Weaknesses: Reliability, Quality, Customer service. Did I mention reliability? Don't be deceived by the smoothness of the bearings when you hold the hub in your hands. When clamped into a fork/frame, their poor design/fabrication results in end loads that cause drag and premature bearing failure.
American classic hubs are totally unreliable. I had a rear hub seize (after a month of use, bought brand new) while descending causing a crash and long walkout. American Classic informed me that they had been mis-machined and the problems corrected. The new hub failed the same way. The new hub also came with the bearing journal oversized so the wheel had play. American Classics elegant solution was to tell me to put loctite in the bearing journal to fill the gap and hold the bearing in place – now that’s a professional organization! Just what you want when you buy a “high-quality” product.
I thought I would hang on to the front hub, thinking it was simple enough that even American Classic couldn’t mess it up. Wrong! They seem to spin freely but when locked in a fork as a hub alone have terrible drag. Turns out the hub body (on both the front hubs I have from them) were poorly machined (one bearing journal not deep enough, the other one just poor quality machining and oversized aswell) so that the bearings were end loaded meaning that they run with lots of drag and fail prematurely.
Customer service likes to claim that is it the consumer's fault. Have you noticed that virtually each year they come out with a new model that supposedly corrects the reliability issues of the preceding ones? But they never get it right and their customer service is abusive and condescending. They recently told me that getting a season or two out of mountain biking equipment is all you can hope for.
Read the reviews here and you will catch the recurring theme of poor quality control, questionable designs, and inadequate customer service. They work OK for some people. Obviously, if you make enough parts some will be OK for a while but you really can’t count on them and I suggest you not waste your time or money.
By the way, WTB hubs have been made by American Classic and are subject to the same kinds of problems. Check those reviews as well. If it looks like an American Classic and smells like one it probably is one and should be avoided like the plague.
Get a King, they last forever with little maintenance. DT Swiss hubs are excellent as well.
a Cross Country Rider
from Rio Rancho, NM
Date Reviewed: September 21, 2005
Strengths: Light weight
Weaknesses: Rear hub self disentigrates, spoke tension was garbage, creaks, and squeaks the whole time
I hate to give anything a bad rating, but these are the worst wheelsets, and hubs I have ever owned. First tried the road bike set. The wheels squeaked and creaked non stop. On my 3rd ride the rear wheel hub locked up on a downhill, and I about killed myself getting stopped. I got them replaced by the manufacturer, then on this set the grease shot out of the seals and completly covered my rear end in grease. Shipped them back and got a partial refund.
Well supposedly the manufacturer has new ownership, and a new hub design for the mountain bikes. I took the challenge and was rewarded with...you guessed it..squeak, creak, creak... From there after my first wet ride the cassette hub froze up. I took it apart, cleaned it, regreased it, then about two weeks later...ahhh haaa, just like the road wheels, the internal hub exploded and was useless. I returned them to the manufacturer. The bad part was that I talked 4 of my friends into buying the same disc wheelset on a "team discount"...guess what, all of their wheels froze up, and imploded in less than 6 months. Be forewarned, they are garbage.
Similar Products Used: Crossmax (great), King ISO (awesome), DT240 (sucks).
Bike Setup: Turner 5 spot
Date Reviewed: July 25, 2005
Strengths: very light (1480g w/o skewers), laterally stiff, hub engagement is instantaneous, smooth bearings, bang for your buck!
Weaknesses: bearing seals arent 100% impervious to crud.
i use the AM Classic 350 Disc wheels as my race-only wheelset with Stan's NoTubes. so far ive been really impressed with how solid these wheels are for their weight. the deep section aero rim slices through mud, and most importantly, these hoops climb like a MF! i would recomend these over a pair of crossmax SL's (heavy and $$$) or botique wheels any day of the week. for around $600 retail, you cant go wrong with these race ready hoolahoops.
Similar Products Used: CK's with Bontrager Valiants from Speeddream, white hubs with 517's, others.
Bike Setup: Cannondale hardtail, mix of fairly light stuff.
a Weekend Warrior
Date Reviewed: August 30, 2003
Strengths: Light, reliable, still true a year later. ( other than a rim I trashed)
Weaknesses: Haven't found any over the past year and a half.
I looked at King, but went with AC because they are located in Tampa. I was able to vist their facility, see the hubs torn down and watch them build some wheels.
I figured if I ever broke something and needed parts, I could just stop in and get it taken care of.
I was right! A couple months ago I trashed a rear wheel (Gatorback@ Alafia,big down hill plus my slim 235 lbs at speed= a slight warp) but none of the spokes broke, took it back to AC and they rebuilt it with an Aeroheat rim this time. I've done that same trail a few more times now(at speed) and the wheel is still good.
I did somehow put a hurting on the rear axle on a Santos trail just a couple weeks ago. Again, AC took care of the axle and three bearings replacement QUICK. They had it ready the next day.
Similar Products Used: XTR/517'S... and a lot of'em
Bike Setup: Id, 8 speed XTR,Z1 FR fork,Conti Ver Pros,Avid Discs AC hubs/Aeroheat rear rim(now)Synergy (front)
a Cross Country Rider
from Pasadena, CA
Date Reviewed: August 17, 2001
Strengths: Strong, light weight, great hubs
Weaknesses: can't find any yet
I was in the market for a light weight yet strong disk wheel set, so I did a little research and the American Classics seemed like a great buy.
I was not wrong - this wheelset is the bomb - the American classic hubs are super - the spin smooth and are easy to maintain - a very ingenious design. I would highly reccommend this wheel set to others who are looking to go the disk route and want a strong, hand built and light weight wheelset!