by Marc Basiliere
September 16, 2013
Light 32mm wide wheels for XC? Yes please.
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?
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.