All the way back in November a fancy box of Kuroshiro Enso 685 wheels showed up at World of Bikes. The ever-growing fat-bike market is constantly evolving to fit the needs of all sorts of riders, and high end components are definitely being asked for. Fat-bikes are getting faster. The rise of fat-bike dedicated race series and fat-bike national championships are proof. Wheels are one of the best upgrades to get your fattie rolling faster and the Kuroshiro’s are a serious contender among carbon fat wheels. They are packed full technology that I reviewed in my product spotlight. The weights and specs are also found here. (link here! https://fat-bike.com/2015/11/product-preview-kuroshiro-wheels-by-andrea-cohen/ ) Beyond learning about new technology I was most excited to see what the tapeless tubeless system was all about. Any updates to tubeless systems intrigue me. I was also excited by a wheel that claimed to add 18% more stiffness. Lastly, testing out the durability of any carbon cycling product is necessary. I was ready to put these bad boys through the ringer!
The spoke holes are designed to be used with Sapim Polyax nipples, but we used DT Swiss Prolock nipples so the fit was not going to be super-duper perfect.To start, instead of taping the spoke bed, I ran sealant down the SP-Line spoke bed. The idea is to give the nipples a head start with the sealing. I chose to mount up a 4″ and 5″ Dillinger, sometimes you just need that extra cushion. After easily mounting the tires and adding around 6 oz. of Stan’s sealant I put the air compressor on the valve minus the valve core. The first shot of air left me with little confidence. There was sealant bubbling out of every spoke hole and around the bead. I continued to force air into the wheel with the compressor. After around 5 minutes of compressor air they sealed. It was instant. The bead snapped into place with a loud pop. The bead lock, which is part of their Alterra Design technology, was very precise and helpful. I was honestly shocked. Both tires set up the same way. Every bit of technology held up. The tapeless tubeless worked! I do believe you would need an air compressor to get these to set up though. They held over night with no pressure loss.
I installed the wheels on my Purple People Eatin’ Salsa Beargrease Machine. The first ride on the Kuroshiro’s was magical. I took them straight to a small, but windy trail right by my house. I was instantly impressed. I am not the best technical rider and have always felt that the fat-bike was helping me by masking my mistakes. I could feel every turn and move I made. The stiffness of the Kuroshiro wheels instantly shone through. This bike was fast. Yes, you could talk about how light you made your fat-bike, but the ride quality needs to speak for itself. The rotational weight was now working in my favor, every turn I made allowed for the bike to respond right away and stick the path I choose. This sometimes turned out to be not such a great thing, like I said I am not the best technical rider. But I did get through all of the burr patches and thorny traps faster than ever. If you can’t tell by now my initial reaction was an instant love and appreciation for all of the hard work and engineering that went into these wheels. The testing did not stop there.
Next up, I played around with the tire pressure. My first couple of rides I stayed around 7-8 psi. This is typically where I ride for single-track and stomp rompin’ when it isn’t too snowy. I did a lot of 5+ hour excursions at this tire pressure and over 3-4 weeks I never felt a huge need to add more pressure to my tires, the tubeless held extremely well. There was no snow to play in, but I knew I would encounter snow when I hit my first race in January. To prepare for the snowy conditions I lowered the psi to 5 and left it there for a couple days. In the warmer weather (above 15) I never had a problem with losing pressure or sealant. The tires never budged. There was also no sign of sealant leakage. I never felt limited in terms of what I could run over. There’s a 200 pound weight limit on these bad boys, so I personally was not scared to bump the rim, even at these low pressures.
I really wish it had gotten colder here to really test the bead lock before the Tuscobia race in January (my race post –https://andreafromiowa.wordpress.com/2016/01/14/tuscobia-150-2016/ ) . I was expecting temperatures to hover around 0 and below. Things tend to shrink in the extreme cold leaving you with a leaking bead and lost pressure. This was my only issue during the three months of testing. Around 4 hours into Tuscobia I had lost around 5 psi in the rear tire. I could still ride, but there was sealant leaking out around the bead. I used my brain and gave the tire a big shot of C02. This allowed me to ride the next hour to a checkpoint where I used my frame pump to get the tire back up to my 8 psi. I did not have any issues for the next 20 hours of my ride. Yes, I was on my bike for 25 hours. After the race I never had any more issues with losing pressure.
After 3 months of riding the wheels, they don’t show any signs of damage, even though my riding style would lead you to believe otherwise. I added about 2 ounces of sealant halfway through the testing process. I stuck to Stan’s, which is recommended. During any fat-bike ride, getting a flat is always a huge concern of mine. Mix freezing cold, with frustration and you have a recipe for disaster. I’m confident that unless I slashed open the tire, the wheels would hold at pressures ranging from 15-5 in temperatures down to -20. The weight savings were obvious. I saved over 800 grams with just the rims alone, not to mention the awesome build. The ride quality was astounding. The stiffer wheel nearly transformed the feel of my fat-bike to be more in line with my 29er MTB. Gone are the days of struggling with a bulky, gorilla-taped wheel. The Kuroshiro Enso 685 answered every question I had. While the cost of these wheels is $2,500??, I think these would be a nearly perfect set of carbon hoops for any rider looking for weight savings, with improved ride quality. I rate these hoops 5 out of 5 Pizzas!
For more about Kurishiro in the USA – http://www.redbearproducts.com/