by Fred Robinson
e*thirteen has been on a roll lately when it comes to making innovative, well-designed, high-performing products. New component highlights include a modular cassette which can squeeze in a tiny 9-tooth cog for extended range and their brand new TRS tires which were meticulously created with intention behind every knob shape and placement. Refined with input from Mick and Tracey Hannah of the UR Team, e*thirteen’s new LG1r wheels bring to the table some new, unique and interesting features. The wheels are built with 27mm-wide hookless carbon rims, and wide-flanged hubs thanks to e*thirteen’s own integrated 9-21 tooth Read More »
by Fred Robinson
e*thirteen has been on a roll lately when it comes to making innovative, well-designed, high-performing products. New component highlights include a modular cassette which can squeeze in a tiny 9-tooth cog for extended range and their brand new TRS tires which were meticulously created with intention behind every knob shape and placement. Refined with input from Mick and Tracey Hannah of the UR Team, e*thirteen’s new LG1r wheels bring to the table some new, unique and interesting features. The wheels are built with 27mm-wide hookless carbon rims, and wide-flanged hubs thanks to e*thirteen’s own integrated 9-21 tooth cassette that's mounted to a six-degree-engagement freehub. These attributes sure look good on paper, but we put the LG1r wheels to the test to see how they perform on the trail.
e*thirteen LG1r Features
- Size: 27.5-inches
- Hub: Machined aluminum shell and flanges, 660 freehub
- Rim: LG1 Race Carbon 27mm inner width / 32 hole
- Rear axle: 150 / 157mm
- Spokes / Nipples: 32 quad-butted / black alloy
- Included: Tubeless rim tape, valves, 150/157mm rear end caps, extra spokes
- Color: Black, machined
- Weight: 2,005g with XD Driver, 2,106g with 7-speed integrated cassette (Tested)
- Integrated cassette cogs: 9-10-12-14-16-18-21t
- MSRP: $1,798 USD (includes integrated cassette)
Sometimes it comes down to the little things for first impressions. We were stoked to see extra spokes, pre-installed tubeless tape and e*thirteen’s own tubeless valves included with the LG1r wheels. As for the wheels themselves, the first word that came to mind was quality. The matte black finish and subtle, somewhat abstract looking graphics on the rims give them a stealth, yet identifiable look with all-black spokes, nipples and hubs to extend that theme.
When we get a product that’s the first of its kind, such as the integrated cassette, the first thing we’re going to do is take it apart. It's design, which is surprisingly simple, utilizes a machined aluminum 21-tooth cog that doubles as the freehub body. Often, new technology comes at a cost, be it the actual dollar amount of the new product, extra weight or durability concerns. After inspecting the new integrated cassette, we wondered what the cost of the new design would be to the end user. Surprisingly, the answer was none.
We did the math and the e*thirteen integrated cassette is both cheaper, and weighs less overall than its direct competitor. e*thirteen offers the cassette for $100, while the MSRP of SRAM’s XG-795 MINI BLOCK cassette runs $284. A quick weight analysis shows e*thirteen’s cassette is going to weigh more than the MINI BLOCK because the driver is integrated. At 184g (axle not included), the e*thirteen integrated cassette weighs roughly 50 grams more than the SRAM MINI BLOCK. When you add the weight of a SRAM XD Driver to the equation, you’re looking at a total weight of about 213 grams for the standard SRAM setup. Comparing price and total weight, you end up saving $184 bucks and 29-grams with the e*thirteen integrated cassette.
e*thirteen is also proud of their rims. They boast ease of mounting a tubeless tire, specifically with a floor pump and their own tires with their new carbon hoops. Since they don’t make a downhill-specific tire yet, we had to test this claim with a set of Maxxis Minion DHF’s. True to form, the tires sealed right up with some sealant and our old, trusty floor pump. We were pleasantly able to pop both tires on the rim without the use of a tire lever, something we've struggled with on other downhill-specific carbon rims.
Along with the valves and tubeless tape (pre-installed on our wheelset), e*thirteen also includes both 150x12 and 157x12 end caps with the wheels. Swapping them out is as simple as popping them out with some pliers and pushing the desired size in by hand. Also included were two multi-purpose cone wrenches which can also be used as a nipple wrench or bottle opener for your favorite post-ride beverage. A quick spin on the truing stand confirmed the LG1r wheels were straight and true right out of the box. We installed the proper end caps and put the nerdery aside, as it was time to get these wheels in the dirt.
On The Trail
The first thing we always notice when we hop on a new wheelset is the rear hub engagement. At six degrees (60-point), the LG1r is a quick-engaging hub. There are hubs that feature twice the engagement, but for a downhill-specific wheelset, 60-points is far from inadequate. The driver uses three two-toothed pawls that all engage simultaneously via their own spring with a 60-tooth ratchet ring. This design has provided a positive and durable feeling every time we have put the power down so far. A subtle buzz that’s audible, but not obnoxiously loud, inspires an us to say the wheels sound more like a finely tuned vehicle than a ’95 Civic with an AutoZone fart-can. And, while you can definitely hear them as you coast to the lift or trailhead, once your focus is on the trail, the sound quickly fades into the background.
The fast engagement of the rear hub transmitted power from the pedals to the rear wheel in a responsive manner, making for quick accelerations out of corners or from a dead stop. When things get tech and a full pedal stroke is a bad idea, speed can still be eeked out with partial rotations of the cranks.
While we’re on the topic of hubs, e*thirteen has done some interesting things (aside from the integrated cassette) that are worth mentioning. The hub body is constructed of two different materials; big aluminum flanges bonded to a carbon center tube. Combining big, widely-spaced flanges with the carbon rims should result in a stiff wheel, and we can attest that it does. What we can also say is that we’ve ridden wheels that were too stiff and would beat the hell out of us. It seems that e*thirteen has found a nice balance with the LG1r wheels, and we found them to go where you point them, snap you out of corners nicely, but not leave your hands and legs a noodly mess at the end of the day.
e*thirteen was pretty spot on with the gear ratio they've chosen for the integrated cassette. Each shift resulted in a noticeable change without being too big a jump that may have thrown us off our game. We ran a 36t front ring and ended up staying in the mid- to lower-end of the cassette, rarely utilizing the 9-tooth cog. A 34t chainring would better suit the cassette’s range and with the added clearance of a 32-34t bash guard compared the 36t we’re currently running, it’s a change we will likely make soon.
Thanks to the rim’s 27mm width, we were happy with the profile of our 27.5 x 2.5-inch Maxxis Minion DHF tires. We’ve ridden these tires on rims as narrow as 21mm and as wide as 29mm, and so far we’ve found our sweet spot to be anywhere between 26mm and 29mm. Note that for 2017, e*thirteen will offer the LG1r wheels with the 27mm-wide rim we tested or a 31mm-wide rim which might pair up nicely with the wide-rim-specific tires we’re now seeing come to market. We kept pressures a consistent 27-32PSI, depending on where we were riding, and we’ve experienced little to no burping with our LG1r / Minion combo.
Things That Could Be Improved
While it’s been hard to find a major flaw in the LG1r wheels, we could say that they’re a bit heavier than we had anticipated when we first heard e*thirteen was bringing a carbon wheel to their line. Are they that heavy? No. And, if you consider the weight of the LG1r with a standard XD Driver, you’re looking at a complete wheelset weight of about 2,000g. This is still a bit heavier than some other downhill-specific, high-end carbon wheels, but in the grand scheme of all DH wheels, these fall at about average.
Long Term Durability
Here’s one department we’re not concerned with at all regarding the LG1r wheels. In the past three months, these wheels have visited Whistler, Northstar, and Snow Summit, not to mention some of SoCal’s rockiest and roughest trails... all under our biggest tester. We’ve definitely pinged the rims a few times and without a doubt experienced numerous sideways landings and poor line choices. So far there is no damage to the rim at all. A quick toss on the truing stand verified the wheels have stayed true and the bearings still spin as smoothly as they did on day one. Our experience, combined with the claims that Aaron Gwin was able to use the same wheelset throughout the World Cup season, leaves little doubt in our mind these wheels are burly and built to last. We''ll take that little weight penalty we mentioned above if durability is the trade-off.
What’s The Bottom Line?
The answer to that question is pretty simple: If you’re looking for a tough, durable wheelset that offers stiffness, responsiveness, innovation and of course, fancy carbon hoops, e*thirteen has you covered with their LG1r wheels. Their $1,800 price tag is in line with other high-end carbon wheels, their performance has been outstanding, and overall we are very impressed with everything these wheels have had to offer. If e*thirteen could figure out a way to achieve that same stiffness and durability in a slightly lighter package, these wheels would have easily fetched our coveted 5-star rating.
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About The Reviewer
Fred Robinson - Age: 32 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Height: 6'1" (1.85m) // Weight: 240-pounds (108.9kg)
"Drop my heels and go." Fred has been on two wheels since he was two-years-old, is deceptively quick for a bigger guy, and likes steep, fast trails where he can hang it off the back of the bike. Several years of shop experience means he's not afraid to tinker. He's very particular when it comes to a bike's suspension performance and stiffness traits.