Following the first article by Bike Radar about their first look at our EXO wheels, numerous people have emailed us asking questions relating the light weight new technology carbon fiber MATRIX spokes. I’ll try to address some of those where.
How durable are the EXO wheels and MATRIX spokes.
We have designed and developed every part of the EXO wheels to meet high performance standards for durability. While they are light weight they are not fragile. That said there are limits to the abuse light weight parts can take, and hence we allow a maximum weight limit of 100kg for riders on smooth roads. If you weight more than that, and or ride on poor quality roads, you would expect a reduced lifespan for any cycling product not just light weight carbon fiber wheels. We rate our products as being just as durable as other high end carbon fiber wheels.
We use very high quality materials and only use high quality manufacturing resources. Because we have such a good relationship with the factories we get access to their best technologies and can rely on consistent production standards. No we do not own our own factory, but this is an advantage as our production can always be with the best in the business.
Most tensioned spoke wheels are assembled with around 110kg in the spokes. We designed the MATRIX spokes to meet 250kg before failure, more than most rims can take before cracking. During testing we had some spokes not fail with 300kg before we stopped the test.
Most spokes fail due to fatigue at either the thread for the nipple, or at the interface with the hub. Because the carbon fiber central section of the matrix spokes is 2mm in diameter, the Aluminium end sections of the MATRIX spokes are then 6mm thick. This is extremely robust and will cope well with fatigue inducing loads typical in a spoked wheel.
What if I damage a spoke – I don’t want to have to send the wheels back for repair
You won’t need to! EXO wheels use tensioned spokes and are assembled just like “normal” wheels. If you need replacement parts just contact us and we’ll give you a deal on spares. Unlike other brands who charge enormous amounts for their proprietary spares, we are more interested in happy customers than retiring early on profits made on service parts.
The spokes are then inserted through the hub and tighten at the rim much like other straight pull wheels. Some of our deeper rims don’t have holes in the tire bead which means you have to pop the nipple in through the valve hole and work it around to the spoke hole. You then tighten and true the wheel as per usual. Any competent bike shop can do this service for you.
The nipple is a bit larger than normal so it is not likely your bike shop already has the nipple wrench size required. If you ask nicely we might just send you the nipple tool for free with any replacement spokes you need. Many other brands/models of wheels also need a spoke nipple specifically for that wheel, and not all shops already have every possible variant that might be needed.
Our wheels that use steel spokes use common and very popular spoke and nipple sizes. If you need to replace one of them your shop might even have the correct size in stock, or can get them from a local supplier.
How easy are the spokes to damage?
This concern was raised by Bike Radar. If you skip your spoke off the inside of the cassette into the spokes of any wheel – expect problems. I did this under power with a set of Zondas, and it didn’t end well for a number of the spokes and the hub flange. It resulted in completely replacing the wheel.
Bike Radar’s concern might be that the light weight carbon fiber central section might be more easily damaged from a minor incident.
If you jump the chain into the spokes with some force and wedge the chain between the spokes and cassette as I did to my Zonda rear wheel, then that will affect the much thicker Al section of the spokes that connects with the hub flange. This is likely to be just as robust as a thin steel spoke under similar abuse.
A small scratch in the carbon fiber section would need to be deeper than something cosmetic before it would start cutting the carbon fiber. Contact like this would likely also scratch into a thin steel spoke. With some bladed spokes being only 1mm thick it would not take much for them to be structurally unsound as well.
The same concern for scratching spokes can be had with the Aluminum spokes used by some name brand companies. Aluminum is much softer than steel, and more prone to fatigue. As a result Aluminum spokes tend to be very thick. Despite the risk of more easily scratching and damaging these spokes customer satisfaction and demand has remained high enough that these wheels have been sold for many years now. Replacement spokes for these wheels are extremely expensive, at least here in Australia.
Mavic RSYS wheels had some highly publicised failures. Do EXO wheels have the same risk?
I’ll give a straight answer to this one – NO!
RSYS wheels used un-tensioned very large diameter spokes that resisted loads by compression and tension as the wheel rotated. The spokes had to be very thick (and hence un aerodynamic) to resist buckling. A few long comparatively thin tubes loaded in compression? What could go wrong?
While Mavic claimed the first wheels released were perfectly fine, they did make changes to the spokes which somehow made the failure issue fade from the headlines.
EXO wheels use thinner 2mm carbon fiber spokes which are built in tension and take wheel loads just like “normal” bicycle wheels. EXO wheels are not going to be prone to whatever was causing the infamous early failures of RSYS wheels.
What is the warrenty on TUFF wheels?
As mentioned above, we are both very confident in the manufacturing and design of our rims/spokes, and want happy customers. If something should go wrong with your wheels and it is suspected to be a manufacturing quality issue not a wear and tear or abuse related failure, then send the wheels back to us and we will inspect them. If we agree it is a quality issue found in the first 3 years of ownership, we will refund the shipping, and replace the parts free of charge and return the wheel to you.
If you ever need spare parts or repair for any other reason, you can either send the wheels back to use and we will repair them at a favourable price for one of our customers, or you can buy the parts you need and have a local bike shop do the servicing. You can call this a “crash replacement policy” or just “really good customer service”.
That covers the majority of questions we have been getting. If you have any other tech questions or questions about something specific or different that you want – just ask! Because we build each wheel to a customer’s order we can be very flexible.