All 9th Wave wheels are completely hand built by craftsmen in the Netherlands. Because the quality of a wheel set is the result of a perfect balance between the best materials, workmanship and good tools.
To ensure consistent quality we work with professional wheel truing stands and wheel alignment gauges from Park Tool. Next to that we use the superior spoke tension meter from Sapim together with a custom built pneumatic wheel stress machine. This enables us to guarantee that each wheel by 9th Wave has a perfect spoke tension and no need to retention the spokes after riding.
Carbon lay up is pretty similar to the secret recipe of a star chef. The people who do the layup of the carbon rims determine the properties and much of the quality of the rim. You’ll understand: about our recipe we will not give too much away.
What we want to tell about this: We use different thicknesses, shapes and laying directions. For solidity, we always make the core of our rims with 3K carbon, with a mix of UD carbon on the outside. The UD carbon on the outside of the rim mainly has an optical function.
And we like to point out that we make our wheels out of one piece of carbon per layer. This method requires more skill because it is difficult to put the large pieces into the mold without wrinkles. The advantage is, however, that the rim will be much sturdier and more reliable as opposed to less expensive wheels in which 3 or 4 parts are laminated against each other. (Hence cheaper wheels are often easily recognized by several planes in the carbon, Look for it, you will notice!)
Variable wall thickness
There are brands that make bulges around the spoke holes on the outside of the rim to impress. At 9th Wave, we have been reinforcing our rims internally since 2014 by 3 mm thick solid carbon fiber around the spoke holes to provide extra strength in places where it really matters. The wall thickness of the rest of the rim ranges from 3 mm to the spoke holes up to 0.8 mm in places where it is allowed to again 3 mm thickness at the rim horns (for mountain bike rims).
During the production of the rim, an airbag is placed inside the rim. When the mold is placed into the oven, the airbag is put under pressure very accurately to form the carbon. When the rim is finished, the airbag is completely removed. We’re doing this work very carefully and never leave airbag remains behind inside the rim.
“Ninefold by 9th Wave” stands for ultimate lightweight versions of our products.
Ninefold rims are manufactured by our most skilled production staff, using a mix of ultra-light carbon prepreg and a complex layup. This way we can save weight on the rims without giving in to quality or stiffness. Developing extremely lightweight product often means making concessions in stiffness, durability or quality. To us, none of those is an option.
We want to have Ninefold products available for most cyclists, therefore we make sure the products are strong enough for cyclists up to 105 kg (rider+bike total).
All Ninefold wheels are made with the same materials and production process as our Test Winning Marlowe 29 wheels. (BIKE 10/18 “Carbon-Laufräder im Crash-Test”).
Ninefold technology: why are they so light and special?
Most 9th Wave rims are made from T700 prepreg carbon. In the Ninefold rims, about 30% of the carbon is replaced by a special high-grade carbon. The properties of the new type of carbon are that is stiffer and stronger.
This created new possibilities. For example, 27 layers, of which 30% of the new type are as strong as 34 layers T700. With this information, we designed a new lay-up. Do not get us wrong: it does not mean that we made the rim thinner or weaker in key areas (such as around spoke holes).
Now you might think, why did you not made the whole rim of this light innovative carbon? Simple: The rim is balanced to have a good mix of stiffness, comfort, and durability. When only the lighter type would be used, the rim would not only be too rigid and uncomfortable but even brittle and fragile. Simply because impact can’t be absorbed by a rim that’s too rigid.
Most of our rims wheels have the typical 9th Wave signature shape. I.e. We design all our wheels asymmetrically when we see the opportunity for it and if it makes sense.
On our asymmetrical rims, the spoke holes are placed out of the center of the rim. Because of this we can build better quality wheels with a minimal difference in spoke tension between the left side and right side of the wheels. This benefits the total build quality of the wheels and ultimately the biking characteristics.
9th Wave disc rims have a hookless design for quick and easy mounting of tubeless tires and full use of the width of the rim. Additionally, a hookless rim has superior impact durability and the extra volume created (without bead hook) helps to improve your traction on the trail.
For Road disc rims, We used the design of the mountain bike wheels as a basis. The only exception is a tiny bulge in the leading edge of the rim so that the rim is not 100% hookless but provides additional security at higher pressure.
At 9th Wave, we tune the number of spokes in a wheel to match the wheel characteristics and we drill the spoke holes in the rim at an angle with an average of 6° with a laser-controlled robot. This results in significantly less stress on spoke and nipple when building the wheel because the spokes are aligned perfectly from the rim to the hub. In addition to the asymmetric rim, these special drilled spoke holes contribute dramatically at a better built wheel.
For the critics: Drilling holes in the carbon does not affect the durability of the rim. In the layup process, dozens of layers 3k carbon in different directions are overlaid on each other (at 45 ° difference per layer). The woven fabric of 3K carbon and the many layers assure there are no harmful effects due to disruption of the structure.
In fact, drilling of spoke holes has a number of advantages with respect to laminating spoke holes in carbon. Application of spoke holes during the laminating of the carbon may cause undesirable thickening in the carbon formed around the spoke holes. Because of these thickenings, problems may arise in a later stage with the building and tensioning of the wheel. By drilling the holes afterwards a nice even carbon layup can be realized. An additional benefit is greater flexibility because we use a rim from the same mold for 20, 24, 28 or 32 holes at customer requirement.
9th Wave logos on carbon products made with waterslide transfers. The super thin decals are applied very accurately after which the product is provided with a layer of matte or glossy clearcoat. Please, never use the word Sticker around one of our people…;-) To us, it’s swearing! By using transfers your gear will stay neat and shiny for a long time and it will not suffer from discolored or loose stickers. We think your quality gear deserves a quality finish. The aluminum rims from 9th Wave logos are laser engraved.