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Fresh Produce: Industry Nine Wheels

12:51 15th November 2012 by Ed Haythornthwaite

If you’re looking for a great set of wheels that are a little bit different to the norm then these Industry Nine hoops fit that bill perfectly.

Industry Nine are based in Asheville, North Carolina, and their goal is to make the best wheels around. With only ten staff they’re a pretty small outfit but every single one of them knows how to build a quality wheel, and apart from rims and bearings everything else is dealt with in-house. So yeah they’re a small USA based company, but what makes their wheels so special? Well that really comes down to three things; firstly the quality of their hubs, secondly their use of aluminium spokes, and finally the fact that every single wheel that leaves their factory is built by extremely skilled hands to the highest possible standards.

The hubs are available to fit any size axle that you’ll come across (they can easily be converted too should you change frame or fork) and they spin on the finest bearings that Industry Nine could find; Japanese ABEC 5 grade. It’s the freehub design that really sets these apart from lesser hubs though. With 120 points of engagement you get a super fast three degree pickup.

As you can see above the design uses six pawls, all of which have three engagement surfaces. This results in the ability to deal with a massive amount of torque without slipping (over 700 ft lbs to be precise). The design also creates very minimal drag, which along with the super smooth bearings gives you some seriously speedy hubs. The fact that the paws are tucked away behind the hub bearing also brings two benefits. Firstly it means that the bearings are spaced further apart and so they should last longer, and secondly it means that the whole ratchet system is incredibly well protected from the elements. Industry Nine reckon you’ll only need to service this area around once a year, and apart from the need for a very small allen key it’s a simple process to do.

This shot of the ratchet gives a great illustration of the kind of attention to detail that you get with Industry Nine hubs. You should be able to see some little cut-away sections on the top part of the ratchet, and these are there to simply help the pawls slot in nicely when you reassemble the hub. This is often the most awkward part of putting a freehub body back together, but this system makes it a doddle. I haven’t seen this feature on any other hub, and to me it’s proof that the guys at Industry Nine know their onions and realise that it’s often the tiny details that can make a difference.

The final part of the puzzle is those unique spokes. And yes they do come in loads of other colours apart from purple, as do the hubs. By using 7075-T6 aluminium Industry Nine are able to produce a spoke that rivals a 14g stainless steel spoke in the tensile strength stakes, yet weighs as little as a tripple butted spoke. The spokes also significantly improved lateral stiffness over any butted spoke, something which has now become even more important thanks to the introduction of larger wheel sizes. You’ll also notice that there’s no nipple, instead the spoke simply threads into the hub body. This reduces the rotational mass of the wheel considerably, making them ride even lighter than they are. The lack of any bend in the spokes increases strength even further.

Industry Nine make their wheels wheels with a whole selection of rims, including some of their own-branded ones, but to try and simplify stocking the UK distributor has decided to mainly stock the wheels that are built using Stan’s rims. That’s no bad thing in our opinion because Stan’s rims are nothing short of incredible, in particular these Flow ones. For a slight premium though Prestige cycles will supply you with pretty much any wheel build you want, and if you’re not sold on the whole aluminium spoke thing but love the sound of their hubs then you can also buy Industry Nine hubs with drillings for regular spokes. These particular wheels tip the scales at 796g for the front and 977g for the rear. Pretty damn light considering what a beating they should withstand. Unsurprisingly these wheels do come with a fairly serious price tag, but then again they’re a serious set of wheels.

Price: £775.00 + £80 for custom coloured spokes

  1. Daire

    Great looking wheels but at that price it’d be hard not to look at a Chris King wheelset.

  2. Pat Cash

    Beautiful wheels. I’m sure they’re light strong and stiff…

    However, in my new role as technical luddite (I’m available for hire), I have a problem with the following statement:

    “The spokes also significantly improved lateral stiffness over any butted spoke…”

    If the alminium spokes are lighter, then their cross sectional area divided by density must be less than that of steel spoke.

    The specific stiffness (tensile modulus / density) of the two materials is very similar. Steel is ever so slightly stiffer.

    Therefore, the tensile stiffness of the aluminium spokes is slightly less than than that of the steel spokes.

    Since wheel lateral stiffness is a factor of spoke tensile stiffness (although it is predominantly geometry), the stiffness will be similar for both wheels. In fact, slightly stiffer for the steel spokes.

    Please, no claims of behaviour that you can’t validate! Marketing types beware.

    I will return…

    1. NotLRG

      Kickin’ ass and takin’ names!

    2. Hancock

      Side note. I9′s alloy spokes have no separate nipple and can be extremely difficult to true should you get a bend in the rim. Especially if the eegit who built them used threadlock on the hub end! If that’s the case you are not truing your wheel, it’s going back to I9, end of. Also, good luck in a crash, 7005 Aluminium is brittle. Not that I’ve ever sent as a set back because the owner had a sideways landing and two thirds of the spokes snapped or anything.
      But, with the steel J-bends these are some lovely wheels.

      1. Aaron

        I’ve rebuilt my rear wheel multiple times to replace rims and in my opinion I9s build up easier than steel spokes. No problem trueing either. However, smart I9 owners will check tension regularly. Running loose spokes could have catastrophic consequences.

  3. Aaron

    I’ve had a set of I9 wheels on my DH bike for 4 years, they have been bombproof, very light, and feel stiffer than similar steel spokes wheels. I love em. My freehub had a bit of drag and was loud…more grease fixes the noise, and removing 3 of 6 pawls reduced the drag. Definitely expensive, but awesome wheels. Would love to try them with carbon rims, but that may be too awesome…

  4. K

    Great wheels. I have a pair for a full season, just gonna dig in to regrease the pawls. Beautiful huge bearing outside of the pawls too. Haven’t had any issues, and I’ve been beating on them and not taking care much.

  5. Jeff

    The stiffness of the wheels does not come from the fact that the spokes are aluminum. It comes from greatly increased surface contact area between the spoke head and the rim, absence of a J-bend interface, direct threading to the hub, roughly 200% more surface contact area between the threads and the hubshell (compared to steel spoke/nipple interface) and simply a larger cross sectional spoke (regardless of material). You are apparently an engineer, so telling people that they are wrong on the internet is sort of your specialty. Save your arguments until you ride a set, then report back.

    Uhh, whoever built you wheels with threadlock ruined the wheelset. That’s not Industry Nine’s fault. A sideways landing can destroy many wheels, regardless of spoke material. The end result is the same. You need a new rim and new spokes.

    1. Hancock

      They weren’t my wheels, they were a customer’s and that’s how I9 built them.

      1. rossiechoppers

        A reliable wheel, (which is worth more to those who could break one in an instant, than it being slightly lighter) is one with elastic abilities from all angles, no?
        Hence butted steel spokes currently being the best over-all.
        How does the elasticity of these big thick aluminium spokes compare with butted steel spokes at the same tension? I’m imagining them snapping all over the place.

        Racing wheels only I think.

      2. Betsie

        Shimano have some wheels with alloy spokes.
        I must replace the spoke the broke on mine, whilst hitting a corner hard!
        It buckled straight away also.
        Not good.

    2. Craig B

      Do you perchance work for I9?

  6. Machete

    one word………..crossmax



  8. Tom

    Aluminium spokes + the fact that the spokes screw straight into the hub body means fun and games when they snap… (inevitably on the thread screwed into the hub)

    1. meh

      Tom, I have this exact issue – spoke napped at the thread screw in the hub a week before heading to the alps. i can’t get the broken piece out, and sourcing a new spoke is both expensive and a pain in the ass. end result = i9 hub sitting there looking lonely – lucky it happened before the alps trip, not during.

  9. jim d

    I have a set of I9 wheels. They’ve been pretty bomb proof in the 8 months i’ve been using them. I did snap one spoke and it snapped at the thread so was stuck in the hub body. to extract it meant taking allot of other spokes out to get at it – my LBS sorted it fairly easily.

    Only complaint is the 29.5 OD bearing they have chosen meaning you HAVE to source bearings through I9 & the are expensive….but good!

  10. Tom

    definitely going to steer clear of those!

  11. Damon C. Bell

    I9 hubs are fantastic… my Arch EX wheels are built around the classic hub (DT Swiss Double-Butted / J-Bend Spokes)Solid, reliable, and easily maintained if necessary

  12. K

    also the spoke has an allen key milled into the male end at the hub interaction. So if it snaps, you can stick an allen in there, or I9 will do it for you. And you get spare spokes.


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