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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 – sectorwheels.cc