American Classic is among the latest companies to support the burgeoning 27.5in/650b movement, with three options for 2013. The brand's road range has been significantly updated as well, with new carbon and alloy tubulars, tubeless wheels for those who don't feel like playing with glue, and even disc-compatible models for early adopters.
Three 650b options, no waiting
Like the current 29in and 26in All Mountain wheels, the new 27.5in/650b version features a generous 28mm-wide (external; 24mm internal) tubeless-compatible aluminum rim with a very shallow bead hook. Company principal Bill Shook says this lends greater casing support and allows more air volume for a given tire size.
According to Shook, this means riders can safely run bigger tires at lower pressures, with reduced chance of burping or rolling. Conversely, riders can use smaller tires to save weight while maintaining a similar footprint as a bigger tire on a more conventionally sized rim.
American Classic builds the US$850 All Mountain with its Disc 130 and Disc 225 six-bolt hubs, with convertible axles, butted 14/15g stainless steel spokes and the company's cleverly designed aluminum alloy nipples. The latter use longer threads on the rim side to reduce breakage. Claimed weight is 1,673g (3.69lb) for the set.
The US$999 MTB Race 650b wheels are built around the same hubs but thinner 14/16g spokes to save weight. Likewise, the tubeless-compatible aluminum rims feature the same internal and external width as the All Mountain hoops but are slightly shallower and use a thinner extrusion. Claimed weight for the set is 238g lighter, at just 1,435g (3.16lb).
Generously proportioned tubeless rims on the AC Race
More budget-minded riders can instead turn to the MTB Terrain 650, which subs in heavier hubs, brass nipples and a narrower (26/22mm external/internal width) but heavier tubeless rim. Suggested retail price drops to US$470 but claimed weight climbs to 1,845g (4.07lb) for the pair.
New tubular, tubeless and disc road wheels
We've been watching the Cofidis team ride prototype American Classic aluminum, box-section tubulars all season. Consumers will now be able to purchase their own set for US$899.
The new wheels use an unusually wide – for box-section aluminum, that is – 23.5mm rim to provide better support for the bigger road and 'cross tires American Classic expects people will use.
Adding in American Classic's own 105 and RD 205 hubs, butted spokes and alloy nipples keep claimed weight down to 1,526g (3.36lb) for the set. American Classic will also offer a disc-compatible set for US$950 that adds just 45g.
New black and silver hub graphics for next year
American Classic has abandoned last year's 38mm-deep all-carbon tubulars in favor of a new 44mm-deep all-carbon set. It's not only taller but 4mm wider, too, measuring 23mm across at the tire bed. Impressively, the 1,373g (3.03lb) claimed weight is only 3g heavier than the old 38s, while offering more speed.
American Classic will keep a 38mm-deep road wheel in its range for 2013, but it will only be offered in a conventional aluminum-and-carbon clincher for US$1,429.
Tubeless road fans, on the other hand, get the new US$1,449 Argent road tubeless wheels. These are admirably light, at a claimed 1,372g (3.02lb) for the pair, but reasonably sized, with 22mm/19.4mm-wide (external/internal) rims and a 30mm depth.
The American Classic Argent has a 30mm deep aluminum rim
Cyclocross riders who don't want to bother with glue but still want a fatter rim can instead look at American Classic's new TCX Tubeless, which uses the company's abbreviated bead hook in a 26/22mm-wide (external/internal) aluminum rim, 14/15g butted stainless steel spokes and your choice of rim or disc brake-compatible hubs. Claimed weight is 1,838-1,895g (4.05-4.18lb) for the set, depending on brake fitment, and retail price is US$470 for either version.
American Classic has updated and added to its component range, too. New for 2013 are freehub bodies for use with Shimano 11-speed or SRAM XX1 drivetrains and a new 9mm thru-bolt mountain bike disc front hub.
Also new to the line-up are American Classic's first Lefty-compatible front hub, and 25/21mm-wide (external/internal) tubeless-compatible mountain bike rim in 26in, 27.5in/650b, and 29in sizes for DIYers. Claimed weights for the rims are just 329-381g depending on diameter.