Gear Review: Ibis 941 Wheels

Ibis’ first wheelset jumps on legit wide rim trend

29er Wheels
The 41mm wide Ibis 941s are perfectly at home on the Ripley.

The 41mm wide Ibis 941s are perfectly at home on the Ripley.

When it comes to product hype and unfulfilled performance claims, besides fuel injector cleaners and the ski industry, there are few places where it’s more prevalent than the bike industry. In the last ten years, there’s really only been a handful of innovations that have truly made a huge difference in the way we ride. A few of these include tubeless tires, clutch rear derailleurs that have enabled 1x drivetrains, dropper posts and thru-axles.

There’s one more that should be added to the list of innovations that matter – “wide boy” wheels. Like dropper posts, wheels with wide rims have been around for a while, but for whatever reason, they’ve taken time to gain universal adoption. The benefit of wide rims is pretty compelling – improved cornering and braking traction, reduced risk of tubeless burping, the ability to run lower tire pressure for less rolling resistance and greater impact strength. And thanks to the advancement of composites, carbon fiber wide rim hoops weigh nearly the same as narrower aluminum hoops that are far less resilient and laterally stiff – especially in 29er guise.

A wider rim profile equals better stiffness, durability and traction.

A wider rim profile equals better stiffness, durability and traction.

Ibis 941 wheels are just one of several examples on the market today, but what makes the Ibis hoops stand out is their impressive 41mm outer width (the 41 in 941), their 1770 gram weight in 29-inch diameter (the 9 in 941) and their approachable $1450 retail price. Yes, for some this number might still be insane for just a set of wheels, but in the world of composite wheels, the asking price is quite reasonable.

Confirming the advertised rim width.

Confirming the advertised rim width.

In addition to 41mm outer width measurement, the 941 also features 35mm inner width. These numbers are approaching fat bike-specific numbers, where wheels measure 50mm in outer width and up. Except with the 941, each hoop only weighs 488 grams as opposed to 700-plus. Provided you have the frame clearance, slapping on a pair of 3.0-inch 29+ tires can make for one seriously buoyant, lightweight and fast machine. Not quite a fatbike; more like a slightly obese bike, which in this author’s opinion is far more fun.

All fatbikes aside, the Ibis 941 wheels have far more practical use than just being a wheelset for a quick and nimble slightly obese bike. In fact, the 941s can be used on any 29-inch mountain bike from a rigid hardtail to a dual-suspension trail bike. And with a tweener variant in the Ibis 741 wheels, those with 27.5-inch rigs can get in on the wide boy fun for the same price.

This review is not focused on explaining the “whys” of running wider rims, Ibis does a thorough and informative job of that on the Ibis Wheels page. This review instead focuses on the actual real world functionality of the wheels. Do they live up to the claims that Ibis and other wide rim manufacturers are touting, or are wide rims just another ploy that gets consumers to empty their wallets?

Since August I’ve been running a set of Ibis 941s on my Ripley, and all I can say is that these wheels absolutely live up to the hype. My first real ride on them was at Mammoth Mountain, a place that’s notorious for having among the loosest and sketchiest riding conditions anywhere in North America. Most riders agree that if you can ride the volcanic ash of Mammoth, you can ride anywhere.

Since Mammoth is just a giant volcano, most trails at the resort are laden with pumice moon dust that locals lovingly refer to as “kitty litter”. Within a day of arriving in Mammoth, the two-wheel slide becomes a new skill in your riding repertoire because nearly every corner requires it.

Ibis 941 rims take a Geax Goma 2.4 and widen it to 2.5.

Ibis 941 rims take a Geax Goma 2.4 and widen it to 2.5.

Needless to say, Mammoth was the perfect place to test out all the reported claims that wide rims dramatically improve traction. And within 10 minutes of pointing the Ripley downhill, I discovered the claims weren’t hype, wide boy rims are for real. The 941s took both my Geax Goma 2.4 front tire and Maxxis High Roller II 2.35 tires and widened them by about 5 millimeters each to not only improve my straight-line footprint and braking control, but more importantly, allow the side knobs to have more bite in corners.

Suddenly the corners that I used to two-wheel drift through at the ragged edge of control became tame, giving both wheels enough bite that sliding was an option, not a requirement. Even more impressive was how low I could run the tires before I could feel them bottoming out over rocks. After a few good punts, I decided to check the tire pressure and was amazed to see my rear tire was only holding 15 psi. At 180 pounds on a good day, I typically pinch flat at anything below 25 psi with traditional-width rims. The 941s were holding me just fine even at 15 psi, but to play it safe, I upped the pressure to 20 psi.

Ibis 941s also feature a hookless bead design, making them even more durable and pinch-flat resistant than their hook bead competitors. In three months of mixed-terrain riding and two California Enduro Series events, I have not suffered a single flat tire with the Ibis 941s. I’ve hit some rocks hard enough to emit noises I’ve never heard from other wheels, but despite the hard hits, the 941s remain as true as the day the UPS man dropped them on my doorstep.

Continue to page 2 for more on the Ibis 941 wheels and full photo gallery »

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.

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  • Will says:

    I have been riding the Derby version for several months now on my DH bike. I would agree that these are a game changer. Traction and cornering are markedly improved especially in the sketchy conditions we have on the Shore.

  • eb1888 says:

    I’ve been on 35/30mm Chinese carbons with the same result. The stiff rim makes for an easy build even if you make it your first. Park TM-1 tension gauge, brass nipples and Anti-Seize for prep.

  • Meto says:

    Hi, just bought same wheels and feel great…BUT, the tires sidewalls are more exposed and then more vulnerable to cuts – flats

    A friend of mine in a week trashed 2 tires because of cuts..How do you fix that, higher pressure or some specific tire?

  • I'mRight says:

    As with all products that require a payment plan to afford I would like to see a Demo Program.

  • PinkFloydLandis says:

    After a few months on 35mm rims myself, I wholeheartedly agree that wide rims are a game changer.
    That said, I would avoid the Ibis wheels prior to the change to DT hubs. My riding buddy went through three consecutive rear hubs (freehub failures) in less than 40 hours riding time. One freehub only lasted 2 hours. With DT hubs, $1400 is a fair price for these wheels.

  • sukka! says:

    if you want a real rear hub, they charge 200 more. whatevas. Ordering a set of LB rims and building them up is a much better value. word

  • valas says:

    Everyone is raving about these rims, but I had trouble appreciating them.

    I ride aluminium 29er rims, where there is some wheel flex to which I’m used to. When I put on these 941 to try out, the bike felt very very harsh, especially to the side impact (e.g. hitting a rock at an angle). Is it something folks eventually get used to? What is the benefit of this crazy stiffness?

  • MBR says:

    Unless I win the lottery, would probably opt to try this as a front wheel build using a carbon Derby 35 [29 mm inside] rim and save over $300 per wheel.

  • hllclmbr says:

    That’s the poorest measurement attempt, of anything that, I’ve ever seen.

  • Dirt says:

    The review was sounding great until the part about coming off of stans crest. Comparing a flow to a crest Is a “game changer”.
    Review is worthless since it compares a stupid rim to a capable rim.
    I also wonder about the capabilities of a rider who can ride a crest. If you can ride a wheel that should pretzel, then maybe it is time to practice?

  • Rob says:

    Kurt, love your articles and reviews. I was wondering if you could review, or give thoughts on, entry-level to intermediate priced single speed options for those that can’t quite make the jump to high-end options. For instance, what are your thoughts on the new Trek Superfly SS? Is the $500 Kona Big Unit a good frame to build around? Is it worth the jump up to a Niner SIR 9? (I wish they still made the scandium One 9) What else is out there that is not low-end and heavy, rides well and can take the pounding of single speed riding? Oh… And Happy New Year!
    Rob (Port Hope, Ontario)

  • Timm says:

    Great read, as usual. Too bad I cant swing $1400 for a complete bike, much less a wheelset. MAN DOWNRIVER IS THE SECOND GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME, COMING IN JUST BEHIND O-TOWN AND RIGHT BEFORE NICKELBACK.

    • Rob says:

      Canada apologies to the world for Nickelback. If we could afford it we would give everyone a nickel back for having to endure them.

  • Erich says:

    I’ve had the 741’s for a few months now and they’re the best cornering set of wheels I’ve ever owned. Carbon Stiffness + Extra Wideness = Awesomeness! Almost as awesome as that solid axle 4runner holding the Ripley up… Sweet!!

  • Dangerous Doug says:

    I just finished my second ride on the 941s and ill have to say they are absolutely amazing. Way beyond my expectations. No doubt, wide carbon wheels are a game changer. Thank you Ibis.

  • Rob says:

    I am 19.5 stone and I ride these wheels on my 29er. Having changed from a Remedy 10 to a Tallboy LTC – I had been disappointed with the nimbleness of my new bike. These wheels really returned a sense of whippiness to my riding. I had not realised that my old wheels were loading up in berms. With these wheels – I not get sudden direct responsiveness.

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