Eurobike 2016: Italian Made Carbon Wheels From Alchemist

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We haven’t heard too much about Italian wheel brand Alchemist before, but they had some very interesting wheels to show off that caught our attentionnduring Eurobike. The company only specialises in producing wheels, and they manufacture their own carbon rims in house in Venice. In terms of their off-road lineup, Alchemist produce two different ranges. A standard line using traditional hollow box-section carbon rims, and then their ‘X-Sense’ line, which features a unique single-wall structure that claims to offer several key benefits.

For a brand we haven’t heard of lot of in the UK, Alchemist produce a dizzying array of different wheel options.
But it’s their ‘X-Sense’ off-road line up that caught our attention. Each wheel model has a number; the first number represents wheel diameter (9 = 29in, and 7 = 27.5in), while the second number refers to the internal rim width. So the X9.33 is a 29in wheel with a 33mm internal rim width. Got it?
Each X-Sense wheel model features a unique single-wall carbon rim that is 100% made in Italy. The rim is not hollow like a traditional rim.
If you cut away the rim, you’d be left with a sort of I-beam profile. The nipples enter the rim on the outside face of the upper rim wall, which means they don’t actually piece through into the inside of the tyre chamber.
Externally adjustable nipples, but do you think those pockets in the rim construction would get stuck up with mud?
Because of the unique single-wall design, the X-Sense rims offer a completely airtight construction for easy tubeless setup without any need for tape.
It looks like a highly complex structure to make, and with the exception of some fat bike rims, we can only think of Bouwmeester as being another manufacturer of a single-wall carbon rim. The Alchemist execution is a little different, but the goal is somewhat similar; providing maximum impact strength, while offering more compliance than a thin-walled hollow rim. During impact, the I-beam profile of the X-Sense rim is designed to flex at the contact point, which in theory, should result in a reduced chance for pinch flats and fatal damage.
We couldn’t get a lot of information about the hubs used on the Alchemist complete wheels, but they sure do look trick! Carbon hub shell on this one.
Spokes appear to be Sapim bladed numbers, with each X-Sense wheelset getting 24 spokes both front and rear. Complete wheel weights start at 1370 grams for the X7.26 carbon wheelset, and range up to 1800 grams for the X9.44, so they appear to be quite light. There are also alloy versions of the X-Sense rims available too.
That looks to be an Absolute Black hub, but we couldn’t confirm whether it was, because no one on the stand could speak English and they were very busy, and we’re English so we felt it was impolite to interrupt their meetings.


Singletrack Editor

Chipps wasn’t around for the dawn of mountain biking in the UK, but he likes to claim that he arrived in time for second breakfast (about the time he shows up for work, then…) starting in the bike trade in 1990 and becoming a full time mountain bike journalist at the start of 1994. Over the subsequent quarter century, he has seen mountain bike culture flourish and diversify and bike technology go from rigid steel frames to fully suspended carbon fibre (and sometimes back to rigid steel as well.)

His riding style is best described as ‘medium, wheels on the ground, trail riding’ though he’s been spotted doing everything from endurance downhill racing to 24 hour cross country racing. He favours mid-travel trail bikes and claims to be wheel-size, gear, brake and tyre agnostic. In fact, his garage spans most bicycle flavours, taking in steel hardtails, carbon trail bikes, even a mountain bike tandem, along with road, touring and gravel/cyclocross bikes.

While he’s happy to chat about bikes all day, his real interest is in the people and places that bikes can introduce you to and he talks as fondly about the trails he’s ridden and riders he’s met as the bikes that took him there.

Comments (2)

    Those rims. In the UK winter. I guess once you’ve spent loads on light wheels you want to pack them with mud in order to stop your bike floating away, or something like that.

    would love to try them but I bet they’re not cheap.

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