I'll be the first to admit that I’ve always been enamored by the sound of a loud rear hub. As someone who grew up working in shops, I considered it a status symbol. Like doctors and lawyers who flaunt their fast cars, expensive watches or Tour de France-ready road bikes, mountain bikers let the unmistakable hum of their freewheel tell everyone that their ride is dialed. But it's not a fashion show, right? Does the unmistakable sound translate into a better experience on the trail?
After more than a year of abusing these wheels, which I first put on my Rocky Mountain Altitude in 2014, I can say that it does. That's surprising, since my maintenance protocol during long-term product testing is questionable. As in, I don't do any maintenance and see what happens. Yet the Torch hubs haven't developed any play or exhibited any noticeable signs of wear; they're still running fast and smooth. And their six pawls and 120 engagement points are still humming that same catchy tune.
I've become accustomed to the quick engagement of the Torch hubs. On technical climbs, when you're scratching and clawing for any tiny bit of traction, the hubs' near-instant engagement can mean the difference between bragging rights and a slow, shameful walk to the top.
After about six months of hard riding on the Enduros, a few of the rear wheel's proprietary aluminum spokes began to detension so, contrary to my maintenance protocol, I did spend a few minutes at the truing stand giving the wheels a thorough once-over. The rims are showing cosmetic scars from a full season of riding, but they are still free from any significant flat spots or performance-compromising damage. That's a strong testimonial, considering that my 205-pound frame doesn't always treat rims with a whole lot of respect.
The $1,210 I9 Enduro wheels have been trustworthy companions over the past year. Never complaining and always hungry for more, they've proven that they're more than just an intoxicating hum you hear buzzing down the trail.