it. Alternatively our hubs and rims are available separately if you have a local wheelbuilder do the build.
  • 5 0
 @artistformlyknowasdan - Just chatted with our product manager about the 148 DH wheels. Indeed we will have that configuration to offer in the future. Should have an option available before the end of the year but sooner will be likely.
  • 2 0
 @ethirteen: sweet - I have a Shore that'll likely be needing wheels replaced after this season, they're getting beyond a bit battered. Smile
  • 4 0
 My ethirteen LG1’s have been “set and forget” in all the best ways. Great little company, that’s local too. Glad to see them updating and improving the product lines.
  • 2 0
 What's the criteria when deciding whether or not to design the rim with an asymmetric shape? I would think that whichever way you weigh the pros and cons, it would be true across the line.
  • 1 0
 I couldn't kill my set of TRS Race Carbon wheels no matter what I threw at them. Very solid. The old TRS hubs, however were another story and I had them rebuilt with DT Swiss after just a season. Hopefully these are a higher quality hub than the old ones!
  • 2 1
 I use eThirteen cranks, BB and bars but running Hunt Trailwide alloys on both trail bike and endure bike. They're as light or lighter than these eThirteens, pretty indestructible and half the cost. How does eThirteen sell wheels at these prices when Hunt builds really great light wheels for so much less $?!
  • 1 0
 Rockin my first set of e13’s enduro 29’s for the last year. 800+ miles and tons of rock dings but still true and I really dig the free hub. I’ve only had to re-tension once which, so far the least maintenance 29’s I’ve had to date!
  • 1 0
 Will they send out a rim and hub already built so you can just put a tire on and go ? Or will they make you have to go to a Bike Shop and get the wheel relaced to the hub? I would like to buy new rims, but there’s at least one companythat will send out an already built wheel within a couple days (reserve) so I would rather pay for that service and convenience. Considering all options at the moment.
  • 8 5
 Those percentages are absolutely insane. Shows all their previous wheel hate was justified lol.
  • 3 0
 My e*thirteen wheels have been taking an absolute beating. New graphics and hubs look awesome!
  • 2 0
 Someone is gonna have to come up with a new standard or something, all these wheels feel the same. What am I gonna blow money on?!
  • 1 0
 Springless Magnetic Engagement Gearing, or SMEG for the acronymous among us. No springs, just twelve loose pawls flopping around in there, waiting for their chance to magnetically engage with the host!
  • 1 0
 @thomasjkenney1024: it does sound intriguing, but not something you ditch your decent wheels for. We need a new standard man, so all my existing stuff stops being usable in my mind.
  • 2 0
 It's remarkable E13 can make a product as bombproof as LG1 Race Carbon rims and as fragile as the single use LG1 alloy rims and put them under the same product series.
  • 1 1
 Is it just me, a heavier rider (200lbs) who’s had problems breaking spokes on a 28-spoke wheel when the carbon rim is holding up fine?
  • 7 1
 @funboi-parisi - broken spokes can be caused by a number of different things. Our recent wheels use DT Swiss or Sapim spokes depending on the model you have. Typically we see no issues with a rider your weight on 28h wheels, but occasionally a stick or rock can cause a failure. All our aftermarket wheels also do come with a couple spare spokes. Reach out via our support site if you are having continued issues and we can get you sorted.
  • 3 1
 I’ve run their 28 hole carbon rims at the park for 3 years running. They specced a really thin/lightweight spoke from factory and once one breaks you should know the service life is almost up for them all….had 10-12 break within a few months after first. I replaced with triple butted heavy duty spokes and brass nipples and never trued or had an issue this whole last season this way, riding all the hardest lines and biggest jumps at Big Sky, Silver Mountain, Whitefish resort. Their rims are extremely durable, I’ve only ever broken one (a gash allowed tire to deflate slowly while riding down some gnar and a rock destroyed rim and tire near bottom)despite lots of direct and glancing blows from rocks. Replace your carbon lg1 wheel with burly spokes and nipples, and they’ll go forever, based on warranty alone.
  • 2 0
 Try the e*spec rear wheel with 32 spokes
  • 1 0
 @DizzyNinja: yeah, I think my LG1En Race wheels were great, but OE spokes were definite thin and lightweight, probably trying to keep the overall weight down for marketing (since that’s the main reason people tend to switch from cheaper alum to carbon) but maybe not correct for many years of thrashing….i do think the carbon wheel with 28 vs 32, as long as you keep spoke tension proper, tracks better and is less harsh….a little more wheel compliance is worth it to me. Triple butted spokes, combined with their hoop, is pretty bombproof
  • 2 0
 Still waiting on the schrader valves from months ago to release.
  • 4 0
 @ndefeo96 - Thanks for your patience. We are pretty antsy to get them in stock too! They are landing in the US in the next 1-2 weeks. You can enter your email on the product page of our website to get a notification once they are available.
  • 7 0
 @ndefeo96 - Just got word that the shipment with the valves is actually getting delivered today. They should be received into our system and available before the weekend.
  • 1 0
 I shall continue to abuse the lifetime warranty with my LG1 wheels on the hardcore hardtail
  • 1 0
 Any details on the warranty? Break a rim riding, get a new one no questions, or is it only for manufacturer defects? .
  • 2 0
 @Aeyogi - You can find info on our warranty policy here for the carbon rims: support.ethirteen.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000645352-e-thirteen-Lifetime-Carbon-Wheel-Rim-Warranty

In short, if you are the original owner and break a rim, we will replace either the complete wheel or rim depending on the circumstances and timeframe from purchase.
  • 2 0
 @ethirteen: Cool. Good warranty. Thanks for the reply.
  • 1 0
 I have had some XCX race wheels since 2021 and they have been flawless. Keep up the good work e13.
  • 1 0
 I haven't had many e13 products, but I've had some cranks and a few oem rims. All been cack, sorry
  • 1 0
 Has censuses arrived at 30mm internal width being superior for DH racing? or is 35mm internal width still relevant?
  • 1 1
 the real question is with this many competitions, who says: "Imma get E13" in the world of free shipping who's gonna get E13?
  • 1 0
 Idk if it's in the video, but are the hubs any quieter than the older ones?
  • 1 0
 Cheaper to buy a complete bike than a wheelset these days.
  • 1 2
 I just scrolled through the pictures but let me guess....They are the strongest wheels on the market now, "Optimus "
haha lol
  • 4 3
 4 pawls, 6 pawls 1000 pawls. Too many pawls. Ratchets or nothing.
  • 1 4
 I was once sprinting on a straight stretch on TRS alloy wheels that were two weeks old when my front wheel folded in half. I had internal injuries to my liver and required emergency surgery. When I recovered, I contacted customer support and they offered to send me a new wheel for free. I'd sooner turn my testicles into a kabob using a dull toothpick than run any e13 kit on my bike again.
  • 1 0
 What is that extra metal under the 2 o'clock pawl in the freehub pic?
  • 2 3
 Maybe the rims won’t grenade now…..but that low-grade 4 pawl driver still will.
  • 1 0
 EX511 goated
  • 9 12
 My phone screen blew up from reading this just like past wheels
  • 6 0
 I beat on their Alu rims and when I noticed slight cracking by nipples, warranty was there for me and replacement has help up great.
  • 9 1
 @richter762 - Sorry to hear about the trouble with the past wheels, we dropped you PM so we can look into things and try to make it right.
  • 4 0
 I've got a set of LG1+ aluminum wheels and a set of LG1R carbon wheels.
The carbon wheels have been totally fine, bomb-proof for the last ~4 years, although they're super stiff and can sometimes be a bit too stiff.
The aluminum wheels flat spotted pretty quickly, but CS was great to work with on getting a new rim, and it's been fine for the last ~1.5-2+ year, aside from needing a tension/true after re-building.
I had some sketchy E13 products in the past, but IME the last 2-3 years they've really been putting out much better product and have righted their reputation.
  • 5 0
 @chacou: Thanks for the kind words. Glad the new stuff is working out for you! We've been working hard on continued improvements.







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