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.