Not all carbon-rimmed wheels are created equally. Not by a long shot. For many brands, the aim of carbon hoops is to design a lighter set than their alloy offering that is not painfully stiff or harsh riding. That’s a tall order, give that carbon fiber is a notably stiff and sturdy material in most conditions.
The LG1 Race Carbon Enduro wheels from e*thirteen include a few elements that differ from the competition. First off, they have 28 triple-butted steel spokes, where most gravity wheel builders lace 32 through their hubs. So fewer spokes drops the weight a touch. The front and rear hub flanges stand tall, which further shortens the overall spoke lengths and provides space for extra weather seals that should elongate bearing life over the season. The rear hub uses an alloy axle to shave additional grams, and it’s held together by special “floating threads” to capture the disc-side end cap.
The 29″ LG1 Race Carbon Enduro setup I tested came with tubeless tape and valves installed, massively slashing the amount of time it took to get the wheels on my bike. The tape and valves held up wonderfully throughout the test, as did the brand’s Tire Plasma sealant. I changed out two different sets of tires, and the tubeless tape stayed in place despite my prying against it with a steel-shanked lever.
|Wheelset price||$1,299 with either freehub, €1364 with Shimano freehub, €1448 with SRAM XD freehub (front and rear wheels available|
for purchase individually online at Competitive Cyclist [15% off right now] and evo.com [32% off].)
|Freehub options||SRAM XD, Shimano HG, Shimano Microspline|
|Actual weight (29″ tested)||904g front, 1045g rear, 1949g total set with tubeless tape and valves|
|Rims||28h symmetrically drilled carbon, hookless bead, 29″ or 27.5″|
|Spokes||28/28 three-cross, Hive Triple-butted Black steel spokes, black alloy nipples|
|Internal rim width||31mm|
|Hubs||Boost 148/110, triple-sealed, fully machined aluminum hub shell, 6° engagement|
|Included||Wheels, tubeless tape, tubeless valves, spare spokes x3, nipples x3, nipple washers x3, 15mm front endcaps|
The wheels’ wide rim profile is recommended for 2.3-2.6″ tire widths. With a 31mm hookless bead bed, both sets of tires I ran on the LG1 Race Carbon Enduro wheels took on a slightly more angular shape than they had on other rims. I ran fairly low pressures while testing both sets, and neither of them burped any air or sealant, nor did I manage to crack the rims — despite my best efforts.
While testing wheels, particularly those with carbon rims, I try to ride as hard as possible and treat them as poorly as the roughest riding customer might. I recently broke a set of carbon rims, which leads me to believe that my testing grounds are sufficient. I clanged these hoops against countless hunks of granite and limestone, with no inserts to protect them, and they remain free of cracks. They’re even true, within about a millimeter, despite plenty of sideways landings. I’m confident that the World Cup DH testing e*thirteen puts their wheels through is a fair bit more demanding than my personal riding, and I’m thankful that their hard work seems to have paid off. If you do manage to crack a set of these rims, the lifetime warranty should have you sorted in short order.
If the aim is to make carbon circles ride as smooth and forgiving as alloy, with a little less weight and a dash more lateral stiffness, these rims ride just slightly on the good side of a “too stiff” wave. They roll rougher and stiffer than almost any aluminum set I’ve had, but not so rigid that the front end is washing and my wrists hurt while lifting a post-ride pint glass.
With a true DH tire casing mounted up front, the lateral stiffness of the wheel and the tire’s sidewall combined was overkill for my taste. I started losing traction and had to dial back the compression in my fork to compensate. At 69k (150lbs) I don’t need stiff-like-diamonds bike components. After switching to Schwalbe’s somewhat lighter Super Gravity casing, I was able to reset my suspension where I like it, and I adapted to the stiffer cornering characteristics as I would with any carbon rim. e*thirteen recommends between 110-130kgf spoke tension on all of their wheels, and with that range, most everyone should be able to tune the LG1 system to their desired rigidity.
Where the wheelset’s lateral firmness comes in handy most is, of course, when it’s time to turn the bars and dig deep into a corner. Creating a felt-like connection between the handlebar and the ground is something a good carbon fiber rim can do better than alloy, and I enjoy the sensation of the stones I saw a few seconds ago plowing sideways under the front tire. In looser soil and mud this precision sensation can cause a good belly laugh, as the exact mix of traction and rigidity comes together to toss the ground around.
At the rutter end, the LG1 carbon rim’s lateral stiffness is always appreciated. My bike has a coil shock, making harshness out back nearly impossible. It also has tight tire clearance, so stiff rims help prevent the tread from touching the rear triangle. I haven’t heard a single tire buzzing my frame since mounting these wheels, and the fortified lateral posture makes for some fun flicky moves when applicable.
“Degrees of engagement” is the new enduro. Since Industry 9 released the Hydra hub, with its heinously tight 0.52° engagement, every hub brand has been sweating to make their engagement angle more acute. The Shimano XTR hubs I tested last summer have 7.6° engagement, which felt sufficiently quick for my needs. The TRS Race hubs cut that to 6°, which seems like a sweet spot where the space between pedal movement and pawl engagement is no longer an issue worth considering. If you’re riding trials MTB, inching along rock cliffs with minute crank movements, you may have different demands. For most trail riders, 6° will transfer the power without notice.
Though the bomber rims and spokes held up under adverse conditions, the front hub bearings will need to be replaced after a few months of use. Though they still spin okay, they sound and feel dry when I rotate them by hand, and the sealed cartridge bearings are clearly running low on grease. This is surprising given the front hub’s supportive girth, extra seals, and the size of the cartridges themselves. To play fair, I do ride about 4-5 times as often as most components are designed for, and I intentionally sprayed these hubs with the hose numerous times to see what the bearings could handle. The rear wheel bearings remain as smooth as the day I unboxed them.
With a decent price point and average weight compared to other carbon hoops, the e*thirteen LG1 Race Carbon Enduro wheels are for folks who want the added stiffness of carbon without the additional fragility. These rims are tough, the spokes and nipples have held up as expected, and the front bearings would likely last a whole season if not blasted with water multiple times a day. The brand also offers the hubs and rims separately if you would prefer to build your wheels up with different components. Check out the e*thirteen website for additional info.