After a couple of months of running an auto-search for the Spinergy Rev-x Roks 26 inch wheels, an option to buy these beautiful pieces of retro mountain biking gear came along.
The second I saw the email and looked there were already 6 other people who had made their bid public. With the highest one offering €210 for a complete set.
I looked at Ebay sold listings and decided to offer €350 ($423). I immediately received a reply and the wheels were mine.
The Spinergy wheels are considered icons of the retro mountain biking scene. A lot of people choose these wheels to finalize their retro build.
A brief history of the Spinergy Rev-x Roks
The iconic Spinergy wheels were designed by former Cannondale engineer Raphael Schlanger, who patented the design in 1990. In 1993, while working for the company Hamlin Transmission, he approached founder and CEO Martin Connolly with his idea of the carbon-composite wheel.
Connolly, a bicycle enthusiast, had raised a significant amount of capital to bring an automatic bike transmission to the market (hence the name of the company). But quickly ditched the idea when he had taken a look at Schlanger’s sketches. Feeling the carbon wheels would prove to be a “easier source of income” than the tough to develop automatic transmission.
Connolly and his team came up with the brandname Spinergy, Spinergy Rev-x for the road wheels and Spinergy Rev-x Roks for the 26 inch mountain bike version.
Its unique design, being featured on high-end big brand name bicycles, and its aggressive promotion through “big-name racers” meant the wheels we’re noticed and received a fare share of industry accolades. They would even be featured on the TV Show “Pacific Blue” alongside another icon the Trek Y33.
The first time we would see Spinergy wheels would be Cannondale’s 1995 catalogue. But the stunning looks of the Spinergy wheels couldn’t hide the fact that they we’re not the best wheels money could buy.
Introduced in 1995 the Spinergy Rev-x Roks MTB wheels would be discontinued 2.5 years later. Despite its push into the mountain bike market, MTB riders had little use for aerodynamics.
It’s the reason why they’re only featured in Cannondale’s 1997 catalog on the high-end XC bikes. And non of the top cross-country riders would be spotted using the wheels. They simply weren’t good enough for this type of riding.
At the turn of the millennium it was all over for the Rev-x. Mavic had surpassed them in sales with their red-rimmed Mavic Helium wheels, introduced in 1996.
The successor of the Spinergy Rev-x Roks, were the the Spinergy Spox. Introduced in 1998 and undoubtedly a better product, they simply lacked that iconic look of the Rev-x Roks.
4 things to check before buying Spinergy Rev-x Roks wheels
I have to be honest that I didn’t really know what I was getting into before I decided to buy the Spinergy wheels. Luckily for me they proved to be in fairly good shape. But here are a few things to take into consideration before buying these wheels.
1. Inspect the spokes for damage
The spokes are made of carbon. And like normal spokes, they are tensioned between the rim and hub, which was an absolute first for carbon wheels. And because of this they are extremely thin, which is part of the allure of these wheels.
But this also makes them very fragile. And the spokes is the place where most often damage has occurred.
2. Inspect the rim
The wheels were released in an era when rim brakes where used on almost all bicycles. And the aluminium rim is glued onto its carbon counterpart.
However, an incorrect setup of the brakes can lead to the brake shoes getting into contact with the carbon instead of the aluminium. The end result of this might lead to the rim splitting from the entire wheel.
3. Inspect the hubs
The hubs use R8 sealed cartridge bearings for both the front and the rear wheel. But the drive side of the rear uses loose bearings which are kept into place with your standard cone within a standard Shimano freehub.
The setup with loose bearings and a cone is very prone to corrosion as it hardly keeps the water out. And because the wheels are relatively stiff, there’s more stress on these bearings in general. Check the rear axle for signs of damage and / or play.
4. Inspect the spoke rivets
The Spinergy Rev-x Roks seem to be a monocogue. But at the place where the spokes move into the the rim a small piece of material is wedged in between the spokes and kept into place with tiny rivets.
The place where these rivets enter the carbon is where it is at its weakest. A wheel has 2 rivets per spoke set for a total of 8 per wheel. Inspect all rivets and the surrounding carbon for signs of cracks, especially in the rear wheel, which receives more stress.
Pros and cons of the Spinergy Rev-x Roks
As you can understand from the previous paragraphs is that buying a pair of these wheels is risky business. But that’s just one of the issues with the Spinergy Rev-x Roks. Here’s a list of the biggest (dis)advantages of these wheels.
- No one can argue the impact the Spinergy Rev-x Roks have had on the cycling industry. And if you ask me, very few if any wheel can beat this one in terms of looks. It’s design has proven to be timeless and is one we’ll probably never see again for mountain bikes, let alone 26″ wheels. And I don’t know of any other carbon spoked wheels for mountain bikes being made today.
- The wheels are highly sought after. This means that you can fetch a decent price if they are in rideable condition. And it’s highly unlikely that prices will drop as these wheels will become more rare to obtain moving onwards.
- Carbon doesn’t degrade. So age isn’t a factor in ride quality, usage is.
- Probably the biggest issue is that the Spinergy Rev-x Roks cannot be repaired apart from the bearings. This means that if any part of the carbon is damaged, the entire wheel is compromised.
- The spokes have proven to be tremendously fragile and prone to impact damage. I’ve looked through all current Ebay listings for both the 700C and 26″ wheels and all have spoke damage to an extent I wouldn’t buy them.
- The stickers damage and peel off very easily. Replacement stickers can be found on Ebay.
- The blade spokes suffer from crosswinds.
- Although the wheels don’t get out of true easily, when they do, they wheels cannot be trued.
- Stiffness and aerodynamic properties, normally associated with spoked wheels, are useless in mountain biking.
- The wheels display lateral flex, causing them to rub against a tight brake setup easily when cornering hard or getting out of the saddle.
Making an argument against the Spinergy Rev-x Roks because of their ride quality doesn’t make any sense. But just to be sure, you shouldn’t want to buy these wheels because they are the best 26 inch mountain bike wheels money can buy. They aren’t, not by a long shot.
You buy them because of their looks, because they are the cherry on top of your retro MTB build, because they represent something you marvelled at in the bike catalog back in the day, knowing you could never afford them, until now.
So enjoy them for what they are: a piece of cycling history, and ride safely.
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