Ellsworth – AM Wheelset Review

Pro Reviews

What are my final thoughts?

The Good

  • Very Stiff Build
  • Reasonable Weight for an AM Build
  • Look Great On My Black Frame
  • Wide 32mm Rim
  • Easy Axle Change

The Bad

  • 20mm End Caps on the Front Hub Fall Off Without Warning
  • Only 24 Points Of Engagement
  • No Color Options
  • Proprietary Spokes
  • More Expensive than the Competition

Honestly…the positives of these wheels do not outweigh the negatives for me at this price. When I am paying almost $1,000 for wheels…they need to be almost flawless. The annoyances of the axles makes the set feel “unfinished”. Yes…they are stiff…but so is the competition at this price. When you are building wheelsets above the $800.00 range, there needs to be a multitude of options with near flawless manufacturing. The engagement of the rear hub also has to be 72 point or greater. I have had zero issues with the Chris King and Industry Nine hubs in terms of durability. There are people out there still using Chris King hubs that are over 10 years old. I was really missing the higher engagement on the trail.

I hope that TE and the guys over at Ellsworth can take my criticisms as constructive. They build an incredible frame, but these wheels need some work if they are going to compete in this price range. As they sit right now…they do not feel like $1,000 wheels.

What would make them $1,000 wheels?

So…now that I have said they are not $1,000 wheels, what do I think would bring them up to that level in the mountain biking wheel world?

It’s A Good Start

These wheels are a good start with the wide rim and stiff build. The problem is that at this price level, a stiff wheel build is expected not a luxury. I would not even consider buying an AM wheelset over 500 dollars unless they are very stiff and hold a line through hard corners and rock gardens. The wide rim is an added bonus, but the rim industry as a whole is moving in that direction already.

Engagement

You can have your reasons for going with a 24 point engagement drive, but it is not going to help sales at this price level. Engagement makes a huge difference on the trail. When we started sessioning a long rock garden, the gap in engagement started to become a huge annoyance. Up the engagement as soon as possible.

Finishing Touches

  • Find a new way to attach the front end caps where they won’t fall off…this is a must.
  • Offer Colors – I know that colors do not affect performance, but all of the wheelsets in this price range (minus Mavic) offer a range of at least hub colors. As riders are spending more money on frames and time picking out parts, they like things to match. If they are given two options with all things equal, they are probably going to pick the one that matches their frame if they can. I can’t tell you how many Ellsworth’s I have seen with multi-colored Industry Nines.
  • Make the rim tubeless compatible – The space at the valve stem does not allow these rims to run tubeless. Having the option to run a tubeless setup on an AM designed wheelset would be a great option. I have switched a lot of sets over to the Stans Flow rims for this reason. They are light enough to run tubes but also run tubeless easily.
  • Include several spokes with each wheel build – Having proprietary spokes is not as much of an issue if you already have some on hand.
  • Price – Bring the price down. 990.00 for mountain biking wheels is too high (even with custom colors).

Value Rating:

Overall Rating:

The competition really raises the bar when it comes to wheels. With some changes, these can be a great set, but until then…3 chilis.

Mountain Biking by  198

For more reviews and mountain biking info…visit our website at Mountain Biking by 198.

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  • n hodge says:

    seems to be a staight talk review, no bias. the points of contention were exactly what i would consider to be deal breakers @ that price, mainly the slow hubs. i look forward to more reviews from the author.

  • Neil says:

    Sounder interesting but the slow engagement is a deal-killer. I mean, 24 points is just ridiculous and a cheaper way to manufacture durable hubs. My Kings have no drag on the trail and I have Hopes as well. It is not cheap to properly design and build a high-engagement hub…thus the easy way out.

    Bottom line- now way, I’d pay that much for thi swheelset. I can get a custom-built Chris King set laced to any rim for around $800. The I9s are a bit more but both totaly outclass the Ellsworth wheels. 24 points makes me smile, especially rge reasons used to justify it….amusing stuff :)

  • Neil says:

    Great review, by the way- detailed and clear with no hype or bias. Excuse my hurried and consequently, inaccurate typing.

  • rsutton1223 says:

    Thanks for the responses. I tried to be as complete and non-biased as possible while presenting both views.

    -198

  • coldass says:

    Excellent review. Thanks.

  • Robert says:

    “I have seen Trials riders, in highly technical position, need
    the pedal in a specific position for clearance and power to
    hop or step up the bike. But other then this the immiediate (sic)
    engagement feature is very cool, and feels very good, but to
    trade it for freewheeling friction makes no sense.”

    From the engagement PDF. I have found – as a mountain biker, mind – that I occasionally have to position “the pedal in a specific position for clearance and power to hop or step up” over trail obstacles. I’m sure I’m the only one, though, and it is obvious that I don’t need faster engagement since King and I9 hubs are known to have terrible build quality and most slow riders use them.

    Oh, wait a minute . . .

  • TK says:

    These wheelsets are just rebranded Easton’s, what do you expect? Look it up.

  • i really hate to bust some of people bubbles but these hubs are the exact same as the azonic outlaw and performance locos minus the way the flange is made. these wheel have straight pull spoke versus standard pull spokes. those hubs are good but def. do not belong on a wheel of this expense. i mean seriously these hubs cost them nothing to get made.

    i hate to say it ellsworth fails once again. i really want to see this company do the right thing. i love the way that their products look.

  • -Barry says:

    A four page review and no weights are given for the wheels? Or did I miss that…?

  • Barry

    Claimed 2,376 grams
    Weight as tested on Ultimate Digital (QR rear w/20mm Caps on the Front) – 2,420g
    Front w/20mm End Caps – 1,100g
    Rear w/QR Axle and No QR – 1,320g

  • James says:

    Again why would one spend nearly 1000 buckaroos on these poor engaging wheels when you could build a set of Kings or order some I9′s for 100-200 doll hairs cheaper?

    It’s the same with their frames. Overpriced for what you get.

  • Paul says:

    I have CKs. I have for years, and probably will for several more. QR front, 20mm front, and a couple of rears with different rims. No way I’m spending that kind or coin on an inferior hub. Has anybody clued TE in on the reputation of King hubs?

  • Len says:

    Tony E responded to your column posted in 2008 and suggested he was going to address some of your objections to the Ellsworth Wheelset. Has he done so and have you looked at them again?

  • Robb Sutton says:

    Len

    Haven’t heard anything back yet.

    Robb

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