Industry Nine Enduro 29″ Wheelset

ndustry 9 Enduro 29" Wheelset, Blister Gear Review.
Industry 9 Enduro Wheelset

Industry Nine Enduro 29” Wheelset

Hub: Industry Nine Enduro

Spokes: Industry Nine Straight Pull

Rim: Stan’s Flow EX

Weight: About 1850 grams

Intended Use: Going fast while simultaneously being very pretty.

Bolted to: Canfield Yelli Screamy

Reviewer Info: 5’9”, 150 lbs.

Days Tested: ~70

Test Locations: Primarily in and around Whitefish, MT

One of the most important parts of a wheel review is the discussion of durability. That’s something that won’t be quantified on the fact sheet of any wheelset.

I’ve spent a little over a year on these wheels, I’ve got a pretty good idea as to how they’ll hold up (more on that below).

But here’s the caveat—in the year I’ve spent testing these wheels, Industry Nine has redesigned them. The Enduro wheelset that I tested uses Industry Nine’s Enduro series hub (which has been replaced by the Torch hubs), mated to a Stan’s Flow EX rim (now replaced with I9’s own rim) via I9’s straight pull butted aluminum spokes that appear to remain unchanged.

But wait – Here’s a caveat to the caveat: The Torch hubs appear to be quite similar in both design and functionality to the hubs I tested. The new hubs are a bit lighter and have some tweaks to the seals and freehub mechanism to reduce drag. And while Industry Nine is now offering their own rim as the “default” option, you can still get I9 to lace up the wheels with virtually any 32 hole rim on the market—including Stan’s Flow EX or whatever carbon fanciness you have your heart set on.

So while this longterm review doesn’t look at the latest offering from I9, I would venture an educated guess that the new Torch wheels will be quite similar to the Enduro wheels that I tested.

The Hubs

The most noteworthy feature of any Industry Nine wheel is the hub—in my opinion, they’re some of the best hubs on the market. The rear hub features an unprecedented 120 points of engagement, which is considerably more than pretty much every other hub on the market. For reference, most hubs have between 24 and 36 points of engagement, while some high dollar hubs like Chris King and Hadley have 72 points of engagement.

That quick engagement is achieved via six independent pawls, three of which engage at any given time. To those unfamiliar with hub lingo, pawls are little spring-loaded wedges inside the hub. The pawls engage into the drive ring, which is mated to the outer part of the shell—when the pawls engage, the wheel turns. When you’re coasting, the pawls click past each of the drive ring teeth until you start pedaling again and they re-engage.

Below is a drawing from I9’s website. The drive ring is on the left.  The six pawls are shown on the freehub body (with one pawl and its associated spring floating), and the splined freehub body that the cassette slides on to is on the right.

Industry 9 Enduro Wheelset, Blister gear Review.

And here’s a picture of the Industry Nine pawls and freehub body.

Industry 9 Enduro Wheelset, Blister Gear Review.

The drive ring has 60 teeth on it, and the pawls are phased in two sets of three. So at any given time, three of the pawls are engaged with the drive ring, and three of the pawls are half a tooth away from engaging. Thus, the hub has 120 points of engagement, which works out to an engagement point every 3 degrees. It’s also worth noting that each pawl has three teeth on it, so when a pawl engages, it simultaneously engages with three teeth on the drive ring rather than just one. This means that, whenever you’re pedaling, there are actually nine points of engagement on the drive ring.

In contrast, an “average” hub has 24 engagement points and three pawls that engage into the drive ring simultaneously. Those pawls are a simple wedge shape, so when they engage, they only engage one tooth on the drive ring at a time (thus engaging three teeth total).

And in the event that you are difficult to impress, the Industry Nine drive rings and pawls are made out of an extremely hard tool steel that appears to be well equipped to weather several rounds of biblically proportioned catastrophes. If you’re arming yourself for the zombie apocalypse, and you’re worried that your drive ring and / or pawls might fail you at an inopportune moment, the I9 hubs are for you.

Ok, so that was a lot of geekery all at once. But if your goal is to make a ridiculously awesome hub, this stuff matters. First, the quick engagement is really nice. On the trail it translates to nearly instant engagement—as soon as you push on the pedals, you go forward. This is especially handy when you’re working your way through a technical climb and need to “ratchet” your pedaling.

And the fact that each pawl engages three separate teeth on the drive ring means that, once the hub engages, it’s a very solid engagement. With many other hubs, I’ve had situations where I went to pedal, and the hub would “pop” and skip a bit. That popping comes from the pawls not fully engaging and therefore skipping to the next tooth on the drive ring. In my time riding the I9’s, I’ve never had this happen to me.

A potential downside of the ridiculous number of engagement points in the Enduro hub is increased friction when coasting. All of that awesomeness packed inside the hub can mean that the freehub doesn’t coast smoothly, which would usually manifest itself as a slack chain, particularly when in the smaller cogs on the cassette. While I have heard of older I9 hubs having this problem, it isn’t an issue I experienced. (Apparently, this is also an issue I9 addressed with their newly redesigned hubs, which are advertised as having reduced friction and weighing less.)

Aside from the internal workings, the Industry Nine hubs have all the options you’d expect from a high-end hub—they’ll fit pretty much any commonly used dropout configuration (including lefty front hubs with an adapter, and there is a 150mm rear hub available), and they come in lots of pretty colors.

They’re also available with an XD freehub driver for those inclined to jump on the 1×11 bandwagon. My rear hub was set at 10x135mm, and I used the front in both 9mm quick release as well as 20mm thru axle configurations, which is easily changed by swapping out the hub’s end caps (sold separately).

NEXT PAGE: The Spokes

8 comments on “Industry Nine Enduro 29″ Wheelset”

  1. “It’s also worth noting that each pawl has three teeth on it, so when a pawl engages, it simultaneously engages with three teeth on the drive ring rather than just one. This means that, whenever you’re pedaling, there are actually nine points of engagement on the drive ring.”

    That design aspect is HUGE when it comes to freehub durability under low-rpm, high-torque pedaling. Great review. My takeaway? Industry 9 hubs = great, Stans rims = maybe not so much.

  2. “It’s a non-eyeleted rim, so it can’t take higher spoke tensions—which makes it more difficult to build a really stiff wheel.”

    You have a really slick site here, with lots of info to wade through. Unfortunately, in each article I’ve read (thus far) I’ve come across unsubstantiated myths that you seem to be perpetuating out of, um, ignorance? The quote above is a good example, and is patently untrue.

    Please do your due diligence–which means stop repeating back-of-bike-shop old-wives-tales, and start using information that you can back up with facts.

    Until then, this site will continue to fall under the category of ‘interesting fluff’.

    • Hey Mike,

      I’m not going to pretend that I know more about this subject than you, and I suppose its something of an honor to have you commenting on this, even if it’s just so you can (perhaps rightfully) call me a dumbass.

      So with that in mind, I think I can concede that what I wrote is, at best, somewhat imprecise. I do, however, stand by the notion that certain rim designs handle higher spoke tensions more effectively. I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb to say that you can achieve higher spoke tensions on an eyeleted rim (all other things being equal).

      So does that, in and of itself, make the wheel stiffer? No – I agree that the numbers say it doesn’t, at least under “normal’ loads. But a lot of wheels these days are getting ridden in a manner that places fairly extraordinary loads on them, and it seems both from my personal experience and from looking at what others are doing that spoke tension does play a role in how stiff the wheels are. The example I would point to is the Santa Cruz Syndicate, which experimented with lower spoke tension on their carbon wheels to allow some degree of compliance to aid in cornering traction.

      So, coming around to the point, you (along with Sheldon Brown and most others that I’d consider reliable sources on the subject) say that wheel stiffness isn’t affected by spoke tension unless the spokes become completely slack (note that I’m also referencing your comment from my WTB i25 review). I’m not disagreeing with you on this point – rather, I’m saying that wheels that are ridden hard are more likely to see spokes that do go completely slack. And by ridden hard, I don’t mean guys that can put out a ton of wattage and power up a climb. I mean guys that are going bigger and faster on trail bikes than what we were seeing on downhill bikes 7 or 8 years ago. For those guys, higher spoke tension makes it more difficult for the spokes to go slack, and thus the wheel ends up being stiffer with that higher spoke tension.

      If I’m riding the bike in a straight line or going around a corner at a moderate speed, will I notice this difference? No. But if I choose a crappy line and come hacking into a berm at a 90 degree angle, putting a ton of lateral load into the wheel, am I more likely to send the spokes into slackness, thus allowing the wheel to flex more? My experience says yes.

      But I don’t intend to come across as some dipshit know it all; I’m just trying to come up with an explanation for what I’ve felt while riding. My explanation may well be wrong – I’d certainly be interested to hear your thoughts on my theory.


  3. Hey Noah-

    Thanks for the quick comeback. Apologies if my initial response came off harsh–too much internerding this week, I guess.

    Jobst Brandt (King of Curmudgeons!) wrote an in-depth treatise about ‘soft spoking’ *many* years ago, as did (if memory serves) Gerd Schraner. I don’t remember the science they did (not wired that way, personally) just that the end result was “No, it doesn’t work to soften the ride in any plane’.

    I’d be curious to read what the SCS came up with, and if there’s any real science behind it. My $02 is that if you hack/slam a berm hard enough to slacken the spokes, you fold your wheel. There *are* degrees of slack, of course, but I cannot imagine (given current rim and spoke tech) a situation where tension is being used to ‘tune’ the response to that, such that you can feel compliance. Changing the gauge of the spokes can do it to some extent, changing the crossing pattern can to a lesser extent. But ‘tuning’ it with tension to allow Rat and Minnaar to slay berms ‘compliantly’?

    Color me very, very skeptical.



    • No need to apologize – just a good discussion of wheel nerdery.

      Here’s the link to the interview where the syndicate team support manager is talking about spoke tension. Unfortunately its a bit light on details (and sorry, hyperlinking doesn’t seem to work in the comments):

      So I’m speculating that wheels that are getting punished will experience enough flex that the spokes (or, more accurately, one, or maybe a few spokes) go slack for a brief moment, which in turn allows the wheel to flex (more). It seems to me that, with a higher spoke tension, the rim would need to deflect farther before the spoke experienced a complete detensioning. So under “normal” loads, the rim isn’t deflected anywhere near enough to completely detension the spoke, and therefore spoke tension doesn’t make an appreciable difference. But under abnormal loads (which, for some riders, aren’t actually that abnormal), the higher tension would mean that the rim would have to flex farther to detension the spoke, and therefore in all but the most extreme examples, the wheel would be stiffer because the spokes experience a complete detensioning less frequently.

      To put it another way, a wheel that has almost no spoke tension feels laterally flexy. The reason (I think) is that normal loads will easily detension the spokes, thus removing much of the support for the rim. With higher tension, this doesn’t happen under normal loads; the loads aren’t sufficient to fully detension the spoke. But at some point, it’s possible to reach a load that will once again start to detension the spokes, and in that case, the wheel again starts to feel flexy.

      In support of this theory, here’s a few videos of wheels taking a lot of load. I *think* that in each of these videos, you can see that the rim is deflecting sufficiently so as to momentarily detension some of the spokes. And it would seem that, if the spokes weren’t completely detensioning, the wheel would fare better.

      Or, you might say these videos don’t show anything of the sort and I’m full of it, in which case we can still go home happy because at least we got to watch some cool slow motion. Either way, I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this.

      1) Gee Atherton, going huge at Rampage. Maybe not the best example since this is pretty far outside of the scope of normal riding, but the impact on his rear wheel is significant.

      2) Giant Trance X 29 Teaser. There’s a good shot a :09 of the wheel flexing and popping back into line. I’m speculating that the spokes are (briefly) completely detensioning there.

      3) The cobbles of the Paris Roubaix. A slightly different context, and I’m not sure the spoke actually goes completely slack, but regardless, it’s a cool shot:

  4. Good to see you guys playing nicely on the interweb. Too rare these days. I could make a science/engineering argument that spoke tension doesn’t affect wheel stiffness (mostly spoke strength, rim strength and hub strength instead), but nobody is likely interested in a bunch of stress/strain curves, Young’s Modulus recitations, etc., etc., this morning.

    Or, I could trot out the e-world’s famous “simple physics” except I’m a reasonably bright guy, and still remember physics as being quite challenging.

    I suspect the real truth is that once you get spoke tension to a certain reasonable level, going beyond that point yields no further benefit in wheel stiffness.

    And Mike, while I share some of your suspicions regarding what pro riders can and cannot feel, I’ve been surprised before in “other” worlds, personally knowing both a pro auto racer and pro motorcycle racer that could each tell you if you messed with the air pressure in their tires by even a small amount.

    Finally, to the point of Noah’s article, the only thing truly wrong with I9’s hubs is that they don’t yet offer them in Trek’s new (arguably ridiculous) 148 spacing.

  5. Noah-

    Thanks for the links.

    Hatfield’s assertions seemed to largely be centered on avoiding answering the questions posed. Sometimes racers and their staff are cagey about answers to preserve secrecy and perceived advantage, but in this case it didn’t feel that way. Just felt like he didn’t know.

    I’m writing this on a plane, thus I can’t watch the vids you’ve linked. But from your verbiage I think I’m clear on what you’re driving at.

    My point is not that spokes going slack means immediate wheel failure. Surely one or two spokes can go completely slack several times per ride if punished enough. All this will likely mean is a few minutes with a spoke wrench–no biggie. Does that slackening affect the feel of the wheel? Sure–and I’m willing to bet most people that are pushing their own limits have felt this. Old-school friends refer to it as ‘sproinging’ the wheel–and it’s unmistakable because the wheel will give to a point and then snap *harshly* back into shape. I’ve done it many, many times through the years, usually when pushing hard on an XC bike and unceremoniously blowing a line. Always on a dished wheel, never on anything dishless. Curiously, I’ve never (yet) done it on a carbon-hooped wheel, and am somewhat skeptical that the SC boys are either. I write that because I’ve built and ridden enough ENVE wheels to know how inflexible and uncompliant they are, even in 29″. I believe most of us could ride ENVE rims laced radially with dental floss and not know a difference from the 2mm spokes that should be in their place. Just unyielding is the best way to put it. Like riding manhole covers. Aggressive riders on long travel bikes seem to appreciate them most. Hardtail and full rigid riders seem (generalizing, obviously) to hate them. Both reactions make sense to me, given my experiences with them thus far.

    Back to the point, take one of the most unyielding hoops ever known to a bicycle wheelbuilder, and lace it any way you want–2x or 3x, butted or straight gauge, 80kgf (considered by most as very, very loose) or 150kgf (tzight!) and the end result is the same: That wheel is just as unyielding in every plane. I do not have machines to measure the resultant lack of deflection, but I’d wager a good meal that the difference in these builds (with final tension as the only variable) would be undetectable to all but the most precise measuring devices.

    That, and one of my long-held contentions is that there are so many other things happening (knobs squirming, casing deforming, loose soil being scraped off, pebbles rolling under the tire, knobs ripping off, crosswinds, angle of the dangle, etc..) while riding that although we as riders can definitely feel differences from bike to bike and setup to setup and run to run, we can never be sure *exactly* what to attribute them to. What Hatfield asserts but never proves is that tension is making the difference. I’d wager that the placebo effect is just as likely to be the root cause. They’re in the business of winning races–can’t fault them for pulling out all the stops.

    Regardless of these assertions, I cannot say definitely that I *know* that things are (or are not) working in this way. I *think* that the small angle from hub to rim, coupled with a theoretical understanding of how bicycle spokes work in tension, ultimately means that tension variances alone cannot be used to tune the ride. Tension variances *definitely* change the feel of a wheel, in the same way that tightening a guitar string produces a different tone. Vibrations feel different coming through a tighter spoke (string) than a looser one. But changing the feel is a long, long ways from changing the ride.

    Your turn,


    • Mike – that’s a pretty damn good response, particularly the last paragraph. It makes me wonder: to what extent does higher tension make the wheel “feel” stiffer, even if the wheel is not actually any more resistant to flexing. Obviously that would likely depend on lots of variables, not the least of which is the type of rim, but it seems like that would be a likely source of the “old wives tale” that higher tension = stiffer.

      Distinguishing feel from stiffness is a good way to put it, and I’d add to that equation strength – quoting Brandt: “for greatest strength, spokes must be as tight as the rim permits” (he adds some caveats, but I’ll gloss over those for the sake of simplicity).

      So, like I indicated in my first response, I can certainly concede that the review as written is imprecise. It’s probably more accurate to say that wheels with a lower tension will feel different, they’ll potentially be a bit weaker, and there might be some effect on stiffness but that effect is likely undetectable in most, if not all, scenarios.

      Does that seem reasonably accurate?

      Regardless, thanks for commenting – I appreciated the discussion. If nothing else, it got me to go back and re-read a chunk of The Bicycle Wheel as well as some other writings on the subject. And it gave me an excuse to hunt down a few slow motion videos of wheels getting thrashed, which, all things considered, is an enjoyable way to waste some time.

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