The 32mm wide, low profile rims gave the Big Betty’s a very wide profile (BB’s are 2.4 at the casing and 2.5 at the tread). It was actually so wide that at 60 psi, the tires rubbed the stays. That is the first time I have ever run into this on the Terremoto, but that brought a smile to my face. I love wide rims and at 26 lbs. there was no rubbing or clearance issues. The Ellsworth AM rims gave the Betty’s a very square profile which I really liked.
When I went to air up the tires, I did notice that the shallow depth of the rims did not let the retaining ring of the valve to grab enough thread. The result of this is a valve stem that moves from side to side…not that big of a deal really.
Whenever we talk about wheelsets, there are three areas that seem to be the most important in our groups.
Why is engagement so important? The faster the engagement, the faster the power from your legs moves the rear wheel. The more engagement a rear hub has…the fewer degrees the crank arms have to more to “engage” the drive mechanism and move the rear wheel.
The Ellsworth wheels use a 3 pawl, 24 point engagement drive system. As you can see by the pictures, the pawls are set up in pairs and engage the ring in the hub body. This makes for a very strong engagement system according to Ellsworth.
I emailed back and forth with TE on the subject of engagement because his 24 point is much less than the competition at this price level. Chris King’s ring drive is 72 point and Industry Nine’s 6 pawl system is 120 point. Long story short…TE explained that he wanted durability and less drag over faster engagement. You can see his exact thoughts in this pdf file.
From the email with Tony Ellsworth:
When I did my own hub, I wanted to really have the focus be on overall performance, and so, I made a conscious decision to go with a known low freewheel resistance and robust pawl for durability and reliability. Nothing ruins a ride faster then to have your hub cease to engage… I just wanted none of it. And that’s why there are the 24 robust POE in my hub that there are. When there’s a better way to do it all the way around–I’ll be looking to add that to my hub, but for now, my hub is dependable, durable and the mechanism that’s in there has millions of trouble free miles on it. That was my objective, that durability, and the known fact that the 24 POE, three pawl mechanism is a freewheeling resistance cue!
Now I am going to tell you why I disagree. In my opinion, there is two types of drag.
- Drag that can only be seen on the stand.
- Drag that can be felt on the trail.
Drag that can be seen in the stand doesn’t always transfer to the feeling on the trail. In the case of Industry Nine and Chris King, they may stop faster when spinning the wheels on the stand in comparison with the wheels from Ellsworth, but on the trail…I felt no noticeable difference in drag between the three wheelsets (I own a set of the I9’s and Kings). On the trail…I would rather have more engagement. More points of engagement mean better control in rock, tech situations and less gaps in double clutches. These are two areas that I spend a lot of time riding in.
Overall Wheel Stiffness
On the trail…these wheels are stiff. The quadruple butted, straight pull spokes do a great job of holding the wheels together under hard load. They hold a great line through rock gardens and there is no noticeable flex through heavy carving. If Tony’s main objective was to build a stiff wheel…he did it. Even through all of the pounding, the wheels are still as true as the day they were dropped off at my front doorstep.
For more of Tony’s thoughts on wheel stiffness…check out this pdf.
Once you had the wheels going, there was no noticeable efficiency losses. The weight of these wheels are what you would expect out of an AM build. There are a little bit more than a comparable Industry Nine build and just about on par with a Chris King build…so there are no surprises here.