We’ve been on Industry Nine’s waiting list for the new Torch mountain bike wheels for about two months, having procured Reynolds’ new carbon 29er rims and letting I9 hold them on the promise that something new (and awesome) was coming. They wouldn’t tell us what it was until the official launch a couple weeks ago, but it appears to have been worth the wait.
Our test set is built black on black on black and, given my 6’2″ stature and 180lb body weight, with the 32 spoke drilling front and rear. Just for fun, we also had the infamous Dicky send over some photos of his new set, which we knew would be both more colorful and built with fewer spokes. He didn’t disappoint.
Click on through for actual weights, closeups and first impressions…
My wheels came in at 760g front and 890g rear with rim tape and tubeless valve stems. Front is set up as 15mm thru axle and rear with XX1 Driver Body and 12×142 end caps. Total weight is 1650g, ready to ride.
The standard freehub body weighs in at 70g and is quasi-tool free change. You don’t need tools to pop it off the hub, but you will need to unbolt the springs and remove the pawls from the XX1 and bolt them to the standard one (or vice versa). It’s flanked by the rear QR and 12×142 axle end caps, both of which weigh 19g. I haven’t popped the XX1 body off my wheels to weigh it, but the original version of their wheels, the XD driver was 11g lighter.
The Reynolds 29er carbon rims came in at 438g and 427g each, fresh out of the box and without any rim tape or anything.
Rich Dillen (aka: Team Dicky), who’s 136 pounds naked and 5’6″, opted for the 24 spoke build. In pink. His alloy-rimmed 29er wheels come in at 710g and 800g for a feathery total of 1510g.
REYNOLD’S CARBON 29er RIMS
Reynold’s rims have a really nice rim bed, with ridges, bumps and hooks that appear to be in all the right places to help tubeless tires seat and hold. I’ve started the test with Continental’s Protection Race King and X-King tires using Cafe Latex sealant and one popped on immediately, the other required a couple of hours to let the sealant set up a bit and a few minutes of continuous compressor running. Once on, they’ve held position well. So far, so good.
The profile is a slightly rounded “V”, which should help shed wetter mud pretty well, something we fortunately haven’t had to test yet.
Outer width is 29.17mm, inside is 21.09mm. Pretty much right on spec.
While Reynolds ships their rims and wheels with their blue tubeless ready rim tape, I9 installs their own high pressure rim tape and commonly available valve stems (on alloy rims) or Reynold’s supplied valve stems.
We’d like to see a black or black/white rim sticker option rather than the red if only to make it easier to match a bike/team color scheme, but all in all the rims look really nice. And if you’re hoping you can opt for I9’s carbon rims, they’re using the same rim but with different-but-still-red-gray-and-white stickers.
TORCH WHEEL & HUB PHOTOS
All of the tech specs are covered in the official launch, so we’ll focus on images and simple observations here. When I get test parts in, I usually opt for muted colors simply because it’s easier to have a bike that doesn’t end up looking like a clown explosion. Hence the blacked out option here. For the more daring, Industry Nine offers a wide range of colors to suit any reasonable need or want.
The tapered hubs definitely look a little more modern and sleek.
End caps for both front and rear pop on and off easily enough without just falling out. I9’s mission is to make any of their hubs work with any bike and, with a few exceptions on the extremes, you can run just about any axle configuration you want.
The rear hub now tapers in the opposite direction thanks to a change in bearing layout and size.
I’ve put a few good rides on the wheels and first impressions are very good. Prior to these, and between reviewing other wheels, I’ve ridden a set of their original wheels built on Stan’s Arch 29er rims for more than 2-1/2 years. It’s worth noting that those wheels have held up incredibly well, requiring only one snug of the rear axle and one light truing. That said, the difference in stiffness with these rims is amazing. Tracking is truer, which is very confidence inspiring.
While I’ve heard some friends’ I9 hubs that have been really loud, my old set were relatively muted. These new ones are certainly louder, emitting the expected high pitched buzz. Presumably, this will calm down a bit in time, but the brand says you can remove half the pawls if you want to reduce the noise and drag slightly. And about the drag, they do seem to have a tiny bit of stiction, but only enough I feel it when tweaking on the workstand. On the trail, it felt fine, and that too should break in and disappear shortly.
I’ll be putting the miles on these over the summer, look for a long term review late in the year. Can’t wait that long to make a decision? Given my past experience with the brand, and seeing how they make their hubs and spokes in person, I’d say go for it. Without having ridden their new proprietary alloy rims, I’d say opt for carbon if the budget allows, particularly if you’re a bigger or more aggressive rider. The additional stiffness is worth it.