Wider is better! The Wide Lightning is American Classic’s new lightweight tubeless ready mountain bike wheelset with 32mm width rims for both 27.5″ and 29″ sizes, that is stiff, strong and tough.
I got my usual wonderful technical and in depth walkthrough of their products, by the man himself, President, founder, engineer and techno geek, Bill Shook. Bill went into detail on the evolution of the Wide Lightning wheels, and how his mountain bike rim widths have increased over time. Years ago, he had started out with 24mm rims, and his racers told him that the rims were moving around within their wide tires, so he bumped things up to 26mm and made a better bead barb. Next he created the 28mm rims for his lightweight race wheels, which allowed him to decrease the barb height and use lighter spokes due to the increased strength from the width. He asked himself, where is the sweet spot for rim width? After lots of testing and brain storming, he felt that 32mm hit the jackpot, and one of the reasons is that it creates an ideal tire profile, in which the tire patch has even pressure throughout its footprint. He found that a greater than 32mm width caused the tire to heave up in the middle, so that the pressure is high on the edges and low in the center, which is not an ideal pattern.
The Wide Lightning has a 32mm outer width and a 29.5mm inner, and the cross section with its deep 22mm parabolic depth gives it great stiffness and strength with little detrimental increase in weight. It uses beefy 14/15 double butted spoke in a 3-Cross pattern and at 1512g for the 27.5″ and 1569g for the 29″, they only weigh about 110 grams over the Race wheels, but have greater stiffness and strength. The wheels will only come in 27.5″ and 29″ sizes, due to smaller demand for the 26″ size. The 32-hole aluminum rims come with their tubeless amber tape installed and their trick lightweight valve stems are included. They use their Disc 130 front hub and Disc 225 rear with the typical axle options, and can come with either the Shimano 9/10/11 or SRAM XX1 spline, and they’ll retail for $849.
Bill re-engineered the rear hub for an 11-speed cassette by changing the flange spacing, moving things over towards the non-drive side, shortening the drive side spokes, etc. You can run other sized cassette by adding a spacer; for example, a 10-speed would use a 1.8mm spacer by the spokes. Obviously, I would assume someone might be coming out with something that might fit this someday.
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