Jefe Velo Jayhawker Gravel and Backcountry Wheels

OK, jefe.bike fans.  At long last, the launch of the jefe velo Jayhawker™ 29er wheelset!   

The Jayhawker™ Wheelset.  Named after the abolitionist guerilla fighters that made their name on the gravel roads in Kansas before the American Civil War, this bulletproof wheelset is designed for the endurance gravel rider in mind and does double duty as your soon-to-be-favorite bikepacking setup.

Don’t let the value-pricing steer you to thinking this is a cheap wheelset. It’s comprised of the same best-of-breed components and assembly techniques used by the major cycling brands.  I leveraged my access to the same factories to produce the world’s best wheelset—literally from my perspective. It’s designed around me, the 200lbs I carry around, and the 8,000 - 10,000 miles I ride per year on road, gravel, and singletrack.  If it works for me, it will most certainly work for you.

The Jayhawker™ concept starts with the need for a strong wheelset that you can rely on to be there when you need it.  The Jayhawker is durable and reliable.  In addition to the hundreds of personal miles I’ve put on the wheelset, I made sure that it passed the European Wheel Standard ISO 4210-7. Wheels that pass this brutal 2,000km bench test have a standard of run out, trueness, centricity, and spoke tension that are within statistical range before and after the formal test.  This is the sort of attention to safety and process control that the big companies use to justify their sky-high carbon wheelset prices.

Integral to the concept is a 32 spoke setup, front and rear, laced with a supple cross-three pattern with j-bend SAPIM black stainless steel D-Light butted round spokes and SAPIM brass nipples.  Not a fancy choice but simple, best in class spokage that will keep you out on the road.  I also include two extra spokes and nipples per wheel (four per wheelset) because that’s how I roll.  When you’re backcountry, there’s no better insurance to have a couple of extra spokes with you—just in case.  And whether you fix stuff yourself or bring it to your LBS for a repair, having the exact spoke length handy can let you keep your tire on the rim during the repair—potentially giving you an extra hour out on the bike.

The carbon fiber rim is produced by one of the biggest major-brand carbon fiber producers for jefe velo using Toray carbon fiber layup. The rim profile has a 29mm outer width, a 23mm inner width and a 28mm rim height (effective rim diameter 582) and it has a bead retention lip that helps to secure tires under higher pressures. The rim has a slightly asymmetric spoke hole configuration to provide greater overall strength of the wheel; unlike some asymmetric rims, the variation isn’t especially visually noticeable.  The correct symmetry alignment is noted on the inside of the rim underneath the rim tape – needed if you’re rebuilding the rims with a new spoke setup.

Of course, the wheelset comes with a tubeless strip and a valve included; if you’re a tube traditionalist (or if you’re unable to reseal the tubeless tire after a flat) you can simply leave the rim strip, remove the valve and replace it with the tube of your choice.  I opted for a UD matte flat black finish with a minimum of that traditional carbon fiber cross hatch look.  It’s understated and looks great dirty or clean.  The wheelset comes with a set of jefe brand wheel stickers that you can choose to apply to the rim, to the back window of your car, or on the back of your PC.  They’re weatherproof and UV coated and actually look pretty good on the rimset, but I’m not a big fan of conspicuous branding, so I’m leaving the choice up to you.  These wheels are 100% steak, 0% sizzle. 

The 23mm inner rim profile—with the retention bead—gives you a ton of choice on tires and tire pressures.  IMHO, it’s the ideal width for gravel and fire road riding with some singletrack mixed in.  Because you can go as narrow as 37mm and as wide as 2.35in (2.6in at the absolute max), the rim width provides the maximum tire variation that allows you to use it in a bunch of different setups and terrain.  It’s the perfect wheelset for the wide open gravel vistas of the GDMBR and feels quite at home on a Salsa Cuttthroat or Fargo, and doubles as the best wheelset ever on the more racy gravel bikes like the Salsa Warbird.  Just match the hub width profile to the one on your bike and go.

The hubset comes from another world-recognized cycling manufacturer and can be found on a number of well known brand name wheelsets and first fit bike builds.  Unlike a lot of fancy wheelsets these days, the models I have included provide a traditional j-pull spoke design which makes maintenance a simple matter.  It also uses a traditional ISO 6-bolt disc brake design; I like the simplicity of the center lock design but it’s not so great to carry the removal tool when you’re in the back country. 

The magic in the hubs comes from the use of commonly found Enduro brand bearings, the use of an endcap design that allows the use of different axle designs and widths, and the bulletproof six-pawl freehub design that allows interchangeability between traditional Shimano, Shimano Microspline, SRAM XD, and SRAM XDR freehubs.  For a bit of bling, I’ve had the plant laser etch the jefe logo on the center of the hub, again, quite understated and easily deleted with a rattle can or marker.

Just to come back to the bearings for a second, a lot of value brand wheelsets really cheap out on the bearings. There’s nothing worse than being three months into a new wheelset and having to deal with a bearing switchout.  And worse, a lot of the cheapo wheelsets have super expensive or impossible to source bearing sets. I designed this wheelset around easy to access, brand name bearings.  On the front, two easy to find Enduro MR17287LLB sealed units, and on the back, one Enduro 6802 and three Enduro 6902 (inclusive of two in the freewheel driver).  Expect long life from this setup, but when you need to replace them, you can literally buy these on Amazon. 

There are three options offered on this wheelset, and the choice comes down to the type of bike that you’re rocking. 

The Jayhawker™ is designed for gravel bikes that come with 100mm front spacing and 135 or 142 rear spacing—essentially, the two most common non-boost setups.  In the front, this option comes set up with a 100x12mm front thru axle standard and end caps that allow conversion to a 100mm quick release or 100mmx15mm thru axle setup. In the rear, this option comes set up with a 142mm thru axle and end caps that allow conversion to a 135mm quick release setup.  How’s that for versatility? 

The Jayhawker™-Boost is designed for gravel and mountain bikes that come with 110mm front spacing and 148mm rear spacing – this is the “boost” standard.  In the front, this option comes set up with a 110x15mm front thru axle standard and in the rear, comes with a 148x12mm thru axle standard.  This model doesn’t come with conversion end caps, it’s all business – just choose your freehub style. 

We’re even offering a Jayhawker™-Mullet model.  Yes, that’s a 100x12 in front and 148x15 boost in the rear.  Just because the term “standards” is absolutely oxymoronic in the cycling industry.

Free U.S. shipping. 

Jayhawker™ Specifications:

  • 29er / 700c carbon fiber tubeless ready wheelset – 32 SAPIM stainless steel (black) D-Light j-bend spokes front and rear – 6-bolt disc brake
  • Wheelset weight: 809g front, 930g rear with driver, rim strips and valves
  • Carbon rim profile: 29mm outer, 23mm inner, 28mm height, ERD: 583, includes tire bead retention lip.  UD matte flat black color.  Rim decals included but not installed.
  • Tubeless rim strips and valves come installed
  • Comes with 100x12mm/142x12mm thru axle setup, Includes end caps to convert to 100 / 135 quick release and 100mm x 15mm thru axle. Thru axles and quick releases not included.
  • Includes two replacement spokes and nipples per wheel (4 per wheelset)
  • Hubset uses commonly found Enduro bearings. Front:  2 x Enduro MR17287LLB, Rear:  1x Enduro 6802, 3 x Enduro 6902 (inclusive of two in the freewheel driver). 
  • Ships with SRAM XDR or Shimano Freehub; additional / replacement freehubs (including Shimano Microspline) available separately
  • Average Weight, including rim strips, tubeless valves, freehub, and wheel bearings:  Front - 809g, Rear, 930g

Jayhawker™ Boost Specifications:

  • 29er / 700c carbon fiber tubeless ready wheelset – 32 SAPIM stainless steel (black) D-Light j-bend spokes front and rear – 6-bolt disc brake
  • Wheelset weight: 829g front, 951g rear with driver, rim strips and valves
  • Carbon rim profile: 29mm outer, 23mm inner, 28mm height, ERD: 583, includes tire bead retention lip.  UD matte flat black color.  Rim decals included but not installed.
  • Tubeless rim strips and valves come installed
  • Comes with 110mm x 15mm / 148mm x 12mm thru axle setup. Thru axles not included.
  • Includes two replacement spokes and nipples per wheel (4 per wheelset)
  • Hubset uses commonly found Enduro bearings. Front:  2 x Enduro MR17287LLB, Rear:  1x Enduro 6802, 3 x Enduro 6902 (inclusive of two in the freewheel driver). 
  • Ships with SRAM XD or Shimano Freehub; additional / replacement freehubs (including Shimano Microspline) available separately
  • Average Weight, including rim strips, tubeless valves, freehub, and wheel bearings:  Front - 829g, Rear, 951g

Jayhawker™ Mullet Specifications:

  • 29er / 700c carbon fiber tubeless ready wheelset – 32 SAPIM stainless steel (black) D-Light j-bend spokes front and rear – 6-bolt disc brake
  • Wheelset weight: 809g front, 951g rear with driver, rim strips, and valves
  • Carbon rim profile: 29mm outer, 23mm inner, 28mm height, ERD: 583, includes tire bead retention lip.  UD matte flat black color.  Rim decals included but not installed.
  • Tubeless rim strips and valves come installed
  • Comes with 100mm x 12mm / 148mm x 12mm thru axle setup. Thru axles not included.  Includes front end caps to convert to 100 quick release and 100mm x 15mm thru axle. Thru axles and quick releases not included.
  • Includes two replacement spokes and nipples per wheel (4 per wheelset)
  • Hubset uses commonly found Enduro bearings. Front:  2 x Enduro MR17287LLB, Rear:  1x Enduro 6802, 3 x Enduro 6902 (inclusive of two in the freewheel driver). 
  • Ships with SRAM XD or Shimano Freehub; additional / replacement freehubs (including Shimano Microspline) available separately
  • Average Weight, including rim strips, tubeless valves, freehub, and wheel bearings:  Front - 809g, Rear: 951g

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