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Added a new video Team Robot: Gravity Fed Vol. 1 9/5/2014 9:00 AM
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Charlie Sponsel embraces cross training. #tacoboarding

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Added a product review for Atomlab DHR SL 650b Wheelset 8/19/2014 10:09 AM
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Tested: Atomlab DHR SL 650B Wheelset

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Cory Tepper // Photos by Emily Peterson and Cory Tepper

As a long time fan of Atomlab I was quite stoked to see new product rolling out after some bumpy years of management changes and reduced industry presence. As a go-to rim for DH and DJ bikes the Pimplite has been in my stable for years and whilst indestructible she is not a light horse. Well, my favorite workhorse hit the gym, shed some grams and picked up an “SL” tattoo. Pulling these wheels out of the box was rad. They are light, loud and flashy, and I couldn't wait to mount them up and hit the trails.

Atomlab DHR SL 650B Wheelset Highlights


102 HUB:
  • Body: CNC machined 6061 aluminum
  • Sealed bearings
  • 102 Points of engagement in the freehub
  • Colors: Black (more colors coming soon)
  • # of holes: 32
  • 142mm, QR, and bolt-on adapters available
  • Weight: 12x135mm = 330g / 12x135mm 11spd = 328g

DHR SL RIM:
  • DH / Freeride / All Mountain
  • Welded Joint
  • Tubeless profile
  • 29.5mm wide, 25mm internal width
  • ERD: 26” = 538mm, 650B = 565mm
  • 26”x32h / 650Bx32h
  • Colors: Black, red, blue, and gold
  • Weight: 26”=427g / 650B=447g
  • Uses Torque nipples - available separately

MSRP: $694.90 (complete wheelset)
Weight: 1860 grams (complete wheelset)

Initial Impressions

Pulling the DHR's from the box, three things stood out to me immediately: One, they are pretty light. At 1860g on my scale they aren't the lightest by any means but if they were to turn out as strong as I expected from Atomlab then we would be set. Two, they are pretty loud. They feature a 102-point engagement hub which adds up to 30 more angry bees yelling “I sound faster than I am”. Three, they are flashy. I would guess the production set will be all one color but I was stoked on the red hoops laced up to black hubs that I received for this test. Flair is key when you are mid pack.

The wheels are tubeless ready and super tight for beading the Schwalbes I swapped off my stock wheel set. While slightly frustrated with seating the first tire, I was prepared with some lemon scented Pledge and a cold beer for the second, and she popped into place with a couple of convincing PINGs and POPs. Rotors and cassette were hassle free, and the loud as hell hub did begin annoying my coworkers almost immediately, which is always a bonus.

A quick check in the truing stand found the DHR's true and round with good, even spoke tension. A little hop at the rim seam but that's par for the aluminum course. In the truing stand is also where I discovered my first dislike with these wheels - Torque nipples. The idea with Torque nipples is that they are lighter and stronger than traditional brass nipples, with a wide alloy base that helps create a stronger and stiffer wheel. The connection at the spoke hole has a larger pivot range which reduces stress on the spokes. Torque nipples can be used on Atomlab rims with any manufacturer’s 14 gauge and 14 gauge butted spokes. While the design makes sense I hate anything proprietary, especially from a company with a somewhat rocky customer service history, but the use of conventional spokes, 3x lacing and the fact that they included some extra nipples and the required proprietary spoke key (albeit heavy!) eased the pain.

On The Trail

The last couple months were full of a variety of riding: shuttle days, long pedals, evening quickies, rocks, roots, epic dust and even a couple of commutes in the city. Like most new wheels they felt stiffer than I was used to, giving my whip that “new bike feeling”again. The 102 rear hub was a highlight, love or hate the noise the near instant engagement is rad. When every little pedal kick is functional and almost without dead space it makes tech climbs and pedaling out of corners way more fun than usual.

Even with all that business going on in the hub, the resistance was minimal and they rolled fast (well medium fast…650B fast…). My frustration with the tire setup was instantly forgotten after some horribly sideways landings with 25 psi resulted in nothing but tiny burps and only partial pressure loss. These rims are super secure and I had ZERO issues with running them tubeless, even with gorilla tape for rim tape and well used tires. Set it and forget it!

There are no dings, dents, flat spots, wobbles or cracks to report despite multiple attempts at destroying these wheels. No spokes, nipples, pawls or egos were brokeneither. The DHR's roll fast, make fun noises, and encourage pedaling where you normally wouldn’t. That's a good riding wheel set IMO.

Things That Could Be Improved

As mentioned, seating tubeless was slightly tricky but not something I'd hold against a wheelset - I'd rather practice my expletives during installation and keep my tires on when things get rough on the trail.

As for the proprietary nipples, while I'm not a fan of anything that's gonna be hard to come by down the line when repairs are needed, the fact that the wheels still use standard spokes and come with spares takes the sting out of this point.

Long Term Durability

My last set of Pimplites were on my DJ bike for 5 years. While only on the SL 650B version for a couple months, they seem to be inline with the durability that Atomlab is known for. The hub will require maintenance (they all do…) but it pulls apart quickly with normal shop tools and no tech doc is needed to figure out how the pawl system works.

Spoke tension and trueness have not changed, despite taking some nasty hits. It seems to me that wheels that don’t have problems in the first few hundred miles typically stay problem free. Well, with no broken spokes, smooth bearings, and all their loudness and redness intact so far, I believe these will hold up and I will definitely keep on rocking them as my primary wheel set.

What's The Bottom Line?

I had zero problems with the DHR SL 650B's and I definitely recommend them as a burly all mountain wheelset. Atomlab has done a great job of taking a classic rim and making it bigger and lighter. The 102 rear hub is rad - the pedal feedback is amazing, the noise takes some getting used to but I secretly love it. My only real concern with these wheels are the oversized nipples and ease of access to parts in the future. But simply put, they held up better than most all mountain wheelsets do for me and at about $650 they come in at real good value too.

For more, cruise on over to www.atomlab.com.


About The Reviewer

Cory Tepper is a life long MTB nerd. He’s been riding since 1994 and spent a little time in the now defunct Semi-Pro downhill category. He’ll always love street riding and pumptracks, and will occasionally scare himself on a decently sized set of dirt jumps. During the day he turns wrenches on $10,000 road bikes and documents the lesser known riders as a photographer and video guy in his free time. Tepper has a three legged dog, and he loves gas station coffee, Dominoes and Katy Perry - basically he is THE best product tester ever. Count on Tepper to keep it real.

This product has 1 review

Added a new video Lumberyard Shredding - Levi and Friends in Portland 7/3/2014 1:01 PM
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Lines for days, goon airs for miles, horse masks and plenty of quality laps were clocked by a hearty crew at the Lumberyard in Portland, Oregon.

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Added a new video RAW: 53 Tricks from the Burlington Bike Park 3/6/2014 3:46 PM
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Justin Wyper, Guy Marsh, Dylan Bibbins, Cole Cook and Damien Douglas take a break from the snow and blast the Burlington Bike Park indoor dirt jumps. Dialed is an understatement.

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Added a blog post 2/11/2014 10:53 AM

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Updated photo album rewind. 2/11/2014 10:52 AM
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Added a product review for Sun Ringle DJsingle Wheels 2/3/2014 8:40 AM
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Tested: Sun Ringle DJsingle Wheels

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Cory Tepper // Photos by Emily Peterson and Cory Tepper

At a time in the industry where companies are literally trying to re-invent the wheel, I was pleasantly surprised to pull Sun Ringle’s DJsingle wheels out of the box. Intended for the dirt jump/park/street riding crowd, they feature tried and true 3x lacing on high flange hubs with 32 good ole regular j-bend double-butted spokes. As a mechanic this is how I prefer all my wheels - no proprietary funny business, crazy lacing patterns or attempts at weight savings that sacrifice durability, like alloy nipples. The fact that these wheels are blacked out with removable understated graphics was a total bonus as well. At 2065 grams they feel solid yet light enough too say “not bad.” At $500 you wont think twice about beating them up allowing for some risk taking which is of course why dirt jump bikes are so much damn fun in the first place.

DJsingle Wheelset Highlights

  • 26-inch Inferno 31 rims
  • 31mm rim width
  • Premium cartridge bearings
  • 20mm front axle with QR15 adapters
  • 135x10mm bolt on rear axle
  • Aluminum single-speed specific freehub body with lock ring
  • Wheelsmith double-butted spokes
  • Wheelsmith brass nipples
  • 32 spokes per wheel
  • Weight: 2065 grams/set
  • MSRP $500/set

Initial Impressions and Setup

I headed into the shop and picked up some carbon free-hub spacers and a 12-tooth Chris King single speed cog. They both slid on without issue and the included lock-ring did its job nicely. I swapped my tires and rotors with no particular problems to report here either. I threw the wheels into the truing stand just to make sure, since a lot of prebuilt sets still need some truing/tensioning. These did not. Straight, tight and ready to rally out of the box. They slid easily into their respective dropouts and all that was left to do was tighten down the axles. The 3/8-inch rear bolts really allow some torque to be applied, and while the 8mm wrench seemed overkill at first it is actually rad when compared to the 5mm that seems common on other single-speed hubs. Time then to head out to see what kind of trouble we could get into!

On The Trails And In The Streets

It's January in Portland, that generally means lots of street and lots of The Lumberyard, our indoor bike park. The first thing I noticed about these wheels was their stiffness, they just felt faster than my old wheels when pumping around the Lumberyard. Sprinting into street gaps felt good too. Hub engagement is solid, without much dead space on the first stroke, not bad going for a 3 pawl setup.

The DJsingle's free-hub makes a solid noise and sounds great floating through the air and ripping around town. These wheels spent many hours under my 200-pounds coming up short on jump after jump and they haven't budged, still true and tight. This would especially impress you if you saw how I tag each landing - it’s pretty bad. I even dropped some 3 to 4-foot loading docks to flat which really hurt my knees but also didn't affect these wheels in the least. Pretty remarkable.

I also got a few afternoons in on my buddy’s pump-track but moisture content was still pretty high and didn't allow me to get a fair shot at really pushing these wheels in some corners, but I imagine the stiffness I felt while pumping thru the Lumberyard will translate to solid feedback in corners too.

I look forward to taking these wheels to some bigger dirt features but for the purpose of this review just imagine a mediocre big dude doing a lot of gross 180s, hucks to flat, manuals and coming up short on most gaps. Now that I’ve so accurately described my abilities, I realize that they actually may be the best for testing wheels. Simply put, these wheels got worked and have not only survived but not budged at all.

Long Term Durability

I spent about six weeks on these wheels, not a long time but I tend to destroy wheels pretty quickly due to my lack of steeze and smoothness. The fact that they haven't loosened up at all is a great sign for the long term. I imagine that like all wheels they will eventually come out of true, but because they are 3x laced with double butted spokes and brass nipples they should always be easy to tension back up. My only long term concern is the aluminum freehub body. With a considerable amount of torque always being applied to the same freehub area on a single speed setup some amount of gouging could occur, so I feel the use of a high quality cog with a wide footprint is imperative to longterm use on this design.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The Sun Ringle DJsingle wheelset runs just $500 and holds up under my raw anti-smootheness. They also look great, making them a no brainer in my book. These wheels are a great alternative to building up a custom wheelset for your next hard-tail and will come in cheaper and ready to shred. While I would prefer a dedicated driver with a 9/10-tooth option and wider hub flange spacing, the freehub design is holding up and does allow some chain-line adjustment or the option for a 3- or 4-speed setup on a slopestyle bike. Using an 8mm wrench to tighten the rear axle is a little inconvenient but proved itself useful for getting shit tight. Finally, such a rad wheelset could be made radder still with the addition of a non-disc front hub - because who runs a front brake?

Visit www.sun-ringle.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Cory Tepper is a life long MTB nerd. He’s been riding since 1994 and spent a little time in the now defunct Semi-Pro downhill category. He’ll always love street riding and pumptracks, and will occasionally scare himself on a decently sized set of dirt jumps. During the day he turns wrenches on $10,000 road bikes and documents the lesser known riders as a photographer and video guy in his free time. Tepper has a three legged dog, and he loves gas station coffee, Dominoes and Katy Perry - basically he is THE best product tester ever. Count on Tepper to keep it real.

This product has 1 review

Updated photo album Blackrock 1/19/2014 9:54 AM
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Updated photo album Portland. 12/18/2013 12:13 AM
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Added a new photo album Super Session : Footdown Contest 12/16/2013 10:40 PM
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Added a new photo album Bunnyhop 12/16/2013 10:40 PM
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Added a new video Rapid Fire: Carson Storch Shredding Black Rock, Oregon 11/17/2013 3:01 PM
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Diamondback shredder, Carson Storch (not stork) puts down some nice tracks in the radness of the Black Rock, Oregon trail center. Not bad for a slow child at play!

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Added a new video Launching at the Lumberyard - Steven Bafus, Guy Marsh and Friends 11/9/2013 7:31 PM
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Steven Bafus and the 'Merican Radness crew get boosty at the Lumberyard Bike Park in Portland. It's good to see some legit quarterpipe blasting and turndowning on big wheels!

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Added a new video RAPID FIRE: Ray George at the Post Office 8/3/2013 9:41 AM
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Ray punishes the the Post Office with massive whips, tricks and plenty of style. Bonus cameo by C-Bone.

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Added a new video JRA: Kyle Warner 7/19/2013 2:41 PM
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Chico, California in the summertime means some hardtail shredding and some chillin' by the water's edge. No script, just life with Kyle Warner. View more JRA Videos

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Added a new video Rapid Fire: Charlie Sponsel 5/10/2013 9:30 AM
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Blogger and one who "races in the Pro class" for Diamondback Bikes, Charlie Sponsel, entertains and hauls some freight in this Rapid Fire from Portland. TeamRobotKillsYourFace

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Added a new photo album Super Session : Saturday 4/8/2013 5:31 PM
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Added a new photo album Super Session : Friday 4/6/2013 1:46 PM
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