Sector 9I Wheelset 2020 Mountain Bike Review

Sector 9I Wheelset 2020

Reviews / Wheels

Sector 105

At A Glance

New from the folks behind Kinesis UK and DMR in the UK are Sector wheels, offering a carbon rimmed wheelset called 9i aiming to be both light weight, but with a 'suit of armour'. Claiming to be tough enough for enduro but light enough for XC, the 9i wheelset has bold aspirations and a unique approach to creating the ultimate rim.

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The rim has an internal width of 29mm and 35mm external. They're hookless and tubeless-ready of course, but their construction is a little different from what we have come to expect from a carbon rim. The rim is made of T700 Unidrection Carbon fibre, which is not unusual, but where things get funky is the outer layer, which covers the rim.

The outer layer is more complex and combines Innegra and T700 carbon fibres in a hybrid fabric called TeXtreme. This TeXtreme fabric is known as a 'spread tow' fabric, which allows for straighter fibres which in turn create a thinner laminate. This thinner, stronger and lighter layer is applied to the outer of the rim and gives it a very funky finish too.

All this material wizardry means several things for the 9i wheels, most importantly is the vertical compliance which is claimed to be far lower than that of a traditional rim. In their tests, a 100kg load on the rim produced 15.74mm of deflection compared to 10.55mm on a standard t700 carbon rim. This essentially means the rim is more compliant and more resistant to damage as it is more forgiving. Impact resistance is increased too and offers 75% stronger than required by UCI tests, which can only be a good thing.

The hubs feature a six pawl and 72 tooth engagement giving a 5-degree pickup which should be fast enough for most and it runs on Revo Cream bearings. The wheel build is put together with 28 straight-pull spokes per wheel, and they arrive with tubeless sealant and valves to get you up and running. Available with either XD or Splined freehub body, with Microspline available in early 2020. Currently, they are only available in centre lock rotor options but do come in boost and super boost widths.

The final piece of data is the weight, which comes in at 1690g for the pair in 29er form. They have a lifetime warranty, a crash replacement policy all for the price of £1,100.

On The Trail

Set up was quick and easy; the rims are pre-taped and popped on with no fuss. My wheels were centre lock rotors, and although I prefer six-bolt, the swapping of rotors is very quick with a simple bottom bracket tool. The 29mm internal works well with a 2.5-inch tyre and should be fine up to 2.6 inches.

The 9i wheels are pretty transformational when swapping out a set of stock aluminium wheels on a trail bike. Not that it's simply the material that improves things, carbon is not a cure-all for wheel issues. The super-light overall weight of the Sector wheels is immediately noticeable, added to this is the stiffness of the wheel and a good wheel build that has needed no attention.

Shaving several hundred grams off a wheelset makes a massive difference, and the wheels pick up speed quickly and easily. The hub pick up is good, not lightning-fast, but fast enough. The feel and weight of the wheels are what is most enjoyable about riding the 9i wheels. Despite being lightweight and carbon, there is no harshness to the ride and other than the additional speed and reduced rolling resistance they are easy to forget.

Once on technical ground, the extra precision is noticeable and threading a tight line or holding ground on a flat corner is made easier with the stiff and accurate feel of the front wheel. Despite using the wheels on an already stiff carbon bike, there was no issue with being 'over stiff' or 'twitchy' which reinforces the feeling of compliance in the wheels.

Now Sector makes some bold claims about the strength of their wheels being enduro capable and excelling in high impact environments. With this in mind, I was surprised to take a hit to the rim, which caused the rim to fail. For context, The trails I test on are best described as rock gardens from start to finish, so wheels do get a very hard time and I'm a 95kg rider. Drawing conclusions from one impact is hard to do, but a harsh landing on the edge of a rock saw the end of the rear rim. Interestingly, the outer layer on the rim held it all together, and managed to hold air to get me home, which was a pleasant surprise!

Fortunately Sector offers a two-year crash replacement on their rims, and my rim was replaced in the same way a customer would experience in the same circumstances. Following this I was recommended to run a Tyre Invader insert (80g) in the new wheel, and as such the wheel has run perfectly fine.

It's hard not to get hung up on this one incident, but I still reckon that the 9i wheels are a great set of hoops. For those less worried about weight the new DH9i rims will probably be better suited to hard-hitting riders while the 9i wheels represent a great all-round trail riding wheel.

Overall

Light, precise and comfortable, the 9i wheels are an innovative, high-performance wheel that can take some punishment, but as always there is a limit. For those looking to find the limits, the DH9i rims are probably more appropriate whilst the 9i can definitely be recommended for trail riding duties.

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This review was in Issue 62 of IMB.

For more information visit Sector

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By Ewen Turner
Ewen 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.

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