Sixth Element is quite young for the industry, especially when you compare them to the mainstream brands. However, for such a young business they are ahead of the curve with their wheels. I interviewed the founder/owner, Graham Stock, recently and you can tell that his experience and passion for building these wheels are the driving force behind their success. Look out for the interview in the coming weeks.
I reviewed the early version of their 27.5” Classics around 2 years back when Riderflow.com had also just recently crawled out of the woodwork. I found them fantastic but in truth, our own experience in the industry was limited so with more notches now on our belt, I wanted to swing back round and take a look again.
Firstly, Sixth Element only build Carbon wheels so don’t expect to see any alloys on the line up. We can go into the whole carbon vs alloy debate another time. But long story short, carbon is stiff and fast rolling. Alloys have more flex and eat up corners.
We’ve been trying out the 38mm Classics as we did before, not only because they are the big seller but also because we loved the originals so much. These were built on Hope hubs but you can customize these on order to Chris King or DT Swiss including ceramic bearing upgrades.
The 38mm suite me well because I can run at a slightly lower pressure which gives me a good balance of traction, rolling speed and a smoother ride. This also means I can run my suspension a little stiffer as the tyres are able suck up a lot more.
Like many of the big brands, the rims are manufactured in Asia out of the strongest available carbon. For those who like the tech this is the Toray T700 carbon weave which is uni directional to handle varied force angles. The spoke holes are reinforced with extra carbon weave as well to ensure they don’t get ripped out when things get rough.
I can vouch for the toughness of these wheels. My local trails in cheddar, Jacobs Ladder for one, can throw you into some heavy rock gardens at speed. These gardens have destroyed many a wheel including a few of my own. There have been several moments with these wheels where I’ve thought “Oh shit, that’s it I’m gonna be walking home!” But low and behold they (and I) have come out unscathed.
This not only validates the strength of the rim but also the quality of the build and they retail at only £989 for the pair. Considering Sixth Element will not have the same buying power as the likes of the “big brands”, they are building equal value (if not better) wheels at typically a much better price.
I proactively look for the flaws when reviewing as its important to share the good and the bad but to be honest, I’ve not been able to find one these wheels. Its actually a little annoying, I was hoping to find something I missed the first time round.