Long Term Review
e*thirteen LG1r Carbon Wheelset
After some complications getting a bike that would fit these wheels, I eventually bolted the e13 LG1r wheelset to a Kona Operator and got out to do them some justice. I wrote a first look article on these, which can be seen here. For those TLDR types, these are e13’s carbon DH wheels, complete with a slick 7-speed cassette. This makes the wheelset very much DH race focused, with a limited range of gearing available. e*thirteen took advantage of the narrower cassette and moved the hub flanges as far apart as possible to increase wheel strength and stiffness. I tested the 27.5" diameter wheelset which has a weight of 1,960 grams. A DH race duty wheelset at trail bike weight certainly peaked my interest.
The LG1r wheelset proved extremely easy to mount and inflate tubeless tires. The combination of the rim profile and supplied rim tape meant that tires from WTB, Maxxis, and Schwalbe all mounted easily with no fuss. The branded rim tape doesn’t seem to be affected by the sealant as much as many other rim tapes. The valve stems are nice pieces of kit too and worked flawlessly. All in all the fit and finish of the e13 wheelset is top shelf.
Out on the trail, I didn’t notice a huge performance benefit of the wheelset beyond the lighter rotational weight of the wheels. Don't get me wrong the lighter rim weight was instantly noticeable and made the bike feel much snappier and energetic, but these aren't going to turn you into Sam Hill overnight either. While I didn’t have any major issues with the hubs, both the front and rear hub started to develop the tiniest amount of play over the review period. I had no issues with the freehub, which still feels tight and snappy.
The only issues I had with the e*thirteen LG1r wheelset was with regards to the small cassette. I was using this wheelset with a GX 10-speed drivetrain, which technically isn't compatible. The LG1r wheels are designed to integrate with 7-speed DH drivetrains. With the GX 10-speed derailleur the high limit screw wasn't long enough, which meant the derailleur could be over-shifted past the easiest gear. This resulted in my having to be careful that I didn't shift the chain into the spokes. That said this could be rectified with a longer limit screw.
The second issue was more significant. While I was able to put plenty of power down in the smaller cogs in the parking lot when out on the rougher trails of the Whistler Bike Park, I found the drivetrain skipped more than I was used to in the smaller cogs. This made me uneasy to lay into the pedals when in the hardest gears. The clutch on the derailleur I was using was not adjustable and I tried various b-tension settings to no avail. Shifting performance otherwise on the smaller cassette was excellent.
I didn’t touch the spoke tension throughout the duration of the test period, both rims still run perfectly true. It wasn't like I was easy on these either, I gashed open a couple tires on Whistler's notoriously rugged terrain, and the rims came away near flawless.
On the topic of tire gashes, the e13 wheels seemed harder on tires than I’m used to with aluminum rims. Even with relatively high tire pressures I pinch flatted a Super Gravity Schwalbe through the tire casing. With narrower beads, and the stiffness of the rim profile the rim doesn’t deflect in the event of a severe direct impact with a rock, instead that piercing energy pushes through the tire carcass. It’s not unique to e*thirteen's carbon wheels and seems to be an issue with a number of carbon wheels on the market.
The solutions are to run higher tire pressures, use thicker tires, invest in one of the rim protection devices, or go back to running alloy rims. Thicker tires and rim protection devices are heavier and undermine one of the primary reasons for going to carbon rims; reducing rotational weight. So while there is a tangible performance advantage to carbon rims, with the e*thirteen LG1r wheels it comes at the expense of running higher tire pressures to ensure no rim strikes.
The LG1r wheelset proved more durable than the alloy wheels I've tried and performed well for me over the test period. I thought the wheels look fantastic and certainly improved the bike dynamics with lower rotational weight. Tire fit was great, and various manufacturer tires were easy to install and inflate tubeless. I didn't like that I had to run higher tire pressures than I like to prevent cutting tires on these wheels. The higher pressures meant a harsher ride and less traction. Issues with the drivetrain skipping were present for me, but these might be rectified with a different / better derailleur setup. For my riding I think I'd prefer a standard driveshell so I could run any cassette. I’m not sure the increase in wheel stiffness of the wider hub shell, and weight savings are worth the compromises of the integrated cassette.All that said, if you’re looking for a downhill dedicated, stiff, and durable wheelset, these are good value for money and worth a look.