In 2014, American Classic rides the Wide Lightning

by 9

Light 32mm wide wheels for XC? Yes please.

New graphics are a win.
New graphics are a win.


No strangers to the wider-is-better movement, the folks at American Classic have long touted the benefits of wide rims and (comparatively) narrow tyres for everything from cross country to all mountain use.  For 2014, they’re driving the point home with a pair of new Wide Lightning wheelsets.  A bit sturdier than the company’s freakishly light MTB Race Tubeless wheelsets (1,512g vs. 1,435g in 27.5), could they be the only American Classic wheelset most riders need?

W i d e
W i d e

Oriented at longer, more technical marathon races and trail riding, the 27.5in and 29in Wide Lightning rims are a massive 32mm wide on the outside and over 29mm from bead-to-bead.  Unlike so many wide-and-light rims, however, the Wide Lightnings’ width does not come at the expense of depth: American Classic’s trademark parabolic cross-section remains.  Also maintained is AC’s aggressive bead barb, keeping tyres of all varieties in place at low pressures.  Tubeless sealing comes by way of American Classic’s amber tape.  Wheels come taped and a nice set of superlight valve stems are included too.

Home and professional mechanics alike will appreciate the wheelsets’ external nipples and 32 J-bend spokes.  Less enthusiastic will be 26er fans:  with 26in making up an ever-shrinking number of sales, new models (such as the Wide Lightning) will only be offered 27.5in and 29in versions.

At the heart of the wheels are American Classic’s proven Disc 130 (front) and Disc 225 (rear) hubs.  All of the usual axle standards are present, as are standard Shimano and XD (Sram XX1/XX0) drivers.  Intriguingly, a Shimano 11-speed hub is also being offered.  This is a dedicated hub with new forgings and flange spacing.  That seems like a lot of effort for a cassette that doesn’t exist, doesn’t it?  Maybe American Classic knows something that we don’t…

American Classic is distributed in the UK by Moore Large.  The Wide Lightning will be available from March and be priced at £550.


Comments (9)

  1. Why no 26 version. There must be thousands and thousands of 26 inch bikes with plenty of life left in them and owners looking to upgrade. Seems a big market to ignore

  2. @chrismac – just another way to force us into the Brave New World of two wheel sizes with sod all to choose between them…

  3. “with 26in making up an ever-shrinking number of sales”

    Really? Surely at the moment there are still more 26″ bikes out there than 650B and more importantly more old ones that people are likely to upgrade with new wheels.


  4. Re Shimano 11spd, that’s the current 11spd road layout. It has a wider cassette than 10/9/8 spd. Dura Ace Di2 Disc would need those hubs for a top end cross build

  5. Chrismac, Dr. Rad, & Mr. Stu,
    From those we’ve spoken with (American Classic included), the rapidly diminishing sales of 26in wheels, forks, etc. don’t justify the tooling costs for a new product. As much as many of us don’t like the idea, it’s likely a business decision rather than a conspiracy. Especially looking at the hub variations offered (3 front hubs, 6 rear in this case) it sounds as though wheel companies and their distributors are putting their development and inventory money where they anticipate the best return.
    That said, Moore Large are stockpiling 26in versions of existing models for those of us (myself included) who want to keep our 26ers on the trail.

  6. I’d assume that they are aimed at people looking to replace their current wheels not OEM. I’ll bet there’s a lot more 26″ bikes out there than any other size. Barmy IMO.

  7. Mlbasiliere

    I’m sure that’s correct in the Oem sector but I find it hard to believe in the market as a whole because you can’t really buy 650b bike til 2014 bikes hit the shops

  8. My thoughts exactly cy, Shimano road 11 speed is well established

  9. Can understand their decision, the number of wheel combinations/permutations now is bonkers. QR, 15mm and 20mm thru axle for the front; what are the “standards” for the rear these days? QR, 135mm thru axle, 142×12? More?

    Add in 29″ and 27.5″ rims (probably in a choice of white or black) and that’s 12 possibilities for the front wheel alone.

    Having said that, I love American Classic wheels, they’re super light and great quality – got a set on my road and track bikes and a set on order for my new CX.

Leave a Reply