Industry Nine – Elevating Performance

Posted on 28. Feb, 2010 by Paul Skilbeck in 2010 News

IndustryNine“We are dedicated to providing an elevated level of performance”. This is the I9 mantra espoused by owner Jeff Baucon, translating to the push of the company to only bring to market products that meet their criteria of “better”. I9’s Wheel system in overview is a proprietary hub/spoke design that accommodates any standard rim.

From a distance, the wheels are visually stunning with a broad spectrum of color options for spokes and hubs. Upon closer inspection I notice the medical quality finish and a most interesting spoke/hub interface. A traditional wheel is a spoke laced into the hub and held into the rim by a spoke nipple with the threaded relationship at the rim. I9 has flipped the equation where an aluminum nail type spoke comes in from the rim side, and threads directly into the hub flange. End result is the lack of nipple and a reduction of weight at the rim where the rotational mass is. The ride is described as laterally stiffer which usually means more weight, yet with the MTB Ultralite Race wheelset on Stans Podium rim, the scale said 1310g.  I am suddenly overwhelmed by wanting to call mom and tell her about having the cake AND eating it.

Jeff goes on to tell me some history of the company. The I9 product line is all made in-house at the Turnamics machine shop in Asheville NC. Turnamics is run by Clint Spiegal, a lifelong cyclist with a big brain geared for mechanical engineering.  Clint has literally reinvented the wheel.

The hub is pawl style engagement with 60 points of contact. In human speak, that’s an engagement point every six degrees.  My math can be poor at times so I ask Jeff to help me wrap my brain around the proclaimed 3 degree engagement when 360 divided by 60 is six degrees. He sits me down, pats my head and draws a picture of the six pawls in the hub which form a 6 sided star or 2 overlapping triangles. These 2 triangles are slightly out of phase with each other by three degrees. I start to fidget a bit, he smiles then continues that while one set of pawls (triangle) is engaged, the other is three degrees behind it. They play leap frog of sorts around the drive ring, effectively doubling the engagement points.

Whew! I got it!

But then I asked him with a furrowed brow, “why not just make a 120 point drive ring?”. He smiles and says that a 60 point ring allows for more surface contact between pawl and engagement point, and therefore a stronger drive connection. Again, fancy speak that means the Samsonite gorilla can stomp on it with confidence.

The best was saved for last: the hub’s serviceability. Two different sized hex wrenches are all that is needed to pull down the hub and service it. Jeff says a big part of the design was looking forward to make both the consumer abd shop mechanic happy by not having to buy an exotic tool kit to service the I9.  Also,  the hubs are compatible across many boundaries. You can run anything fro a QR, 15mm, up to a 20mm thru axle on the same front hub by switching end caps. The rear hub can go between QR,10mm and so on by an axle swap.

I have been a mechanic for over 20 years and without question, this is the most well thought-out hub I’ve seen. I9 has wheelsets for all flavors of cyclists from road to mountain, cyclocross, and now even BMX that will have a patented “happy bolt” system. I walk away knowing that the phrase “to re-invent the wheel” really can have a positive connotation.

-Tim Richardson

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