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First Look: The Redesigned 2014 Crankbrothers Wheels are Wider, Lighter, Stiffer and Cheaper

<b>Welcome to Laguna Beach, California, home to incredible sunsets, great trails and superb year-round riding.</b>

<b>Just a stone's throw away, history hangs on the walls of the Crankbrothers headquarters. Plenty of World Cups and Championships have been won while stomping on their pedals, but we're here for another reason - new wheels!</b>

<b>As early as 2005, master wheel builder Joe Binatina played a pivotal role in the development of the Crankbrothers wheelset. Following a hub overhaul in 2010, today the wheels are launching in their 3rd generation.</b>

<b>Here he debunks the myth that the unique twinpair spoke wheelset is difficult to build or work on. Just seven minutes in and it's almost completely laced. Every Crankbrothers wheel is hand built.</b>

<b>After 15 minutes the wheel is very close to done - the wheels are actually quite simple. In an effort to use materials in a better, more efficient way, Crankbrothers developed the paired spoke system years ago. It will carry into 2014.</b>

<b>While the people at Crankbrothers are obviously fans of high quality CNC, they also listen to WHAM!</b>

<b>The voice in the audio, Eric Hermawan, spends his time at Crankbrothers as the product developer. With testing in his job description, he rips down a steep section of local trail with ease.</b>

<b>Old versus new. The big news is that every rim went through a toilsome revamping. The profile changed completely on each model, including the Cobalt (xc/race), Iodine (AM), and Opium (DH).</b>

<b>Each rim got deeper, 2 to 3mm wider, the vertical rib (I-beam) went away, the drop center got shallower for easier tubeless setup, and the bead hook gained some more bite. Most lost weight as well. Winning.</b>

<b>An in-house rapid prototyping machine speeds up the R&D process and helps bring ideas to fruition within minutes.</b>

<b>The new tapered wall design is optimized for durability, lateral stiffness, and vertical compliance. 1.7mm lower sidewalls improve impact resistance.</b>

<b>Excellent taste in literature...</b>

<b>Not far from the office and his home, Hans Rey scouts a new line.</b>

<b>Hans riding a ridiculous line that most of the youngins wouldn't even think about.</b>

<b>With riders like Hans, Richey Schley, Bryn Atkinson, and Jill Kintner testing the wheels in addition to machine testing and FEA, the new hoops are more durable than ever before.</b>

<b>Domestic warranty and customer service detail is all handled in house right in sunny Laguna Beach. Claims decreased 10X with the last generation and are certain to reduce even further with the new generation of wheels.</b>

<b>It's not every day you get to see a train of legends blow through at warp speed, but it's a daily occurrence for them to fly on by.</b>

<b>All alloy rims get a shot peened surface treatment that increases rim strength by 15%. The rim seam is welded and polished for a strong and clean joint. After some feedback from World Cup shredders Bryn Atkinson and Jill Kintner, the Opium wheelset is the only one to gain weight in exchange for greater durability, but it isn't much.</b>

<b>Carl and Frank. The Crank brothers. Get it? Carl + Frank = Crank... Either way, they both crush it on the shuffle board, and they're the driving force behind the brand.</b>

<b>These two definitely have a sense of humor, as well as a passion for what they do. They're also serious about making good wheels.</b>

<b>The hubs haven't undergone many changes, but they're still clean, minimalist and sexy. All hubs are fully compatible with the common axle sizes, and end caps are included with the wheelsets.</b>

<b>Out back, Crankbrothers continues on with the tried and true 3 pawl design. Some riders may want a faster engagement, but this design is pretty foolproof - a far cry from the hubs the original wheelset rolled on.</b>

<b>Running XX1 or X01? A new XD-driver adapter is available as an aftermarket kit.</b>

<b>No spoke holes are drilled in the rim, making it stronger and tubeless ready without the need for a rim strip. Valves are now included.</b>

<b>All of the spokes and “nipples” are the same length, and the new profile shortened spoke lengths by 4mm, making them stiffer yet again. All told, the wheels see a 9% improvement in lateral stiffness and 14% improvement in stiffness to weight ratio (measured on a 29-inch Cobalt 3). Not bad.</b>

<b>Yeah, the wheels are good for that too. German DH legend Holger Meyer shows us the fast way to crack open a beverage.</b>

<b>Cheers from Deutschland.</b>

<b>Lighter, stronger, stiffer, cheaper and better? Hans is clearly stoked about that. If you're interested in more details about the new wheels, check out <u><a href="http://www.crankbrothers.com" target="_blank">www.crankbrothers.com</a></u>.</b>

It's no secret that Crankbrothers has had some rough spots in their wheel history. They're the first to admit it. At the same time, they also took a risk by coming up with something new. Having gone wider, lighter, stiffer and cheaper than ever before, the recently redesigned line of Crankbrothers wheels looks to be winners for 2014. From the XC race-ready Cobalt wheels to the do-it-all Iodines and burly Opium hoops, they've reached a level of refinement that's truly impressive for their 3rd generation.













The new wheels are available now. Visit www.crankbrothers.com for more details.

Photos by Ian Collins

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