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How the Bike Industry Really Feels About Hookless Wheels

Massive rim failures in the pro peloton sparked a heated debate. Are hookless wheels safe, or nah? Here's what your favorite wheel brands think.

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Massive rim failures in the pro peloton sparked a heated debate. Are hookless wheels safe, or nah? Here’s what your favorite wheel brands think.

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Exodux
11 days ago

Why did the wheel industry go hookless in the first place? what are the benefits? I’m not being for or against hookless, I’m just asking the question to those in the know.
I realize cars have hookless wheels, but they are far different that bicycles.

Zack
Zack
11 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

They cost less to manufacture

Matman
Matman
11 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

They realized going hookless would save them something like 10-15$ in production costs for wheels. So they could increase their bottom lines. That’s it.

Cheese
Cheese
11 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

Because it’s cheaper to manufacture.

TheKaiser
TheKaiser
11 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

Easier manufacturing was the primary reason, as far as I know. Molding the hooks for a rim requires a more complex mold and additional post molding finishing steps to ensure the hooks are shaped properly. Additionally, on MTBs, where there isn’t the same concern about having to retain a tire at high pressure, there is a potential benefit to durability with hookless, although I think that may be overstated, as it depends on the design. If material is added bringing up the whole sidewall thickness to the thickness that would normally be the hook, then yes, it could increase durability. But if the area where the hook would normally be is simply thinned to match the rest of the sidewall, then I think durability could even be worse. In other words, is the hookless shape achieved by adding OR subtracting material from a normal hooked setup. And of course some rims are a combo of the 2.

Lars TB
Lars TB
9 days ago
Reply to  TheKaiser

A tire isn’t retained by the hook. The problem here is the still flawed design of the interface between tire and rim. And most of the current problems are caused by the lack of will by tire companies to produce within tighter limits.

Dirt McGirt
Dirt McGirt
11 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

People designing wheels maybe haven’t worked in shops very long or at all and haven’t personally experienced the joys of Schwinn S7 rims or sew-ups. Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.

Ronald Driver
Ronald Driver
6 days ago
Reply to  Dirt McGirt

S7 rims…shit still causes PTSD every time I see one in the wild.

Terrence Bennett
Terrence Bennett
10 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

It saves the manufacturers money. It’s less expensive to manufacture. As you can tell, prices haven’t gone down to reflect this, so more profits for the companies

Astro_Kraken
Astro_Kraken
10 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

Cheaper and lighter is a great combination and there aren’t any issues with 32mm tires and up(aka what us normies should ride), as those pressures are lower.

Billyshoo
Billyshoo
9 days ago
Reply to  Astro_Kraken

Lighter, yes but barely. But any cost savings probably aren’t being passed along to consumers. Regardless, the price of replacing your front teeth after an accidental crash MUST be factored in to any discussion on the cost/benefit analysis of hookless.

Robin
Robin
9 days ago
Reply to  Billyshoo

That’s not a real concern if rims and tires are made to ISO and/or ETRTO standards. The problem that exists now is the lack of compliance on those standards (with compliance including manufacturing to the correct tolerances) and the confusion in the marketplace re: those standards. It’s not helpful when companies like Zipp and Enve ignore the standards and tell their customers it’s safe to use 28mm tires on 25mm internal width rims.

A G
A G
7 days ago
Reply to  Robin

You might want to check your facts. ETRTO applies to rims, tires, and valves for a variety of vehicles. The intent is to ensure safety of a complete system, when the components of the system are made by different suppliers. Both Enve and Zipp hookless rims are made to ETRTO standards for tubeless rims. So, it’s incorrect to say they both disregard standards. As for tire compatibility, until recently 28mm tires were approved. There was a recent change that increases the suggested width to 29mm. But, even with that, there is a provision for “past standard”, to cover this exact situation.

JeffInATL
JeffInATL
9 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

Peak torque did a great video explaining the differrences in how they make each.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAgxTdNIOhA

You can see the appeal from the maker’s perspective if they can get this right. I’ve always run hooked rims but bought some hookless recently. Too early to tell if they’ll be reliable but here’s to hoping!

TypeVertigo
9 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

As Peak Torque’s video on the topic states, hookless is specific to carbon wheels and rims.

Aluminum wheel manufacture is essentially extruding – squeezing the material out of a mold like toothpaste as it’s pushed along; the mold is the cross-section of the rim. You can’t do that with carbon fiber (unless perhaps if you go the forged route).

Carbon fiber manufacture involves lay-up of multiple plies of the material and sandwiching them with resin, and it’s the same for wheels. There are molds used, but they are different from the extrusion ones for aluminum. The molds for carbon fiber wheels are meant to hold the material in place as it’s baked in the autoclave.

How you make the rim hooks therefore is the big challenge. With an aluminum wheel the hooks are already accounted for in the extrusion process. With carbon, you need more molds to shape the carbon into the rim hook, and the molds themselves are consumable parts that cost money to make.

Nate
Nate
7 days ago
Reply to  TypeVertigo

There are several alloy hookless wheels on the market.

fitness
fitness
6 days ago
Reply to  Exodux

Stronger rim, a lot less weight, better tire to sidewall rim aero profile and shape of the tire in how it sits more flush on the outside edge. Read some articles from the big brands making them. It’s not just all about manufacturing costs, but it does help keep the MSRP from climbing like the rest of the industry. I’ve used hookless for 4 years and zero issues. Internet warriors will say otherwise, Pogacar doesn’t seem to mind them at the Giro.

Matthew
Matthew
5 days ago
Reply to  fitness

Remember that a ProTour rider A) will ride anything their sponsor requires and B) has a mechanic working on their bike full time. Saying “such and such a rider doesn’t have a problem with it” isn’t a good argument for non-pros like us.

Matt
Matt
9 days ago

Remember that with hookless rims, there are no benefits to the owner/rider, only the manufacturer for cost cutting.

Bad practice and a terrible idea

Lars TB
Lars TB
9 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Oh yes, all benefits, although minor. The biggest one (and still minor!) is the seating and there for shape of the sidewall.
Absolutely no disadvantages to hookless.

FritzP
FritzP
9 days ago
Reply to  Matt

The most recent Zipp 303 Firecrest is now hookless. The prior hooked model was heavier and more expensive. Seems like benefit for the owner/rider to me, yes?

Evan
Evan
1 day ago
Reply to  FritzP

FritzP: it’s cheaper because of competitive pressure and it’s lighter because the rim is wider. Even if hookless does shave 10 grams, I can also make a rim lighter by drilling holes in it, but I don’t think that weight loss through functional impairment should really count.

If you’re Zipp and you’re forced to sell at a lower price point, you will seek out ways to reduce costs to protect your margins. (Then you will hire shills to go on the internet and claim user benefit.) Pretty simple really.

Robin
Robin
9 days ago
Reply to  Matt

No, it’s only a terrible idea when there’s no compliance with standards and when manufacturers flout the standards and tell consumers it’s okay to use products that go against the standards.

Nate
Nate
7 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Absolutely not true

Nate
Nate
7 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Consumer costs went way down with hookless.

Nate
Nate
7 days ago
Reply to  Matt

The benefits are all towards the rider… your comment makes no sense

Broonnsny
Broonnsny
9 days ago

I notice all of these wheels are race and carbon wheels. But what portion of the rest of us race? Yeah, there’s the problem. Making a hook on an aluminum extrusion isn’t any more difficult or costly once you make the die. But on a carbon wheel? That’s likely harder and more expensive.

tertius_decimus
tertius_decimus
9 days ago

Hookless leads to toothless.

Dann
Dann
9 days ago

The other fact that people need to keep in mind is that road hookless is often ONLY approved for tubeless use because the areas of pressure inside a tire are different with a tube vs no tube. Installing a tube increases the risk of the tire getting pushed off the rim, and so is explicitly frowned upon by many hookless rim manufacturers, so good luck getting home if you blow out and need to install a tube.

FritzP
FritzP
8 days ago
Reply to  Dann

The manufacturers of tubeless rims say that a tube can be used but with a tubeless tire because of the need for the tubeless bead to hold the tire on. They recommend not using a conventional clincher tire with a tube on a hookless rim.

MagnanimousWaffle
MagnanimousWaffle
8 days ago
Reply to  Dann

This is FALSE, show us a manufacturer that has stated this in their specs.

Nate
Nate
7 days ago
Reply to  Dann

The primary reason is because clincher beads are weak and will stretch.

raul d
raul d
9 days ago

I bought a lower tier Cervelo in order to avoid being stuck with hookless rims. I saved enough to buy some hooked Hunts and I have a spare alloy wheelset now too.

Hookless made too many tire choices questionable for me.

Nate
Nate
7 days ago

As someone who sells a TON Of hookless wheels, I am quite confident in them. If they were a problem, we would see examples and evidence. Most major brands will be going hookless over the next few years.

veloaficionado
veloaficionado
5 days ago

Even DT reps say deep dish! 0:18 How many times!?!?!? The dish of the wheel is totally independent of the depth of the rim profile! Or am I just screaming into the wind?

M.m.
M.m.
4 days ago

I think that all rims and tires on all bicycles should be universal fit and feature, just like all vehicle electric charging ports and chargers and internal combustion engines should be universal to help save this planet earth.

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