Distributed by : Gee Hin Chan & Co

Terrain 26

Larger riders will love this mid priced dependable wheel set

American Classic has been around for sometime now, however it was only for the past few years they managed to offer great quality products to the market. This coincides with founder Bill Shook’s retaking control of the company.

American Classic wheels are “bland” to say the least. Unlike many other after market wheel sets, they do not feature special spokes or rims. They are wheels with seemingly normal hubs,spokes, rims and boring 3 crossed lacing. They are conventional.

However, bland and conventional has its advantages. No special tools are needed to true the wheels. Spokes are easily available. Unlike some other brands that charge 7-10 dollar per spoke. Even in the future if you totalled your rims, hubs can be reused like any other hub. They are wheels that just work without all the fanfare.

Terrain Disc

They are marketed as the budget version of their mountain bike wheels. They spot the same look and technology found in American Classics’s higher priced wheels. Only drawback is the weight. However as an added bonus, they raised the weight limit of the rider for this particular set of wheels. It is 120kg instead of the 100kg on their higher priced wheels.

Terrain Disc wheels come with a Terrain Hub on Terrain rims laced to American Classics’s own brand of butted spokes.

The rims are deeper than their other offering which should translate to wheel strength and durability. They are also disc specific like their name suggested.

The hubs are where the wheels shine. They run on sealed bearings. However, the free-wheel is where I am most excited about.

The free-wheel body is aluminium. I am sure many of you have ran aluminium free-wheel bodies and found that over time, the individual cogs will cut into the splines.  American classic removed this problem by having steel inserts in the aluminium free-wheel. This means weight saving without the disadvantages.

Another “Technology” I am excited about is the hubs’ pawls and ratchet. They have 6 pawls than engages the same time. By itself, it sounds like it will be secure, but that’s not all! Instead of having one edge on every pawl, there is an addition “teeth” on every one. So every time the hub engages, there are 12 points of contact on the 24 points of engagement. In addition, the pawls are on the hub body away from the centre, translating to more leverage for the pawls.

This system is not unique to American classic but I noticed they do have deeper teeth compared to the other brands.

They are held onto frames with standard quick releases.

First Impressions

I admit I hated the outlook of the wheels at first. One look at it and I thought it had too much going on with its decals. I have always liked simple and clean mono-coloured schemes.

After running them for a few days, the look did grow on me. It had decals but somehow it didn’t manage to make my bike look tacky. The solitary red spoke also did made looking for the tube valve faster. I do recommend you buy tubes with longer valves, although standard ones will still fit the deep rims, but some air pumps require more space.

Putting on fold-able tires was relatively normal. It wasn’t too easy or tight.

Quality was also decent, definitely worth more than its price.

Riding it

They are extremely well-priced. Nice quality not commonly normally found on a wheel-set of this price. I found quite little faults with it

I wanted to give these wheels a thorough testing as I didn’t had much time with it. So I ran them on my rigid single speed bike and gave it a spin.

Coming from a hub with 42 points of engagement, the 24 points on the American classic immediately felt lacking. The lower engagement counts were less obvious when I ran the wheels on  my multi-speed full suspension.

Although it was lacking the engagement count, its engagement was very reliable. It is now very common to see high end hubs with up to 108 engagements. To achieve such high counts, many companies made compromises. More often than not, these hubs skip and sometimes even self destruct.

American Classic chose safety and reliability over the more “marketable” engagement count. Their choice could be felt when I stomped on the pedal or climbing a hill. It didn’t slip at all in the few days of testing and the engagement felt secure and solid. I didn’t need to think twice before sprinting up a hill or forcing an additional pedal stroke to clear some obstacles.

The wheel itself felt pretty good. It was nice and solid. The rigidity of the wheel built can be felt- more like a set of AM than a set of XC wheels. It’s a nice contrast to today’s underweight wobbly XC wheels on the market.

However, it wasn’t overly stiff, it handled side-way loads and impacts decently. Braking on those wheels were pretty decent as well. I never hesitated to enter berms and corners on these wheels. They tracked pretty well and doesn’t deflect too much when the trails got too rough.

Even running at lower pressures, my Maxxis and Kenda fold-able tires didn’t roll off the rim at the hard side-way force I put on them.

Other than the nice feel of the wheels, they do roll pretty well. Although not the smoothest rolling wheels on the market, it could easily out-roll the popular Hope hubs.

After a few hard rides and mistakes, the wheel did go slightly out of true. Here lies one of its strength, because it didn’t run special nipples or spokes, I could easy re-true them anywhere. They now ran as true as new. The free-wheel body did survive the single speed cog I ran for 2 weeks. Any other aluminium free-wheel body wouldn’t have survived that.

Conclusion

Although heavier and tougher than regular XC wheels, they are still essentially XC wheels. The QR hubs meant that they will not fit into today’s popular 15mm or 20mm through axle AM forks. They are not stiffer or tougher than those extremely light weight DH/AM wheel sets but they are definitely more affordable.

The rims’ narrow profile also meant that anything bigger than 2.1 tires has a high chance of folding sideways. They also didn’t look like it can prevent snakebites as well.

Well, these wheels are what it says it is. The additional weight did meant additional strength. Perfect for those riders who are looking for a replacement wheel set for their old or damaged stock ones and bigger riders that need a pair of reliable wheels to ride cross country.

They are extremely well-priced. Nice quality not commonly normally found on a wheel-set of this price. I found quite little faults with it.

Coupled with a 1-year warranty, easily maintainable and no frills, they are the perfect for the budget conscious as well. You might find it quite hard to get such quality on a similar priced custom wheel set.