LONG TERM REVIEW: IBIS BLACKBIRD SEND WHEELS

SR-71-inspired, value-priced wheelset with all the right moves

Ibis was at the forefront of the wide-rim movement years ago, and its wheels have been high on MBA’s list of favorites ever since. Ibis has developed a whole new wheel brand called Blackbird and a new aluminum rim called the Send to go with it. The new rim features technologies that are designed to prevent flats and rim damage. According to Ibis, its Enduro World Series (EWS)  team has been testing the Send 1 on the front and a Send 2 in the rear for the last two years. They claim that out of its four EWS racers, only one experienced a flat on race day through several EWS stage wins, three EWS podiums and one Swedish National Enduro Championship.

Tech features:

The new asymmetric Send rim design is specifically engineered to eliminate pinch flats. Ibis gives the bead walls a hollow box-section profile to remove the sharp edges and create a broad contact point where impacts tend to pinch-flat a tire. Ibis also says this box section results in a stronger bead wall that does not slice tire sidewalls or add any additional weight.

There are two models of Send rims—Send 1 and Send 2—and they cost $99 each. The unique bead-wall design is used on both models, but the Send 2 features a reinforcing rib directly under the bead seat—the exact place most rims tend to dent and lose the ability to seal the tire. The Send 2 gains 45 grams per rim because of this reinforcement. Ibis says that if you are looking for a lightweight aluminum rim with good strength, you will want their Send 1. Or, choose a Send 2 for something a bit tougher. The rims have an internal width of 35mm, which Ibis says is ideal for tires between 2.3 inches and 2.8 inches wide. Their section height is low at just 18mm, and they only come in a 32-spoke hole configuration.

The Blackbird Send complete wheels come standard with the Send 1 rim in front and Send 2 in back. They are laced three-cross with Sapim D-Light J-bend spokes to Ibis’ own logo-branded Boost-width hubs. They feature a 36-tooth, four-pawl freehub system with 10 degrees of engagement and microspline or XD-compatible bodies. There are four enduro-branded bearings inside and a six-bolt brake-rotor interface on the outside.

There is no rider weight limit, and the wheels are approved for electric mountain bike use. The retail price for a pair of Blackbird Send wheels is just $529. That is the exact same cost of a single Ibis S28 carbon rim. If that’s not enough, these rims are covered by Ibis’ seven-year warranty, just like the carbon rims. If you damage them to the extent that the rim will no longer hold a tubeless seal, Ibis will send you a new rim. The hubs are backed by a two-year warranty.

Field test results:

We beat on these wheels really hard—hard enough to make the spokes twang from rock strikes, causing us to feel and listen for the flat. It never happened. The worst we saw was a small wet spot between the knobs where a small puncture occurred, but the Orange Seal took care of it. And, this included use on a long-travel, enduro-focused eMTB. Other than external surface scratches from rocks, there were no dents or dings or damage of any kind. To say we are impressed would be an understatement. Ibis’ flat-fighting and rim-reinforcing technology seems to be the real deal.

The wheels come pre-taped and with valve stems installed. The tires mounted on the tight side but nothing extreme. The benefit is super-easy seating with a floor pump every time. We generally dislike loud freehub mechanisms, and these are fairly quiet. Compared to what we consider to be one of the best budget aluminum mountain bike wheels—DT Swiss’ XM 1900 splines—the Blackbird Sends stack up well. The DTs are a touch lighter, cost more, have a 265-pound rider-and-bike weight limit, don’t come with a no-fault rim replacement warranty, and seem to dent more easily. Ride-quality- and stiffness-wise, we would rate the Ibis wheels somewhere between the DTs and some extremely stiff carbon wheels we’ve ridden.

Even if the Blackbird Send wheels didn’t come with a warranty, like almost all aluminum wheels, they would deliver a strong bang-for-the-buck value. The fact that they do just puts them in a class by themselves.

HITS:

• Durable

• Low price

• No-fault rim warranty

• Quiet freehub

• eMTB-approved

MISSES:

• None

STAR RATING:

★★★★★

Weight: 949g (2.09-pound) front 29″ / 1,014g (2.24-pound) rear 29″

Price: $529 per pair (completely assembled, including rims, hubs, and spokes)

Contact: www.ibiscycles.com

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