Industry Nine Trail S Wheelset review – handmade in the USA

Are Industry Nine's alloy all-rounder wheels worth the high price?

Close up of a mountain bike wheel
(Image: © GuyKesTV)

BikePerfect Verdict

Durable all rounder USA made wheelset with great hubs, but expensive for alloy and potential insert fit and alloy nipple issues.

Pros

  • +

    Excellent 1/1 hubs

  • +

    Well balanced ride feel

  • +

    Physically and cosmetically durable

  • +

    All freehub options covered

  • +

    Easy to source J-bend spokes

Cons

  • -

    Expensive in a competitive segment

  • -

    Mid weight not “lightweight”

  • -

    Alloy nipples

  • -

    Tall valves can cause insert issues

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Industry Nine’s Trail S wheelset is a durable all-round, mid-width wheel based around their excellent 1/1 hubs. They’re expensive compared to the best value MTB wheels though.

Design and build

The Trail S are designed as a new ‘affordable’ option compared to the custom configured, alloy spoke wheels they made their name with. That means you get 28 standard J-bend, plain gauge Sapim spokes laced up 3 cross in both the front and rear wheels with alloy rather than brass nipples (but more on that glitch later). 

The solid flange 1/1 hubs don’t look anything special externally but they’re made to very high tolerances with a dual-phase drive engagement system giving 90 points of engagement. You can specify SRAM XD, Shimano HG or MicroSpline freehubs and they’re one of the few wheel sets available in SuperBoost too. The same rims are available with the super fast engagement Hydra hubs for $985 / £995 too.

The rims are conventional, with no asymmetric offset or obviously aggressive rim bed shaping. The claimed 27mm internal is actually closer to 28mm and they come taped with silver tubeless valves already fitted.

Industry Nine Trail S 1/1 front wheel

The 28mm internal rim is broad enough for 2.5in tires to be stable at low pressures (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

The valves are much taller than most internally – which is designed to keep them clear of sealant to avoid clogging. You’ll need to hoik the tire over them to fit though and the open end means potential fit/apple core/blocked end issues if you’re running an insert.

Industry Nine’s 1/1 hubs are becoming increasingly common on other wheel builds and I’ve used multiple sets for months at a time with zero issues. 4-degree pick up isn’t quite as quick as their flagship Hydra hubs, but it’s still fast enough to avoid any clunky lag. Fast pick up always flatters weight when it comes to responsive feel, and the Trail S feel perky enough when hustling. The aggressive freehub buzz will definitely have the desired ‘hurry up’ effect if you’re coasting behind another rider.

The 28mm width also nips in tires slightly to create a rounder shape that rolls slightly faster and springier than a 29/30mm rim. The 3-cross J-bend spoke arrangement gives a softer feel than shorter spokes which translates to good traction and smooth flow where stiffer wheels can stutter and twang off-line. That means 2.35/2.4in tires (which are generally only 2.25in anyway in reality) are their sweet spot. It’s still broad enough to handle a big 2.5in tire like Teravail’s Kessel without burping at low pressure though. 

Whatever tire I ran and despite several good clunks off hard edges, the Trail S never showed any signs of denting or running out of true and the spoke tensions before and after testing had barely changed. That’s particularly good news as alloy nipples are easier to damage if you have to re-tension spokes. That’s why I’m surprised that Industry Nine haven’t gone with brass nipples, considering that straight gauge spokes are already heavier and it’s the only durability glitch in the whole wheelset.

The wheels are very tough cosmetically though and given the super dry conditions we’ve had in the UK recently, the laser etched rims and machined hubs went back to distributors Lyon looking essentially brand new after just a quick blow round with an air line.

Industry Nine Trail S 1/1 rear hub

The 1/1 hub is an increasingly common choice on bikes and wheelsets for it's durability and responsiveness (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Verdict

In terms of performance the Trail S are a really well balanced wheel with cosmetically and impact durable rims on already very well proven hubs that come in all the standards you’re likely to need. Their balanced ride feel is versatile enough to feel good on a lot of different bike and trail tires, especially if you prefer mid width rather than 2.4/2.5in tires.

The only major issue that I have is that you can get wheelsets at half the price which basically offer the same performance. While admittedly some of those wheels are likely to wear out their bearings more rapidly than the i9s, but you could buy two sets of them for the price of the Trail S. The Industry Nines have potential alloy nipple and tall valve/tire insert issues too.

Tech specs: Industry Nine Trail S

  • Price: From $755 / £745
  • Sizes: 29 Boost or Superboost, 27.5 Boost
  • Options: SRAM XD, Shimano HG or MicroSpline freehubs
  • Weight: 850g + 980g = 1830g 
Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect's since we launched in 2019. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He spent a few years working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.


Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Forbidden Druid V2, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg