This feature was produced in association with Industry Nine
We take a look at Industry Nine and their legendary, US-made, high-engagement wheels. Carbon or alloy rims, 24 to 32 spokes, 25 to 31.5mm internal rim widths, all of the colours and THAT Hydra freehub.
A bit of history
Although it still feels like a fresh brand to UK shores, Industry Nine has actually been around since 2004.
Why are they called Industry Nine? Apparently the name is because ‘making wheels’ was Clint Spiegel’s ninth attempt at making a successful go at a business out of his Dad’s machine shop in Asheville, North Carolina. The machine shop is conveniently right next to the Pisgah National Forest by the way.
It was only a year later in 2005 that Industry Nine’s first freehub design got a lot of attention in the mountain bike scene. The freehub’s pioneering two-stage six-pawl mechanism offered 120 points of engagement which was pretty much double what anyone else was offering at the time.
It’s this super high level of engagement that remains Industry 9’s unique selling point to this day. The brand’s latest Hydra freehub offers a mind-boggling 690 points of engagement. That’s one every 0.52°.
The really clever aspect of Industry Nine’s freehub design is that it factors in real-world forces to offer a system that, as well as offering virtually instant engagement, is also super strong and reliable.
A very basic explanation: once the freehub is engaged and a high pedalling force is being put through the system, things twist around a bit (as they do in all hubs), when this twisting occurs more pawls are free to drop into place and engage. Ie. there are more pawls spreading the load as more force goes through the freehub.
Anyway. It’s a really clever design that has taken riders like Brandon Semenuk to the top step of Red Bull Rampage.
Explaining the range
Industry Nine’s current range of wheels is extensive and can be a bit overwhelming at first glance. But once you know a couple of things about the naming system, it’s pretty simple.
Within their mountain bike range there are six different disciplines catered for.
- Back Country = Plus and Fat Bikes
- Grade = Freeride and Downhill
- Ultralite = XC and racing
- Dirt Jump = dirt jumping
- Enduro = Enduro riding and racing
- Trail = Trail riding
If any of these wheels have carbon rims, they have the word ‘carbon’ in the model name.
The three numbers in the wheel names refer to the internal width in millimetres of the rim. 315 means 31.5mm and 270 means 27.0mm
As an example, a Grade 315 Carbon wheelset is a downhill wheel with 31.5mm internal width carbon rim.
Design your own
Industry Nine does offer multiple wheelsets off-the-peg ready to ship, which is handy, but one of the company’s best aspects is the ability to design your own wheelset using Industry Nine’s online anolab webpage.
Here you can choose your wheel size, hub choice, rim type, cassette freehub type, axle size, even bearing type (steel or ceramic).
And then there are the colours. You can decide the anodising colour of anything and everything on your chosen wheelset. Gold hubs with orange spokes? No problem. Just want black everything? Fine.
I was lucky enough to be asked by Industry Nine to use their ‘Design My Wheels’ feature to – funnily enough – design some wheels for my particular requirements and ‘style’ (‘style’ very much in inverted commas there).
Here’s how I went about speccing my particular Industry Nine wheelset build…
First of all, I spent ages dicking about on the ‘Design My Wheels’ webpage. It’s a very simple and enjoyable process as it turns out. And very addictive. Ultimately though I eventually calmed down, made a cup of tea, and got down to the business of thinking and clicking…
I was tempted to go down the mullet route but as I’m a taller rider I’ve not been that fussed about smaller rear wheels. So full 29 it is. With regular Boost thru axles front and rear.
I wanted a narrower rim width than most wheels offer at the moment, something better suited to 2.25 to 2.4in tyres (and offering better mud clearance). I went with 27mm internal width.
Low spoke count. 24 spokes in this instance. I’m a relatively light rider (73kg ish) and I’m not overly hard on my equipment.
I also wanted wheels to put on my steel full suspension bike that has coil springs front and rear. It’s very much a compliant riding mountain bike. I didn’t want super stiff wheels. I like the bike to track the ground at all angles.
This is also why I went with an aluminium rim as opposed to carbon. Although Industry Nine’s carbon rims are seen as comfier than most, I still like the feel of aluminium and it suits the full-metal vibe of the bike in general.
What I did want with a new wheelset was a good ratio of sprung to unsprung mass. Basically, if you have light wheels your suspension performs better.
The option of Hydra hubs was a no-brainer. That super quick pickup is what Industry Nine wheels are all about.
Having said that, if you’re not into quick pickup or want to spend a but less, you can choose the Industry Nine ‘1/1′ Mountain’ freehub which offers 90 points of engagement.
As for the anodising colour choice… I couldn’t really decide at first and then I thought of the answer. All of the colours, all of the time. Rainbow for the win!
The wheelset I designed is essentially a pair of Industry Nine Trail 270 24H wheels, with rainbow coloured spokes. OMFG. They came in at 1,585g by the way.
Watch out for a full review of these one-of-kind rainbow rollers very soon!