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Ibis Wide Carbon Rims: Ride Review

Riding Ibis Cycles' New 41mm Rims

Words by Jon Harris. Photos by Jon Harris and Morgan Taylor.
April 14th, 2014

In the run up to Sea Otter I had the chance to meet up with Scot Nicol and the Ibis crew (notably Hans Heim and Tom Morgan) to check out their new wheels and give them a go on the trail.

If you missed the news release last week Ibis is getting into the wheelset game but not with cookie cutter hoops. Why are these rims significantly wider than most others on the market? Ibis tells us this we’ll get better grip and lower rolling resistance. The wide rim concept is really nicely illustrated in the video Ibis included in the news release but as we all know the proof is in the riding.

Wheelsets might seem like a new direction for Ibis but it is interesting to note they have been playing with this concept for a while. Hans invested in the tooling that was needed to get the carbon Derby rims into production with their revolutionary 22mm or 35mm inner width (or 28 and 41mm external width).  Scot told us that the project flew under the radar allowing the staff to ride various incarnations of the Derby for some time.

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Hubs and Build

A lot of thought and time has been put into these wheels. There is attention to detail that you might not notice on first look. The wheels are laced with standard j-bend double butted spokes in a 2 cross pattern. Pretty standard stuff so far but then you notice that the spokes never directly touch each other due to the thick flanges on the hubs. Hans said that the reason for this was to reduce stress on the spokes and also keeps the wheels quiet, preventing the “ping” that is often heard when the spokes rub across each other.

The hubs are made in Taiwan and are very similar to Ibis branded hubs that have been used on their original equipment wheels for the past year and a half. The hubs seem like quality items and Scot emphasized they have put in the time required to ensure the hubs have the reliability needed to be sold worldwide.

As we know the hubs have cartridge bearings from Enduro and the hubs can be dissembled with two 17mm wrenches. The freehub is a quality 6 pawl system (3 pairs) with 15 degree engagement. The hubs are said to be within a few grams of the DT Swiss 240 hubs which are some of the lighter mountain bike hubs out there.

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Light weight with Enduro bearings and backed by a company that stands behind their products.

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Holes reminiscent of old Campy hubs.

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Thick flanges and two cross lacing keeps the spokes away from each other.

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A whole lotta butts.

The Rims

The rims look to be high quality items with smooth finishing to the carbon fiber outside and inside the rim. The carbon layup is double the thickness around the drilled spoke holes to add strength and allow the spokes to be tensioned up nice and tight. The UD finish is pretty stealth but as you can see from the photos Ibis is playing with different graphics that can be applied to make the wheels stand out, if the stealth look isn’t your thing.

After dipping into the details on the wheels our discussion moved to tire design and how current tires match up with these wide rims. Scot was quick to admit that not all tires on the market today will work well with the wider profile. He suggested that tires with a rounder profile (think Hans Dampf) will work better, though cheekily added that he expects to see some tires offered on the market soon to suit the wider rim profiles.

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It’s difficult to show the scale of a 41mm wide rim, but Morgan’s hands help.

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The rims are quite deep as well.

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Hookless beads and a slight ridge to hold the tire on.

All Tired Up

Scot is currently riding 2.3” Maxxis Minion DHF front and rear on his Mojo HDR and that is the bike that I ended up riding for a rip around the local Santa Cruz trails.

So to the riding. For context here is my current set up. My current carbon rims run an external rim width of 30mm. These rims are wider than average, but a whooping 11mm narrower than the Ibis 741 rims. I run 2.3” tires front and rear, both tubeless with 27psi in the front and 30psi in the rear. So with the setup being quite similar with the exception of the rim width I was in a good position for the test ride.

I started with the tires at a suggested 22psi front and rear on the test ride. Scot was sure that this was probably too hard and that I would be able to drop the pressure over the course of the ride. On the climbs up to the trails I was trying to find roots and ruts to run the tires over to get a feel for how the bike felt. Climbing over a mess of roots it was initially noticeable that the rear tire wasn’t squirming or ‘inch-worming’. It felt solid and the bike held it’s line. As with other carbon rims, stiffness was noticeable and the bike accelerated quickly out of turns without any noticeable flex.

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This 2.3″ Minion DHF helps illustrate the width of the Ibis 741 rim.

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Tires gain a different profile when the internal width is 11mm wider than most current “wide” rims.

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Another look at the altered shape.

Squeezing Tires

As we regrouped Scot came along side to check in. Scot has become a closet tire squeezer, checking my tire pressure and goading me to drop it from the 22psi that I started on. Going with his recommendation I dropped the front and rear tires pressures for the next section of trail and did this another two times before the end of the ride, ending up under 20psi at the end of the ride.

The most distinct difference with this wheel and tire combination came on the descents. It is a bit like the first time I rode a bike with a through axle fork. The bike tracks amazingly well through off-camber rooty sections. I was purposely picking awkward lines, trying to catch the bike out, but fitted with this rim and tire combo the bike has an amazing amount of grip, maintains momentum and doesn’t seem to deflect from what were my questionable lines. Even in hard packed bermed turns the tires refused to roll or squirm under load.

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Crown clearance decreases with the wider rim.

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Installed on a Mojo HDR with stickers that may or may not make production.

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Scot Nicol with the black and orange beauty.

These trails weren’t quite as rough as some as we ride on the North Shore and around BC, so this is definitely a first ride impression. However it was easy to see how the combination of these super wide rims and large volume tires could be a game technique changer.

We are looking forward to getting a set of the wheels to put under the NSMB crew on our local trails to see if the differences noted here in Santa Cruz translate further north up the west coast.

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The same bike ready for gravity racing at Sea Otter.


Go HERE for all the technical details on the 741 and its brethren the 928 and 941…

  • dorse

    I would love to try the 35mm internal width wheels. It is
    ironic that at the same time wheels are getting larger and heavier that rims
    are getting wider and heavier. I’m running the older 26” stans flow @ 22.6
    internal width. Trail kings or Rocket Ron rear and Hans Dampf TL-ready tire
    front. I run 20psi or lower in the front and 25psi or lower in the rear, with
    no problems. Very gripy.

    Stans bead socket tech,(http://www.notubes.com/literature/BST.pdf) makes any
    tire on Stans rims wider.

    A good solution for you 26” guys might be the Stans Flow exe
    at 25.5 internal width and 490 grams claimed wt. on the front and a Stans Arch
    exe internal 21mm and 400 grams claimed wt. on the rear.

    I’m going to try the older Stans flow (22.6 internal width
    and 470 grams claimed wt.) on the back and the Stans flow exe (25.5 internal
    width and 490 grams claimed wt.) on the front.

    I’m a big fan of wider rims and lower pressure.

    • Alain

      I have old Flow on my HD and Flow EX of my DH bike, both with Conti TK 2.2 and 2.4 (realyl big volume) and been running very low pressure (around 20psi by touch. Stopped by Conti booth at otter and they recommended 28psi for my weight byt that felt really hard). No problems and very push feel. Only twice did I have it too low and burped the tire. Most friends got flat with DH tubes at Whistler and I came away with just 1 small leak on an old rear tire… stans sealed no problem. Got big and low psi!

  • dorse

    Seems like my link to Stan’s BST won’t work, but it is easy to find on the Stan’s No Tubes page, at the bottom of any wheel set.

  • Chris Kimberley

    got some 35mm carbon rims coming my way, a bit worried about tyre clearance with my 2.35 Hans Dampfs in Pikes and 2.4 high roller II on the back of my process!

    • Vik Approved

      Running Pike + 2.75″ 650B HDs on 35mm Light Bicycle rims…tons of clearance. :)

      • boomforeal

        there’s a 2.75″ wide dampf?

  • rvoi

    Isn’t “banana for scale” the internet standard? I am not sure how big Morgan’s hand really is…

    • Diesel

      That said, banana size can vary greatly as well..

    • Tom Morgan

      Well, I’m 6’6″. So I guess my hands are on the large side of things. At the very least I wear XL gloves. I’ll leave the banana discussion to the rest of you.

  • M.E

    The problem with such ultra-wide rims is when the knob profile on your tire leaves the slick part in line with the rim walls for rock strikes, potentially making them more prone to damage. Syntace advises against using tires with profiles like the highroller, butcher etc on their w35/w40 wheels for this reason, and those are some of my favorite tires…