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PRODUCT TEST: E*THIRTEEN’S XCX RACE 700 CARBON WHEELS

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When it comes to wheels designed for skinny-tire bikes, e*thirteen is not a brand that comes to mind. Where mountain bikers are familiar with their full catalog of fat-tire friendly parts and accessories, we only know them for offering a variety of wide-range aftermarket cassettes. Well, it seems their drop-bar category is expanding with a line of gravel wheels that are specifically designed for the growing segment.

At 1353 grams with valves and tubeless tape installed it’s no wonder Lauf made the jump to the new wheels on their bikes.

THE TECH

For the launch of their new wheels, e*thirteen has partnered with gravel bike brand Lauf who will now be offering the new hoops as a production item. There will be an alloy-hooped set called the XCX 700, as well as a carbon version called the XCX Race 700 tested here. e*thirteen has had mountain bike wheels in their line, but this is their first go at the gravel segment.

To start, the tubeless-ready wheels will only be available with six-bolt disc compatibility, but a Centerlock version is in the works. The front hub can be fitted with 12mm or 15mm end caps. The rear is 12x142mm and has all the major hub-body options—XDR, XD, HG and Microspline. Switching them out is a breeze, thanks to a threaded press-on end cap that keeps the system from coming apart if you need to do a roadside repair, but allows service to be easy with no tools needed.

There are 28 points of engagement and we do wish there were a few more.

The carbon rims have a hookless bead and claimed weight of 320 grams. The rim is 28mm deep and 29mm wide with a 24mm internal width. The XCX Race is laced with 24 straight-pull, double-butted Sapim spokes front and rear. The front wheel hit the scale at 617 grams with the rear at 736, both including valves and tubeless tape. The freewheel has 28 points of engagement.

THE RIDE

Setup and mounting tires was easy and flawless. Between the added internal width and overall internal design, all of our tubeless tires went on easily with just a floor pump. The width of the system adds a bit of volume to the tires for a very stable shape when running lower pressures. Since the wheels are launching on the Lauf True Grit and Anywhere, we figured that we should use the Lauf as our main test rig, too. Let’s just say we have loved our DT Swiss wheels, but shaved some weight off with the new XCX Race 700.

Our wheels are an early prototype and hit the scales a bit heavier than their claimed weight of 1280 grams at 1353 grams. Either way, the sub-1400-gram weight is impressive. We also got ours with the wrong freehub grease that was a bit too viscous. e*thirteen got us the improved formula that didn’t impact the function of the pawls.

We still love our 2x SRAM Wide drivetrain.

On the road the wheels feel responsive to input and accelerations. It’s harder to feel on the Lauf due to the True Grit fork, but the large 40mm tires reduced chatter, but we mounted smaller 35mm tires and it was clear the wheels were designed with some compliance characteristics in mind. Since the Lauf Grit suspension fork lets you push the boundaries of gravel riding, we took full advantage and really put the wheels through the durability test.

From jarring roads, jumps, rock strikes and plain old irresponsible line choices, the wheels have held up with flying colors. The durability and construction remind us of something you would find on a wheel built for mountain bikes, but the weight and ride quality clearly lean towards gravel and all-road riding.

THE VERDICT

For us, the wheels are a great option for someone looking to upgrade to carbon but are worried about damaging their investment. This is also backed by their no-fault lifetime carbon rim warranty that covers the original owner, so ride them hard with no worries.

Ideally, we would’ve liked to see more hub engagement points and Centerlock rotor mounts. Still, the overall package is solid and should be on the short list for those looking to upgrade their gravel or adventure bikes. e*thirteen has more than just sweet cassettes in their drop-bar catalog now. And, if you are like us and just want to ride with less worries and more smiles, then the XCX is a great option in a remarkably lightweight package.

PUNCH LINES

• Consumer-direct with lifetime support
• Centerlock, please
• Durable and lightweight

STATS

Price: $1599
Weight: 1353 grams (valves and tubeless tape installed)
www.ethirteen.com

Check out the new color options for the True Grit and the complete bike offerings that now all have e13 wheels.

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