Industry Nine releases all new 2013 Torch series Mountain wheels and hubs
Evolution leads to perfection – Hand made in Asheville, NC
It seems like many bicycle companies have been coming out with tons of new wheelsets, and the likes of SRAM, Reynolds, Specialized, Syntace, and multiple others have been expanding the market with a plethora of choices. Everything from carbon-fiber rims and hubs, to the new 27.5 sizing is being added to the burgeoning default 26″ and 29″ sizes. The market place has an entire slew of sizes, weights, hub and rim materials, rim widths, etc. Industry Nine has been sort of quiet lately, and have seemingly just been cranking out their tasty and excellent aluminum tidbits, but that has now changed with the new Torch Series of wheels, hubs and rims that they are releasing.
I’ve been a big fan of the Industry Nine hubs for a long time, and they offer a smooth ride with a high POE, and their innovative fat aluminum spokes give wheels a stiff, strong and responsive feel. I9 has taken their already excellent hub to the next level, and created the new Torch hubs, which keep the superb high POE of its brethren and toss in a major redesign, for a lighter, smoother, more durable and faster system. To go along with this improved hub, they have added their own tubeless ready Torch rim, and beefier aluminum spokes. They’ll have two versions of the complete wheelset, the upscale Torch Trail 24, and more basic and cheaper Torch Trail.
Industry Nine is a small Asheville, NC company, and they do onsite design, manufacturing, quality control, sales, assembly, truing and tensioning of their products (the rims and bearings are outsourced). They’re gorgeous CNC machined hubs are well built, and have incredible attention to detail, and come in an assortment of vivid colors.
The Torch Hubs keep some of the basic features of their predecessors, but they’ve tweaked just about everything else and stuck them on a weight reduction program. The rear hub keeps the same excellent 120 POE, and adds a new drive ring, pawl geometry, relocated bearings and seals which all work in synergy for decreased drag and smoother rolling. They have gone to a new universal endcap system on the rear for axle size conversions, so you can easily swap out the endcap adapters and get QR, 10x135mm, 12x135mm, and 12x142mm versions. For the downhill crowd, the 150mm rear hub platform gets endcap adapters for 12x150mm and 12x157mm. The endcaps offer a much simpler system then having to pull out the entire axle for size alterations, and matches up with some of the competition’s designs. The freehub is compatible with 9 and 10 speeds, or can be interchanged with their new XX1 body. The hub body got a shape change, and instead of an angled transition towards the drive-side, it is now shallower and is tilted towards the non-drive side.
Like the rear, they went with the universal endcap system on the front, so you can easily swap out the endcap adapters and get QR, 15mm, and 20mm versions, and the system is carried across the XC and Enduro series. They upgraded to better o-ring seals, to keep the bearing protected, for longer life and smoother rolling. The front hub also tapers towards the braking side of the wheels, which I assume is to assist in reducing any torquing and twisting into the axles from hard braking.
The rear gets trimmed down by 100 grams, while the front slices off 10-50 grams (model dependent).
Thoughts => I really like the endcap design, as it will make for easier and simpler swap out’s, and I am looking forward to seeing how the rears internal changes play out for smoother rolling, decreased drag and increased durability. Sometimes the higher POE comes at a small penalty of additional drag. I like how their hub can be switched to either 9/10 speed or XX1 with a swapping of the freehub body, making for a more functional setup. I do wonder how secure the endcaps will be, as I often see systems like this in which they fall off when placing a wheel into a fork. Do you think their tweaks to the innards of the rear will get their reliability more in line with the superb Chris Kings?
Rims & Spokes
The new Torch rims are designed by I9, and are wider, tubeless ready, and weigh 100 grams less than their predecessor. The aluminum rims have oversized extrusions,which are wider and deeper for increased stiffness and stability, and lighter. The spokes have gotten an increased diameter, for better lateral stiffness, improved strength and reduced failure issues from obstacles and debris. The butted aluminum spokes, utilizes a fine thread pitch into the hubs, and they have switched to Torx fitting on the spoke ends for adjusting instead of using an allen.
Thoughts => The rims sound intriguing, and it seems as though manufacturers are taking some design queues from the carbon world, to create a stronger, stiffer and lighter rim. I don’t mind a stronger spoke, even if it comes with a small weight penalty, as it helps with strength and stiffness, and with them being aluminum, protection from abuse. The change to a Torx fitting might be useful, though I need to try using a tool to see how it works and/or fits. Their aluminum spokes can be sort of a love-hate relationship with riders, since they accomplish their design goal of having an excellent strength to weight ratio, but they’re more fragile, expensive and harder to obtain.