Reviewed: Crank Brother’s Iodine Wheelset

By Matthew Long

The Crank Brothers’ Iodine is, quite simply, the best looking wheelset I have ever seen. Even better than the white Skyway Tuffwheels that adorned my beloved Schwinn Predator so many years ago. The Iodine is available in a garish bright orange, which, according to MTBR.com, is strictly for “the bling factor.” Well, this is Vermont and we like to keep it toned down here a bit so, thankfully, the Iodine is also available in Iron Grey.

Crank Brothers, known for their design skills, have created quite the bomber wheelset with the Iodine. The rim is hole free, creating a strong and stiff hoop and the spokes are quite different, meeting halfway between hub flange and rim. It makes you feel like you’re riding on rails!

The Iodine is the Brothers’ all-mountain offering and I chose it over the Cobalt (their XC design) for a few reasons. First, the width will handle up to a 2.5 and I like a good fat tire. The weight difference is less than a few beers (1,903 grams vs. 1,540 grams for the Cobalt), which I believe is a stronger and sturdier wheelset for Vermont’s (especially Montgomery’s) rooty and rocky sniggle. Also the Iodines can run tubeless (I choose not to) and they can run either a 9mm, 15mm, or 20mm axle. So far I’m still on the 9mm plan but I’m ready to move up to either the 15 or 20mm very soon.

The Iodine is incredibly stiff, has a very fast six-pawl engagement, and to date I’ve not had to do a speck of truing. The only bummer I’ve encountered so far is the lack of replacement spokes (they are available for purchase, though) with the wheels, and as I recently threw on a fresh new 10-speed cassette, I found it did not jive. The happy part of this story? I got on the phone, spoke to Tim in the tech department, and had some spacers and a new free hub body on the way. The free hub body was not necessary for the fix, but he upgraded me anyways. I cannot stress how good it feels to have a company provide that quality of customer service. Also to be noted, the six pawl hub makes the loud “angry bee” sound which so many bike geeks love. I do as well, and have found it is very helpful in keeping bear and blood-thirsty moose at bay.

Now the price, they’re not cheap at $950 but they’re worth it. My mantra is “Life’s short. Buy kick ass gear.” The good news is, they are coming out with a few more models this spring which will be at a much lower price point, cutting a few corners in the hub department, but I’m sure they’re still a sweet wheelset.

1 Comment

  • Christine says:

    I’m guessing Roval is the other mfg with this rim.I hear Reynolds is cminog out with a carbon rimmed wheel that’s going to be really affordable (1k range).I’m glad to see this end of the market with more competition. Wheels are 2nd or 3rd in the list of important parts on a bike, behind frame and suspension. Carbon rims are the future must have for high performance bikes, IMO.I would like to see more sophistication/innovation in this section of the market. I’m not gonna whine about new standards if they go tubular or some other tubeless format, or with a new freehub spline design, or more integration such as a cassette+freehub-in-one design, as long as there’s overall improvements in this area that make it worthy to upgrade over heavier, flimsier, and/or weaker designs. Would be impressive to see some wheels with Easton’s warranty, but extended out to 2-3 years or so. I want to see marketing start smacking around numbers like BSD, inner rim width, outer rim taper angle (I know a few who hate having the outside of their rims dinged), flange width, height, and maybe even effective triangular area. Maybe start promoting asym spoke holes, nipples that are inline with the spoke, how much of a drop channel there is for ease of tire installation/removal without tools, spoke tension, etc.

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