Just In: NOX Composites AM-275 Carbon Wheels
By this point, there is a good chance you’ve heard of NOX composites. Founded in 2012 by two engineers and based in Tennessee, NOX wanted to offer the benefits of carbon wheels but at prices more riders could afford. Unlike some of the cheaper carbon options, NOX rims are their own design which allows them not only to create what they feel is the best performing rim, but oversee quality control as well.
As their first 27.5” rim, the AM-275 jumps right in with a full Enduro build that’s in line with current rim trends. The tubeless compatible carbon rims feature a hookless bead design and an asymmetric offset for better spoke tension. At roughly half the price of the Enve gold (carbon?) standard, how will the NOX AM-275s compare?
Initial weigh in and details, next…
The star of the AM-275 wheel build as far as NOX is concerned, is the beefy carbon rim. Starting with NOX’s engineering, the rims are manufactured overseas and then shipped to Tennessee to be built into complete wheels. While not as crazy wide as some of the new options, the NOX rims are still plenty wide at 35mm external, and 28mm internal (actual measurement: 35.3 ext/28.4mm internal). Measuring 25mm deep, the rims are built with a 2.5mm offset to allow for more even spoke tension on each side of the rim. NOX recommends building wheels with 120 kgf (kilogram-force), but claims the rims are capable of handling 200+ kgf. The rims also have no rider weight limit.
Joining in a number of carbon rim manufacturers or designers, NOX has gone to a hookless bead design for both their AM-275 and AM-29 rims. That includes NOX’s RockGuard HL bead lip which is designed to make the rims impervious to rock strikes. Even though the rims lack a bead hook, they do have what NOX is calling the Anti-burp Bump which is a small raised bump on the inside of the rim. The bump allows tires to easily slide into place, but still helps to resist burping. Like the other rims from NOX, the AM-275 uses their UniWeave construction with unidirectional carbon fiber and a satin finish.
Complete wheels ship with their TPP tubeless tape and valve cores installed and ready to go. All we had to do was add tires and sealant, and they seated and sealed the first try with no leaking and no fuss. For my initial set up I used a pair of Michelin Wild Grip’R tires and a single use bottle of Stan’s tire sealant in each tire. The Michelins were tight to install (as they usually are), which meant this was when Uncle Dick’s Bead Slip really shines.
Offered in 28 (special order) or 32h rims, our test wheelset was the 32 spoke variety laced up with Sapim CX-Ray spokes and DT Swiss Alloy Pro Lock hex nipples. Complete wheels also have a choice of hubs with Industry Nine Torch, Chris King, or Hope Pro Evos available. All NOX wheels are hand built in Tennessee and it shows – certainly one of the better complete builds I’ve seen in terms of tension, true, dish, etc. Nox wheels and rims include a 2 year limited warranty, but also include a crash replacement policy that is good for life to the original owner, you know, just in case things get rowdy.
With a claimed weight of 420g (+/- 10g) per rim, and 1539g for the I9 wheelset, our set with tape and valves installed, measured 1635g (754g ft, 881g rr). Certainly not the light weight NOX XCR 29 wheels that Tyler is testing, but the AM-275 are designed with the abuse of Enduro and real All Mountain riding in mind. Individual AM-275 rims retail for $459, while complete wheels are sold individually with price based on build. Since they are built by hand you have the option to choose the colors of the hubs, nipples, axle configurations and bearings. As shown, the I9 Torch wheelset would retail for $709 for the front, and $829 for the rear.
Right out of the box, the NOX AM-275s seemed promising. They have a very solid build quality just like you would find on a pair of wheels built by a skilled local wheel builder. The tubeless set up really was incredibly easy after a few recent taped designs that required multiple sealant additions, or constant shaking and fiddling to get them to seal up. After installing the tires and adding the sealant, they sealed up and I haven’t touched them since.
Coming off another pair of carbon wheels on the same bike with a 22.5/29mm width, the added profile of the NOX rims was instantly apparent. The cornering grip is ridiculous. Considering the NOX wheels are lighter than the narrower wheels they replaced, it seems like a good trade. We’ve seen some “budget” carbon rims that actually looked cheap, but the NOX wheels look like the quality rims they are. The decals are easily removable though, it that’s your style. Barring a catastrophic failure, it’s hard to see a reason not to buy these if you’re looking for an upgrade in the near future.