Over the last year, carbon wheels have gone from boutique racer and weight weenie items, to becoming more “mainstream”. Costs have gone down, durability has gone up, and a carbon wheel set is starting to be a must have for the serious enthusiast. Having said all that, we still haven’t found “the set” that we have been happy enough to invest in for our bikes. That is, until we found NOX Composites. I don’t want to knock any specific wheels or brands or offend anyone else out there, but none of the current stuff has checked all of our boxes. Light, wide, stiff, inexpensive, and with a warranty.
NOX Composites, based in Knoxville, TN, produces the XCR-29, which based on the specs, to me, seems to be to be the best “all around” carbon 29er rim available right now. 385 grams, 24mm internal width, satin high modulus carbon fiber, and hand built to exact specs with whatever hub you fancy. Wider than most, and lighter than most, and stronger than most, AND less expensive than most (~$1500 depending exactly on hub choice). They have a good amount of information on their site about their rim technology. Including discussion about how their assymetric rim allows for equalizing of spoke tension for stronger and stiffer wheel. Having said all that, we were pretty excited to get our hands on a set, with the awesome I9 torch hubs, for testing and review.
The wheel set showed up nicely packaged and secured well for shipping. Out of the box, they were setup and ready to go. Perfect tension on the spokes, perfectly true, tape applied, valves installed, well done. The weights were right on target with 732g for the front and 842g for the rear for a total weight of 1574g. That’s right at 100 grams lighter than our weight weenie NoTubes Crest wheels. At a 24mm internal width! Our Maxxis Ardent 2.4 and Ardent Race 2.2 setup tubeless in no time. It was the easiest tubeless setup that I’ve done so far. By far. The deep center channel allows the tire plenty of room while you are installing. The tire beads popped right on. No need for soap, no messing around. I’m very impressed so far, and we haven’t even ridden them yet.
We will be putting these through the ringer over the next month or so. It’s prime fall riding season here in GA, so these will see some action. We’re starting with replacing our race wheels on the Superfly 100 for a 6 hour race this weekend. We’re going to follow that by putting them on our Salsa for some adventuring and training, and finish with a 100 mile race with some great rocky technical descents that will test the durability. These won’t be babied, so we’ll see how they hold up, and what kind of performance and handling gains they bring along the way.