I was pretty stocked up to try them out, as I had always respected the build quality of their wheels, and the highly engineered and innovative hub, but I was really craving to try out the 120 point of engagement freehub.
After a short couple of rides on the wheelset, I had to admit that the rear hub is simply amazing, and I was highly impressed with the high point of engagement or POE. In difficult technical terrain, you could just crank on the pedals, and the hubs would react instantaneously, as there was no lag whatsoever. I could power almost anywhere I wanted, at any angle, direction, and terrain obstacle. They also allowed you to track stand, catch your balance (and composure), and start up again, almost like you were on a Fixie (ok, just sort of). Technical sections, especially in low gears, take on a different feel, as you can virtually stop dead in your tracks, and crank a hard move or do small hop and reengage the drive trail without any loss of control, since there is no slop in the system, except for the chain. I have ridden 24 and 30 POE most of my biking careers, and although in most conditions, it doesn’t really make much of a difference, I have found the High POE to very useful and functional, and reverting back to Lower POE wasn’t much fun, as I have gotten spoiled. They were pretty quiet rear hubs, and only gave a muted whirl noise, buzzing up to a whiz sound at higher speeds, but not very noticeable when hammering down the trail.
I have been pummeling them pretty hard over the last 4-5 months on my local terrain, including lots of rock gardens, rocky ledges and plenty of abuse, and have found them to be laterally and torsionally stiff. The front wheel is especially one stout beast, and I couldn’t feel any sort of flex coming from them, though they still had a lively and resilient feel, and would turn on a dime, slicing and dicing wherever you wanted them to go. You could toss them into a corner or berm, with hardly a whimper from them, and they didn’t deflect and provided a very stable ride, and they were easy to leverage for additional torque when required. They are impressively light, and have great acceleration, and are a stiff, snappy and responsive wheelset.
The wheels haven’t required much maintenance, and when I checked them, they were reasonably true. When the spokes do need to be adjusted, they only take a minute amount of movement, such as 1/8 to 1/4 turn, using a standard .126” (15 gauge) spoke wrench. The aluminum spokes are not as tough or robust as steel spokes against rocks, branches and trail debris, but I have only had one broken spoke during the test period when I kicked up a huge rock. The replacement was easy, and the wheel was still fairly true, so not much tweaking was required. They use two different spoke lengths, and I9 provides two spare spokes of each length with the wheelset. Since they are proprietary spokes, not every LBS is going to carry them, though fortunately they turned out to be fairly durable, so the spare ones have been adequate, though you’d be SOL if you destroyed your wheel.
The bearings have been fine for me, without any play, even after they broke in, and if required, the rear is easily adjusted using a 1.5mm allen wrench. I did notice a slight grittiness on the non drivetrain side in the race, so I added a touch of grease and they have been smoother. The freehub has been trouble free, and the subtle amount of HPOE drag is hardly noticeable. The freehub body using the tougher 7068 alloy has only minimal gouge marks, and the cassette slips off easily. I9 has some decent instructions on their website for servicing their hub’s if one was so inclined, though the drive system service does take some mechanical skills and expertise, and the proper tools.
I like to run my wheels in a tubeless mode, getting the benefits of lower pressure and a lack of pinch flats. The rims are not tubeless ready, so I ran a thin layer of rim tape (Stan’s, or whomever) to seal up the spoke holes, and then used a Stan’s rim strip. They never popped up with that distinctive tubeless sound when the tire bead snaps into the rim’s socket (love that sound), though they sealed up and have worked just fine, after performing the usual sealant treatment techniques. I would like to see them add their own optional tubeless kit made specifically for the rims and spokes.
I like the green color of the spokes and hub, as they almost sort of glow, with great brightness and vibrancy. I have gotten a few compliments on the combination, and they certainly have a high bling factor, and make for some nice eye candy. With 11 spoke and hub colors, you can have quite the plethora of zing.