Strong, Light, Cheap – Pick Two. Should the old mountain bike adage prove true, the ACROS ENDURO RACE carbon wheels would have to fall apart on the first ride, because their price/weight ratio is incredible. Whether they hold up in practice, we’re about to find out.
Hardly any component is underestimated more than the wheels; they have a major influence on a bike’s riding characteristics. Stiffness ensures precise handling, durability gives you peace of mind and lightness saves energy and increases agility. With the ENDURO RACE carbon wheelset, ACROS offers an interesting upgrade option, and we wanted to find out if these lightweights can keep what they promise.
The ACROS ENDURO RACE carbon wheels in detail
At the heart of the ACROS ENDURO RACE wheelset are the in-house NINETEEN BOOST hubs. These black CNC’d beauties are Made in Germany and rely on specially developed, double-sealed stainless steel angular ball bearings. The 19 mm aluminium axles are a good compromise of high stiffness and low weight. The front wheel hub weighs 145 g, the rear wheel hub 240 g – so the ACROS NINETEEN are on par with other high-end hubs such as the DT Swiss 240s. The NINETEEN BOOST hubs come with a new freewheel ratchet system with 38 teeth, they are only averagely quick to engage, therefore, though we never found this to be an annoyance. The axial play of the hub can be adjusted with the supplied tool but this was never necessary during our test.
The ACROS i29 carbon rims have an inner width of 29 mm and a depth of 27 mm, specifically designed for tires up to 2.5″. The spoke holes are arranged asymmetrically, which is meant to compensate different spoke angles and tensions and thus provide more stiffness. The rim comes with a hookless bead design and so should be able to take bigger hits without damaging the tire.
The wheels are hand built in Germany, laced with 28 SAPIM CX-Ray spokes. ACROS emphasizes that with the high stiffness of the today’s carbon rims 28 spokes are entirely sufficient and have no disadvantages in comparison to the 32 spoke wheels they tested – a position supported by many of their competitors. But ACROS has even gone a step further by not setting a rider weight limit.
Our 29″ test wheelset with an XD-freehub came in at a weight of 1,493 g, just below the manufacturer’s specifications, a fantastic value for the intended application. Anyone now expecting a price tag above € 2,000 will be pleasantly surprised: the ACROS ENDURO RACE wheelset costs € 1,199, as much as the front wheel alone from some of the competitors. Time for the competition to rethink their pricing!
Riding the ACROS ENDURO Carbon wheels
We’ve tested a set of ACROS ENDURO RACE carbon wheels on a Norco Sight C 9.2 over a full season. The Norco comes with Raceface AR 30-rims and XT-hubs, and so, as with a lot complete bikes in the middle price range, it comes with a relatively heavy wheelset. The ACROS ENDURO carbon wheelset managed to shave off a considerable 618 g, and the mandatory tubeless conversion will make them lighter still.
Converting from the Shimano to the XD-Freehub requires some practice since the axles have to be exchanged in the process, but following the instructions should be easy enough. We were able to mount the Schwalbe Magic Mary and Nobby Nic tire combo on our first try, but the ACROS rims needed some time to seal properly and hold air. After a few rides, however, the sealant managed to plug the last leaks and the problem was history.
After the first few meters, it quickly becomes clear why carbon wheels are among the most coveted upgrades. Taking off that weight, you feel as if you’ve had a two-week course of EPO infusions. With less rotating mass, the bike feels a lot more lively, accelerating considerably quicker, encouraging fast sprints and sudden changes in direction. On long and even climbs, the effect is less noticeable, but in the long run, your legs will thank you, the lightweight wheels saving considerable amounts energy.
The rims are very stiff and allow experienced riders to control their bike with a high degree of precision. The carbon rims’ stiffness, however, also has its disadvantages, because they are often harsh and offer less damping than aluminium rims. The ACROS rims are no exception, although these characteristics are less pronounced than on many other models and are hardly noticeable on the trail. If you have never tried carbon rims yourself though, you should be aware of these riding characteristics before buying.
So far so good, but do these lightweights also stand up to abuse? We did not spare the ACROS wheels and besides riding the Norco on tours and moderate trails, we took it on shuttle runs in Latsch and maltreated it in a bike park. After two months, the rear wheel had a slight wobble, but this could easily be fixed by re-tensioning the spokes. Since then, both wheels have been running as true as they did out of the box and didn’t flinch at botched landings and nasty rock gardens. Of course, if you really mean to you’ll manage to destroy the burliest of wheels, and awkward landings and riding errors can break the best of them – but the wheelset we got to test has been able to withstand all the abuse we managed to throw at them – we’re thoroughly impressed!
Strong, Light, Cheap – Take it all! The ACROS ENDURO RACE carbon wheels are convincing with a strong overall package without any real weaknesses. The equation of price, weight, and durability is equally high, no matter how you turn it. If you want to give your bike a noticeable power boost, the ACROS wheels will be a pleasure.
For more information head to the ACROS website
Words: Moritz Dittmar Photos: Valentin Rühl