By Matthew Long
The Crank Brothersâ€™ 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 â€œthe bling factor.â€ 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 youâ€™re riding on rails!
The Iodine is the Brothersâ€™ 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 Vermontâ€™s (especially Montgomeryâ€™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 Iâ€™m still on the 9mm plan but Iâ€™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 Iâ€™ve not had to do a speck of truing. The only bummer Iâ€™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 â€œangry beeâ€ 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, theyâ€™re not cheap at $950 but theyâ€™re worth it. My mantra is â€œLifeâ€™s short. Buy kick ass gear.â€ 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 Iâ€™m sure theyâ€™re still a sweet wheelset.