Industry Nine Ultralite 235 CX TRA Wheels: At The Finish

Industry Nine Ultralite 235 CX TRA Wheels: At The Finish- by Guitar Ted

The weeks have worn on and now we have come to the end of the test for these beautiful Industry Nine Ultralite 235 CX TRA Wheels. While they look great, the question of whether or not they are tough enough for the job or if they present a good value are still on the table for discussion. In this final post, I hope to put those two questions to rest. For our last post on the I-9 wheels here, please hit the link HERE.

Industry Nine
The Industry Nine wheels were trouble free throughout the duration of the testing.

Ride Performance: I do not have a lot more to add in regard to the Industry Nine Ultralite 235 CX TRA wheels as far as how they worked for me. They were, in a word, flawless. Tubeless performance was very good, I had no issues with noises, creaks, or poor hub engagement. Coasting was revealing as the hubs felt smooth and the friction that causes some wheels to slow up and not coast freely wasn’t an issue with these wheels at all. In terms of weight, the Ultralite 235 rims were great, matching up with Industry Nine’s aluminum machining and manufacturing prowess, the chassis was equally as light. While technically I am over the stated weight limit for these wheels,(Industry Nine recommends 220lbs as tops), they weren’t a problem at all for me. Like I said, they were flawless, even after crossing up a curb hop and after many landings to flat on pavement while launching off grassy side strips along the roads on my commute. So, are they tough enough? Yeah…..I think so.

Now as far as value to the rider, this gets a little tricky. It used to be that there was a big gulf between what a carbon fiber rimmed wheel set would cost you and what a high quality aluminum wheel set cost. Now the gulf that used to exist in pricing has narrowed up quite a bit. So, throwing out costs, why buy an aluminum wheel set when you can get carbon wheels for not a lot more, or in some cases, for the same amount or less?

Riding Gravel plans on doing a podcast about just these sorts of questions, but for now, I will say the following- It depends on what you believe. Whether or not you think carbon is superior to aluminum will be the biggest deciding factor here, more than likely. Weight? Well, we are seeing great wheels like these Industry Nine wheels here actually come in slightly lighter than carbon fiber hooped wheels. Stiffness? Some would argue that the unforgiving nature of some carbon rims actually makes your bike ride worse than better.

Technically speaking, there are reasons to go with the Industry Nine wheel set since, let’s say, you damage a rim, it can be replaced, in theory, at a reasonable cost. Carbon rims also can be replaced, but the price will be a lot more, since that is where the cost is in the first place with that sort of wheel. By the way, all parts of an Industry Nine wheel, hubs, spokes, and rims, are serviceable by Industry Nine. Try getting parts for some of these other hubs and/or the special spokes that are out there. As a shop mechanic, I have seen many issues with this concerning other aftermarket wheels with names which are likely very familiar to you. Industry Nine also presents a way to be different in terms of aesthetics, which is appealing to some. Looks are not everything, but they are something for many of us. Add in that Industry Nine makes their products in the USA and maybe then this becomes enough extra value that it pushes these wheels to the forefront.

At The Finish: These are stunningly beautiful works of machining and anodization. The good news is that they seem to also perform as well as they look. Through the initial test rides to longer gravel rides, these wheels show that they are stiff enough and act normally. The wider rim profile makes your tires set up to be rollers of gravel instead of a plow. Now throw in the good looks and lighter weight and you have a unique, capable set of wheels that enhance the performance of any gravel bike. I found these wheels to be not only great looking, but they are tough enough to be “daily drivers”, and not just race day only wheels, although their light weight certainly qualifies them as being worthy of racing. All in all, Industry Nine has produced a wheel that is well worth considering for the discerning gravel rider.

Note: Industry Nine sent over the Ultralite 235 CX TRA wheel set for test and review to Riding Gravel at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.


Author: Guitar Ted

Guitar Ted hails from Iowa. Home of over 70,000 miles of gravel and back roads. An inaugural member of the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame and Co-creator of Trans Iowa in late 2004- Guitar Ted has been at the forefront of the growth of gravel events and riding since then. Creator of Gravel Grinder News in 2008, he produced the premier calendar of gravel and back road events. GT joined forces with Riding Gravel in late 2014.

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7 thoughts on “Industry Nine Ultralite 235 CX TRA Wheels: At The Finish

  1. I can’t speak to these but I have I9 i25TL wheels on my gravel bike and road bike, and they are fantastic. Tough, light, gorgeous.

  2. I bought a set of these from I9 in June and they are great! The ordering process was very good and The has them built and shipped in under 2 days. I am 200lbs and after 1500 miles of everything from asphalt creek o singletrack they have performed flawlessly. Keep in mind that I am not as aggressive on rough trails as some people. Price is a little steep considering that ou can buy a comparable custom set of wheels for around $1k but I think they are worth the price.

  3. There seems to be some concern that the aluminum spokes will make these wheels too stiff/ridged for long rides. How did you find the ride quality vs steel spokes with a carbon or aluminum rim? I am a big fan of i9 on my MTB’s but want to make sure after 4+ hours they work just as well on my gravel ride.

    1. @Jim- I’ve done several long rides on gravel with older I-9 wheels with no issues I could say were from “too stiff a spoke”. In fact, if you ever get the chance to handle an Industry 9 aluminum spoke outside of a wheel, I think you might find it is pretty flexible, on the order of a steel spoke. Under tension they also have give, as you can demonstrate to yourself by squeezing pairs of spokes.

      Of course, spokes are only one part of a wheel system. the rim used plays a major part in the ride feel. So, I would be a bit more concerned about that than I would be about what the spokes are made from. I don’t think I-9 spokes are any more stiff or compliant than steel ones are. In general terms, that is.

  4. You think these (as 650b) are too light for single track use? I’m 130 lbs and tend to take things fairly slowly when it gets more technical.

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