Interbike 2011: New Wheels from American Classic

By Justin Steiner

For 2011, American Classic announced two new wheelsets; an ultra-light tubeless race set and a mid-priced tubeless set.

MTB Race wheels

American Classic’s new MTB Race wheels are a combo of old-school and new-school technology. A traditional 3-cross, 32 spoke lacing pattern connects AM Classic 14/16 gauge spokes to their existing Disc 130 front hub and Disc 225 rear hub. Axle options range from traditional QR front and rear as well as 15QR up front and 135x10mm, 135mmx12mm, and 142x12mm out back.

New-school technology is delivered in rim design. The 28mm-wide (external) provides a 24mm internal width at a startlingly light 340g-claimed weight for the 29” rim (310g for the 26”).

In a move similar to, but more extreme than, that of Stan’s NoTubes, Bill Shook has effectively increased the bead seat diameter of the new Race rim to somewhere near 624.5mm on the 29er rim. This forces a non-UST and non-Tubeless Ready tires to seal better around the circumference of the rim, rather than at the sides. For contrast, most UST and Tubeless Ready beads are numerically smaller than 622mm in order to achieve the same result. As such, Tubeless Ready and UST tires cannot be used on these new Race rims. Interestingly, since the sidewall diameter has not been change, the tire’s bead bundle protrudes slightly above the rim, which protects both rim and tire in the event of bottom out.

Shook feels his solution enables racers to achieve maximum weight savings by securely running tires with traditional beads tubeless with sealant. Also according to Shook, racers are able to run smaller, lighter tires thanks to the increased air volume of the wide rims. AM Classic also beefed up their Bead Barb to ensure the tire stays mounted in the event of a flat.

All told these wheels are stupid-light at 1,419g for the 29”pair while the 26” wheels weight just 1,321g. Teamed with light tires setup tubless with sealant, these wheels could be a killer combo. Only time will tell how well these light wheels hold up and what tire manufacture’s reaction might be to the larger bead seat diameter.

Hopefully we’ll get a pair in for long-term test. At retail, these wheels fetch $999 per set for both 26” and 29” versions, which includes American Classic Tubeless Tape and Tubeless Valves. Wheels are scheduled to be available in January 2012.

Terrain Wheels

American Classic’s new-for-2012 budget tubeless offering for both 26” and 29” wheels retail for just $470. The Terrain Wheels use a new hub and rim design as well as 14/15 gauge American Classis spokes. These 1,895g wheels will be available in December.

New accessories

Available for use with any rim, this 25mm-wide tubeless tape is available in a 2-wheel roll for $14, or a roll for 12 wheels at $50.

In response to a handful of sheared rotor bolts, American Classic will be including their Disc Reinforcing Rings with all disc wheels in 2012. Reinforcing rings will also be available aftermarket for $20. These rings are recommended for use with rotors that do not have a continuous loop of material around the bolt holes, such as Formula’s.

Keep reading

It doesn’t end here, we’ve got a lot more coverage of Interbike 2011, including demo rides.




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