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RBA Test: Industry Nine C41 Wheels

November 13, 2014
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With the explosion of new wheel companies hitting the market in recent years has come a variety of Asian-produced carbon clinchers built from similarly sourced, open-mold rims that are barely distinguishable from one another. When it came to building its own carbon clincher, North Carolina-based Industry Nine felt that it couldn’t improve upon the carbon technological developments of industry-leading rim manufacturer Reynolds. But the folks at Industry Nine did believe that they could create a better hub and, therefore, a better overall wheel experience. Enter the C41, a mixed-breed wheelset that stands apart from its competitors by sporting a stunning set of hubs.

THE TECH
Industry Nine’s C41 wheels begin life as a 41mm-deep, 17mm inside/25mm outside width, full-carbon clincher rim that is manufactured by Reynolds Cycling in that company’s Asian factory. In fact, the C41’s rim is also found on Reynolds’ own Assault SLG wheel model ($1800), part of the brand’s Performance line of carbon clinchers that also includes the 29mm deep Attack ($1575) and the 62mm deep Strike SLG ($1900). Being a leader in carbon wheel technology, Reynolds has a long history of sourcing its rims to various other wheel companies for custom builds and unique applications.

Developed by Reynolds using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, the C41/Assault SLG rim boasts impeccable aerodynamic efficiency for a wheel of its depth. It also features improved handling characteristics over the previous iteration of the Assault, thanks to an updated Swirl Lip Generator (SLG), a 3mm-wide raised ridge that circles both sides of the rim, just above its nose. The C41 rim also sports Reynolds’ proprietary CTg brake track that, when coupled with Reynolds’ Cryo-Blue brake pads, is designed to serve up superior braking performance relative to other carbon clinchers. But the similarities between Reynolds’ Assault SLG wheelset and Industry Nine’s C41 model stop at the rim.

Industry Nine’s focus is on hub design and production, and the brand’s flagship Torch hubset is manufactured inside the company’s headquarters in Asheville, North Carolina, which includes the anodizing and laser-etching processes. Absolutely gorgeous in its minimalism and craftsmanship, the Torch rear hub’s freehub design features a 60-tooth drive ring/three-pawl system to allow for near-instant 6-degree engagement, while the wide flange and bearing placement of both hubs help add some lateral stiffness to the overall package. Both hubs are serviceable without special tools, and they include sealed end caps for extra durability.

The complete C41 wheelset is assembled in Asheville, the rims being laced to the hubs with Belgian-made Sapim spokes and nipples-20 on the front in a radial pattern and 24 on the rear in a 2x/radial pattern. The C41 wheelset runs for $2375 for any color combination involving red, silver or black hubs and nipples, and black or silver spokes. Custom color combinations, including orange, green, blue and others, can be had for an extra $125, while an upgrade to ceramic bearings is available for $205. The wheels come with a two-year warranty on the rims, a three-year warranty on the hubs and spokes, and a set of Reynolds’ Cryo-Blue brake pads. Interestingly, they don’t come with quick releases or rim strips, a move intended to keep costs down and also, quite simply, because Industry Nine does not yet produce quick releases. Look for those later this year.

THE RIDE
Road comfort Generally speaking, the deeper the rim, the harsher the ride quality. The current crop of medium-depth carbon clinchers and tubulars in the 35?50mm range have evolved to the point of being considered do-it-all options for training and racing purposes, with ride qualities suited for both quick spins around the block and all-day excursions. We’d lump the C41 into this group while saying that the ride quality is more stiff than compliant, but should suit the tastes of most riders. Climbing At just over 1400 grams for the set, the C41s are relatively light for their depth.

Add in a healthy amount of lateral stiffness, and these wheels climb much better than most comparably shaped alternatives, but, as to be expected, not quite as well as wheels weighing significantly less. Windy conditions Reynolds’ three-strong Performance line of wheels, which includes the C41’s 41mm-deep rim, is the brand’s lower-tier group, aimed at customers looking for a well-balanced set of hoops without breaking the bank (Reynolds’ premier aerodynamics are reserved for the ultra-premium RZR and relatively high-end Aero lines).

Still, the C41s have a speedy sensation on the flats, and handling in crosswind conditions is only marginally affected (and only significantly noted by our small- to medium-sized test riders). Cornering The rims’ combination of stiffness with just the right hint of vertical compliance makes them terrific at descending, keeping the tires firmly affixed to the road, even on imperfect stretches of asphalt. Test riders noted that the C41s maintain speed well throughout fast corners, right on par with other medium depth carbon wheels. Braking Industry Nine provides a set of Reynolds Cryo-Blue brake pads with the C41s (using any others will void your warranty).

We’ve had great luck with those pads and Reynolds-made rims in the past. So when Reynolds recently unveiled its new Cryo-Blue Power pad, featuring a 44-percent-larger pad surface for added contact and stopping power, we wasted no time in trying them out. As good as the regular Cryo- Blue pads are, the updated Power pads are much better. They provide more than adequate stopping power and modulation in any riding conditions. Durability While we once experienced some durability issues with a pair of Reynolds carbon rims in years past (micro cracks around the spoke holes), the current crop of Reynolds rims are a different breed, and we’ve yet to encounter any durability concerns from a variety of recently ridden Reynolds hoops.

Likewise, Industry Nine’s Torch hubs have given us nothing but positive results over several hundred miles of riding, and they’re just as smooth rolling as the day we put them on our first test bike.

THE VERDICT
You can pick up a pair of Reynolds Assault SLG wheels featuring the exact same rim as the C41s for $575 cheaper-so what are you getting from Industry Nine for that extra cash? For starters, to say nothing of their striking good looks, the Torch hubs are terrific, offering quicker engagement and a smoother ride. The C41 set also weighs 56 grams lighter than the Assault SLG’s claimed 1475 grams, which is all thanks to a different parts list that includes lighter spokes and nipples. You’ll still need to go out and buy rim strips and quick releases, however. But overall, if you’re looking for a do-it-all set of clinchers with the cachet of carbon and some unique good looks to up your bike’s aesthetic game, then we recommend checking out Industry Nine’s full line of wheels.

STATS
Price: $2375 (any combination of red, silver or black hubs and nipples, with black or silver spokes, and black or silver rims); $125 for custom colors; $205 for ceramic bearing upgrade.
Weight: 1419 grams
Rim depth: 41mm
Rim width: 25mm
Spoke count: F-20/R-24
Spoke type: Aero stainless steel
Spoke pattern: F-radial/R-2x (drive side), radial (non-drive side)
Notes: Available for Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo; both 10- and 11-speed compatible. Includes Reynolds Cryo-Blue brake pads, three-warranty for hubs and spokes, two-year warranty for rims.
Look for these wheels a Industry Nine’s website

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