US-made recyclable rims and a lifetime warranty you say? My interest is piqued. Evil Bikes recently dropped this new Loophole wheelset with Industry Nine Hydra hubs and their FusionFiber rims that replace the toxic resin found in most carbon-fiber layups with a blend of long-chain polymers. Evil claims “this makes it possible to absorb impacts through microscopic flexing in the fibers and to radially dissipate shock throughout the rim. As a result, rims made with FusionFiber offer a smoother ride and much higher impact resistance.” Priced at $2,200 we’d expect the best trail feel possible from this wheel upgrade, and they deliver.
Test pilot profile height: 175cm (5’9″) weight: 65kg (145lb) testing zone: Bellingham, Washington
All Loophole rims are laced to a pair of Industry Nine’s top Hydra hubs which is a fantastic place to start. A friend here in Bellingham commented that I wouldn’t like how the Hydra hubs hold up in wet weather, but I haven’t experienced any issues. After a few months of daily puddle-plodding, the bearings feel smooth and ready to party. These have largely become the industry standard hubs for fancy aftermarket wheel upgrades, and for good reason. Their freehub engagement is wicked fast, and they clearly have all of the angles sorted as I have yet to break a spoke at the hub flange on the four wheelsets I’ve tested with Hydra at their center. Loophole wheels are available with all of the contemporary spacing and freehub options.
Thirty-two spokes radiate from the two Hydra hubs, laced three-cross rear for maximum stiffness, and two-cross under the handlebar to provide a touch more compliance. Evil used trusty Sapim D-lite double-butted spokes and slightly heavier brass nipples that should last a considerable bit longer than their aluminum friends. The spokes did give a nice ping as they settled into place on the first pedal, and they have since been silent.
The rim, which is arguably the component on trial here, has a 29mm inner measurement that spreads tires out similarly to most modern gravity rims. The outer rim width is 36.4mm, providing a fat rim wall that hasn’t sliced through any of my tires to date, and the rim height of 23.2mm likely allows for some of these wheels’ notable impact absorption in the radial direction. Each of the thirty-two spoke holes is reinforced, and Evil says “reinforced spoke bosses boast greater than 950lb pull-through force. That’s a full 15% improvement over non-reinforced spoke faces.” I haven’t had a spoke pull through in a few seasons, and it seems with these that may never be an issue. Reserve and WTB both have carbon gravity wheels that use a similar fortification, and hopefully, this trend will continue throughout the carbon rim biz.
Setting up tubeless tires with these rims was quick and simple, and both gravity casings popped into place with a light-duty digital pump. I had some trouble keeping the valve cores in the valves while using a pump that screws on and off. I haven’t run into this issue in a while, and it was easily remedied with a drop of superglue on the valve core threads. The wheels come taped, with valves that include a core-removal tool built into their little aluminum hats.
I reviewed the Reserve 30|30 gravity wheels not long ago, and those are a good comparison set to use herein. They both employ the same Hydra center and nipple reinforcement out at the rim, but the Reserve wheels use twenty-eight spokes front and rear, and aluminum nipples instead of brass. The Loophole rims are 1mm narrower, which didn’t seem to affect their ride quality in a meaningful way. Oh, and they both have asymmetrical spoke hole drilling that allows for a more symmetrical overall build.
The most notable difference between these two top wheel upgrades is the spoke count. While you likely won’t feel it on the first descent, the Loophole set does ride slightly stiffer when the two are compared back to back. The Evil wheels still provide enough lateral movement to let you maintain a fast line and plenty of radial forgiveness to reduce fatigue alongside the best carbon rims, while the build adds a little stiffness that more aggressive or heavier riders may prefer. I’ve definitely ridden wheels that were too stiff and kinda felt like shit, even at my weight, but the Loophole set doesn’t approach that point of rigidity. Their added stiffness is more of a confidence contender, helping hold the line and push through the roughest trail segments. If you’re regularly charging toward the limits of traction and your own technical abilities the Loophole wheels are up for that. If you ride a touch more toward the chill side, driving into the edges on occasion, the Reserve set could be the better move. The difference between the two is akin to that of adding or subtracting about 5 PSI in a fork for added support or comfort.
Most high-end wheels are quiet these days, even when the spokes are fully loaded and sprung back between compressions and their requisite exits. The Loophole hoops are no different, staying silent under the harshest trail conditions. There is a snappy radial-rebound sensation to them like the best carbon wheels, and it happens without a whisper. Through all of that flexing and snapping and resisting the spokes have stayed close to their original tension, and the wheels required very little truing during their final inspection. The rear was roughly 1mm from being perfectly true, and the front spins straighter still.
One loophole in all of this positive feedback is that I did manage to crack one of the Loophole rims. I cased a jump, followed by a noise that sounded like a harsh shock bottom-out. Instead, the acute sound was from carbon fiber demonstrating its deflection limit. The rock I landed on would have likely broken any rim, and I don’t have the sense there’s anything the rim designers could have done differently to prevent it, particularly given the weight and shape parameters they have to work within. I was able to ride home on the wheel, which may not have been true for an aluminum rim that could have fully taco-ed in this situation. I called up Evil and they had the rim swapped out the next day. Their customer service folks were super helpful, and hopefully, their regular customers would experience similar support.
Evil sent the following statement regarding the cracked rim: “It is always difficult to understand the exact circumstances leading to a rim failure. While Loopholes rim failures are rare, we take each instance very seriously. Every item damaged in the field is sent back to the factory in Utah for inspection. If a failure does happen to occur, our customers can take confidence in knowing all riding-related damages to Loopholes are covered under our lifetime warranty with quick rebuild turnaround and no cost to the customer.”
|Lacing||32 2x front, 32 3x rear|
|Internal rim width||29mm|
Given their precise build and lifetime replacement warranty, the Loophole wheels are a solid upgrade for any aggressive gravity rider. Can we get a lifetime warranty on frame geometry and axle standards remaining current? Oh right, that would result in zero bike sales — so prolly not.
- Great balance of stiffness and forgiveness
- Solid build quality backed by lifetime warranty
- US-made rims and hubs
- Removable decals
Pros and cons of the Evil Loophole wheelset.
- Like all things, they can break
- Valves could be swapped for better