The Industry Nine 27.5 Enduro's colourful anodised aluminium spokes aren't just for show – they yield a noticeably stiffer and stouter-feeling wheelset than you'd expect, given their respectably low 1,707g actual weight (792g front; 915g rear). Ten months of abuse on Colorado's notoriously rocky Front Range trails have proven them to be impressively durable, too.
Much as Mavic has done with its venerable Crossmax range, Industry Nine supplants the usual stainless steel spokes in favor of oversized aluminium ones. In this case, though, Industry Nine machines each one from bar stock and threads the end directly into the flanges on the proprietary hubs. No nipples are required since the spokes themselves are threaded, and with flats milled in at the rim end, they true just like a conventional wheel.
The proprietary aluminium spokes feed through the rim and then thread directly into the hub
According to Industry Nine, the oversized dimensions give each spoke comparable tensile strength to a straight 14-gauge stainless steel spoke (which is notable since few wheel companies even use spokes that thick these days) and the fact that they can be custom colour anodised is but a convenient side benefit. However, each spoke's substantially bigger cross-section yields better bending stiffness than a traditional steel spoke, and the fact that they're rigidly threaded into the flanges means they can't pivot or compress like a standard J-bend or straight-pull wheel.
Add in Industry Nine's own 26mm-wide (internal width) Enduro aluminium rim and what you get is a fantastically stiff and solid wheelset that feels absolutely bulletproof on the trail – particularly when mounted to a similarly stout frame and fork. Rough sections of terrain especially highlight the boost in handling precision. Instead of battling to hold a line through several familiar bits of test track, we could basically just charge through, full speed ahead.
The rims are appropriately wide for high-volume tyres, measuring 26mm between the bead hooks
The light-but-not-too-light aluminium rims are a breeze to set up tubeless and have held up to numerous rock strikes and bottom-outs, too. In contrast to carbon rims, small dents can also be fixed if and when necessary
While the Enduro wheelset's stiffness lends confidence at higher speeds, the fantastic rear hub is equally adept at slower ones. Industry Nine builds its 'Torch' rear hub with 60 ratchet teeth, which would normally yield an already quick six-degree engagement speed. However, that ratchet is driven by two separate trios of pawls that engage out of phase to effectively yield a hyper-fast three-degree engagement. Short of more exotic clutch-type hubs, this is as close as you'll get to a direct-drive system, and virtually everything else feels glacially slow in comparison.
The driver mechanism features a 60-tooth ratchet but two separate alternating trios of pawls for an ultra-quick three-degree engagement speed
Such quickness doesn't provide much benefit in typical trail riding but for tricky sections of trail that require the occasional stutter-pedal, we sometimes found that it could make the difference between riding and walking. Industry Nine outfits those pawls with three teeth each, too, so at any given moment there are nine ratchet teeth engaged to help spread the load and reduce the chance of failure. Indeed, we've had no issues so far despite doing exactly zero maintenance and despite the rear hub's fantastic speed, we haven't noticed any undue levels of drag.
So what's not to like? Well, for one, fans of quiet hubs are going to find nothing but headache here as the rear hub positively screams when coasting, especially at higher speeds. Industry Nine claims that the noise subsides over time but ours have yet to settle down. Few shops are likely to have the proprietary spokes on hand when needed, either, although Industry Nine does wisely include a few spares.
Otherwise, we've got nothing but positive things to say here and while these aren't exactly cheap, at least there's a very tangible benefit over many competitors. Sign us up.
For more information, visit www.industrynine.net