When I bought my CX bike it essentially ticked off all the requirements that I had with the exception of the wheelset. It came with a set of American Classic Wheels/hubs. While I don’t hate ACs rims, I’m not a fan of the hub design. After spending my formative years turning wrenches, I have some very strong opinions on hub and more specifically the design of the freewheel mechanism. I like hubs with fine engagements, that are easy to service, and have a minimum number of parts. With the unique 6x pawls (24 engagement points) and clutch plate design, what can I say the ACs just don’t do it for me…
In working with the guys at my LBS (Eastside Cycles) they made me a killer trade-in deal and I had a set of DT Swiss 240s built around a set of Stan’s Iron Crosses. It was a fantastic wheelset. There was almost a spring to those wheels where they would wind-up and then just POW! You were flying. I raced on those wheels all last season and my first two races this season. The build was great and considering how I ride them, they gave me very few issues. Actually the only real issue was me. In my head I felt like the rims were potentially fragile due to their extremely light weight (alloy rims at 385g, dang!!). While I’m not particularly large or hard on wheels, I just kept waiting to flat spot or roll/burp the bead in a hard corner due to flex.
Enter the Goats… Earlier this year Whisky Parts Company released their first tubeless 29er/700c rim, the No. 9 29w Carbon Goat rim. It has a 300lb rider weight limit, a 5 year US based warranty, is ASTM condition 2 rated, an 85psi pressure rating, and is under 400g (395g). OH! And not made in China! Smoking! They have a great, subtile, graphic scheme with a matte surface, gray accents, and white lettering. They come with all necessary information required for the build (ERD and spoke tension) and ship with a full set of nipple washers, extra plush rim tape, and valve stem (the total package).
According to Ryan at Eastside Cycles, they built up well with no indication that there was anything that would come up later. With all the inconsistencies in carbon manufacturing an uneventful build is a good thing. Ryan even mentioned that he might be bringing in additional rims so he could have them on hand for customers looking for a reasonable mid range carbon rim. Wheels were finished out using 3-cross Sapim CX-Ray spokes with DT Swiss 240 hubs (36T star ratchet, but I’m thinking of going to the 54T like I have on my mountain wheels).
Mounting tires was incredibly easy due to the deep center channel. You can set the bead in that channel and you get all the needed slack to mount tires by hand (something that was a challenge on the Iron Crosses). I was a little worried that this deep center channel might cause issues getting them to initially air up, but that proved to be really easy. The front tire mounted with a floor pump. The rear required a quick blast from the compressor, but I’m confident that had I taken 5 minutes to position the bead I wouldn’t have needed the compressor.
Also notice that stepped bead seat in the rim cross-section. I didn’t see that until I had the rims in hand. When the tire seated (around 30psi on these wheels) I’ve never heard a more positive “SNAP” on any other wheel before. I was a little scared that I had damaged something, but all was good and it was just that bead locking in to that downset bead seat. I raced these tires in a fast twisty-turny grass and sand CX course with an 18″ jump that turned into something closer to 26″ once you hit it at race speeds. I was running 26/28psi (front/rear) on a Vittoria Cross XL Pro (33mm wide TNT version) and there was never a time where I felt squirm or like I was risking a burp. Depending on the course, I may drop a pound or two in my next race. The 23mm internal rim width opens the tires up and I feel like there is better support and grip in the hard corners than with the Stan’s rims. When not racing, I’ve been running 35 psi and it feels more like 45psi on the Stan’s rims.
The only time I was surprised in terms of traction was in a particularly hard right corner under a tree where I was laying the bike way over. There was a tree root sticking up and I actually was able to hit the rim on the root (totally rider error). The rim slid down the root and the bike came half out from underneath me. I was pretty sure my race was over and that I would be rolling to a stop with a blown sidewall, but that never happened. After the race I took a look at the rim and tire and there wasn’t even a rub mark let alone any damage.
At this point I have nothing but positive things to say about these wheels and more specifically about the rims. They are a carbon rim so they are stiff and they steer with laser precision. They spun up fast when the power is put to them and then held that speed. Time will tell how they hold up (or if I can unseat the tire when the time comes), but to date I’m super happy. I wouldn’t hesitate to build up a second set as a cross-country 29er wheel.