At A Glance
Industry Nine is known for producing high-quality wheelsets for all types of off-road biking. Their straight-pull aluminium spokes and rapid engaging hubs have set them apart from the crowd and delivered a performance that few can match. The Torch hub has been a benchmark in hub and freewheel technology for some time, with its rapid 3-degree engagement and durable parts. For 2019 we see Industry Nine go one further and release their Hydra hub, which now has an incredible 0.52-degree engagement.Buy Wheels on
The Hydra hub replaces the Torch as their top performance hub and uses 6 Pawls on a 115 tooth ring to create the tiny angle of engagement. They've changed to leaf springs under these pawls, and each of them engages separately from each other. This means that they don't all 'click' at the same time, but with the inherent flex in the system, they will all support the load and engage together to support the force going through the system. This is achievable by having so many teeth on the drive ring, so a small amount of flex will allow the next pawl to engage.
For this test, we have these Hydra hubs built into Industry Nines Enduro 305 rims and strung together with their unique straight-pull spokes. This puts their hard-hitting do-it-all alloy rim onto the fastest engaging hub you can find to produce a high-performance wheelset. Weighing in at 1870g they represent an impressive weight for an enduro ready wheelset with not a fibre of carbon involved.
Options include a myriad of colour choices including rims hubs spokes and valves, which can be calibrated online. Hub widths include non-boost, boost and Superboost, which is gradually creeping into some new bikes. Freehubs are available for SRAM and Shimano including Microspline.
The 2-year warranty is standard but doesn't include crash damage, and the cost of these fine hoops is $1355.00
On The Trail
I was blown away when I first tried the Torch hub and had to reassess what I expected from the lowly freehub. This essentially ruined freehubs for me and I now find hubs with any sort of dead spot unpleasant at best and infuriating at worst. The question in my mind was whether Industry Nine could improve upon what was already a great hub.
The Hydra moves the bar higher with its frankly ridiculous 690 points of engagement to create a tiny 0.52 degree of movement required to engage. Whereas the Torch sounded like an angry robotic wasp sent from the future, the Hydra buzzes so fast it's almost impossible to discern any 'clicks' above two mph. So this increase in engagement is all very good, but what difference does it make on the trail?
In use, the hub feels exceptionally fast and with zero discernable lag before power is transferred through the system. It's as close to being on a fixie as you can get but without the drawbacks when you stop pedalling but is it substantially better than a 3-degree engagement? It is noticeable certainly, although perhaps not life-changing. My ride experience was still great, but I would still be happy and able to sleep at night with a slightly slower engaging hub.
In the rim department, the 305 represents everything about a modern alloy hoop. A 30.5mm internal width gives tyres a good profile and tubeless set up was effortless. Previously I have used their Trail 270 rim, which was a little narrow and suffered on rocky trails with a few dings occurring during testing. The 305, however, is a real all-rounder, capable of shrugging off the worst of impacts while remaining light enough to carry you around with enthusiasm.
Modern trail riding has moved on, and although this may be dubbed an Enduro wheelset, they've suited my all-round riding perfectly. I love having an aluminium rim and the reliability that comes with being able to take dings rather than crack (not that I had any). With a competitive weight too, the advantages of carbon become less clear. Industry Nine does offer a carbon wheeled version but with a price tag to match.
Stiff, direct and precise, the 305 wheelsets has continued to impress, giving a very comfortable ride combined with the confidence to charge into the gnarliest of terrain. As I have found previously, the spokes have needed to be tightened on occasion, and although they look cool, I do still love a classic J-pull spoke for simplicity. Tightening spoke on the trail needs care, as using a poor quality tool on the aluminium spoke can round the edges if not careful.
Exceptional hub performance combined with a reliable alloy rim gives a true all-rounder wheelset of the highest quality capable of taking abuse without sacrificing efficiency. When alloy wheels are this good, the allure of carbon seems to fade pretty quick.
This review was in Issue 62 of IMB.For more information visit Industry Nine
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.