INDUSTRY NINE WHEELS i9.45 – DISTINCTIVE, RACE-LEVEL PERFORMANCE
This review of the Industry Nine Wheels i9.45 wheelset appears alongside reviews of other all-around carbon disc brake wheelsets in my post The Best Carbon Disc Wheelset.
I’ve always thought about Industry Nine as a hub company with their high POE (points of engagement) and brightly colored hubs garnering all the attention.
Turns out, “i9” also sells all-around, aero, and climbing carbon road disc wheels amongst a broader wheelset line.
The i9.45 road disc wheelset reviewed here is a collaboration between i9 and the rim and wheelset maker Reynolds. After evaluating them, it’s clear these 45mm deep all-around wheels stand out in a number of important ways and has me now thinking about Industry Nine as both a hub and wheelset provider.
When I took these Industry Nine wheels out of the box, I didn’t quite know what to think. The hubs and spoke nipples on my test set are purple, one of 9 distinct colors you can order them in addition to black and silver. The labels are rim-depth, stick-on ones with i9’s large, hub-inspired logos attached.
The rims themselves look like they are 2nd generation, converted rim-brake hoops with a hybrid-toroid profile whose curvature abruptly stopped in time for an unfinished brake track. Yet they are 3rd generation width (21mm internal, 28mm external) and tubeless-ready.
I wondered if I was about to test a wheelset designed by committee, the kind that melds the voices of past successes, exciting new ideas, and compromises needed to meet management’s cost and schedule targets.
It’s a good thing we don’t bias our reviews on initial impressions or how a product looks. Every cycling enthusiast has their own perception of what looks good to them.
On the road, the Industry Nine wheels i9.45s are full-throttle, road race wheels. They are stiff, snappy, and responsive, great on a rolling course and one with a lot of climbing.
While the POE isn’t something most enthusiasts will notice or should care about, the Torch’s 60 POE (or 3 degrees between engagement points) is 2x or more than most hubs, something you do notice if you are doing any kind of competitive riding. Fellow In The Know Cycling tester and USAC Nationals Masters racer Miles felt near-instant engagement when sprinting out of corners or off leadout wheels when he competed on the i9.45s.
A distinctive sound comes from that hub, louder than most but similar in volume to Chris King and new Mavic hubs. Here are videos comparing the Chris King and i9 Torch and another comparing the Mavic 360 and DT Swiss. These hubs or their internals are used in many of the best road disc wheels.
The Torch hubs ride buttery smooth both in the front and rear. They make the wheels roll about as well as any Miles and I have ever ridden on the road.
Smooth-rolling doesn’t equate to ride comfort though. The later is a function of your tire width and pressure and the compliance available in the integration of the wheel’s rims, spokes, and hubs. While your tire choices can improve comfort, your wheels are usually what limits it.
While not uncomfortable and despite trying different tires at different widths and pressures, we didn’t find the i9.45 as comfortable as others in this all-around road disc wheelset category.
If you are a racer or enjoy the competition of group rides, lateral stiffness matters more to you than compliance, aka vertical stiffness. And, the i9.45 has lateral stiffness in spades.
That stiffness along with the rear hub engagement make these wheels very responsive, fast to accelerate, and good on climbs. They also handle precisely and confidently, helping to keep you on your line going through a turn.
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