We Are One Composites Agent 29 Project 321 Wheelset

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We Are One Composites Agent 29 Project 321 Wheelset

The perfect balance between lateral stiffness and vertical compliance.

Rating: Featured Member Review
We Are One Composites Agent 29 Project 321 Wheelset
The Good:

Cutting edge techniques that don't cut corners, Awesome glossy finish that allows the naked carbon to shine, Outstanding stiffness with just the right about of compliance, 30mm internal width, durable 3.5mm sidewalls, customizability up the wazoo, Top notch warranty from a top notch company, Hand made in Canada from start to finish.

The Bad:

Gloss finish can show scratches but worth the look and certainly the performance.

Overall Review:

When looking to improve the performance of your bike, there appears to be nearly an endless list of ways to do it. Amongst this list, there are certainly endless options to choose from. With a market booming with aftermarket products and customization, it’s easy to get caught up on “bling” and lose track of what’s will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Some are relatively simple and inexpensive like adjusting compression and rebound settings on your suspension or PSI levels in your tires. Others aren’t as easy and certainly not friendly on your wallet like upgrading frames, suspension, and drivetrains.

Not all components are created equal in boosting performance and confidence however. Replacing dried, hardened, or bald tires for new ones or removing chewed up grips for ones like the

Overall Review:

When looking to improve the performance of your bike, there appears to be nearly an endless list of ways to do it. Amongst this list, there are certainly endless options to choose from. With a market booming with aftermarket products and customization, it’s easy to get caught up on “bling” and lose track of what’s will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Some are relatively simple and inexpensive like adjusting compression and rebound settings on your suspension or PSI levels in your tires. Others aren’t as easy and certainly not friendly on your wallet like upgrading frames, suspension, and drivetrains.

Not all components are created equal in boosting performance and confidence however. Replacing dried, hardened, or bald tires for new ones or removing chewed up grips for ones like the Deity Knuckledusters may offer a better return per your investment than say swapping out unbranded alloy cranksets with Race Face’s Next R or a wheelset that tells tails of each time you’ve shorted a jump for $3,000+ carbon wheels. When you’ve updated and upgraded the majority of your parts, however, that $3,000+ carbon wheels start to look a lot more tempting. If you’ve gotten to this point and can say, “Yeah, I’m totally at this stage with my bike” keep reading. If not, go pick up some new grips or tires and go ride your damn bike.

For many years I got so close to pulling the trigger on a carbon wheelset but always backed out at the last minute. “They’re too expensive!” or “You don’t need the upgrade.” always came to mind and the timing just didn’t seem right. With the industry exploding as it is, these excuses were becoming fewer and more spread out.

The truth of the matter is never at any time have carbon wheels been better and more readily obtainable (and realistically affordable.) Jump back 10 years ago, there were only a few companies to choose from with limited options (with none of them being DH recommended). Today, it appears everyone and their dogs are offering a carbon wheelset.

Good new and bad news: Lets start with the bad first. There are still wheelsets that cost $3,000+ and they look awesome. However, the good news is with each calendar year a handful of companies are introducing new models that are a fraction of the price. Better yet, they offer just as good if not better warranties and claim to provide equal or even better performance too. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s hope it’s not.

A few months ago I made the decision to move from a 27.5” to 29er. This was a big deal as 5 years ago I was a 26” or bust personality. One of my biggest reasons for not going with the larger 29” wheel was the amount of wheel flex they were known for. Who like riding a wet noodle? Although modern alloy wheels are much better thanks to boost spacing, I felt that if I was going to go with a 29er, carbon was my only option for keeping it light and responsive.

I reached out to a professional custom wheel builder and personal friend, Dusty Ott at Hubsessed, for advice on which company to go with as I’m an aggressive enduro and big mountain rider and he ranted and raved about a small company that was producing their own carbon wheels from start to finish in British Columbia, We Are One Composites. After speaking with the president of the company and addressing many of my concerns, I finally found myself comfortable enough to pull the trigger on a carbon wheelset, the Agent 29.

With several months and over 250 miles on them, here are my initial impressions and overall review on the We Are One Agent 29 wheelset.

Key Specs

  • Available in 27.5 and 29-inch (reviewed) diameters
  • Internal Width: 30mm
  • External Width: 37mm
  • Sidewall Thickness: 3.5mm
  • Rim Depth: 25mm
  • 28 hole and 32 hole pattern options
  • Spoke holes are drilled to 5 degrees angles to increase nipple durability
  • Continuous layering and consistent nipple bed structure insures for a reliable rim
  • Project 321 or Hope Pro 4 hub options (Additional options upon request)
  • J-Bend Sapim Race spokes
  • Sapim Secure Lock alloy nipples (no spoke prep required)
  • Hand laid and built in British Columbia, Canada
  • Pricing: $1,500 with Project 321 hubs / $1,200 with Hope Pro 4 hubs
  • 2-Year Guarantee: “No questions asked” complete wheel replacement within 72 hours.
  • Additional 3-year Guarantee after that­­­: “No questions asked” rim replacement.
  • Rim Weights: 27.5 - 480g / 29 - 490g
  • Wheelset Weights: 27.5 - 1810g to 1840g / 29 - 1840g to 1870g
  • Additional models are/will be available early 2018 (Outlier and Insider)

Out of the Box

Pulling the Agent out of the box, you’ll find the wheels wrapped in burlap sacks; a pretty unique way to present them. Once out of the sacks, at first glance the wheelset looks very modest and don’t show any loud details unlike some carbon wheels. The decals are quite simple yet recognizable from afar. Pulling out your magnifying glass however, the Agents begin to unfold a whole new world of detail.

Unlike other carbon wheels, the We Are One rims are laced up directly from the mold. As stated on their site, “Nothing we manufacturer can be hidden, sanded, painted over or filled. With our rims being naked, it allows only the best to make it to market.” Besides the naked finish eliminating any defective rims from making out on the trial, this chosen appearance gives the rim a glossy carbon weave shimmer that is somewhat rare to see in carbon components let alone carbon wheels.

We Are One also includes a few very unique components for every wheelset they make.

First, the custom made We Are One valve stems come with every wheelset that leaves their warehouse. They come standard with “We Are One” printed on them but can be custom laser printed with anything you’d want. Heck, they could even custom print the hubs for you as well. Just leave a note on the comments of the checkout or email them and WHAMMY, they've been customized just for you.

Anyways, back to the stems… Do they perform better than standard valve stems ones? Probably not but it’s nice to see so much attention to detail go all the way down to the valve stem locking rings.

Secondly, We Are One uses rim strip tape that I’ve never seen before.

It’s hyperly thin and light weight yet does an outstanding job in keeping the rim air tight. Their rim tape is a great alternative for tapes that are much heavy and leave a tacky residue like gorilla tape. As this tape doesn’t stretch too much, I would only recommend it for rims that have a clean “U” shaped inner profile. At only $7 for 150 feet, this is possibly the best deal in the entire industry.

As for weight, the Agent 29 wheelset with Project 321 hubs, valve stems, and tape came in at 1,876. This falls well within reason of the claimed weight of 1,840 grams (wheelset only).

As shown, I was able to get the Agent 29 laced up to Project 321 hubs. This was a huge upgrade for me because I've really grown to love those hubs. With 216 POE, it's really hard to beat them. Click the link to check out my review on these hubs!

On the Trail

Handling

One of my biggest concerns with going with a 29” wheeled bike was the sluggish response and noodle-like feeling they have been known for in the past. After getting my 29er put together with the Agent 29 I was instantly impressed with the responsiveness it had. It felt nearly identical as previous 27.5” bikes I’ve had. 

I feel the quickness and handling I was experiencing was a combination of two things, a modern longer and slacker geo (2018 Intense Carbine) frame and the lateral stiffness of the Agent 29 wheels. Having ridden a friend’s Carbine 29er with the Foundation build (w/ standard alloy wheels) I can confidently say that the over-the-top responsiveness is coming more from the Agent 29 as the same bike with alloy wheels felt much more 29er-ish.

Rim Width

If getting serious about purchasing a carbon wheelset, you’ll find that the majority of rims from trail to DH are coming in a 30mm internal width. 

This is also true for the Agents. When running 2.3” to 2.6” tires, the 30mm width allows the tire to perform at it’s peak performance. Any rims with a wider internal wide and tire sidewalls begin to become exposed to sharp rocks and any narrower and you’ll feel a larger 2.5” – 2.6” tire begin to fold over in the corners which is quite an unnatural feeling. I’ve been running a 2.5” up front and a 2.4” in the rear I have been quite satisfied with how the bike has handled.

Compliance vs Stiffness

When carbon wheels began creeping into the gravity fed side of riding 2-3 years ago I feel the most popular word to define them was “Stiff!” Lateral stiffness was the highly sought after characteristic that these fancy plastic wheels offered. It didn’t take long for some riders to complain about how rigid and unforgiving some of these wheels felt however. They had all the lateral stiffness in the world but also came with harsh vertical stiffness to boot. Compliance is a relatively new term in regards to carbon wheels and I’m glad it’s around. Compliance refers to the vertical flex and 'forgiveness' a carbon rim offers and is huge for providing a smooth ride over rough terrain.

This is the biggest area where I’ve been impressed with the Agent 29 wheelset. When charging my favorite aggressive trails (like Deer Valley’s Fire Swamp and Virgin Utah's Flying Monkey) I’ve felt the bike followed very tightly to where I pointed my bars (better than any 27.5” with alloy wheels that I’ve owned) but didn’t rattle my can and kink my neck if I chose the wrong line either. In fact, I was very impressed with how forgiving the wheels felt.

I know much of stiffness vs compliance of the Agent 29 rim falls on the thicknesses throughout certain areas of the rim’s profile and that information is only known by We Are One but I feel certain specs help aid in this. The Agent 29 comes with a 37mm outer diameter and a 30mm inner diameter which I’ll touch on later. The rim height is 25mm tall. In regards to the actual profile, they are quite similar to other carbon wheels that have received outstanding ratings on this site. Please don’t assume I’m saying that any carbon rim that matches this profile will perform well because there is much more that goes into rims besides profile. It’s just an observation I made. Is this profile a possible gold standard for stiff yet forgiving carbon rims?

Durability

With several months of riding and over 300 miles covered, I can confidently these rims have stood up to everything I’ve thrown at them; and they’ve been thrown at a lot. Pulling the wheels off and throwing them into the truing stand confirmed this as they have stayed straight and true through every bump and after every jump and drop they’ve encountered. Unfortunately I’m not able to say this about any alloy rim I’ve owned. Even after several square edge rim shots, one of which cut through my tire, the structure and integrity of the agent 29 wheelset is perfect.

Much of the durability of the Agent rim comes to the over average thickness of the side walls. The vast majority of carbon hoops have a sidewall thickness of 3.0mm or thinner. The Agent’s profile widths are 37mm external and 30mm internal, leaving you with 3.5mm sidewall thickness. This extra 0.5mm thickness may not sound like too much but in all reality it may be just enough to keep you from going through the hassle of dealing with a cracked rim.

Warranty

Just like many carbon laying, wheel lacing companies We Are One offers a 60 month / 5 year warranty on their wheels. What makes this warranty unique is how they go above and beyond for the first 2 years.

“We put a 2-year guarantee on our wheels with a "no questions asked" wheel replacement. That means if a rim fails, we will send out a complete replacement wheel within 72 hours of being notified. That is right, we will send you out the entire wheel replacement. NO WAITING for a local dealer or shop to build up your wheel, no added costs to have someone build up a wheel and worry about it not being built to OEM spec. More riding and less waiting!” – We Are One

After the first 2 years are up, if you manage to crack a hoop, they will send a replacement at no cost. You’ll just have to lace it up yourself or have We Are One or your local bike shop swap it out for an average labor of about $50. 

Only One Compliant

After riding several big mountain lines (you know, the ones where you ski from side to side down) I noticed that the gloss finish of these rims are slightly more susceptible to scuffs and markings from small and medium sized rocks. Maybe not more susceptible but unable to hide such scuffs as well. 

This style of riding has a tendency of throwing up more debris than an actual trail and as a result makes more scuffs in less amount of time but these scuffs could happen on a regular trail as well. Part of this is the nature of mountain biking although I feel a matte finish may hide some of these markings better but not entirely. 

Although I’m 100% confident it hasn’t affected the durability of the rims, it certainly will affect the resale value (that is if I ever sell them.) Though certainly not a red flag, it’s something I observed.

What’s in the Future?

Going to their website, you’ll only find the Agent rim available in 27.5” and 29” sizes. Coming in 2018 are a wider range of options.

First, the slightly heavier, UCI DH ridden Outlier available in 27.5” and 29” options. “This rim has increased carbon UD in 3 main sections of the rim to bring impact strength up 25% over the Agent. The radial stiffness was increased under 5% and we have seen another big jump in lateral stiffness as well in the Outlier over and above what we see in The Agent.” – We Are One. Although not currently on their site, the Outlier is available now as long as they have them in inventory.

Another rim that is coming out towards the beginning on the year is the XC/AM driven Insider. “This is our XC/AM rim that offers a new 27mm internal width, with a 21mm depth. The weight comes down 80-90g below The Agent and still carries a huge impact strength. This rim is targeted at the AM/Trail market and is built to be a very supple ride feel. This has been in the works for the past 8 months and we are entering into production when we fire up in January. The launch will be End of January for this rim model and it will be in both 27.5 and 29.” – We Are One.

All We Are One wheels come with Sapim Race spokes unless requested otherwise. With the addition of new rims for other disciplines, other Sapim spokes like the D-Lights and CX-Rays may be available depending on how they test compared to the Race spokes. Needless to say, the Sapim Race spokes have been tried and tested and are an industry-wide gold standard for spoke performance, durability, and price.

Customizable

Lastly, unlike larger carbon wheel manufactures, We Are One offers an endless amount of customizability. If you are partial to a different hub that you don’t see an option for, hit them up. They’ll be able to lace their rims up to any hub you can get your hands on while using any spokes and any nipples you want along the way. Want your name or a logo laser-printed on the hub? No problem. Not many manufactures offer such flexibility and you would normally have to go to a third party wheel builder to get exactly what you wanted. It’s rad to know a company give so much freedom to their customers such as We Are One.

Bottom Line

When looking for a carbon wheelset, it’s easy to spend way more than you’d like to. Good news is additional less expensive options are coming out on the regular. From what I heard about We Are One, I decided to give their Agent 29 wheels a shot. After several months on them I can confidently way that all I heard about them was true and that they are arguably one of the best rims on the market with outstanding performance, unmatched customizability and at a fraction of the cost of other. If you have any questions and want to check out custom build options, shoot them a quick message and tell them that Dirtworks911 sent you. They’ll get you set up right. Even with the gloss finish that is susceptible to showing scuffing slightly more than others, all the other things you are looking for in a carbon wheelset are there. I give We Are One and their Agent 29 wheelset a full 5 star.

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Vital MTB member dirtworks911
14755 dirtworks911 https://p.vitalmtb.com/photos/users/14755/avatar/c50_14881538_1588539877838281_1800798274_o_1477766735.jpg?1477766635 https://www.vitalmtb.com/community/dirtworks911,14755/all 04/09/12 8 10 https://www.vitalmtb.com/community/dirtworks911,14755/setup 2 2 54 109

Specifications

Product We Are One Composites Agent 29 Project 321 Wheelset
Riding Type Trail
Wheel Size 29"
Rim Material Carbon
Rim 25mm depth, 3.5mm rim lip thickness, 5° angle-drilled spoke holes
Inner Rim Width 30mm
Hole Count 32
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub Project 321, EZO bearings, 216 points of engagement magnetic pawl system, available in quiet or loud settings
Rear Axle 12mm x 142mm, 12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Front Hub Project 321, EZO bearings
Front Axle 15mm x 100mm, 15mm x 110mm (Boost)
Disc Mount Type 6 Bolt
Spokes Sapim Race double butted, black
Nipples Sapim souble square head secure lock alloy, black
Colors Black with Stealth or White decals
Weight 4 lb 0.9 oz (1840 g)
Miscellaneous Shimano HG or SRAM XD drivers available
Designed for 2.35" - 2.6" tire widths
Price $1,625
More Info

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