Interbike 2012: American Classic expands into 27.5in/650b wheels

Plus tubular and tubeless carbon and alloy road options

This article originally published on BikeRadar

American Classic is among the latest companies to support the burgeoning 27.5"/650b movement with three options for 2013. The road range is significantly updated as well with new carbon and alloy tubulars, tubeless wheels for those that don't feel like playing with glue, and even disc-compatible models for early adopters.

Three 650b options, no waiting

American Classic will add 27.5"/650b variants to its three most popular mountain bike wheelsets: the All Mountain, the Race, and the Terrain.

Like the current 29" and 26" All Mountain wheels, the new 27.5"/650b version features a generous 28mm-wide (external; 24mm internal) tubeless-compatible aluminum rim with a very shallow bead hook that company principal Bill Shook says lends greater casing support and allows more air volume for a given tire size. According to Shook, this means riders can safely run bigger tires at lower pressures with reduced chance of burping or rolling. Conversely, riders can use smaller tires to save weight while maintaining a similar footprint as a bigger tire on a more conventionally sized rim.

American Classic builds the US$850 All Mountain with its Disc 130 and Disc 225 six-bolt hubs with convertible axles, butted 14/15g stainless steel spokes, and the company's own cleverly designed aluminum alloy nipples that use longer threads on the rim side to reduce breakage. Claimed weight is 1,673g for the set.

The US$999 MTB Race 650b wheels are built around the same hubs but thinner 14/16g spokes to save weight. Likewise, the tubeless-compatible aluminum rims feature the same internal and external width as the All Mountain hoops but are slightly shallower and use a thinner extrusion. Claimed weight for the set is 238g lighter at just 1,435g.

More budget-minded riders can instead turn to the MTB Terrain 650, which subs in heavier hubs, brass nipples, and a narrower (26/22mm external/internal width) but heavier tubeless rim. Suggested retail price drops to US$470 but claimed weight climbs to 1,845g for the pair.

New tubular, tubeless, and disc road wheels

We've been watching the Cofidis team ride American Classic prototype aluminum box-section tubulars all season and consumers will now be able to purchase their own set for US$899. The new wheels use an unusually wide – for box-section aluminum, that is – 23.5mm rim to provide better support for the bigger road and 'cross tires American Classic expects people will use here.

Adding in American Classic's own 105 and RD 205 hubs, butted spokes, and alloy nipples keeps claimed weight down to 1,526g for the set. American Classic will also offer a disc-compatible set for US$950 that adds just 45g.

New black and silver hub graphics for next year

New black and silver hub graphics for next year

American Classic abandons last year's 38mm-deep all-carbon tubulars in favor of a new 44mm-deep all-carbon set that's not only taller but 4mm wider, measuring 23mm across at the tire bed. Impressively, the 1,373g claimed weight is only 3g heavier than the old 38s while offering more speed, too. American Classic will keep a 38mm-deep road wheel in its range for 2013, however, but it'll only be offered in a conventional aluminum-and-carbon clincher for US$1,429.

Tubeless road fans, on the other hand, get the new US$1,449 Argent road tubeless wheels, which are admirably light at 1,372g for the pair (claimed) but reasonably sized with 22mm/19.4mm-wide (external/internal) rims and a 30mm depth.

Cyclo-cross riders that don't want to bother with glue but still want a fatter rim can instead look at American Classic's new TCX Tubeless, which uses the company's abbreviated bead hook in a 26/22mm-wide (external/internal) aluminum rim, 14/15g butted stainless steel spokes, and your choice of rim or disc brake-compatible hubs. Claimed weight is 1,838-1,895g for the set depending on brake fitment and retail price is US$470 for either version.

Other bits

American Classic has updated and added to its component range, too. New for 2013 are freehub bodies for use with Shimano 11-speed or SRAM XX1 drivetrains, a new 9mm thru-bolt mountain bike disc front hub, American Classic's first Lefty-compatible front hub, and 25/21mm-wide (external/internal) tubeless-compatible mountain bike rim in 26", 27.5"/650b, and 29" sizes for DIYers. Claimed weights for the rims are just 329-381g depending on diameter.

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