Sector 9i carbon wheels come with a built-in Suit of Armour first ride review

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Wheel maker Sector wants to prove to the world that tough and durable, needn’t mean stiff and uncomfortable with the new Sector 9i carbon wheelset.

I was chatting with a very well known composite guru one evening, and over a bottle or two of red wine, he turned to me and said “Look! Carbon isn’t carbon”. There were more words, but the rest is very hazy but I believe a 3rd bottle of red might have been involved.

What he meant by his sudden statement is that we can’t look at one carbon product then assume other carbon products inherit the same characteristics and flaws. Carbon is pretty complex and the carbon weave itself is only a piece of the wider puzzle.

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Carbon isn’t carbon!

Designers need to take weave, and layup into account when designing carbon components, and now we’re seeing a lot of brands focus on adding materials and working with more advanced resins.

Still, you could give that guru above and I the same carbon, layup specs, and resins and his carbon component will last and mine will fall apart.

So carbon isn’t carbon. Making carbon components is a process, a very tricky one to get right but more and more brands are finally doing just that and at more and more affordable prices.

Sector 9i Carbon Wheelset

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Oh, now these look interesting!

Sector is a wheel brand brought to us by the same people behind Kinesis bikes. The company specialises in lightweight, high-performance wheels. Sector likes to build wheels that will last many many seasons, and offer great reliability and serviceability. If you’re a cyclocross rider you may have seen the Sector CT30 wheelset already, but the new 9i is a totally different set of hoops.

The Sector 9i wheels are carbon hoops aimed at trail and enduro rider, and for peace of mind these £1100 wheels boast a lifetime warranty.

Sector 9i carbon wheels
A good name for an American Wrestler too.

As I’ve already mentioned above, carbon isn’t carbon, and this is especially true for the Sector 9i, as they use a combination of carbon and TeXtreme. TeXtreme isn’t a Texan BBQ / Bungy Jumping emporium (although it SO definitely should be), but a Spread Tow fabric made of Innegra and T700 carbon fibres.

Innegra is a fibre derived from polypropylene that exhibits a high strength-to-weight ratio, high resistance to damage and excellent vibration damping. In addition to these properties, which make it sound like the best wheel material ever discovered, TeXtreme requires less resin for a lower weight.

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Rim tape comes fitted.

When laid out and built into a wheel, the TeXTreme-made Sector 9i wheels offer a claimed 50% more vertical compliance when compared to a unidirectional T700 carbon rim of the same profile. Apparently, under laboratory testing a standard T700 rim deflects 10.55mm whereas the 9i deflected 15.74mm.

Why is this important? Well, a more compliant wheel is less likely to spontaneously explode as it will absorb shock better. This shock-absorbing also benefits rider comfort and greatly improves grip too.

Sector 9i carbon wheels
The 9i look like nothing else.

The layup of the Sector 9i rims means that this Spread Tow fabric is used on the outer layer of the rim which along with those rather useful properties also gives the 9i wheelset a distinctive checkerboard pattern.

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Sector hubs with straight-pull spokes.

Specifications for the rim are a 29mm internal width, 35mm external width. The hoops are laced with triple butted straight-pull spokes, 28 spokes front, and rear. Hubs are Sector branded with Boost spacing, SuperBoost is also available. The hubs roll on hyper smooth Revo Cream bearings and the rear hub uses a six pawl, 72 tooth engagement freehub.

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Sector 9i wheels come with valves, tape, and sealant.

Sector ships the 9i carbon wheels with valves, and rim tape pre-installed and even ships out Effetto Mariposa sealant in the box too, so all you need to do is add tyres and away you go.

Our test wheels came with an SRAM XD freehub. Shimano HD is also available and Microspline is planned too.

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Time to test that warranty.

Weight for these 29in wheels is 1700g and a pair will cost you £1100, however, if you wanted to build your own wheels you can buy the rim for £450 which weighs just 428g.

Sector 9i Carbon Wheelset – The Ride

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Not BC.

How do they ride? Well, they ride a lot like a good quality alloy wheel does, but with a little less rolling resistance which is nice on climbs and when sprinting out of corners.

Some carbon rims tend to be overly stiff, which might be great for a World Class Pro rider, but for me, I like my wheels to offer a level of compliance that helps me maintain contact with the ground and won’t give me arm pump after a rocky descent.

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Great summer we’re having….

The Sector 9i delivers. While notably lighter on the bike, and thus giving my long-travel 29er a more playful and lively ride, the compliance ensured my tyres held my poor line choice and dispersed shocks that might have normally found their way to my wrists.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve ridden the Sector 9i in all manner of terrain from loam, and mud to rocks and roots and I genuinely can’t fault them. They’ve performed very well and have lived up to the promise Sector made about compliance.

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Checkerboard pattern matches the Meta AM nicely.

If there is one point to mention it would be the checkerboard finish. It looks pretty good on this Commencal Meta AM 29, but on other bikes, it can look a little odd. I do hope a more subtle option might be offered alongside it, perhaps black and dark grey?

Sector 9i Carbon Wheelset – Conclusion

Sector 9i carbon wheels
Carbon wheels with body armour.

Being a first ride review I can’t comment too much about the longevity of the wheels, but I do plan on punishing them more, and I may even let our resident wheel destroyer, Ross, on them at some point, but I’ve every confidence that they’ll live.

At 1700g a pair for 29in wheels they’re a good weight and you can feel that when riding. The lifetime warranty and crash replacement policy also give me peace of mind and help me relax when I hear that inevitable rim to rock clang.

I’ll be revisiting the Sector 9i carbon wheels again in an updated longterm review, but if you have any question about them now please head to the comments section and let me know.

Sector 9i Carbon Wheelset – Specifications

  • Weight // 1700g for a 29in wheelset, 428g rim only.
  • Rim // 29mm internal, 35mm external.
  • Rim Material // T700 Unidirectional Carbon Fibre with TexTreme Spread Tow Hybrid Outer layer.
  • Spokes // Pillar 2016 triple butted | 28h front and rear | straight pull.
  • Nipples // Brass
  • Hubs: CNC stright pull | Revo Cream Bearings |Boost and SuperBoost available.
  • Freehub // 6 pawl, 72 tooth engagement, 5-degree pickup.
  • Tyre compatibility // 2.2in – 2.6in.
  • Warranty // Lifetime Warranty / Crash Replacement Policy.
  • In the box // Valves, pre-taped wheels, sealant.
  • Availability // From LBS or Sector website
  • Price // £1099.99 wheelset. £450 per rim.
  • From: Sector –

Review Info

Brand: Sector
Product: 9i
From: Upgrade
Price: £1100
Tested: by Andi Sykes for 2 weeks

Andi is a gadget guru and mountain biker who has lived and ridden bikes in China and Spain before settling down in the Peak District to become Singletrack's social media expert. He is definitely more big travel fun than XC sufferer but his bike collection does include some rare hardtails - He's a collector and curator as well as a rider. Theory and practice in perfect balance with his inner chi, or something. As well as living life based on what he last read in a fortune cookie Andi likes nothing better than riding big travel bikes.

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Comments (5)

    Maybe middle age is well and truly upon me but I think these look mint! I look forward to reading the long term review.

    Sounds like just the sort of wheels that’d suit my bike, but I’m not sure about the looks of them. Think I’ll wait to see if they offer a more stealth option.

    “they ride a lot like a good quality alloy wheel does, but with a little less rolling resistance”
    Interesting claim… how did you perceive or measure that? And where do you think the difference came from?
    Perhaps you actually mean they’re lighter…?

    Nice wheels, But what about a review of that bike

    “How do they ride? Well, they ride a lot like a good quality alloy wheel does, but with a little less rolling resistance which is nice on climbs and when sprinting out of corners.”

    Were you not using tyres?

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