As the march to a wider wheel seems inevitable, certain companies are pushing that notion to the extreme. At this point in the evolution, you can’t talk wide wheels without including Ibis Cycle’s new line of carbon hoops. Boasting massive internal and external widths, the wheels are barely a step below the “+” size rims found in 29″ and now 27.5″.
Aimed squarely at the growing Enduro market, honestly the Ibis 741s look to be an enticing option for anyone looking for ultra wide, light wheels for their mountain bike. Then there’s the price – considering they are less than a set of rims from some competitors, Ibis seems to be building momentum for their stand-alone wheels…
Labeled as the 741, the Ibis naming structure is pretty simple. The first number is either 7 or 9, for 27.5 or 29” wheels. The second number is the outside diameter of each rim, either 41 or 28mm. In this case the 741 is a 41mm wide, 27.5″ rim, which is ridiculous.
Built from carbon, the rims feature a hookless bead design which Ibis found to be dramatically stronger in impact tests than hooked rims. Ibis also claims that in testing, their carbon wheels tested 50-300% stronger than competitors in impact tests.
The tubeless ready design relies on a layer of rim tape that seems dwarfed by the gigantic rim cavity. Just wide enough to cover the spoke holes, the built in bead shelf is designed to be air tight around the bead while still allowing the tires to be installed and removed by hand. Both the rim tape and tubeless valves came installed on our review sample. When mounting the Continental tires below, we used the Continental tire sealant and were able to install the tires by hand, and seat them with a floor pump without any issues.
Measuring in at just under 41mm externally and 35mm internally, the carbon rim has a claimed weight of 473g. While the carbon rims point towards light weight, Ibis wanted the wheels to be as durable as possible so 32 spokes are used across the line. This should mean that even if you break one of the triple butted 2.2/1.5 /2.0 gauge spokes, the alloy nipple won’t pull through the reinforced spoke holes, and the wheel will still be rideable.
Really, the only options for the 741s come in the form of the rear hub. The front hub is a non-branded 15mm thru axle only, 6 bolt disc hub. At the rear, you have the choice between a standard or DT Swiss 350 hub which includes their special 54 tooth star ratchet for an engagement angle of 6º. Both hubs are available in 142×12 TA standard with Shimano or SRAM XD freehubs and 135×10 QR adapters are available separately.
Suggested retail price for the wheelset with the standard rear hub is set at $1299, while the DT Swiss 350 version ups the price to $1499.
The obvious question – what does the width do for tires? We’ll go more into depth on this in the future, but for initial testing we threw on a Continental X-King Protection in 2.4″. In this case, the protective sidewall is probably a very good idea since the super wide rim causes the sidewall to stick out farther than the tread side knobs. The width also causes the tread surface to flatten out a bit, so it’s probably best to run the highest volume tires with the best tread wrap you can fit.
Ibis’ own Scot Nicol recommends anything with a rounded profile using the example of a Maxxis Minion working well, but the High Roller not so much. He also mentioned Specialized tires since they are building in more tread wrap as well as the Bontrager X4, Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.25, Maxxis Ardent 2.25, and WTB Vigilante 2.3 and Trailboss 2.25.
On the actual measurement, the 2.4 Conti came in at 61.45mm (2.42″) wide for the casing and 56.4mm at the widest point in the tread. That may not seem like much, but for a tire brand that tends to run on the smaller side, it’s impressive.
Even with a claimed weight of 1734g, our sample managed to come in nearly 30g less with both the tubeless valves and tape installed. How’s that for under promise, over deliver? At 795g for the front and 911g for the rear, the 15mm/142×12 wheelset with an XD driver is pretty light considering the crazy wide rims.