Thanks to reader Dan W. we found Alchemist, an Italian brand making some really, really light rims and hubs.
Fortunately, they’re more than just lightweight, the details seem to be pretty sharp, too. The rims use a 18K UD IM + 12K NS carbon fiber mix shaped in a high pressure mold with “Impact Proof” plastic polymer infused resin. They say this gives them excellent impact protection, letting them deflect sharp hits without causing cracks or chips as easily. Spoke holes are angled at +/- 5º to prevent bending, which can stress and weaken spokes over time, and they’re offset to keep the rim more centered on the bike.
Complete wheels are available in 26″, 27.5″ and 29er, with wheelset weights as low as 1,088 grams! Keep reading for all the weights and plenty more sweet parts…
The rims and hubs that make up their complete wheels are all available separately, and they’re all extremely light. The heaviest of the bunch is the 310g 29er clincher. All three common mountain bike sizes are available in both clincher and tubular, claimed weights are:
- 26″ – 245g (tubular) and 265g (clincher)
- 27.5″ – 265g (tubular) and 290g (clincher)
- 29er – 280g (tubular) and 310g (clincher)
All of them are handmade in Italy, and all have a 90kg (~200lb) rider weight limit and are aimed at the XC/Marathon rider. We haven’t heard back yet on width, but this image suggests they’re within modern expectations for wider dimensions. All models are drilled for 28 spokes. Pricing ranges from €530 up to €570.
The hubs have a carbon fiber shell with CNC machined 7075 T6 alloy flanges and ends. The rear hub’s driveside flange is taller, and the front hubs use a taller flange on the disc brake side. All are 6-bolt ISO brake mount standard. Like the wheels and rims, the hubs also have a 90kg rider weight limit.
The rear hub has a fairly unique engagement system. Called Magneto, it uses magnets in place of springs to push/pull the pawls toward the teeth. The force is equivalent to the springs found in most other hubs, but they won’t wear out or lose strength over time. Alchemist says this makes the unit virtually maintenance free, which allows them to better seal the internals against water, mud and muck. Weight for the standard 135×10 QR is just 255g. They also offer a 12×135 (255g) and 12×142(285g) axle option.
(Note: Tune has also played with magnets in their hubs, check out this prototype)
Note the chiseled freehub body! The carbon fiber shell uses criss-crossed layers of UD fibers to make them laterally and torsionally very stiff. Retail is €450.
The front hub uses the same basic construction and is available in standard 9mm QR (105g) and 15mm thru-axle (100g). Retail is €230.
The Lefty front hub has two versions. The standard (left) is, well, a standard Lefty front hub. Weight is just 98g and it retails for €200. On the right is their award-winning Disc Brake Release Lefty Hub. It uses a slide out 6-bolt rotor mount that lets you remove your wheel for service without having to unclip/unbolt the brakes. The system only adds 12g, putting this hub at 110g total. Retail is €230.
Put the parts together and you get wheel weights that are pretty darn competitive. A couple of likely build examples are:
- 27.5″ (650B) clincher w/ 15mm thru axle front, QR rear = 1,100g
- 29er clincher w/ 15mm thru axle front, 12×142 rear = 1,230g
Of course, those don’t come cheap, but you do have the option of customizing the wheels, too. Check out Alchemistbikes.com to see all the possibilities…and their handlebars!