Crank Brothers Iodine 2 Wheels Review
May 24th, 2017
Product Full Name | Crank Brothers Iodine 2 Wheelset
Retail Price | £499.99
Available From | Extra UK
Crank Brothers Iodine 2 – revised and improved
These are the brand new Crank Brothers Iodine wheels – which are now in their third generation.
There are two models in the range – the high specced Iodine 3 model, and these mid-range Iodine 2 models – that retail for under £500.
Both models feature a 28mm internal rim width (32.5mm external) that supports tyres from 2.3 up to 2.8in. The Iodine wheels also have a unique 24 spoke design, and are fully tubeless compatible.
The construction of Crank Brothers wheels is unique in the mountain bike world, but uses a system very similar to high-end Moto Trials wheels (check this shot out and this one too). The reason Crank Brothers went down this route, was to develop a strong, light wheel – and make them properly tubeless compatible without having to manufacture a complicated rim design.
Like the original Mavic UST rims, Crank Brothers use a fully sealed rim bed, so no rim strip conversion kit, or Gorilla tape bodging is needed. As far as we’re concerned – if the rim bed is not sealed like the aforementioned designs, it is not properly tubeless.
‘Tubeless Compatible‘ and ‘Tubeless Ready‘ are loose marketing terms slung around, but can be a little misleading as often mean nothing more than a conventional rim that comes with a conversion kit to seal off the spoke holes.
The Mavic system is expensive to produce, as it uses a nipple that screws in to the rim and on to the spoke at the same time. It works really well, but is a complex thing (image right here) to manufacture.
The Crank Brothers system essentially has elongated straight pull nipples at the hub end; that meet with short spokes that connect to tabs on the rim. This enables the rim to remain completely sealed for tubeless set up, and means spokes can be changed with the tyres on if need be.
The hubs are straight pull and come in either regular 15mm bolt through – or Boost up front; and 12mm x 142mm or Boost 148mm out back. The wheels also come with the option of either a standard Shimano freehub body, or the SRAM DX driver. Both wheels use quality cartridge bearings, and weigh in at 1830grams in the 27.5in size, or 1900 in 29in.
Out On The Trail
Having ridden both previous generations of the Iodine wheels, was particularly interested to see how strong these new wheels are, and how well they are built. The first ones (that came in a cool copper colour ) were unbelievably strong, but suffered from a poor freehub body design. The second iteration had a simplified hub design, and faired better but weren’t quite as strong.
These third generation bad boys seem to have it pretty much perfect though. Hub design is simple, well sealed and houses decent bearings. I’ve hammered them with the jet wash and they’re still spinning well, and still have plenty of uncontaminated grease in there.
The overall wheel feels stiff too – especially so when you consider they have 24 spokes. Which is not a lot for a wheel aimed at hard all mountain riding, but thanks to the way the long oversized nipples support the short spokes, it works very effectively.
I really made an effort to give these wheels a hard life, and the worst they came back with in the first month was a slight creak from out back. Due to the way the whole nipple spins in the hub mounting, if there is any minute movement they can creak. My samples were dusty as anything though, and once cleaned didn’t make the same noise again.
I have managed to damage the rear rim though – admittedly whilst testing the Huck Norris tyre and rim protection system. Whilst running 20psi, I managed to ding the rear rim in a horrendously rough rock garden, going as fast as I dared. Whilst this creased the rim, the wheel is perfectly true and there is no hop in it at all. And despite the looks, the tyre stayed up.
I was expecting to damage the rim when bending it back after, but it has moved to the original position without any signs of damage, and things are back on track again. No air loss, and everything running true.
I’ve always been drawn to Crank Brothers Iodine wheels as the styling is so unique, and I like the way they manage to solve a few problems in an alternative way.
They are a fairly lightweight option, that do seem to have addressed the minor issues of previous models. And they are properly tubeless too.
Although I did damage the rear rim in testing, any rim would have been damaged in the same scenario – and I know many would have come off worse.
Crank Brothers Iodine wheels are definitely one of the more interesting wheels out there, though the marmite looks might put some people off.
Not me though, I love marmite.