E*thirteen TRSr 29” Wheels
23.4mm Inner Rim Width (measured)
Stated Weight: 1680g per pair
Blister’s Measured Weight: 852g front, 992g rear, 1844g per pair
Mounted to: Canfield Yelli Screamy
Reviewer: 5’8”, 160 lbs.
Test Location: Park City, UT; Sun Valley, ID; Jackson, WY
Test Duration: 45 days
29er wheels are often flexy – or heavy, or really expensive. Since the introduction of the wheelsize, lack of stiffness has been an oft-cited downside. SRAM’s new Boost spacing standard with its wider spoke bracing angles is a potential solution, but what do you do if you have a bike without Boost spacing that you love, and you don’t want to drop the cash for stiff and expensive carbon rims?
I chose to try out another option to get the wider spoke bracing angles that Boost offers—hubs with higher diameter flanges.
I’ve been interested in E*thirteen wheels and hubs since years ago when they were called Chub hubs and were sold by The Hive. My interest in them is two-fold: First, they offer a quick 60-point engagement, meaning that the hub never has to rotate more than 6 degrees before the wheel starts to move. Second, they have very large diameter flanges: 61mm on the rear and 59mm on the front. These wider flanges allow shorter spokes with a wider bracing angle to be used, creating a stiffer wheel. (For comparison, DT Swiss 240 rear flanges are 45mm, and the front are 42mm on the drive side and 58mm on the non drive side.)
I tried E*thirteen’s lightest trail wheelset, the TRSr, because I wanted to see (1) how much stiffer the larger diameter flanges made the wheel, (2) if the hubs were durable, (3) if the freehub sound was tolerable, (4) if the rim had a good tubeless beadlock, and (5) if the rims were durable.
With 60 points of engagement, the E*thirteen hub isn’t the quickest engaging hub on the market, but it is definitely quick. When riding technical terrain, a quick hub lets me ratchet pedals quickly—an invaluable benefit. And even on smooth terrain, quick take-up helps to get power down to the ground rapidly.
E*thirteen’s large diameter hub flange idea makes a lot of sense to me. It accomplishes essentially the same thing as Boost spacing, but without the need for a new hub width standard. Both designs yield a greater angle between spokes on opposite sides of the wheel at the rim which stiffens the wheel.
The problem with this higher diameter hub is that it gets heavy. E*thirteen solves that by making the hub out of a carbon tube and then bonding in aluminum flanges and ends. Cool, but potentially a source of failure. However, it does get them down to a stated 207 g front hub weight and 335 g rear hub weight. Just light enough to be contenders, but far from class leaders.
Inside, the hub has 3 pawls with 2 teeth on each pawl that use regular leaf springs. The freehub houses two sealed bearings and the hub body houses another two. E*thirteen specifies that they are angular contact bearings. This does make them extra sensitive to preload, but can increase hub rigidity.
E*thirteen has threaded their preload cap with triple start threads and provided an bolt to lock it in place. The triple start thread is an interesting choice. It means that for a given pitch a nut will travel three times farther than with a normal, single start screw. To me that seems like it would make getting just the right tension more difficult. In practice it didn’t really stand out, but I’m puzzled as to why E*thirteen makes note of this detail.
The front hub can be configured as 100×15 or 20×110. The rear hub can be set up as 12×142, 12×135, or QRx135. Fortunately the end caps are well designed. I have yet to have either the front or the rear loosen end caps or get in the way when I install a wheel.
NEXT: Rims, Spokes, Etc.