We Are One released their newest generation of Union carbon fiber rims a couple years back, with options that span from gravel and dirt jump bikes through to enduro and downhill. As with the rest of the Revolution range, the We Are One Union rims are made by hand in Kamloops, BC, with their unique layup process that ensures precise fiber alignment which should produce the strongest rim possible. The process is controlled in a way that means the rims need no post treatment once removed from the mold, which is a mark of how well We Are One Composites have their process nailed down. We were stoked to put a We Are One Revolution wheelset to the test on our high-pivot Norco Range C1 and We Are One Arrival test bikes for some extended mileage.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Before we get further into this review, we must admit a bit of a screw up on our end…We recently published a carbon wheel video and mentioned that we were not pleased with how stiff the Revolution wheels were on our Norco Range. Shortly after publishing that video, we were trying to diagnose the reason we were not loving our Range test bike and discovered that there was a defective bearing in the shock extension link, resulting in a less-than-desirable feel out of the bike and wheels. Simply put, the bike had a defective part that negatively impacted our impression of the wheels, and now that we have another set on a different bike and have also received a new shock and shock extension link for the Norco Range, our impressions have changed greatly.
THE LAB The Union rim is We Are One’s carbon fiber enduro hoop, designed to offer all the strength and stiffness required for hard punishment while reducing rider fatigue on the longer timed stages. They took their original and successful Agent rim and set about improving three key points to end up with a rim they claim will silence any carbon fiber rim naysayers.
The first was a reduction in weight, which provides benefits that go without saying. The second was the search for improvement in the radial compliance of the wheel to improve comfort and traction out on the trail, which led to them making a rim with their least radial stiffness to date. The third was to improve the impact resistance, increasing durability to survive the toughest of punishments while being raced on the world stage.
The result is a rim that tips the scales at 495g for the 29” size, with an inner width of 30mm that’ll support 2.35”-2.8” tires, and a relatively shallow 21mm depth. We Are One offers the Union rims in 27.5” and 29” options, drilled to 28h or 32h. They can be purchased directly from We Are One as rim-only for $475 per rim, or with a variety of custom-built wheelset options including the Onyx Vesper hub and Sapim Race wheelset we tested.
Onyx hubs are renowned for the instant engagement of their freehub mechanism, which uses a sprag clutch design that completely disengages when not pedaling to provide drag- and noise-free coasting. The Vesper hubs are Onyx’s second generation of hub, which lost around 23% of the overall weight compared with the original model following a drastic redesign. The freehub and drive mechanism were slimmed down, excess material was machined from the flanges and brake mount, and the hub body now has a large step down towards the non-driveside where the internal space isn’t required for the clutch mechanism. The Vesper hubs come as standard with high-quality stainless-steel bearings, which use a double lip seal to keep the crud out and ensure they spin smoothly for a long time. Onyx offers all the major standards for frame, cassette, and rotor fitment, so you should be able to have your custom built We Are One/Onyx wheelset built to fit any modern mountain bike.
The Sapim Race spokes are the standard option on We Are One’s custom wheel builder, with a double butted profile that tapers the stainless steel from 2mm at the ends to 1.8mm in the middle section. For $140, you can shave roughly 90g from the wheelset weight and increase strength by opting for the Sapim CX-Ray bladed spoke upgrade option.
Weighing in at a competitive 1,798g for the pair with a retail price of $1,850, the We Are One Union wheelset tested are priced in line with many other premium carbon fiber wheelsets but is still a hefty investment many riders will have to think hard about.
THE DIRT For our test period we rode two sets of wheels, both the Onyx Vesper hub build, and an Industry 9 hydra set. As we mentioned above, our initial impressions aboard the Norco Range with its compromised suspension left us searching for ways to improve the bike, and since we hadn’t ridden, We Are One wheels before, we assumed this harshness came from the wheels. After getting another bike and finding a very different experience we re-examined the Range as so many others were loving that bike. We found the issue and worked with Norco to fix the bike and have since been very pleased.
We had some issues with ghost-shifting on the Onyx Vesper-equipped wheelset. Under heavy load, and especially when pedaling through compressions, the chain would skip intermittently. After a discussion with Onyx, we learned that this was an issue that they were aware of with the first batch of Vesper hubs and have updated the driver to rectify it. This should ensure anyone with a “problem” hub can get it fixed without too much stress. Aside from the skipping issues, the eerie silence of the sprag clutch freehub and the limited drag made the Onyx hubs a pleasant ride. The Industry 9 built wheelset had zero issues, shifting perfectly throughout our rough test sessions and producing insanely quick and reliable pickup with their signature buzz.
When it comes time to evaluate the ride quality and experience of the wheels, we’ve got nothing but good things to say. I’m a big fan of compliance as I seek out loose, chunky, and rocky terrain that often doesn’t have tons of traction. Finding a wheel that can blend traction, comfort, and compliance with the desired stiffness for hard corners and compressions is a difficult search. It seems We Are One Composites has achieved that mixture with their handmade layup process and we can see why they have such a dedicated fan base.
To complete the test process, I traveled to Los Angeles to ride some of my hometown trails which I’m intimately familiar with, as well as a trip to Sedona Mountain Bike Festival. Both locations gave me the opportunity to beat on these wheels in very challenging terrain where both sharp rock edges and big compression landings on hard, off-camber rock slabs are readily available. I found the wheels were comfortable and not overly stiff when bashing into square-edged hits yet held their shape and composure when landing drops onto slabs. Also noted was the little bit of flex, or compliance as the wheels deflected on angled, or off-camber rock slabs, which certainly helped avoid some flat tires and likely some serious wheel-damage when blind hucks went wrong.
The Wolf’s Last Word
Simply put, I can now see why We Are One Composites has the vocal and dedicated online community they do. We are huge fans of North American-made products and when they’re as impeccably manufactured as these wheels, it’s hard to not get excited. They are certainly expensive and will likely be out of range for many riders, but for those looking at a premium set of carbon wheels, we’d have a hard time finding others we’d recommend more. Although we’d likely suggest going with the Industry 9 hubs based on our test experience, they’re a solid wheelset with either of the hub options – built to take a beating but compliant enough to be enjoyed by all types of riders.
Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.
Beautiful and elegant
Hand made in Canada
A financial commitment
Ghost-shifting from Onyx hub (solved)
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