Indigenous Wheel Company is a one-person custom wheel company started by Joey Mullan, a veteran of the bicycle industry and cyclocross scene in the Pacific Northwest. If his name sounds familiar, it might be because Mullan worked with Raleigh, CXM, or was the subject of the infamous Joey is Okay barrier cyclocross crash video (watch it again here and here).
Of course, as the crash test pilot of one of the most-viewed cyclocross videos, Mullan values reliable wheels, and has set out on a mission to create strong, affordable wheels. He has stock builds, hand built from hubs and rims he sources and has private labelled, ready to go for the racer or rider who need wheels this weekend. He also can build to order based on your weight and use, or he can make a complete bespoke build using your hubs, rims and spokes you pick out. Indigenous Bicycle Company is located in Tacoma, Washington and Mullan offers mechanic services for your bike too, if you’re in proximity.
We received a “stock build” from Indigenous, one that’s stoutly built for Clydesdales riding and racing off-road. While it can fit on your 29er mountain bike, these were purpose built for drop-bar applications like cyclocross and gravel events for the heavier rider or someone who needs high durability. At just shy of 160 pounds, I’m not quite the target rider, but I’ll attempt to make up for it in riding quantity and abuse.
The wheelset uses a wide 23mm internal/28mm external tubeless ready alloy rim laced X2 front and rear with Sapim D-Light spokes and brass nipples. The wheels are built around Indigenous’ own branded hubs with sealed bearings and IS 6 bolt rotor mounts. Mullan calls these hubs “future-proof” given the ability for the user to easily change axle configurations from QR to thru axle (TA), and even between 12mm and 15mm TA on the front with a quick axle swap.
This build is meant for those hard on equipment, so weight savings is not paramount to the design, but at 1780 grams (850g front /930g rear actual), the wheelset isn’t that heavy, and is lighter than most OEM wheels that come stock on cyclocross and gravel bikes. With a $450 MSRP for a handbuilt wheelset built to last, it’s relatively light on the wallet.
The wide rim has an excellent tubeless profile and with a 23mm inner width, a slightly hooked wall that creates a squared bead channel, and a broad bead shelf with a slight lip to prevent burps. The outer width is 28mm, and they’re 28mm deep. These are not designed for your typical 33mm ’cross tires, although cyclocross tires will fit with nearly straight side walls, rim protection from hard strikes will be limited. However, with tires 35mm and larger, tires typically gain a one to two mm over the the tire label’s stated width, which we appreciate on a bumpy course. (While industry labeling is not completely standard and varies between brands, we mostly see label-equals-measured when using a 20-21mm ID rim, in case you will be measured at Nationals or at a UCI race.)
These handbuilt wheels came completely true and evenly tensioned, tubeless taped and ready for valves, tires, and sealant. The wide rims, originally targeted at 29er mountain bikes, are well-suited for the new wave of 38-44mm gravel tires, so I mounted a Schwalbe G-One 38c grave tire and a new Teravail Cannnonball 38c gravel tire for my initial rides. The former measured 39mm, the latter 39.5mm when mounted, when inflated to 30psi.
We’ll put our usual hard miles on these and give our impressions of ride and durability. Stay tuned…
Indigenous Wheel Co. Tubeless Gravel / Clydesdale / Cyclocross Wheel Specs:
Weight: 1780 grams (actual), 850g front, 930g rear
Rim width: 23mm internal, 28mm external, 28mm deep
Spokes: Sapim D-Light, 2x with brass nipples
Axles: 15mm front, 142/12mm rear (QR and 12mm front available)
More info: indigenouswheelco.com
Indigenous Wheel Co. Tubeless Gravel / Clydesdale / Cyclocross Wheel Photo Gallery: