Industry Nine Hydra Enduro S Carbon Review: 3,000 Miles In
After 3,000 miles of use and abuse, Logan reports back on one of his favorite wheelsets, the Industry Nine Hydra Enduro S Carbon. Find his full long-term review here…
This isn’t our first rodeo with Industry Nine’s Enduro S wheels. You can find a review of the venerable alloy Enduro S linked in the Related Content grid at the bottom of the post. However, after I9 expanded the product line to include a carbon version a couple of years ago, we wanted to give them a run for their money too. I’ve been testing a pair of the Hydra Enduro S Carbon for over two years now, and based on semi-educated estimates, I’ve put around 3,000 miles (4,500 kilometers) on them. That includes both bikepacking and trail riding on my fully rigid Nordest Sardinha and ripping around singletrack on my full-squish Ibis Ripley. Read on for my long-term review to see how they’ve held up.
S is for Steel
I9’s “S” series has long been one of my personal favorite wheel lines. While they’re not as flashy as the brand’s signature aluminum-spoke “System” wheels, the S series wheelsets are still hand-built in Asheville, North Carolina, and feature the company’s house-machined fast-engagement hubs. And what they lack in bling, they make up for with a great roster of specs in a more affordable price point. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t budget wheels. But, the point is, you still get I9 quality wheels, and they’re not as pricey as I9’s top-shelf models—and they’re arguably more durable.
Aside from being less expensive, the most notable difference from Industry Nine’s System Wheels is that the S series uses steel spokes, instead of I9’s signature anodized aluminum spokes. This results in a slightly more supple ride, in my opinion. I’ve tried both and I actually prefer steel spokes over aluminum for the ride quality, which I’ll get to later. But before I dig in, let me quickly summarize the S series lineup of options. There are two main wheelset options: Trail and Enduro. The Trail features rims with 28mm internal widths, while the Enduro S has a 31mm IW, made for tires ranging from 2.3-2.8″, according to I9. In my opinion, the 31mm width is ideal for 2.4 and 2.6″ tires, which are pretty much the only two widths I use nowadays. It’s the sweet spot for trail riding and bikepacking.
From there, both the Trail and Enduro come in Hydra or 1/1, and there a couple of key differences between the two. The Hydra wheelsets use the blazing fast Hydra hub, offering .52° of engagement, while the 1/1 series has the 6-pawl 1/1 hub with 90 points (4°) of engagement. But that’s not the only differentiator. The Hydra line also features straight-pull spokes, while the 1/1 get classic J-bend spokes. Then there are carbon or alloy versions of each, making six variations in all. You can also get them in Boost or Super-Boost widths, with a MicroSpline, HG, or XD hub driver.
The Industry Nine Enduro S has always been about simplicity and reliability, which is one of the reasons why we loved the original. The newer Hydra Enduro S Carbon carries on this tradition with the same versatile 31mm internal rim width, the same 6-bolt rotor only hub option, and the same three-cross, 28-count Sapim Race 14G straight pull spokes. These are all features that speak my language. Better yet, the wheels use a single 303mm spoke length on both sides and on both wheels. That’s a nice touch, especially if you’re one to carry an extra spoke or two on long bikepacking trips.
I already wrote a detailed review on the Hydra hub, which you can find linked in the Related Content grid below. In summary, I9’s Hydra included a new phased pawl system that’s faster, quieter, and superior to the older Torch hubs on multiple fronts. Quicker engagement aside, the biggest advancement came with the bearing and axle redesign. As stated in that review, I had no issues after 1,000 miles, and haven’t even had to service these after 3,000 miles. Granted, I used two freehubs throughout the test (one XD and one MicroSpline), and it could use some fresh grease, as you can see in the photos below. But I haven’t had to replace any bearings, and there’s no bearing play to speak of, which is pretty impressive.
Setup and Ride Feel
Most exciting, the Industry Nine Hydra Enduro S Carbon wheels get these beautiful stealthy carbon rims. The rims feature a hookless bead and a nice, clean aesthetic. They arrived at my door taped with tubeless valves in place. Tire installation was quick and easy with a floor pump. Note that these aren’t the same carbon rims used in I9’s high-end, fully North American-made System wheels. The rims on the carbon S series wheels are made by Reynolds in Asia to keep the price down. Although they probably aren’t as light, either, they still have that reduced rolling weight feel that’s the main benefit I love about carbon wheels. All told, the set weighs 1,778 grams (946g/823g R/F) grams, which makes them about 110 grams lighter than their alloy Enduro S counterparts (998g/890g)—actual weights for 29er versions, taped with valves.
Not only are they easy on the scales and the eyes, I9 ticked a lot of other boxes with these rims, and they seem to have figured out the magical recipe for ride feel too. I’m guessing that this has as much to do with the spoke count as it does with the carbon layup on the rims, but I found the Hydra Enduro S Carbon to be one of the nicest feeling carbon wheelsets I’ve ridden. Generally speaking, they seem to offer a solid balance of sure-footed accuracy with enough of a supple quality to take the edge off and not feel overly harsh.
As mentioned in the intro, I used these wheels largely on a rigid Nordest Sardihna. It had been a while since I rode aggressive singletrack on a rigid bike, but I got into it with the Sardinha. Anyone who’s been there knows that that translates to a beat down on the body and on components alike. These rims saw plenty of knocks, dings, and bashes on roots and rocks, as well as hard hits and impacts.
After using them on the Sardinha for a while, I moved them over to my full-suspension Ibis Ripley, where they’ve been for over a year. The Ripley saw just as many miles of rugged trail rides around Pisgah. I took them off the other day, removed the fourth or fifth set of tires that have been on them, and cleaned them up to inspect everything up close. Aside from a couple of scuffs on the sides of the rims, there’s no evidence of damage whatsoever. And, as mentioned, everything seems true and intact, and the hubs are still running smoothly and feel solid. I’m planning on giving them some fresh grease and moving them over to another build this week. I expect them to keep on ticking—or buzzing, I suppose.
- Weight 1,778 grams grams (29er set)
- Place of Manufacture Rims: China / Spokes: Taiwan / Hubs: NC, USA
- Price $1,850
- Manufacturer’s Details IndustryNine.com
- Offers a great I9-quality wheelset in a more approachable price point
- Fast and deliable Hydra hub
- A well-balanced and responsive ride feel that’s not harsh, but not wiggly either
- Designed with a single spoke length
- Impressive durability after a lot of harsh miles
- Still expensive compared to many carbon wheelsets nowadays
- Not offered in non-Boost hub spacing
- Some folks might find the Hydra hub too loud; but it can be quieted by regularly packing it with grease
While they’re not cheap compared to many budget carbon wheels on the market, the Industry Nine Hydra Enduro S Carbon still offers a great value for the price. It’s a quality wheelset that marries the suppleness and simplicity of steel spokes with nicely designed carbon rims, resulting in a lightweight wheelset with a great compliance to stiffness ratio, plus the excellent and blazing fast Hydra hub. Not to mention, they’ve proven to be incredibly durably and reliable after a lot of tough miles. Frankly, I’d opt to have this wheelset on all my bikes if I could afford it. All that said, the alloy Hydra Enduro S is a great deal at half the cost ($995).
Make sure to dig into these related articles for more info...
Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.