Fast engagement for a relatively low price
This complete enduro wheelset comes from American brand Industry Nine, whose reputation was built making its hubs in-house in North Carolina. The 1/1 model here is the brand’s more affordable option with 90 points of engagement via 6 pawls engaging in a dual phase configuration in a 45-tooth steel drive ring.
If you’re thinking that still sounds pretty speedy, you’re right; a rapid 4º engagement like this might be many brand’s fastest pickup, but because i9’s Hydra hub has a ludicrously fast (0.5º) engagement, this is seen as a lower-tier offering.
I’ve tested the same (externally-sourced) 30.5mm wide Enduro S rim on the brand’s high-end Hydra hubs before, but the difference here is the 1/1 wheelset uses traditional J-bend Sapim spokes and a conventional flanged hub shell. It’s available with either six bolt or Centre Lock rotor mounts, and Boost or Super Boost axle spacing. The overall wheel weight is slightly higher, but how does the slower engagement and different build affect the ride quality?
Last time out, I had numerous issues with the straight-pull spoke design on the Hydra hubs. The wheels come OE on various Evil bikes I’ve tested in the past, and I’ve snapped way too many spokes on every wheelset. The issue was likely that under high loads cornering or pumping compressions, the spokes wanted to push or pull back towards the axle as the rim absorbed strong forces, which resulted in ripping the spoke threads out of the nipple. I lost count of how many spokes broke like this, but as the Evils were Super Boost axle spacing, I never had any other option than to fix them.
Enter the 1/1 wheelset. In a nutshell, the J-bend spokes here have completely cured this issue. I wanted to test these wheels over an extended period to be sure of this, and haven’t snapped a single spoke in hundreds of kms. I also don’t miss the volume of the rapid engaging Hydra hub either, even if its high pitched whine is fashionable with the kids.
In terms of overall performance, these 1/1 wheels work absolutely fine, but they don’t deliver much in the way of a stand-out ride quality. They are stiff enough and have remained hassle free, but they aren’t especially light or zippy, and they also aren’t exceptionally comfortable. This all means similar performance can be found at lower prices in the £500 bracket from the likes of Hunt and Hope.
Interestingly, I didn’t have any issues with premature bearing wear like I had on the Hydras, but both a local bike shop and the warranty department of a major brand told me that (for whatever reason) i9 bearing life is often shorter than many rival models in UK conditions. Whether that is the sealing or hub design is hard to say, but considering performance here is decent but not outstanding, means these i9 Enduro S 1/1 wheels are tough to fully recommend for the asking price.