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ADV NewsWarp 9 Adventure Wheels: Stronger, Lighter & Reasonably Priced?

Warp 9 Adventure Wheels: Stronger, Lighter & Reasonably Priced?

 We see if aftermarket wheels give you improved strength & performance too.

Published on 09.25.2020

Our 2012 KTM 990 Adventure R test bike has been an absolute workhorse for ADV Pulse over the years, participating in countless tests and comparos. It has had its fair share of crashes and rough rides with the battle scars to prove it too. We aren’t done with our beloved 990 quite yet though, so a refresh was well overdue.

One area where it was looking particularly rough was in the wheels. Years of bouncing off rocks and squeezing through boulders left them scratched, dinged and ugly. Even after truing and balancing them, the front wheel seemed to get out of true fairly quickly due to metal fatigue. Clearly, it was about time the 990 got some new kicks.

KTM 990 Adventure R with stock wheels
While our 2012 KTM 990 Adventure R test bike has been a workhorse, the stock wheels were looking particularly rough after all the years of bouncing off rocks and squeezing through boulders.

Searching for a worthy replacement for the OEM set, we came across the Warp 9 Racing adventure wheels. The company has been around since the mid-2000s building wheels for dirt bikes and recently started building them for Adventure Bikes. Warp 9 is one of the only companies we know of that makes their own complete wheel sets, including rotors and sprockets. They are also known for their reasonable prices.


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Don’t let the lower prices fool you though. Warp 9 Racing uses the highest-grade Stainless steel and aluminum available in their products. Their adventure wheels are built to be both strong and light, using 6061 T6 Aluminum forged hubs with 7050 grade anodized aluminum rims that are rolled 1mm thicker for increased strength. Oversized stainless spokes and nipples further improve durability, while ABS-ready 300mm Floating Rotors on the front and a 240mm Floating Rotor on the rear help maximize braking performance.

Warp 9 Racing Adventure Wheels for the KTM 990 Adventure

We ordered a complete set with brake rotors, sprockets and OEM-spec wheel spacers included. And they let you choose the colors of each component for a custom look. While we were expecting the Warp 9 Racing wheels to be stronger and lighter than the OEM wheels, we were interested in seeing if we could feel an improvement in performance too. Most people are aware of the benefits of reducing rotational mass on horsepower, but it can also positively impact handling as well. Read on to see how they performed on our KTM 990 Adventure R.

First Impressions

Warp 9 Hubs

After ordering a set of hand-built Warp 9 wheels in the stock sizes (21×2.15″ front and 18×4.25″ rear), it didn’t take long for the new hoops to arrive. We’ll admit we were pretty excited, seeing the glint of anodized orange for the first time as we pulled them out of the box, and we couldn’t wait to get them on the bike. But first we took our time giving them a good stare. Clearly, there is a lot of attention to detail that goes into building these and the quality is top notch. Simply put, the Warp 9 Racing wheels look sick! 

Warp 9 Rims

Before we started testing, we first weighed the old and new wheel sets. With everything except spacers installed, the front Warp 9 wheel weighed in 2.5 pounds less and the rear was 2.8 pounds lighter than stock for a total 5.3-pound reduction in unsprung rotating mass.

The Warp 9 Racing wheels weighed a combined 5.3 pounds less than the stock wheel set.

Next we mounted a fresh set of Dunlop D606’s in front and D908RR’s in the rear for the test, on both the stock and Warp 9 rims. Recently, Dunlop started making the D908RR in size 150/70-18 (stock size for the KTM 990 Adventure), making this the first time we’d get to try these proven desert tires on the 990R. By mounting both wheel sets with the same rubber, we could compare them back to back and confirm if we could feel a difference.  

Warp 9 Racing Wheel Set for KTM

How They Performed

After putting in some miles breaking in the new Dunlops on the stock rims, we swapped to the Warp 9 Racing wheels. Everything slipped on easily with a precision fit, and since the wheels came with their own sprockets, rotors and spacers, swapping rims was a relatively quick process.

The new wheels made an instant improvement in how the bike looks, and just going down the road a few blocks we noticed a change in how the bike felt too. Moving from side to side, countersteering the bike, it felt more maneuverable and flickable than before. The difference is less noticeable at faster speeds on big turns, but for quick turns at slower speeds, the bike feels lighter and has more precise steering.

Warp 9 Racing Wheels Review
Warp 9 aftermarket wheels for the KTM 990 Adventure R

Dropping a few pounds off the front end also made it a little easier getting the wheel up off the ground. Overall, the bike just had a snappier feel to it and the difference in agility was more than we expected.

Out in the dirt, we switched back to the stock wheels to recalibrate back to that familiar feel. Ripping through deep sand, silt and rocks was aided by the Dunlop D908RR/D606 tires, which allowed us to push the limits in the dry, loose conditions during the test. After tooling around for several miles at our test area, which included whoops, sands, single track, hill climbs, ruts, rocks, we switched over to the Warp 9 wheels.

Testing Warp 9 Racing wheels
Warp 9 Racing adventure wheels

Just like on the street, the feeling that something had changed was immediately noticeable. The 990R felt instantly more nimble, like it had lost significantly more than just 5.3 pounds. Changing lines on sand or tight single track took less steering effort. Everything just seemed to come easier – steering out of ruts, staying on top of sand, holding a straight line through the whoops… It was the equivalent of switching to running shoes after having run in your hiking boots for weeks.

Testing warp 9 wheels in off-road technical terrain
Desert Terrain testing Warp 9 Racing Wheels on the KTM 990 Adventure R

After a full day of beating up the wheels in the rough stuff, the Warp 9 wheels still looked fresh. It will take many more rides to confirm the durability of these wheels, but with their stronger build and materials, we expect them to last far longer than our stock set. We’ll report back if we encounter any chinks in the armor.

Who Are They For

Anyone who is looking to replace a damaged set of stock wheels. Also, for aggressive off-road riders who like to jump, pound through the whoops and eat rocks for breakfast. Adventure riders who want maximum durability for long-range, remote off-road rides, will appreciate the additional dent resistance of the Warp 9 wheels as well.

Warp 9 Racing. Aftermarket wheels for improved strength and performance.

Our Verdict

We weren’t sure we’d notice a difference in the performance of the bike by just swapping the wheels, but we did. Overall, the Warp 9 wheels made our KTM 990 Adventure R test mule even more flickable and fun to ride, not to mention a  major improvement in strength over the OEM wheels. But most of all, they give you that extra confidence to push your speed on those rough tracks or sandy trails where hidden rocks lie. 

Pricing for a set of Warp 9 wheels starts at about $1,300, which is a fair chunk of change. But compared to going rates for hand-built performance wheelsets, they are a relative bargain. Re-lacing your original hubs with new rims and spokes is another option, but these services can still run in the neighborhood of $1,000, and the cast hubs won’t be as strong as the forged aluminum hubs. It’s also nice to be able to order a complete set of wheels, rather than sending out your old wheels and waiting for them to be repaired and sent back. Did we mention they look sick!?

Testing the Warp 9 Racing wheels

What We Liked

  • Increased durability with less rotating mass.
  • Available in custom colors upon request.
  • Noticeable difference in performance.
  • Significantly improves the look of your machine.

What Could Be Improved

  • Make a tubeless version.
  • Make a lower-cost version for those who just want OEM performance.
  • Offer skinnier rim sizes for even more aggressive off-road riding.

Warp 9 Racing Wheels Specs

RIMS: 7050 Anodized Aluminum, tube type
HUBS: T6 Forged Aluminum
SPOKES: Oversized stainless steel
WEIGHT (measured): 13.87 pounds (front); 18.16 pounds (rear)
SIZE (as tested): 21×2.15″ (front); 18×4.25″ (rear)
COLORS: A range of colors are available for different components.
DUAL SPORT MODELS: KTM 790/950/990/1090/1190/1290 Adventure, KTM 690 Enduro, Husqvarna 701 Enduro, Kawasaki KLR650, Honda CRF250L, XR650L, Africa Twin, Yamaha WR250R, Suzuki DR-Z400, DR650
PRICE: Wheelsets start at about $1,300

Shopping Options

Warp 9eBay

Photos by Sam Bendall

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Mexico, North Africa, Europe, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney
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2 thoughts on “Warp 9 Adventure Wheels: Stronger, Lighter & Reasonably Priced?

    • Hi Bill. Which bike are you looking for? If you use the link in the story to Warp 9, you will see a drop down menu to select your make and model. If it’s not listed there, you might want to reach out to Warp 9 on their website contact page to see if they can build a custom set.

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