Review: American Classic Carbonator wheelset

Following the success of their Wide Lightning wheels launched a couple of years ago, American Classic set out to design and build a carbon version.

American Classic Carbonator 1.jpg


As one of the latest mountain bike wheels to go hookless, the Carbonator rim uses a much thicker spoke bed and rim wall for great impact resistance and durability. When head engineer Bill Shook was experimenting with wheels made from carbon and aluminium, he found that aluminium rims can be built with thinner rim walls for an overall lighter weight as the rims can deal with multiple dents and dings without compromising their integrity.


American Classic Carbonator 2.jpg
Carbon, on the other hand, needs some extra material to ensure functional durability and safety. Once he increased the wall thickness they offered excellent dent resistance, stiffness and strength - making them a perfect candidate for a light and stiff Trail / Enduro type wheel, where abuse and repeated hits are the order of the day.


Featuring thicker sidewalls and 1mm wider outside profile than the aluminium Wide Lightnings (33mm vs 32mm outside, 26mm vs 29.3mm inside) to ensure durability, strength and stiffness. That extra material comes at a weight penalty of just 100g, making these one of the lightest, properly wide wheelsets available today at 1676g for the 29" set.


Built with American Classic Disc 130 and 225 hubs, laced to the 32 hole rims using 14/15g DB spokes and aluminium nipples front and rear. The wheels allow for standard QR or 15mm/ 142×12 thru axle configurations, with an XD driver available to run SRAM's 11 speed.


Build quality is top-notch and doing away with the white and gold graphics certainly gives them a more premium look.


American Classic Carbonator 3.jpg


On The Trail

I hit the trails already convinced of the benefits of wider rims following my time on the American Classic Wide Lightnings and Derby carbon rims. Noticeably stiffer than the aluminium Wide Lightnings, the Carbonators help keep wheel deflection in check and tracked sketchy terrain well.


Getting them up to speed does not take much effort and they tend to respond best when hammered hard. My only complaint would be the slow engagement of the rear hub. By no means terrible, just not in tune with modern offerings and pedaling up technical single track takes some careful planning and requires consistent pedaling - something that's not always possible on tricky sections. Once up to speed though, there are no complaints.


American Classic Carbonator 4.jpg


This set has done duty on more than one bike and are still running true and straight with not a single ding or mark in sight. Fitting tires has proven fairly effortless and various tires used during our test period inflated without hassle.



Whether you're willing to spend good money on a set of carbon mountain bike wheels is for you to decided. What I can say is that these offer good value for money, and should you decided that carbon wheels are the way to go, these will not disappoint. Wide(er) rims are the way of the future making "standard" rims feel archaic and out of place on a modern mountain bike.


American Classic Carbonator 5.jpg


The American Classic Carbonator wheels are light, stiff, well made and have excellent local back up. If their Wide Lightnings are anything to go by, they should be durable too.



[spec_list_row=Rims]Carbonator Tubeless All Carbon Disc Rims 27.5 / 29"[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Spokes]AC 14/15 Gauge Spokes Black / AC Aluminum Nipples Silver 32h 3-Cross Front and Rear[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Weight 27.5" "] Front 740gr | Rear 855gr | Pair 1595gr[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Weight 29" "]Front 784gr | Rear 892gr | Pair 1676gr[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row=Hubs/Spacing]Front Disc 130 100 mm / 15 mm / Thru Axle Disc 100 mm / 9 mm Thru Axle Disc 100 mm Rear Disc 225 135 mm / 10 mm x 135 mm Thru Axle Disc / 142 mm Thru Axle Disc / Shimano/SRAM 9/10/11 or SRAM XX1[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Brake interface"]6 Bolt International Standard[/spec_list_row]
[spec_list_row="Price"]Around R18,500.00[/spec_list_row]
American Classic MTB tubeless tape installed and tubeless valves included.


NGUTF, Aug 25 2015 03:38

What?!?! No comments?!?!

Rocket-Boy, Aug 25 2015 08:05

I honestly cant see the point vs the normal wide lightnings, the price difference just doesnt justify a bit of extra stiffness.

NicoBoshoff, Aug 25 2015 08:44

What?!?! No comments?!?!

For R18k they can write their own comments

Johny Bravo, Aug 25 2015 10:04

They seem heavy for carbon rims. My Rovals were cheaper and lighter, and dont have so many logos and names on them.


That said, these rims seem great. Would not mind owning a set.

NGUTF, Aug 26 2015 10:15

For R18k they can write their own comments

hehe BOOOM!