28 April, 2016
I've been running carbon rims for the last three years on my fat bike. From the Sarma Naran's to the Whisky #9's, I never had any issues with them in that time period. I liked the strength, stiffness and easy/secure tubeless set up they offered along with keeping rolling weight light. Moving out to the west coast for some time this year, the carbon rims did make me feel a bit restricted. I wanted to push harder down the mountain or take a bigger drop, but didn't want to risk the expensive possibility of damaging a $400+ rim. I also didn't like any of the alloy rims that were out, with the weight penalty and the hassel of taping and keeping a rim with cut outs set up tubeless. Then HED launched the B.A.D. rims!
The HED Big Aluminum Deal rims weigh the same as a double walled carbon rim at 630 grams with no cuts out on the rim. Mind blowing I know! HED takes the same general design from there carbon rim and transfered it over to an aluminum version. With HED's rubber spoke washer that they designed with their rims allows a tapeless rim, that does save some weight as well. They B.A.D. rims are 80mm external width and come in either 24", 26" and with the launch of the 27.5" carbon wheels, I'm sure the aluminum version will be right behind it.
A few weeks after HED released the B.A.D. rims, Industry Nine also released the Big Rig 760 alloy wheel set which uses there hubs and straight pull spokes on the B.A.D. rims. Since I run I9 on most of my other bikes, it took no convincing that I wanted to get these. I really like the how the oversize straight pull spokes are super light and make for a stiffer wheel. The wheelset I got from I9 weight in at 2142g, which was very comparable to the I9 with Whisky rims that I have been riding and is about 1 pound lighter than any other alloy wheel build. This way with an aluminum rim I could worry less about charging the trail since the alloy should hold up a bit better and if it doesn't then at least it won't cost me as much out of pocket.
After getting the wheels weighed and photographed it was time to set them up (tubeless of course). I took off the 45 North Dillinger 4 tires that I was running on my Whisky wheel set and got them cleaned and ready for a new install. I was hoping that I could pop these on with the floor pump that I carry with when traveling, but after trying for a while I realized that was lost cause. Thankfully my back door neighbor had a compressor that I could use. Once I got my hands on that compressor tubeless set up was still a little trickier than other rims that I've set up in the past (Sarma's, Whisky, HED Carbon and Sun Ringle). Since the tires weren't tubeless ready and a little stretched out from previous set up, I put the rubber bands that came with the rims to help set up and fill in the air gap. After installing the bands, set up was much easier and once that tire started to inflate and go over the bead socket I heard the loudest POP! I knew then that it would take a lot of effort to break that bead when ridding and that gave me the satisfaction I needed after going through all that to set up them up. Once I gave them the old 1, 2 shake, install the rotors and cassette I was ready to ride.
Once the tires were set up, I didn't loose any air which was nice. There is only one small complaint that I have with these wheels, is that they should come with a tubeless valve stem. I feel if your going to spend $1400 on a wheel set and they were tubeless ready that they would come with tubeless valves. Thankfully though I had an extra pair of stan's valves with me to install but I think either HED or I9 should supply these with the wheels in the future for there customers.
The next day I took them on a ride up in the Northern California mountains. I did about 35 miles with 4000 ft of climbing and the wheels performed great! Since then I did several rides on them in California, Colorado and Wisconsin. I feel no difference in rolling weight or performance. Only difference is that I charge faster since I don't have to worry about damaging a carbon rim. The B.A.D. rims are definitely a game changer and with a fair price point I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more builds this year with them.