Quai’s RSL (Radically Staggered Lacing) wheelsets have finally crossed the Pacific, setting up their USA headquarters in Southern California with wholesale and retail sales, plus servicing available there. I say finally as, until now, we’ve not been able to get these Quai wheelsets outside of the Asian market. We first laid eyes on Quai’s prototype RSF Enduro Wheelset in 2015. Freehub spacing and rim width standards have come a long way since then. Here’s a full run down of the Quai wheels you can now get your hands on but first, let’s talk RSL.

Radically Staggered Lacing

isos gravel

The Radically Staggered Lacing concept was developed by Steve Metz, a bike industry veteran whose innovation was championed by Quai, a contract manufacturing company. RSL allows drive-side spokes to be shorter than the NDS spokes through a stepped rim profile. It is this profile that allows for equal spoke tension throughout the wheel thus allowing for a stronger wheel build.

isos enduro

There’s a reason why wheel builders obsess over each spoke on a wheel. When any one part is doing more work than the rest, that part of the wheel becomes fatigued and more prone to cracking. Mercury Cycling’s effort to build strong wheels with equal spoke tensions uses a symmetrical trapezoidal rim profile with offset spoke drilling. Other manufacturers such as Nox Wheels use an offset asymmetrical rim profile to achieve a similar outcome, though this doesn’t allow tensions to be completely equal.

Quai use a combination of RSL and offset rim profiles to achieve equal spoke tensions, and thus, stronger wheels. The Quai ISOS 33 wheel, for example, features a serrated bevel on the rim bed to make up the differences between the DS and NDS.

Show me the hoops

The original Quai prototype we saw at Eurobike in 2015 was a 27.5″ carbon enduro wheelset with a 25mm internal rim width, 7mm height differential for left to right spoke bed and 28 hole lacing. Quai have since developed a comprehensive range, now offering four enduro wheelsets, in both 27.5″ and 29″, a Cyclocross/Gravel series, and a 29″ Trail/Cross Country wheelset to boot. All are carbon and handbuilt in Taiwan. We have the details.

Quai Wheels: ISOS Series

quai enduro rim
RSL of the Quai ISOS 33 Enduro Wheel

The ISOS Series is Quai’s RSL enduro, gravel and cyclocross offering. All feature Radically Staggered Lacing, and the unique look that comes with it. All are also available in both Pro and Pro+ models, differing only in their choice of freehub; Quai’s 102 POE freehub for the Pro, and a lighter, ratchet-system DT350 freehub for the Pro+.

QUAi-Wheels-ISOS-33-ENDURO-275-PRO
Quai ISOS 33mm internal rim with 27.5″ enduro wheel

The Quai ISOS 33 Enduro wheelset is their flagship enduro wheel, said to be stiff and responsive, thus perfect for enduro and all-mountain riding. Both the front and rear wheels are laced to the hub via 28 double-butted straight-pull spokes. The rim has internal and external widths of 33mm and 39mm, respectively, and is offset by 3mm. Offered in both 27.5″ and 29″ options, the ISOS 33 Enduro Pro weighs a claimed 1740g and 1800g, respectively. Lose ~30g when upgrading to Pro+.

rsl quai wheels mtb

The Quai ISOS Trail/XC are Quai’s flagship wheels for trail and cross-country riding, only available in 29″. They have an internal rim width of 25mm, with the rim profile offset 3mm. Twenty-eight aero straight-pull spokes lace the hub to the carbon rim, on both the front and rear wheels.

ISOS-trail-29-pro-quai-wheelset
29″ ISOS Trail/XC Carbon Quai Wheelset

The Trail/XC Quai wheelset is only available in the Pro version, with Quai proprietary hub, weighing a claimed 1670g.

QUAI GRAVEL WHEELS

The RSL step seen on the ISOS Gravel/CX Quai wheelset takes a slightly different form, aesthetically speaking, to that seen on the Enduro and Trail/XC wheelsets. Nevertheless, it serves the same purpose of allowing the DS spokes to be shorter than the NDS spokes, allowing for equal spoke tensions. Plus, it passes the same impact testing as the Trail/XC wheelset.

QUAI-ISOS-GRAVEL-WHEELSET-CARBON-700C-CYCLOCROSS

The 700c ISOS Gravel/CX wheelset from Quai has a 20mm internal rim width. Rims are laced to a 100mm x 12mm front hub and a 142mm x 12mm rear hub, via 28 aero straight-pull spokes. The hubs feature center locking disc rotor mounts. A Pro set with Quai’s own hub design weighs a claimed 1605g.

Quai Wheels: The traditional M-Series

Quai M-Series 27.5″ enduro wheels with traditional rim profile

Quai also offer wheelsets with a more traditional rim profile, for enduro and XC/Trail riding. Per wheelset, the M-Series are only around 10g lighter than the premium ISOS wheelsets. They have the same 3mm offset rim profile but are slightly narrower, with the M-Series Enduro wheelset featuring an internal and external rim width of 30mm and 36mm, respectively. The M-Series enduro is available in both 27.5″ and 29″ options while the Trail/XC wheelset is 29″ only. In their Pro versions, all will set you back $999. Add $200 for Pro+ DT SWISS hubs.

quai-m-series-trail

As for the ISOS Series, the Quai M-Series XC/Trail rim is a narrow 25mm internally. It is laced up with 28 Aero straight-pull spokes, front and rear. All M-Series Quai wheelsets for MTB feature boost freehub spacing and 110mm x 15mm front hub spacing, with 6-bolt rotor mount.

Quai Wheels: The G-Series

carbon gravel 23 rim wheel

Quai offer G23 and a G40 Pro Gravel Wheelsets. The G23 is one of Quai’s “value” wheelsets, built for gravel, but also said to be great for road or cyclocross endeavors. The 23mm internal width rim is laced to Quai’s proprietary hub via 24 double-butted straight-pull spokes. A set weighs a claimed 1500g and will set you back $999.

carbon gravel wheelset

The Quai G-Series G40 wheelset for Gravel and Road cycling is also a part of Quai’s “value” series, priced at $999. It features a carbon rim with an internal width of 22mm. Laced to Quai’s own hub, the G40 is a Pro model, weighing in at a claimed 1600g for the pair.

Pricing & Availability

All Quai wheels are available with the choice of an XD or HG freehub design. The Pro+ models come with a DT 350 hubset while the Pro model is $300 cheaper, and comes with Quai’s house-brand hub. The Quai hub is no slouch with 102 points of engagement handled by six, triple step pawls on the freehub body and fully sealed cartridge bearings. All wheels are backed by a lifetime warranty. All of the mountain wheels are boost-spacing. All gravel wheels are 100mm x 12mm front and 142mm x 12mm rear. Pricing for the ISOS series is set at $1299.99 for the Quai hub wheelset and $1599.99 for the DT hubset models. Each wheelset includes tubeless tape and valves (not factory installed).

RideQuai.com

14 COMMENTS

  1. Have they suffered concussions at Quai? Why would you shorten the *already shorter* disc/front or cassette/rear spokes? All the pictures I’ve seen show a configuration that would increase the tension imbalance. Even if laced correctly, this design seems inefficient at equalizing spoke tensions, compared to offset rims. It plainly uses more material.

    • I was puzzled by the same thing, although I think it is simply a poor description and lack of understanding of wheel geometry by whoever wrote the marketing copy, rather than a totally flawed concept.

      While you are right that this will make the *already shorter* cassette or disc side spokes even shorter still, spoke length really has nothing to do with the tension imbalance issue, or at least it doesn’t drive it. Instead, spoke length is a byproduct and is driven by the spoke bracing angle, which is what truly determines the tension. What these rims seem designed to do is effectively create 2 different ERDs/rim depths. As a deeper rim will tend to create a better bracing angle, this rim can provide the greater depth selectively, only to the spokes that most need it.

      • Huh, yeah, good point. The pictures are really terrible at depicting that. A cutaway showing some angle would help them here. I still wonder how much heavier this is compared to a similar, but just modestly offset rim? Like the comments below, this reeks of gimmick.

    • Certainly part of it was the author. But, no physicist would add mass to the outer edge of a rotating body for this type of application. It would improve performance more had the distance been achieved at the hub area as opposed to the rim. That however would not look “neat-o” going down the road and be less visible for the marketing folks.

  2. Hey Shafty, draw a diagram of the spoke bracing angle with and without this solution. You’ll see that the bracing angle of the drive side is improved with this approach, which allows the difference in tension between the two sides to be reduced.

  3. Kaiser is onto something – the bracing angle would be the same cassette side to deeper rim, as non-cassette to shallow rim. So theoretically the same spoke tension to equalize the dish. Same result as offset spoke bed: both methods attempt to equalize the bracing angle.

  4. seems like a rather complicated way to achieve balanced spoke tension. Why don’t they simply have an equal centre-line flange spacing like xtreme carbon wheels???

    • Having both flanges inboard significantly reduces lateral stiffness vs having one side be braced further out, despite the tension imbalance. The only time I’d lean toward having reduced bracing in favor of more even tension would be for something like touring, where there’s significant load and a reduced need for lateral stiffness (due to not pushing things in corners, no tossing the bike around in a sprint, etc).
      This is definitely gimmicky. You might as well make the whole rim deep and then adjust your left flange to allow whatever spoke tension balance you prefer.

  5. I smell a gimmick. A gimmick is a novel device or idea designed primarily to attract attention or increase appeal, often with little intrinsic value. When applied to retail marketing, it is a unique or quirky feature designed to make a product or service “stand out” from its competitors.

  6. Assuming an ERD difference of 40mm between the high and low spoke beds there is a 0.5 degree L/R bracing angle difference between L and R. That is pretty close. The bracing angle difference on a normal symmetrical single ERD rim is about 2.5 to 3 degrees. There really might be some wisdom to this. Independent testing would be helpful in ascertaining the validity of this idea though.

  7. These things are pretty baller actually. I’ve read a few reviews of them and they are straight up bomb proof. They hold tension and trueness and give a great ride at an affordable price. What isn’t there to like?

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