Industry Nine established their reputation with exotic alloy spoked MTB wheels but this more down to earth gravel wheel is a great combination of lively responsive spring and serious toughness. That comes with a higher price tag and weight than similar wheels such as Hunt's 4 Season Gravel X-Wide though. To properly put that toughness to the test as part of this review, I fitted the i9 1/1 GRCX wheelset to my custom Landescape tandem and headed for the Yorkshire trails.
Design and specifications
While the price is creeping towards carbon rims, the 1/1 GRCX uses an alloy rim. They’re shot peened for strength and laser etched for lasting looks though, with a rounded profile and tiny hook lip taking the 24.5mm internal bed width down to 23.7mm at the neck. The rims are tubeless taped as standard with basic silver valves supplied with the wheels and they wheels are only offered in 700c not 650B
The relatively thick double butted spokes are conventional J-bend for easy spares finding and laced three cross front and rear. The wheels are all hand built in the US for consistent quality control too.
The road/gravel version of the 1/1 hubs uses the same phased six pawl design as the MTB hubs to give very fast 4 degree engagement. Axles, ball bearings and driver ring are all oversized to add stiffness and durability. They use easy pull out/plug in end caps to switch between 100 x 12mm or 100 x 15mm front and QR or 142 x 12mm rear. Freehubs are either SRAM XD Road or Shimano splined style with Centerlock splined rotor mounts only.
At 1770g the 1/1 GRCX are on the heavy side even for a wider alloy wheel but don’t let that prejudice your expectations. Fast hub reaction means there’s no lag getting them going and the shallow angle and extra length of the three cross spokes gives them a really nicely sprung feel. That translates into a really enthusiastic, encouraging vibe on the trail and I’ve definitely gone much slower on lighter, stiffer wheels. The wider rim base also lets you run bigger tyres at lower pressures which amplifies the floated feel and there’s plenty of space to slip inserts in.
They’re still keen to zip along on the road too, again shrugging off the aero losses from running a wide and relatively shallow wheel. Reduced fatigue over rougher surfaces and longer distances kept me feeling fresher too. In other words, don’t worry about the weight sapping your energy, unless you’re repeatedly smashing long steep climbs where basic physics aren’t on their side.
You don’t have to worry about reining in the enjoyment of your climbing gains down the far side either. After the GRCX shrugged off progressively more punishing riding on solo bikes, I ended up using the hub versatility to fit them onto my gravel tandem (yes it’s a thing if you go custom) to really put them through the ringer. That put them over the 118kg rider limit by about 12 percent and Industry Nine’s two year warranty only covers single seater use, but the wheels themselves didn’t seem to care. They still carried over the same lively ride and easy speed even at higher tire pressures too and the 1/1 free hub didn’t even flinch when two pairs of legs were torquing a 52-tooth cassette up steep crawler climbs. Spoke tension stayed fine too with only some grease weeping from the front hub seals to show for the extra abuse.
Industry Nine’s 1/1 GRCX are the wheel equivalent of going for bigger tires, suspension or a steel frame to add comfort and control to your ride. Yes they are comparatively weighty, but speed sustain and reduced fatigue are excellent and the fast reacting hubs really pep up responsiveness too. They’re tough enough to take a proper battering on the tandem too and long term experience of the 1/1 MTB hubs has been very positive which puts the high US handmade price into the ‘investment not indulgence’ category.
Tech specs: Industry Nine 1/1 GRCX wheels
- Price: $765 / £TBC
- Sizes: 700c only
- Options: XD, HG
- Weight: 820g front + 950g rear = 1770g for XD driver version incl valves