I spent a lot of time on my local home terrain, bashing them through my favorite rocky singletrack trails. They were subjected to rock gardens, twisty tight switchbacks, rolling berms, jumps, and the usual ugly Pike Peaks pea gravel. The latter adds some spice to life, since it requires a stand up cornering style, and can cause bike traction to wash out at any moment, usually when you least expect it. The wheels proved to be quite durable for the abuse I piled on them over the winter.
Their first foray out onto some tough terrain the spokes pinged a bit as they sat themselves in, but after that they have been silent. Although they are not the lightest wheelset I have used, they do feel light, and they roll and accelerate nicely. The AC MTB Tubeless really shined where acceleration was required, whether that was when putting the pedal to the metal while racing or when a quick technical move was required like climbing up a rock ramp or some stair stepped ledges. They were lightning quick due to a combination of their lightness, and greatly engineered rim geometry. Add in the fact that the rear hub pawl and ratchet system give a positive, solid and and low friction engagement, all make for a winning synergy. Even though it only has a 24 point engagement, it feels like it snaps quickly into action, with a buttery smooth feel. This acceleration makes climbing easier, and requires less energy output. They really rolled nicely, and that was a welcome feeling on long rides and climbs. It could be felt when rolling into berms, up and over rock rollers and descending. They swoop! Less input was required, and they just seemed to keep gliding along after pedaling had stopped. The wheels have enough stiffness to keep the traction on the tarmac, offer a nice deft touch, and give good feedback during steering.
It is only when pushed hard in rocky All Mountain terrain, that they have a tad of flex. Bring them up to Mach 10 in a rock garden, and they belay their lightness and slight lack of width, and then they feel slightly out of place, but not appreciably so.
AC meant these wheels for cross country and trail riders, which mostly use 150mm or less of travel. Fox and Marzocchi use 15mm as a standard, while Magura, Manitou and Rock Shox use 20mm. I would like to see an optional 20mm axle for these other forks.
I installed a set of my Rubber Queen 2.2 UST tires, and they popped out without any issue. I have used NoTube rims quite a bit, and for some reason, these rims seem a tad easier to get tires to pop on? I do love that sound when a tire bead pops up into the hook of the rim. I have also put on a set of normal tires, and had no issues getting them to work. When I install any sort of tire, whether tubeless (UST) or regular, I always use sealant when I run them in a tubeless mode. It is pretty much required to get normal tires to seal up in a tubeless mode, and it also helps seal up leaks or punctures on either tire type. I have a set of the AC All Mountain wheels, and I used a rim strip to run them tubeless, and it was hit and miss getting tires to work. A well engineered tubeless system works much better than any sort of retrofit.
American Classic updated their cross country mountain bike wheelset to be tubeless, which is a welcome change. The rims were re-designed for better stiffness, control and strength, while still retaining their lightness. The steel facing on the aluminum cassette body is a clever feature that will increase that life of the body and keep the drivetrain snug. The wheels are well made, with many hidden engineering features, that are carefully thought out an innovative. They did display some flex when pushed to their limits in difficult All Mountain terrain, but they were better than most in their cross country category.
I have been very happy with the American Classic MTB Tubeless Wheelset. The rims are easy to set up most tires in a tubeless mode, although they did seem to leak air more than other rims? They roll and accelerate like demons, and give nimble and precise steering. They look good (love the red hubs), and have so far proven to be durable.
-Steel face on cassette body
-White spoke pointing to valve
-Quiet rear hub
-Hint of flex in tough All Mountain terrain
-Not the lightest
-Slight air leakage
-Lack of 20mm thru axle option
Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers
Hubs Front Disc 130 100mm & Rear Disc 225 135mm
Brake Interface – 6 Bolt International Standard
Color – AC Alphatype White, AC Crest Black
Options Ceramic Bearings, Titanium QR’s, Wheel Bags, 15mm Front Thru Axle Disc Hub
Rims – MTB Disc Tubeless Aluminum 26”
Spokes – AC 14/15 Gauge Spokes Black
Nipples – AC Aluminum Nipples Silver
Pattern – 32h 3 Cross Front and Rear
AC MTB Tubeless url: http://www.amclassic.com/en/products/mtbwheels/mtb26disc.php