It’s easy not to think about your wheels when there are more exciting components to look at, like a shiny new fork. That is, until your freehub blows up in the middle of nowhere, or you taco a rim on what maybe wasn’t even that big of a jump. The last thing you want, or expect, is for your wheel to detonate without warning.
Whether you’re building a bike or upgrading your existing ride, wheels are a great place to spend money. Not only do they affect the performance of the bike, but they’re something that can make or break a ride and can easily be broken. While there are plenty of budget wheel options out there, for the most part you really do get what you pay for. Remember the old adage “buy cheap, buy twice”? Let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s nice to save money, but it’s neither wallet-friendly nor practical to be replacing wheels or rims rims frequently. Spend a decent amount of money on your wheels though, and you could have a wheel set for life.
Enter the Industry Nine Enduro 305 V3 wheelset. Rolling on alloy rims, with customisable alloy spokes and the top-end Hydra hubs, the Enduro 305s are built to be tough, high performance, and amazing looking. Before riding them I could definitely say that they nailed that last point. From the beginning, Industry Nine allows riders to fully customize wheel sets with an online “design my wheels” tool. In addition to hub configuration, buyers can choose the color of the hubs, valves, and each individual spoke, from mild to as wild. The kind folks at Industry Nine allowed me to choose custom colors for my test wheel set, so I chose silver and purple to match my bike.
Let’s take a look at specs. The Enduro 305 rim is freshly redesigned, with a shallower profile said to improve radial compliance, a wider bead wall to help protect against pinch flats, and a wider overall rim width for lateral stiffness. The Enduro 305 still has a 30.5mm inner width designed around your favorite 2.3-2.6″ tires. Laced with 32 spokes, the Enduro 305 wheel set is designed for strength rather than weight. That said, coming in at 1810g for my set, including valves and tape, the weight is comparable to some carbon wheel sets and drops a couple of hundred grams off the stock wheel set on my Giant Reign 29 Advanced 1, which admittedly was not heavy in the first place.
The Hydra hub is available with freehubs to suit any drivetrain and can have either a centerlock or 6-bolt disc rotor configuration. With 690 points of engagement coming from a 115 tooth drive ring, and six continuous phase pawls, riders get an incredible 0.52º of engagement. That’s as close to instant as you can get without a clutch-type freehub.
Industry Nine says that the problem with a lot of pawl-type freehubs is that to make it strong many manufacturers phase their pawls at the same time. Due to flex in the axle this means that occasionally only one pawl will engage, which puts a lot of load through that one pawl and can lead to failure. The Hydra hubs are designed to work with the inherent flex, and have all of the pawls phased slightly after one another. What this means is that each pawl engages separately, however when you put power down the hub axle intentionally flexes between the freehub and the hub body so more pawls come into contact with the ratchet ring. This can include as many as three or four of the six pawls. Stronger riders that typically might destroy freehubs will instead have a stronger engagement with more pawls engaged.
So how about those aluminum spokes? Industry Nine say that with the cross-sectional area being 25-30% larger than a regular 14g or 2.0mm regular steel spoke, they’re roughly equal in tensile strength. They are also straight pull, which makes them stronger than a J-bend as it reduces areas where you will find stress risers – i.e. at the bend. Now this is the same theory with steel straight pull spokes, however steel straight pull spokes narrow in the middle to remove stress risers from the ends. The I9 aluminum spokes actually get fatter at the threads rather than narrower in the middle. This means a much stronger thread interface and less chance for fatigue.
Different to a traditional steel straight pull spoke these spokes also do not use nipples, instead threading right into the hub. This removes another part from the equation and thus reduces complexity and removes a possible failure mode. That said, I am curious about the longevity of the hubs. There’s a potential for corrosion or for the threads to get damaged when removing or re-fitting spokes. It’s difficult to damage a normal J-bend hub beyond use, so this is a bit of a concern for me. Essentially damaging one thread in the hub shell could render the entire wheel useless. No matter you think about aluminum spokes, there’s no denying that they look ultra cool.
Riding the Enduro 305 V3
When jumping onto the Enduro 305 wheels I immediately felt a little extra stiffness over the stock wheelset. The difference is fairly minor, though definitely adds some extra precision to the steering and back end of the bike. While minor, it’s the sort of incremental improvement that makes bikes much stiffer and stronger than they were ten years ago. In terms of increased vertical compliance I found this harder to detect, and I tend to find that minute changes in tire pressure make more difference here.
The biggest change in ride feel on these wheels is the engagement. For anyone who hasn’t ridden on a high-engagement hub before, it’s hard to explain just how good it feels. Particularly in a place like the North Shore where there are so many tight and technical trail features where an extra quarter of a pedal stroke can make the difference between cleaning a section and not. That ability to throw a quick pedal stroke in is invaluable. Being able to do this almost instantly makes these sections so much easier and makes the bike feel so much more responsive and lively.
Unfortunately this high engagement means that Industry Nine hubs are well known for their noise, though because the Hydra has more and smaller teeth it’s actually quieter than the brand’s Torch hubs. Personally I don’t mind the angry wasp noise, but some people like a quiet hub. Thankfully I9 recognizes this and recommends using either Dumonde Tech freehub grease for a quiet hub, or Dumonde Tech freehub oil if you like it loud.
In terms of strength, this is where I’m really impressed. I’ve been riding these wheels for a couple of months now on the rocky and technical North Shore of Vancouver. This summer I destroyed two different rear wheels on the first ride, with a Cush Core. Does this say more about my riding or the wheels? I’m not too sure, but what I can say is that the Enduro 305 wheels have been pretty much bomb-proof. I started off riding them relatively carefully to test the waters because after all, they’re still an alloy rim. After a little while of the wheels running straight and true I decided to give them hell. I have tried multiple runs down some of the roughest, rockiest trails the Shore has to offer, like Ned’s, 7th Secret, Pipeline, all about as fast as I could manage with little regard for the wheels. Incredibly, the rims remain 100% ding-free and still tight and true.
The only real issue I had was the stock rim tape on the rear gave up after about 20 hours of riding and needed re-taping. This is admittedly a pretty minor issue and easily fixed but did cut one of my rides short.
I will admit to a spoke-bending incident, though I’m not sure how it happened. It could have simply been a branch in my wheel. The wheels come with replacement spokes, but I just bent the offending spoke back to mostly straight and re-tensioned and amazingly the wheel ran straight with pretty much no work. Despite my reservations about the alloy spokes, they use the same spoke wrench as any other regular nipple and so the truing process is the same. The deflection is also the same as a regular spoke so I was able to use my regular tension-meter and the wheel has been arrow-straight ever since.
In terms of the hubs, they’re pretty straight forward to work on. Requiring no specialist tools, the freehub simply pulls off making it really easy to clean and grease the ratchet mechanism. The bearings pop out with the hub axle and just use regular drifts to re-fit. The same goes for the front hub: just two end caps, two bearings, and an axle. Industry Nine sells single or full bearing sets to service your Hydra hubs, though the bearings are all pretty common and should be available at your local bike shop. After two months of riding in extreme wet conditions, the rear hub shell bearings are starting to feel a little rough. While I wouldn’t change them quite yet, I would’ve hoped them to last a little longer. The front hub bearings are fine.
Coming in at $1,355 for an aluminum wheel set (available at Worldwide Cyclery and other online retailers), these wheels are not cheap. But for the price, you get something really special. You can fully customize the wheels to your own color scheme, and the hubs are about as high quality as they come. These are in my experience some of the best and strongest alloy wheels on the market, and combined with the Industry Nine crash replacement discount on rims (20% on $120 retail) and in-house servicing and rebuilding at $75/wheel, it’s a relatively inexpensive prospect to keep them running well into the future. The Industry Nine Enduro 305 V3 is an amazing hard-charging wheel set for somebody wanting high end wheels who maybe can’t afford or doesn’t want carbon.
- Super strong rims
- Incredible near-instant engagement
- Possibly the best looking, most customizable wheels out there
- Easily serviceable including spokes and hubs
- Bearing life is not the best
- Rim tape gave up early on