Introducing the Xplor! (and I ramble on a bit)

Posted by Jerry Chabot on

Best endurance slash allroad slash gravel slash dirt road wheels ON THE PLANET. 

Bold statement, but I stand by it. We finally have these rims in decent quantities so now I can start promoting them more aggressively. Nothing stresses me out more than orders that I can't fulfill, which has been happening more than I would like this year for various logistical reasons. Building wheels is easy, running a wheel business is a whole other story (and hat). As a custom build factory wheel business, our product line is based on offering all the options that we think you should have, which puts a lot of hubs, spokes, nipples, rims, valve stems, tape widths, etc. in the mix. Alas. We would not do it any other way, though, as what I believe sets NEXT apart is a well thought out, curated line of rim offerings the reaches all the way into the cycling niche standards _cough_SCS_cough_  coupled with great quality hubs and spokes.  Of course we also want to offer a price point hub option and so we have our NEXT house brand hubs from Taiwan. They are actually the hubs that our UCI pro team CCB-Sicleri use, nothing wrong with them just because they don't cost so much. 

But, I am here to talk about the new NEXT:Xplor endurance wheel! Best endurance slash all-road slash gravel rim ON THE PLANET. Ok can we talk about "endurance" vs "gravel" vs "all-road" (vs. allroad vs all road...) for a minute first? Skip ahead if you don't care, it's cool. 

Endurance: What is the endurance riding category? I can only offer my opinion, since the bike industry hates standards, as evidenced by the proliferation of said standards for axles, bottom brackets, etc. The existence of so many new standards is in itself counter to standardization!  But I digress (again). Endurance is long ass miles in the saddle for purposes other than preparing for hacking on the front of Tour Day France stages in July. Like to ride all day from point A to point B on back roads and get lost on the bike? That is endurance riding in my opinion. 

Gravel: Gravel riding is becoming somewhat of a misnomer, or at least it is a bit limiting to the genre of riding that it purports to represent. Gravel riding is dirt riding. Look down. Is it dirty? Did they neglect to put down a layer of asphalt? Congratulations, you are riding on "gravel". Now, here in New England, people just call that "dirt roads" but in the bike scene, gravel has taken over as the term of the day. Don't get me started .... (whoops too late!)

All Road / Allroad / All-Road: First, how the heck do we spell this? Me personally, I am ALLIN on ALLROAD.


(yes I really went there)

Why "allroad" (and why I don't want to get emails from people giving me grammar advice)? It's very simple: Audi uses Allroad. Done. Just that easy. No need to give it any more thought, the Germans have already figured this out for you. Es ist Allroad, jah. Gut genug. 

Ok, but why allroad vs gravel? Well, because products meant for gravel are really meant for any surface of road. ALL THE ROADS. Gravel? Sure it's one subset. Trails? Go for it. Dirt roads? You betcha. Pavement even? YES YOU ARE ALLOWED TO RIDE ON THAT TOO! In summary, ANY ROAD. But, in the interest of reducing the data storage required to hose THE ENTIRE INTERNET, we have truncated down to "allroad" and, in so doing, saved on character. Hey, every drop fills the bucket as we say in Vermont. Or, in this case, does not fill the bucket as quickly. Because we care. 


NEXT:Xplor - To the punchline! Why do we claim that these are the best allroad wheels on the planet? Well, couple salient points:

  1. They are WIDE. With a 24mm internal width and a 30mm external width, they are optimized for a 28mm to 32mm tire from both a tire shape and aero drag perspective. Remember, these are endurance allroad wheels. Aero drag matters, believe it or not, but not from a max speed max wattage perspective, but rather from the total energy expended metric. These wheels ROLL and after a couple hours you appreciate the watts you didn't have to push. 
  2. They are pretty deep at 40mm, but NOT SO DEEP. Not so deep as to be unnecessarily heavy or susceptible to moment forces due to side winds. At 40mm they are solidly in the "aero drag is reduced and benefits are realized at a broad range of yaw angles" category, but not as much as say a 55 deep rim like the NEXT:FAST at larger yaw (side wind) angles. Why do we chose not to go as deep as the Enve 4.5AR, pretty much the only other wheel comparable to the NEXT:Xplor. The Enve are 49mm front and 55mm rear which we feel is a just lot of rim for a smaller rider in the windy conditions which a lot of your gravel riding may be. The midwest is seeing a lot of growth in this segment, and having gone to engineering school in Indiana for a while, I can tell you it gets windy out there. The 40mm deep is a nice nod to aero performance but solidly in the context of the allroad rider. 
  3. They are LIGHT. At about 405 grams per rim, they are saving about 100 grams on set of Enve 4.5AR. 405 grams is really really light for a rim of this width. How did we get it that light? We designed the rim specifically for disc brakes, so no added carbon on the brake track like a lot of the other rims out there. These are disc specific and optimized as such. Also, they are only designed for 70 PSI max tire inflation. If you are running a 28mm or larger tire, 70 PSI is a lot. Google "hoop stress" and do some reading (until I can blog about it). Moral of the story is that a larger tire feels firmer at lower pressures than a smaller tire. 70 PSI is PLENTY. In a lot of regions, the gravel (dirt) roads you will be traversing are built to a less stringent road standard by definition, and you will encounter steeper grades and longer climbs and generally more vertical per mile than on the bigger, paved roads. A 400 gram rim built into a 1,400 gram wheel is going to feel a lot better than the deeper Enve 4.5AR's at 1,550 grams. 
  4. They are HOOKLESS TUBELESS. Like our awesome MTB rims, the allroad rims are all hookless. Only our pure road wheels have a hooked bead. The hook is for high pressure tire retention and adds a fair bit of weight, and cuts into the rims width at the bead by a good 5mm (2.5mm on each side). With the 70 PSI max rating, we elliminated the hook and deepened the bead depth a bit from the super shallow bead on the MTB and CX rims which are optimized for very low pressure (15-25). You will never see that riding allroad, so no need to design around the extra impact protection required, and the extra depth holds the tire better at high pressure.
  5. They are PRECISION BUILT. Maybe this goes with out saying but maybe I should say it more often. Each pair of NEXT wheels is built to order, for you, specific to you, with a "one by one" mindset, not a "I get measured by my employer based upon how many wheels I can churn out a day" mindset. There are lots of great boutique wheel builders out there in every major market. What makes us different is that we combine that great build quality and customer service with a selection of carbon rims that we have control over and have ridden and know intimately and can discuss with you in great detail. We a NEXT rim in stock waiting for your order for pretty much every bike fit and type of riding you want to do. We don't have to compromise by picking from the available rims on the market that we then have to buy at wholesale and add a double mark up to (distributor to dealer to consumer). Not saying our wheel build is better than anyone else, but I do believe we are a uniquely complete package. 

Well, I have once again blown away my word count target. Thanks for hanging in there till the end. Don't ask an engineer "why" unless you are prepared for the answer!