AMERICAN CLASSIC All Mountain 29″er wheels – Final Review: by c_g
Hello there, with lots of time and miles on board the AMERICAN CLASSIC All Mountain tubeless 29″er wheels, I am ready to sum up what they were like. Earlier this summer I had given you my test intro (here) and reported back after some good alpine riding (here). In the testing period the wheels have been run on the OS Bikes Blackbuck with varying forks, on the TREK (GF Collection) Superfly Elite 100 and last on the new test platform, the ROCKY MOUNTAIN Element 970 (introduced here).
The riding itself was ranging from easy trails surfing and moderate riding, to tough alpine trips with serious All Mountain action, to many miles on my regional trails. All in all they had not seen any service or care (other than the occasional hosing down). Additional to that there were multiple cassette and rotor changes and axle conversions done.
For the FOX fork (here) it needed to be converted from 9 mm QR to 15 mm thru axle and for the Element 970 the rear needed to be swapped from 130/5 mm QR to 142/12 thru axle. All this was done by me without any prior instruction in less than 5 minutes – which means probably any halfway skilled mechanic can do it. All tools needed are two narrow 19 mm open wrenches. Simple and effective. And the best thing, aver multiple conversions and re-conversions the hub is still running smoothly and freely without any drag or play. Good stuff I´d say .
In my tubeless characteristic piece I had mentioned how I converted several different tires on these rims and with some of the new testing samples it probably makes for around 20 to
25 times if inflating and mounting per rim – more than most riders will do in a full year, I´d guess. With this much working on the rims I have managed to destroy the honey colored AMERICAN CLASSIC tubeless tape, which is about the only “negative” thing I can say about these wheels. Bill Shook himself was not surprised, saying the tape is an easily and cheaply
replaced piece that may need to be replaced every once in a while when there is a lot of tire swapping involved.
Other than that the wheels have held up to my riding without ever flinching. Besides the usual trail riding and trips this included quite a few severe crashes, a 10 mile run back home on a flat rear, occasional drops and jumps and a multitude of hits from blowing through the rear tires suspension capabilities (especially with the VREDSTEIN Spotted Cat introduced here) – all without the least bit of damage to the rims. In fact I found myself robbed of the one and only excuse whenever I dismounted to walk a section – I no longer could excuse myself with the wheels limits but had to account my own lack of riding skills for it .
VERDICT: So where does that leave me with the AMERICAN CLASSIC All Mountain wheels? These wheels are strong enough to take a good beating, are reasonably light for anything but pure racing, are easily convertible into any axle standard existing (as are all AC hubs), are designed to work even with the tightest tire beads (incl. GEAX TNT and UST ones), are easily serviceable yet durable and smoothly running. Furthermore they are built of components that are easily replaceable (if ever needed). And you get all that at an asking price of € 720.- (USD $850.- in the US). Any questions?
The only downside I found where that tubeless inflation was harder with looser fitting tires. Some may argue the engagement is not the quickest (which is true, compared to a select few other hubs), but it is on par with most high end hubs, besides being dead secure, so this to me is no weakness, really.
How does it stand in respect to the other existing 29″er tubeless wheels, the AMERICAN CLASSIC XC (at 26 mm width and 1600 g per set)? Considering it shares the identical technology and built, but only wider and burlier rims, the All Mountains simply come as stronger and stiffer wheels for more aggressive riding. Is this and the 2 mm wider tire support worth 200 g in additional weight to you? If YES, then go for the All Mountain 29″ers, if not, stick to the excellent XCs – or if you need something even lighter, wait for the 2012 AMERICAN CLASSIC Race 29″er wheels to become available
(1420 g at 28 mm rim width!!!!).
Is it worth upgrading over your current wheels? Here I´d give you a definite YES, because chances are your current wheels will not find such a great compromise of weight, strength and adaptability as the AMERICAN CLASSICS do.
Take my word for it: The AMERICAN CLASSIC 29″er All Mountains are great wheels and worth every penny! Thanks Bill for keeping up to push the envelope of high end alloy wheels!