Testing Rig and Terrain
Testing was performed on my medium Ibis Mojo HD with the Cane Creek Double Barrel Air rear shock, Magura TS8 27.5 fork (primarily), and Pacenti Neo-Moto 2.3 tires. I am 5’9″, weigh in at 155 lbs and have been riding since the inception of the RockShox RS-1, and started out on a Bridgestone MB-2 for my first MTB steed. I have mostly ridden in the West, including vast portions of the Colorado Front Range, Sedona, Moab, Fruita/GJ and many parts of the Colorado mountains. The testing terrain is predominantly loose rocky conditions, with many long steep climbs and descents, rock gardens, slick rock, an occasional smooth singletrack and lots of ugly loose gravel. I tend to enjoy gnarly technical terrain, where precise steering and maneuvering are prerequisites, and intricate follow through and large huevos are required.
WARNING: Always use a fork that is designed for a 650B/27.5 wheel, as using an uncertified fork breaks your warranty and can cause safety concerns. In addition, the fork’s geometry is not optimized for a bigger wheel so the handling is affected, bottom bracket height, steering, etc.
The Hadley hubs are extremely smooth, and just flow along the trail, and after a very brief break-in period, I never noticed any friction or drag issues. The rear is amazingly quiet, especially after using the loud Chris King or the new Syntace Hi-Torque MX hubs, the former buzzes and the latter clicks noisily along the trail. The 72 toothed Hadley rear works well, and while it doesn’t have the highest POE its certainly right up there with the competition, and in direct comparison to my Industry Nine, I never found the slight lag difficult to deal with, and it was usually spot on when dealing with technical terrain.
Switching out the front hub axle was a simple affair that only takes two 24mm or 21mm (15mm axle) cone wrenches to go between 15 or 20mm size. Their axles are an interesting setup, and are comprised of two halves, which screw into each other. This system works well, and once screwed together it offers a stable and solid axle, which increases the rigidity of the front end and gives a smooth and low friction movement with the bearings. The axle loosened on me during the initial break-in period, so my mechanic (David at Cafe Velo) suggested a drop of Loctitie to keep things snug, and ever since then it hadn’t loosened. I liked the solidity of the screwed together axles much better than using adapter caps, which can occasionally pop off when you are working with a detached wheel.
The tightening and loosening of the bearing preload do take some special tools which Hadley makes themselves (33mm pin spanner front & 29mm rear), though you can use other manufacturer’s tools in a pinch. With the proper Hadley tools, swapping out the bearings, or dismantling and cleaning the rear is pretty easy (16mm pin spanner required). The components are carefully thought out and simple, and as a complete package it functions well and is very durable. After many miles during the test period, the grease is still clean, so I am predicting excellent longevity and durability with the hubs. These hubs are freewheeling monsters, and seem to roll along forever, and they’re low maintenance, dependable and durable, and simple to work on when required. KISS – Keep it simple, stupid.
I have used some 35mm wide rims before, including the Pacenti designed Velocity P35 and the new Syntace 35, and they both offered great strength and incredible stability, but they take some effort to roll over for cornering and to facilitate quick steering. Meaning, the 35mm rims like to stand up straight and tall, and that stability means they’re not easily knocked out from where they’re pointed and steered. The DL31 is still fairly wide and provides the same sort of strength and stability of the 35mm variety, but the slightly less width lets them roll over and steer with ease, so it’s simpler and quicker to corner and turn. Instead of the forceful dab that the 35mm rims require, the DL31 only needs a minor flick to get changed.
I set them up tubeless, but the inner bead wall height is slightly tall, so I ended up adding three layers of 25mm wide tubeless tape spread across the rim bottom, and that seemed to work perfectly for getting tires to snap onto the bead. The main tire I used during the test period was the Pacenti Neo-Moto 2.3, and they popped on easily in tubeless mode and have worked just fine, and they haven’t burped or lost much air since their initial installation. I like to run my wheels in a tubeless mode, which give you the benefits of lower pressure and a lack of pinch flats, which is a real problem when riding in my local heinous rocky terrain. The wide rims made the Neo-Moto 2.3 come to life because they pushed them out wider, and although they aren’t my favorite tires (not sticky enough), they’re certainly tough and durable with decent traction for a narrow tire. I just installed a set of Vee Rubber Trail Taker 2.4 tires (another Pacenti design), and I must say I like them a lot, they’re sticky, pliable and uber fat. They offer lots of floatation and traction due to their fat 2.47 inch knobby width, and since they’re wider than taller, they actually fit in the rear yoke of my Mojo HD. I rode the Neo-Moto at around 22psi, and the Vee Rubber at 18-20psi, and the width of the rim facilitates riding with lower psi since the tires get a bigger footprint.
What I like about this overbuilt wheelset is how bombproof it has been. I have bashed them into rock gardens, off jumps and generally abused them, and I have never felt any discernible amount of flex. I am sure you could build them with lighter spokes, but I like having a sturdy set of wheels with bomber spokes that can tolerate the occasional tossed up rock and stick without any damage. Another plus in choosing the DT Swiss Competition spokes in the 15/16 gauge is that you can usually get a spare at almost any LBS.
I haven’t had any issues with the rims getting dented or scratched up, so they have been very durable for all the rock gardens, and gravelly and rocky trails that I have ridden them on. The stainless steel eyelets have kept the spokes nice and tight, and they have remained true during the test period. In general, the beefy spokes, stiff and strong rims and hubs, worked together to create a wheel that tends to stay in tune over a long period of time, no matter what gets tossed at them.
- Hadley Rear 12×142 – 347 grams
- Hadley Front 15mm – 202 grams
- Hadley 20mm axle – 47 grams
- Hadley 15mm axle - 39 grams
- Pacenti DL31 650B rims – 542.4 grams
- DL31 outer width/inner width/height – 31.1mm/25.9mm/19.6mm
- Wheels Rear – 1089 grams
- Wheels Front – 940 grams
- Wheels Total – 2029 grams