Industry Nine Enduro S Hydra Review
Cons: Expensive for alloy, heavier than carbon
Manufacturer: Industry Nine
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Industry Nine has been producing quality mountain bike hubs, wheels, and accessories for a while now, and they have a reputation for quality craftsmanship and impressive machine work. Their hubs, in particular, have grown a cult following and are often an upgrade option on high-end carbon wheelsets. Their Torch hubs set a standard a few years ago with impressive 3-degree freehub engagement, but their new Hydra hubs have upped the ante with a class-leading 0.52-degrees between engagement points. Our test team tried out Industry Nine's more affordable complete Enduro S Hydra wheelset and came away very impressed.
The Enduro S Hydra is built with Industry Nine's high-quality aluminum Enduro S rim. This is a zero-offset rim crafted from 6000-series aluminum alloy with a modern 30.5mm internal and 34.1mm external width. The 30.5mm internal rim width is in line with today's standards and pairs very well with the current crop of wider tires. They are recommended for use with tires in the 2.3"-2.8" width range and come with tubeless rim tape and valve stems installed. The rim profile is relatively standard with a classic almost triangular shape. They come in anodized black only with laser-etched grey and white logo graphics.
Industry Nine is known for its engineering and machine work, and the hubs on the Enduro S Hydra wheels are a work of art. These beautifully machined hubs are drilled for 28 straight-pull spokes and feature i9's revolutionary new Hydra freehub. The Hydra hub features the fastest freehub engagement of any wheel we have ever tested with an industry-leading 0.52-degrees between engagement points. This is a 6-pawl system with a 115-tooth drive ring. The pawls engage independently of each other, making 6 separate engagement phases on the 115-tooth ring, or 690 separate points of engagement which is equal to 0.52-degrees. The hubs have a standard six-bolt brake rotor mount and are available with SRAM XD, Shimano HG, and MicroSpline freehub bodies.
The "S" in the Enduro S Hydra name stands for steel. These wheels have 28 straight-pull steel spokes which help to keep the cost of these wheels down compared to their Enduro 305 wheels that come with one-piece aluminum spokes and cost several hundred dollars more. The spokes are arranged in a three-cross pattern. The Enduro S wheels are available in both 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes as well as non-boost, boost, and super-boost axle spacing. They also come with a 2-year warranty.
The Enduro S Hydra wheels have a balanced ride quality that could easily convert a carbon lover back to alloy. All of our testers said, "these are the best alloy wheelset I've ever ridden". They are stiff enough for precise control and handling, yet comfortable with nice vibration dampening. They offer a refined yet neutral ride that we generally associate with more expensive carbon options, and the super-quick freehub engagement only adds to their high-performance and responsive feel. Yes, the engagement is the standout feature here, but the entire package comes together very well on the trail.
Testers found the hubs to very fast rolling with very little resistance in the freehub system. This minimal freehub resistance along with the super quick engagement never allows for any slack in the chain which reduces chain slap noise making your whole bike sound better while riding. When you press down on your pedals the drivetrain responds immediately and there is virtually no lag in the system providing an especially direct and connected feel between the rider and the bike. Despite being slightly heavier than the carbon competition they have a lightweight feel and quick, energetic liveliness.
There's nothing especially noteworthy about the rim shape or overall design of the Enduro S wheels, but the rim stiffness and 28 straight pull steel spokes allow for some trail-smoothing compliance. This is especially noticeable when riding back to back with stiffer carbon options, as the i9's have a more comfortable and forgiving ride quality. These wheels are not prone to deflection, they hold a line well and help to mute some trail feedback in the process.
Industry Nine has been an industry leader in freehub engagement and continues to raise the bar in the market. Their new Hydra hubs have 0.52-degree engagement which blows the proverbial doors off the competition. Before testing these wheels, the fastest engaging freehub we ever tried was 3-degrees, which is really quite impressive. This new freehub design, however, features engagement that is far superior. It is so quick that it feels almost like a direct drive, the lag between engagement points is almost imperceptible, especially when compared to the competition. Industry Nine freehubs have also always been known for their distinctive noise, and the new Hydra hub continues that trend. The buzz is a little higher frequency, and sounds a bit like a small swarm of bees.
Industry Nine has achieved this incredibly quick engagement by designing a freehub that has 690 points of engagement. You read that right, 690. This involves a 6-pawl 6-phase system paired with a 115 tooth drive ring. Each pawl operates independently, or in six separate phases, and when force is applied to the system only one pawl engages at a time, initially. As force continues to be applied to the system, the inherent flex allows additional pawls to engage along with the leading pawl so that no single pawl is taking the full pedaling load. The result is the most impressive and fastest engagement we have ever seen. There is virtually no lag whatsoever, and when you get on the pedals out of a corner the response is instantaneous. This impressive engagement helps you feel more connected to the bike and truly helps to make your drivetrain an entire bike feel more refined, faster, and better all the way around.
The Enduro S Hydra wheels are respectably lightweight, especially for an alloy model. While they can't compete with the carbon-rimmed competition in this metric, they are the lightest alloy wheels we've tested. Despite the fact that they are heavier than carbon, they don't feel much heavier, which we attribute to their impressive freehub engagement and snappy and energetic response to pedaling input.
Our 29" boost wheelset tipped the scales at 1,895 grams with tubeless rim tape and valve stems installed. This is the lightest alloy wheelset we tested, and only about 180 grams heavier than the lightest set of wheels we tested, the Bontrager Line Pro 30 Carbon. We feel this weight is very respectable and likely to be lighter than the vast majority of stock alloy wheelsets.
Our testers put each set of wheels in this test through the wringer. Our team put hundreds of miles on the Enduro S Hydra wheels, and they came through with flying colors. We experimented with tire pressure, rimmed out more than once, rode rock gardens with reckless abandon, and took plenty of airs to flat. These wheels took it all in stride with no dents, no broken spokes, and they remained perfectly true. This is not to say these rims are impervious to damage, as we are well aware that alloy rims can be dented and knocked out of shape. That said, we were impressed by the fact that they survived our testing period with the only damage being some scratches from normal wear and tear.
The hubs also seem incredibly durable. They roll as fast as the day we got them and the Hydra freehub works flawlessly. Industry Nine also backs the Enduro S wheelset with a 2-year warranty against defects.
The Enduro S retails for $975. That makes them the most expensive alloy wheels in this review, and we feel they are worth every penny. The outstanding freehub engagement will enhance your bike's performance with a balanced ride quality that you'd expect from pricier carbon fiber options. If you're looking for a serious performance upgrade without breaking the thousand dollar mark, look no further.
The Enduro S Hydra is without question the best alloy wheelset we've ever tested. If you're looking to upgrade the performance of your trail, all-mountain, or enduro bike, this is a good place to start. The ridiculously quick freehub engagement of the Hydra hubs is their most stunning attribute, and we feel it will make any bike feel quicker, livelier, and higher performance. Add to that a balanced ride quality, outstanding craftsmanship, relatively lightweight, and the fact that they are less expensive than carbon fiber, and it's easy to see why these are our Editor's Choice alloy wheelset.
Other Versions and Accessories
Industry Nine makes the Enduro S Hydra in both 27.5" and 29" wheel sizes. They offer them in non-boost, boost, and super-boost 157 axle spacing, and with SRAM XD, Shimano HG, and MicroSpline freehub bodies.In addition to the Enduro S model we tested, Industry Nine makes a full line of mountain, gravel, and road bike wheels. The Enduro 305 is based on the same rim design at the S with an alloy rim and Hydra freehub, though it employs one-piece aluminum spokes and retail for $1,355 ($1,375 with the MicroSpline freehub body).
Their top of the line model is the Enduro 310, a carbon rimmed version with one-piece aluminum spokes, Hydra hubs, and a 31mm internal rim width. They retail for $2,430, or $2,450 with the MicroSpline freehub body.
— Jeremy Benson, Pat Donahue, Joshua Hutchens