New front wheel for my rigid SS ???- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New front wheel for my rigid SS ???

    I ride a rigid '11 Kona Unit on rocky trails. My front end: standard headtube with non-tapered Niner carbon fork, 9mm axle, Flow rim (22.6 internal width), King hub, tubeless Ardent 2.4. I'll never run a narrower tire and may later run a 2.5-2.6.

    I LOVE everything about this bike except the front end which feels a bit flexy. I can't tell if its the rim, fork, or 9mm axle. I've got the upgrade itch and a wider front rim is a no-brainer. I can see myself sticking with the rest of the bike for years, so I'm not anxious to get all the new standards, especially if it means finding a different frame (I'm crazy picky about certain details). I'm thinking of simply moving to a wider front rim (about 30mm internal width) and keeping everything else in place.

    Two questions: should I be concerned that a carbon rim will be too stiff compared to aluminum? Has anyone regretted moving to a carbon rim on a rigid SS? Will I still find the front end flexy due to the 9mm axle? Which is more likely to be causing the flex? I understand its impossible for others to answer these questions for certain, but would like to hear your experiences. Thanks!

    In case it matters: back end is Flow EX (25.5 internal), King SS hub with fun bolts, Ardent 2.4, no discernible flex. Riding weight is 195#.
    Last edited by Ryder1; 12-06-2015 at 08:00 PM.

  2. #2
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    I had a similar front set up. Niner Carbon rigid fork (9 mm), Stan's arch 29er rim, I9 hub. I switched to a surly rabbit hole 29+ rim (50 mm width) with white industries mi6 hub. The change is significant. More cushion, more laterally stiff, and more traction. I highly recommend the rabbit hole rim for rigid front set ups..

  3. #3
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    Thanks. More lateral stiffness is definitely what I'm after. I hadn't considered an aluminum rim that wide, but I see it has a reasonable weight. Interesting. I wonder if it wouldn't feel out of balance with a rear rim half its width.

    I'm neither young nor strong, so I'm trying to keep the rotational weight about the same (or lower). I'm pretty sure something like the WTB i29 would be stiff enough for my needs, without being too stiff, while making the Ardent's side knobs more user friendly. But I'm also tempted to try a 30mm Chinese carbon rim to save some weight (never a bad thing!).

  4. #4
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    I've been riding the exact same front wheel as you for years. My other wheel is an I9 hub to Flow / Ardent. I ride a rigid Ti truss fork. Tire pressure 18 - 19 pounds. Rider weight 185#.
    I don't really notice much flex there. I know there is some. I have thought of going to a carbon rim up front, but decided against it. Living in Phx, lots of rocks on every ride. I decided that having some flex is good when riding rigid.

    I also have a Knard mounted tubeless to a P35. I've been thinking of mounting the Ardent
    to the P35 but haven't gotten to it yet.

    BTW - 56 here.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by azjonboy View Post
    I've been riding the exact same front wheel as you for years. My other wheel is an I9 hub to Flow / Ardent. I ride a rigid Ti truss fork. Tire pressure 18 - 19 pounds. Rider weight 185#.
    I don't really notice much flex there. I know there is some. I have thought of going to a carbon rim up front, but decided against it. Living in Phx, lots of rocks on every ride. I decided that having some flex is good when riding rigid.
    I agree that some flex is good on a rigid bike. But of course, at some point, too much flex becomes a liability. I guess every rigid rider seeks a perfect compromise of compliance and performance. After 8 years of tweaks, I'm finally 100% happy with the compliance of my rigid bike, so, of course, it's time to screw it up! Yep, I'm gonna try a carbon rim. If it's annoyingly stiff, I'll replace it with an aluminum one.

  6. #6
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    Check out the Easton Arc 30mm rim. Really stiff, I'm loving it.

    I would also check your handlebar stiffness. I don't know how much wheel flex you can feel through a 2.4 inch tire.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1 View Post
    I agree that some flex is good on a rigid bike. But of course, at some point, too much flex becomes a liability. I guess every rigid rider seeks a perfect compromise of compliance and performance. After 8 years of tweaks, I'm finally 100% happy with the compliance of my rigid bike, so, of course, it's time to screw it up! Yep, I'm gonna try a carbon rim. If it's annoyingly stiff, I'll replace it with an aluminum one.
    I hear you. After many years of tweaking, I have to slap myself when I start thinking of changing something

    I'm interested to hear how you like the carbon rim versus aluminum on a rigid front end.
    If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains,
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
    Check out the Easton Arc 30mm rim. Really stiff, I'm loving it.
    Thanks. I've heard good things. I'm usually picky about bike parts and research each purchase, but for some odd reason, I have this idea that all aluminum rims of similar width/weight perform basically the same. Not sure where I got that stupid idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
    I would also check your handlebar stiffness. I don't know how much wheel flex you can feel through a 2.4 inch tire.
    Oh, my bars FLEX. After a few years using a carbon DH bar, I replaced it with a light Syntace carbon. Wow. Sublime feeling bar. Yanking on the DH bar was great when climbing, but whatever. Love the Syntace. Is the flex I'm sensing actually from the bar? Possibly, but it feels lower and rears its head during slow techy stuff, and is basically an unnerving wobble from lateral stress, I think. The Syntace flexes, but it's mainly straight ahead impact deflection at higher speeds, which I like.

    Perhaps my spokes need tensioning. Rim is true and I plucked all the spokes (yep, I'm clueless about wheel maintenance). Will have shop look at it anyhow.

  9. #9
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    I'd highly recommend going to a wider rim, and by wider I mean internal of 35mm> and a 29+ tyre, adds lots of cush to the front end, loads and slacks it out just a tad. Also if you're not already doing it or your hub doesn't allow it, go to a 9mm bolt on/through setup, will help improve stiffness, think DT Swiss RWS or an actual bolt on setup. I did this to my rigid Monkey and love it,built a set of Velocity Dually45 rimmed wheels and 29+/3" tyre up front, 2.4" Ardent on the rear, the only other thing I want to do now is move to a 650B+ on the rear to add cush to match the 29+ upfront.

    If you want to improve the ride in the back and stick to a big 29er 2.4/2.5", then stay with a 30-35mm rim as the wider than 35mm rim supports the sidewall too much and gives a harsher than you'd expect ride - if I don't go the 650B+ route, I'll order a Asym either i29 or i35 to replace the Dually45 (39mm IW) in the rear.

    New front wheel for my rigid SS ???-dscn1148.jpg
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  10. #10
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    Yeah, I was wondering if there might be some better options than my 9mm Salsa QR skewer. Good idea. Cant' say for sure, but I think the 10mm fun bolts on my rear hub is one reason the back feels solid.

    A 29+ set-up intrigues me, and may eventually buy one (geared) if I give up the search for a full susser. But my Kona won't fit a fatter tire in back, I don't want to make climbs any more difficult, and the BB height is already 12.7 (yep). Overall, super happy with it, just looking for that next mod that will make it that much more perfect.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1 View Post
    Yeah, I was wondering if there might be some better options than my 9mm Salsa QR skewer. Good idea. Cant' say for sure, but I think the 10mm fun bolts on my rear hub is one reason the back feels solid.

    A 29+ set-up intrigues me, and may eventually buy one (geared) if I give up the search for a full susser. But my Kona won't fit a fatter tire in back, I don't want to make climbs any more difficult, and the BB height is already 12.7 (yep). Overall, super happy with it, just looking for that next mod that will make it that much more perfect.


    That's exactly what I did. 29+(2.8") tire in the front, 2.4" tire in the back, 30mm (internal) rims. Makes for a really, really fun bike. Might be worth a try.


  12. #12
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    I doubt its your wheel. I have the same fork on my karate monkey. Felt what I can only describe as a twisting sensation sometimes when cornering if I had to grab the front brake. Wheels are arch ex / DT with supercomp spokes and I weigh 210-220.

    I converted my front hub to use a DT swiss "thru-bolt" that fits QR dropouts and it seems to have stiffened things up very nicely. Not sure what conversion options there are for chris king hubs, but if you can convert to something similar I wouldn't be surprised if it helped a lot. The surly bolt-on hubs (similar to CK "fun bolts") feel solid as well, though I've never used them with the niner fork for an apples to apples comparison. So that might be an option also.
    Yeah I only carry cans cause I'm a weight weenie.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
    That's exactly what I did. 29+(2.8") tire in the front, 2.4" tire in the back, 30mm (internal) rims. Makes for a really, really fun bike. Might be worth a try.

    Yeah, I read all about your bike last week. Sweet rig. Its part of what got me thinking.

    I love alt bars and used 5-6 of them back in 2007-2011, even ordered a custom-de$igned titanium one. No longer, although my current bars do have 12 degrees of backsweep. Bad photo:
    New front wheel for my rigid SS ???-unit-desert-classic-november-2015.jpg

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mdilthey View Post
    Check out the Easton Arc 30mm rim. Really stiff, I'm loving it.
    I did. And I asked my LBS to order one, to be matched with my current front King hub. Thanks for idea mdilthey - this rim wasn't originally on my radar. At 535g (30mm/29er), it's not much heavier than a carbon rim, way cheaper, and should be plenty stiff without being too stiff. Plus fewer worries of bashing a $100 aluminum rim.

    I'm keeping the Flow EX in the back. The Ardent 2.4 is already pretty tight in the stays, so I don't see much to be gained by replacing a good functioning rim.

  15. #15
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    Finally picked up the new wheel (King, ARC30, Ardent 2.4) today, quickly installed it with a tube, and got in a ride. I needed a tire lever for the first time in years.

    Rim is great. I definitely think the wider rim suits the Ardent 2.4 better, and would say 28mm +- 3mm ID is a nice range for it. Not a drastic difference over the old 22.6 ID, but the bike was easier to lean and maintained a line better. Steering was more natural and predictable. Mid-turn corrections made with less drama. Bike felt slightly more stable overall and perhaps rolled over rocks slightly better. Downsides? None so far.

    Seems like a good rim to match up with a lightweight 2.5-2.6 tire (~900g?) if somebody ever makes one.

    New front wheel for my rigid SS ???-arc30.jpg

    It doesn't look like quite that big or square in real life.

  16. #16
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    are you still using a QR? king hubs can be converted to a 9mm TA. if you've gone this far i think you should finish the job and complete the transformation. if you don't you've still got the same weak point in your setup. i recommend either the DT RWS or American Classic QR TA.
    Rigid SS 29er
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  17. #17
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    try the fat b nimble ...it measures only 2.8 and might work at less than 800g

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by BENKD29 View Post
    are you still using a QR? king hubs can be converted to a 9mm TA. if you've gone this far i think you should finish the job and complete the transformation. if you don't you've still got the same weak point in your setup. i recommend either the DT RWS or American Classic QR TA.
    Yes, still using QR. I looked into the 9mm TA a month ago and frankly got confused. As I understand, the hub remains exactly the same and you just use a different skewer?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by khardrunner14 View Post
    try the fat b nimble ...it measures only 2.8 and might work at less than 800g
    Very tempting, but I'm pretty sure I'd puncture that tire in no time "flat." My trails are very rocky and I've punctured several Maxxis EXO tires.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1 View Post
    Yes, still using QR. I looked into the 9mm TA a month ago and frankly got confused. As I understand, the hub remains exactly the same and you just use a different skewer?
    i swear i've read about people doing it but after doing a quick search i can't find the conversion kit. maybe it is just the rear that is convertible. sorry, maybe someone who knows king hubs better can chime in.
    Rigid SS 29er
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    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  21. #21
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    a very capable custom builder has stated there is no real reason to go for a TA on a rigid fork. i tend to believe him:

    Waltworks Bicycles: QR15 rigid fork dropouts...finally!

    QUOTED FROM HIS BLOG

    You do not need a through axle on a rigid fork. If you want this setup for convenience when swapping suspension/rigid forks on your bike, great. But there is really no performance benefit unless you're 300 pounds or riding a tandem or something. Suspension forks need this kind of axle because they are inherently not very stiff structures (2 pistons joined only by the crown and the arch) and adding a very stiff axle at the bottom of the fork is enormously helpful. Rigid forks do not suffer from torsional or lateral stiffness problems, so a big axle is pretty meaningless.

  22. #22
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    yeah yeah, just like everything else everyone has a different opinion, and i respect Walts. and although it's been thoroughly covered many times over, no doubt the debate will rage for years to come.

    i didn't say it was causing his problem, just that it was the weak point in the setup. i don't disagree that a 15mm TA is overkill for a rigid fork, but a 9mm TA is definitely not.

    here's my logic: if that were the case 100% of the time then why would anyone ever make a TA for the rear of a bike which is WAY stiffer than a rigid fork? and why would so many people be using TA's and bolt on hubs in the back? not to mention not all rigid forks are created equal, nor are the riders riding them.

    all i know is for me (215 lbs geared up) it's better. my old QR setup used to allow the wheel to move around a little during my rides causing the rotor to touch the brake pads. then 5-10 minutes later it would be gone. it's just better IMO, even if it's just for a piece of mind, i don't have to wonder if i feel it moving anymore. i think it's better.

    Edit: i'm just saying if the conversion parts are available for minimal expense, i think it would be worth it.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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