What is it
Once upon a time, there were only a handful of carbon mountain bike wheel options. But that’s changed and these days they’re literally dozens of composite hoop makers, ranging from Gucci-priced top-tier brands such as ENVE, to alarmingly cheap little known Chinese offerings. In between, it’s a crowded playing field that includes Kamloops, British Columbia-based We Are One Composites, who’s doing their best to stand out from that crowd, producing carbon fiber mountain bike wheels in Canada, and not just slapping stickers on someone else’s open mold design.
For this test, Mtbr spent a season on the 29er version of their tubeless ready We Are One Agent enduro wheels with a 30mm internal rim width, 25mm depth, and 3.5mm rim lip, all of which conspire to bolster impact strength and overall durability while delivering a smooth, bump absorbing ride quality. Spoke count is 32 front and rear and our test set, including valve stems, weighed a reasonable 1890 grams (890g front, 1000g rear). We Are One also offers 28-hole rims and the Agent is available in the 27.5 wheel size as well. The company also recently launched its Insider XC rim and Outlier DH wheel options.
Hubs on our test wheels were Project321 with 216 points of engagement and a magnetic pawl system that gives the rider the choice of loud or quiet settings. (We opted for quiet.) Note, though, that Project321 hubs are no longer among We Are One’s build options, so we’re not going to spend a ton of time talking about them.
Instead the wheel maker is now offering six hub choices, including DT Swiss 350s and 240s, Hope, Onyk, Chris King, and Industry 9. Price for our test wheels at the time of shipment was $1625, but you can now get We Are One Agent wheels for $1297 with DT Swiss 350 hubs. That price climbs to $1850 for a Chris King hub build. Rims alone are $450.
Stock spokes are Sapim Race double butted, or you can upgrade to Sapim CX-Ray for an extra $140. Also new is a custom decal program where for a $25 upcharge We Are One will work with you to get the perfect color for your set-up. Sales are done direct to consumer through the We Are One website. They also have an expanding dealer network.
At first glance, The We Are One Agent 29 wheels have a decidedly understated look, with just a few simple decals adorning otherwise naked carbon. This, the company says, is their way of not trying to hide anything and instead letting the handbuilt craftmanship shine through.
The We Are One Agent wheels are built with a shallow rim depth to provide a smooth ride feel on the trail while being supported by a stout rim lip that’s specifically engineered to withstand hard impacts. The broad internal rim width allows you to run 2.35-2.6 tires, and spoke holes are angle drilled at 7 degrees for optimal nipple-to-spoke angle and reduced nipple and spoke fatigue. The We Are One Agent wheels also utilize a hookless bead to ease tubeless set-up and further boost impact resistance.
And in case you’re wondering, We Are One isn’t some faceless pop-up company. Indeed, the founder and CEO is former pro downhiller Dustin Adams, who the early 2000s tore up the North American race circuit, winning a pair of Canadian national championships and accumulating 10 NORBA podiums and two third place overall series finishes.
After retiring from racing, Adams immersed himself in the carbon wheel arena, first working for NOBL and then moving on to found We Are One, which launched in June of 2017. Besides offering solid price points, We Are One’s primary hook is that all their products are made in North America. “No offshore business or funny sticker company shenanigans,” is the way Adams put it. “All of our wheels are hand built in-house… and overall, these wheels are designed and built for the everyday rider who demands the best from their wheels. If you’re riding the local trails one day and the chairlifts in Whistler the next, the We Are One Agent lineup has you covered.”
They also offer a lifetime warranty with what appears to be no strings attached. It reads, “If you break a rim, we send you a new replacement. Period. No charges. No hidden fine-print. No exceptions. No limitations. Lifetime support. There is no reason to be concerned about what happens.” That’s certainly reassuring.
- Made in North America
- Impressive durability during test period
- Remained true throughout test
- Stiff but not overly harsh
- Fast engaging hubs
- Simple, clean look with minimal branding
- Naked finish means nothing to hide
- Precise steering and control
- Come pre-taped and tubeless ready
- Reasonably priced
- Easy tubeless set-up
- External nipples for easy servicing
- Lifetime warranty
- Some may find look too plain
- Gloss finish reveals even smallest scratches
- Freehub popping noises
- Hookless beads don’t work with all tires
- Not particularly light
Mtbr’s Take: We Are One Agent
When testing carbon wheels, it’s all about assessing durability and ride quality. How will the rim hold up the first time you bottom out your wheel on a rock? And how do the wheels track when barreling through chunder? Are they compliant and smooth, or so stiff you feel like you’re constantly getting bounced off your line?
In the case of the We Are One Agent wheels the answers are, yes they’ve held up to abuse and no they don’t feel overly stiff or harsh. That assessment comes after a lengthy test period that’s spanned several hundred miles of riding on everything from silky smooth high-desert singletrack to rocky, bike park chunder. Outside of a few scuff marks, which is inevitable given the naked carbon finish, these wheels are damage free and continue to spin smooth and straight without so much as one turn of a spoke wrench.
Honestly, the only real knock is the occasional loud pop when the freehub pawls engage. But like we mentioned above, We Are One is no longer offering the Project321 hubs, so it’s a non-issue for this review.
We also must mention that not all tires play nice with the We Are One Agent’s hookless bead. Indeed, we started this test trying to mount up a set of 29×2.4 Continental Der Baron Project tires, but they violently blew off the rims during the inflation process. When informed of our experience, Adams confirmed that Continental tires were not compatible with his company’s wheels.
“Continental tires are not designed for hookless bead rims,” explained Adams. “And we have notified all of our customers that their tires are not to be used on our rims. We’ve also confirmed through in-house testing that every other brand works just fine.”
We can’t confirm that final statement except to say that our next tire choice, 29×2.6 Specialized Purgatory rear and Butcher front, worked perfectly fine, easily mounting tubeless with just a floor pump. We’ve subsequently run them with as low as 22psi front/24 psi rear and had no issues behind some minimal squirm during hard cornering. Otherwise the We Are One Agent’s ride feel has been just what you hope for from a set of carbon wheels, plenty stiff but never overly harsh.
Check out the We Are One Mtbr forum page at forums.mtbr.com.
Adams says he and his small design team spent a lot of time experimenting with various spoke tensions and carbon lay-ups in order to strike the right balance between vertical compliance and lateral stiffness, and it appears to have paid off. “We have done a ton of competitor comparisons and engineered our layup around removing [harshness] as much as possible” he claimed. “Right now we know that we are near the bottom of the stiffness charts for carbon rims.”
Again, it’s impossible for Mtbr to validate this claim, but these test wheels have certainly been a pleasure to ride, tracking impressively well even through extra rowdy terrain without a hint of durability issues. Combine that with a reasonable price, wide array of build options, and a lifetime warranty, and Mtbr can enthusiastically recommend the We Are One Agent mountain bike wheels.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Price: complete wheels start at $1297; $1625 as tested
More Info: weareonecomposites.com