Rather than develop their own alloy clincher rim, North Carolina-based wheel and hub company Industry Nine have wisely opted to instead borrow HED's excellent 23.5mm-wide C2 extrusion – one that we've frequently lauded in the past and continue to heap praise on for its combination of light weight, stout tire casing support, and the ride and handling benefits afforded as a result.
Matched with Industry Nine's own jewel-like hubs, the combination yields similar performance overall but with a more premium and customizable look that some might prefer for their high-dollar road machines. Total weight for Industry Nine's i25 wheelset is nearly identical to HED's own Ardennes SL at just 1,468g (832g rear, 636g front, without rim strips) and only 33g heavier than HED's top-shelf Ardennes FR – all without the benefit of carbon fiber.
Unlike HED's top two models, Industry Nine make do with the standard aluminum alloy C2 rim instead of the fancier scandium-enhanced model. "The front aluminum rim is about 25g heavier than the scandium, and the rear is the same weight – since they now use the same extrusion for aluminum and scandium rims," said Industry Nine's Jacob McGahey. "So, speccing the aluminum rims seemed to be the best option in order to provide a reasonable price point for the wheels factoring in the added cost of manufacturing hubs stateside."
No matter, though, as the ride performance on the road is just as sweet, with the wide profile rim lending better support to tire sidewalls for a more planted feel in corners while also adding a bit of interior volume for a slighter cushier ride. Swap in 25mm tires for your usual 23mm and the result is a pillowy glide you wouldn't typically think possible with clinchers.
In total, Industry Nine's i25 wheels are about the same weight as HED's Ardennes SL/FR wheels, the US$1,100 cost is similar, and with nearly identical spoke flange widths, the lateral stiffness feels indistinguishably close, too. So why bother? Simple: the hubs. HED's stock Sonic hubs are fine units in and of themselves but Industry Nine's machined-in-house units are noticeably superior, especially the rear.
Instead of conventionally milled pawls, Industry Nine use a much more expensive wire EDM process that can be used on harder alloys and also allows for greater precision. According McGahey, that extra precision and material hardness allow for shallower and more aggressively angled pawl teeth, both of which yield fantastically low freehub drag. If you care about those sorts of things, you also get a fairly muted and not annoyingly high-pitch buzz while coasting at high speed out on the road.
Though not quite as insanely quick as on their mountain bike hubs (three degrees!), engagement speed on the i25 hubs is still among the best available at just nine degrees per click as compared to HED's 15, Zipp's10, or Mavic and DT Swiss's languid 20 (DT Swiss offer 10-degree ratchets as an optional retrofit). Build quality on our set has also been spot-on, with no issues at all throughout testing – in fact, we've yet to twist a single nipple over four months of regular use on both paved and unpaved roads.
There's also one other advantage to Industry Nine's hubs for the more style-conscious: colors. While HED only offer their Ardennes wheels in various combinations of black and silver, Industry Nine offer their hubs in red, black and silver so you can match your existing color scheme as you see fit. Skewers aren't included, though, so be sure to factor that into your budget before pulling the trigger. Otherwise, Industry Nine's i25 wheels are a very compelling addition to HED's Ardennes range.