Prod­uct reviews

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WORDS AND IM­AGES: CHRIS HER­RON

When I think of Crank Broth­ers I in­stantly re­mem­ber those lit­tle egg beater ped­als, or those drop­per posts that never re­ally worked as good as they should. But a lot of rid­ers im­me­di­ately think of those pretty strange look­ing wheel sets out there, rolling around on min­i­mal coloured spokes and unique rim pro­files. While these wheel sets have been around a num­ber of years now, this lat­est ver­sion of the Io­dine is touted as their best yet. Hav­ing owned a pair of Cobalts (XC ver­sion of the line-up) I al­ready had an idea of how these wheels rolled and the highs and lows of own­ing a pair, but more on that later. The 2017 Io­dine 3 wheels are Crank Broth­ers’ Elite-Level All-Moun­tain wheel set. What we have is a pair of light­weight 6061 alu­minium Boost hubs rolling around on two front and four rear hub bear­ings. These are laced to a pair of 6061 alu­minium shot peened and an­odised 23mm wide rims. The 3s come in an­odised black and sil­ver. All sounds pretty nor­mal right? That is un­til you look at the spoke con­fig­u­ra­tion and lac­ing. The Crank Broth­ers wheel sets all utilise their TwinPair Spoke Tech­nol­ogy; es­sen­tially de­signed us­ing the strong­est shape in con­struc­tion, the tri­an­gle, to max­imise strength and stiff­ness. So we have 24 spokes fixed to the rim in pairs via hol­low 7075 alu­minium spoke pins, run­ning through a raised flange in the rim. The spokes are where the se­cret lies in this process. Sapim stain­less steel spokes are threaded to hol­low alu­minium nip­ples in the mid­dle be­tween the hub and rim. Al­though sound­ing com­pli­cated, it is a very sim­ple process that takes the heav­ier parts of stan­dard rim de­sign and moves it away from the out­side of the rim for lower ro­ta­tional mass. Hope­fully this should be some­thing you can feel when rid­ing and ac­cel­er­at­ing the bike.


Get­ting the wheels ready to ride, I in­stalled the Shi­mano cas­sette on the HG free­hub (SRAM XD Driver is avail­able as well) and mounted the tyres. A pair of Maxxis Ar­dent 27.5 in 2.4” front and 2.25” rear were the flavour for this test. In­flat­ing was su­per easy as there are no spoke holes or rim tape and the tyres mount nice and snug. In­fla­tion can be done with a track pump quite eas­ily or the lazy man’s way… a com­pres­sor! It should be noted that while this wheel set is thrown in the cat­e­gory of All-Moun­tain, the rim width doesn’t re­ally com­pare to the lat­est of­fer­ings that are avail­able in the mar­ket. The Iodines come in at 23mm in­ter­nal, a far cry from wider widths now stan­dard on most bikes and wheel sets from other man­u­fac­tur­ers. For my style, 35mm is a lit­tle on the wide side. 25-28mm is where I would like to see the Iodines as they would give the Ar­dents a larger bag size and tread pro­file.


Out on the trail the Iodines felt rea­son­ably light­weight for their in­tended use. Al­though de­signed to re­move the weight from the out­side of the rim to give a lower ro­ta­tional weight, it didn’t re­ally feel as if ac­cel­er­a­tion was any bet­ter or worse than other wheels of sim­i­lar weights. What was no­tice­able was the lack of en­gage­ment in the take up of the driver when pedalling and ratch­et­ing up some of the steeper climbs. Hav­ing got used to the 36 Tooth DT Swiss Star Ratchet and the In­dus­try Nine Torch Hub’s 120 Point en­gage­ment, the Iodines just felt a lit­tle too slow for my lik­ing. What I did par­tic­u­larly en­joy was the stiff­ness of the wheels whilst out on the more tech­ni­cal sec­tions of my lo­cal loop. Al­though they weren’t car­bon stiff, and nor should they be, they were def­i­nitely stiffer than some other rims of the same in­ter­nal width. I didn’t get any tyre buzzing on the seat stays as I have pre­vi­ously en­coun­tered on an­other pair of lower spoke count wheelsets. Long term dura­bil­ity on the Io­dine 3s is some­thing I can’t com­ment on as I have only had these wheels for a few weeks, but af­ter own­ing a pair pre­vi­ously, I can say that a few hits to the rim and side­ways land­ings will have you tru­ing and ten­sion­ing the rim on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions. Noth­ing out of the or­di­nary, but bro­ken spokes can be trou­ble­some. Walk into your lo­cal shop and ask for a re­place­ment spoke, and you will be likely wait­ing a few days longer whilst they or­der one from the dis­trib­u­tor. That’s the prob­lem with pro­pri­etary spokes and nip­ples - most shops just don’t keep them in stock. I would sug­gest keep­ing a few spares in your kit if ven­tur­ing out on week-long trips to the likes of Tassie or Ro­torua. At an RRP of $1099, there are wheel sets out there for the same money with wider rims, more spokes, sim­i­lar weights and faster en­gage­ments, but do they look as good? That judge­ment is yours.

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