First impression: Warp 9 Elite complete wheel.

Check out the Warp 9 Elite complete wheel. It is complete because all you need to do is mount it. Well, it doesn’t come with wheel spacers, but no biggie. These guys are colored based on the bike model they are made for. I am a little mixed up as to whether I like the color schemes, but the KXF unit seems alright to me.

Image 1: Warp 9 Elite complete wheel. Colored by manufacturer.

Here is the marketing statement found on one of the Warp 9 product pages:
Don’t let Warp 9’s prices fool you, they only use the highest grade stainless steels and aluminum available. As riders, they have witnessed the current trend of off-road wheels – they are priced too high for the working class guy and most do not come complete, adding additional cost and frustration to the purchase experience. As riders, they decided to do something about it, and Warp 9 was born.

  • Warp 9 Elite Rim:
    • Warp 9’s New Optional High Performance rim.
    • Top-shelf anodized 7050 series aluminum rim.
    • 84 HRB hardness test is stronger than most competitors’ “High Performance” rims.
    • Perfect rim for Supercross riders who sky those jumps and pound the whoops.
    • Off-road guys, these rims eat rocks for breakfast!
  • 7075-T6 aluminum sprocket included (on rear).
  • Oversized stainless steel spokes and nipples.
  • O.E.M. bearings and NAK seals.
  • Zinc-plated Nyloc hardware.
  • Complete wheel includes: Rim, spokes and nipples, hub, sprocket (rear wheel), brake rotor (front and rear), seals, bearings, and all necessary hardware.

Warp 9 rims and wheels are made for the hardcore dirt bike rider. Manufactured with only the finest materials, Warp 9 rims and wheels are built to last and are available in a variety of colors. The perfect wheel for your high performance applications!

Supposedly, the Warp 9 Elite is a better rim than the standard Warp 9, more in line with an Excel rim, at least I read this somewhere but can’t remember where. Is it? I don’t know but at least I hope so. I bought a complete Warp 9 Elite rear wheel for my 2010 KXF 450 primarily because I didn’t feel much like lacing up a wheel (yes I’ve done a few). In usual form, I broke the stock D.I.D rim. Happily, I put the Warp 9 Elite in the shopping cart and committed to buying. Now the anticipation as I was eager to get riding.

Image 2: Unboxing the Warp9 Elite complete wheel. KXF version.

As usual, was awesome, so my wheel arrived in less than a week. Naturally, I was a bit excited to see it. Upon opening the box, my initial impression was “what a nice looking wheel”. Here it is before I lifted it out of the box (Image 2):

In particular, I was impressed (and still am) with the appearance of the hub. The green anodized aluminum looks top notch. Very smooth finish, very clean. The rim itself also looks great.  However, with regard to the spokes, I’d rather have the bare spokes. Now I don’t have a problem with colored spokes, but as I look at these, I actually think the paint reduces the appearance of quality. Is the paint a cover up for poor quality parts? I can’t say. I wonder, what will the spokes look like if I need to adjust them? Will the paint now peel?

This wheel comes with a sprocket. From the perspective of looks, the sprocket is fine. Of course, I do not know what material it is, rather, what grade of aluminum it is. It could be a low quality sprocket for all I know. Whatever the case may be, I swapped it with a Vortex.  The reason I changed it was because of the tooth count. For some reason, the wheel does not come with the stock tooth count. It is one tooth less for the 2010 KXF 450 application. Not what I wanted. This may not be the case for every application, but it would be nice to choose. Also, I am not impressed with the quality of the sprocket bolts.  The head sockets were a bit sloppy on the wrench so I opted for the OEM Kawasaki bolts and threw the others in the trash.

Also on the wheel is a brake disk. I like the way it looks and so far it works just fine. My braking action is as good as ever using full metallic pads.  After the first hours of riding moto, I saw no abnormal wear or damage. Overall, the wheel looks good on the bike. Now for the disappointment. I share this with some reservation because the problems I found do not necessarily reflect on the quality of the Warp9 Elite. This particular wheel had a few problems with it.

1) One of the bearing seals was not pressed in correctly and was ruined.

2) It appears that this wheel was built with excessively long spokes.

3) The design of the spoke nipples is bad.

Image 3 shows a close up of the damaged wheel bearing seal:

Image 3: Damaged seal in the Warp 9 Elite hub as a result of improper assembly.

Fortunately, I had a good seal to replace it with. Problem solved. This was obviously caused by careless assembly and or lack of quality inspection by the builder of the wheel.

What upsets me most about this product is what I see with the spokes and spoke nipples. These are terrible. Look at the following image comparing the Warp9 (on the right) with the stock D.I.D wheel (on the left):

Image4: Stock D.I.D. wheel vs Warp 9 Elite.

You can see what I mean about the length of the spokes. They were undoubtedly ground off. Now, that in itself isn’t a problem, but because of it, there is no way  to turn the spoke nipples from inside the wheel. Most of the time, who cares? But, when you are working on a wheel, you like that you can. The stock spokes and nipples on the left are excellent.

Notice also the sharp edges. The backs of these spoke nipples are flat. Not a good design where a rubber tube sits especially after you run a grinder across them. Granted, a rim strip is used between the nipples and tube, but there is already an inherent problem of wearing through a rim strip, even with nicely rounded nipples (please keep your mind out of the gutter! How else can it be said?).

I must admit, I stared at this wheel for a while and pondered returning it. Finally though, I decided to give it a chance. The next step then was to deburr the nipples. I did this by using a rotary wire brush mounted to my trusty DeWalt cordless drill. I brushed every nipple until I could feel no more sharp edges. The image below shows the before and after. Not a huge difference, but they were sharp before and now they are not:

Image 5: Before and after deburring the spokes.

Each time I see my bike with wheel, I am relatively satisfied with how it looks. In time I will learn how good it really is, but so far it is holding up fine. In the back of my mind though I worry because of what I found with this wheel and also because I have broken a Warp 9 rim before. The one I broke before though was a standard Warp9 laced up with new Pro Wheel stainless spokes and the stock hub on my 2005 CRF 450. In truth I am uncertain if the Elite version really is a better rim than the standard one.  We’ll see.

If you are interested in purchasing a Warp 9 product, you can purchase just a rim, a complete wheel or a complete wheel set. Click below for product information.

Warp 9 Elite: Click image to follow link

Update 2/3/17

As of this update, I have a good solid 10 or so hours of motocross on the Warp9 Elite rear wheel. While I am happy to report the wheel has held up fine, I have found the spokes to be very loose. “Wheel true” has remained intact. Upon tightening the spokes, I discovered some of them could not be tightened because the spoke threads were all used up. What a major let down to say the least. To be fair, I did get most of the spokes tight and the wheel remained true afterward. Now though, I have a new wheel that has spokes that cannot be adjusted.

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