LUTALO SCORING THE 18XL AND THE 16X.
I just finished more 16X riding; swapping off between the XL and X with my son. The more that I ride the 16X the more that I like it. I am starting to discern some differences between the XL and the 16X. The noted differences that I share are my own empirical opinion, and the result of immediate back-to-back riding.
The 16X feels great tooling around at low speed in tight turning maneuvers: I was spinning like a top on the 16X. The high clearance and perfectly angled FPs help you feel locked in and confident when performing tight maneuvers. I could duplicate the spinning on the XL, but the spin circumference was wider because the outer edge of the plaforms are flatter, and fear of scraping my freshly painted FPs lowered my confidence with this maneuver: no such concern with the 16X. The XL shifts direction more easily, and initial turn-in is faster, but the X rewards with steeper turning capability from the higher clearance of the FPs: it's a toss up.
Lutalo score (1 -10)
18XL - 6. Benefits from easy directional shifts from 2.5" tire. Lower -height, and flatter FPs force skilled adaptations to accomplish tighter turns
16X - 6. High FP height and slightly more steep platform angle helps in tight turning maneuvers, but resist directional shifts notably more than XL in our rides.
Notes: Both wheels are inherently limited by the fact that they are large wheels. Smaller, lighter wheels (10, 14, 16) will generally maneuver better with less inertia and resistance. The 16X and 18XL both have virtues and vices, objectively, they are different, but which is better will be the subjective domain of the rider, and the type of riding that is typical for them.
2. The XL is disadvantaged in climbing situations compared to the 16X by its larger wheel and low-end torque deficit. My son and I did some minor hill climbing today up a steep, but relatively short Grassy slope. Both wheels made it up the hill, but the 16X felt more capable on it. It is quite easy to feel all that extra low end torque digging in to help The 16X on inclines. The XL on the other hand, has plenty of power, but you have to sort of force the power to the ground on inclines to make it dig in. I climbed a 27 degree incline with both wheels; the 18XL struggled from a dead stop, and I suspect would not have made it to the top were the slope longer. With a Running start it did much better. The 16X did fine from both a running, and dead stop. With the X you can find your foot depth and just let the wheel do the work; it's very nice. In off-road situations it is easy to imagine that the 16X is the master. I ran through wet marsh grass. The 16X did much better than the 18XL in these conditions. The 18XL‘s skinnier tire wanted to sink and get stuck, but the 16X almost seemed to float on top of the soggy surface. Surprisingly over hard-packed, rutted dirt surfaces I liked the performance of the 18XL better than the 16X because it seemed the 16 wants to flow into the rutted grooves a bit while the 18XL was much easier to steer around and through the rutted surfaces. 18XL is very capable on off-road dirt trails; however, in moderate to extreme off-road conditions I would grab the 16X every single time over the 18XL. On-pavement, urban touring and higher speed cruising is where the 18XL shines. Much has already been said about how great it is in these conditions, and I think that it is still marginally better than the 16X in these conditions because it just feels more stable and easier to control at higher speeds than did the 16X. Both wheels are near the top of the current voltage food chain. They are bested in this regard only by the 100 Volt wheels from the Gotway brand.
18XL - 6. Although a very capable hill climber, physics combined with current available technology for wheels limit all 18 inchers in this regard
16X - 8. The only wheels that will do this better are the powerful small wheel models offered by Gotway. I think the 16X is the best climbing large wheel available today.
The 16X lost some ground to the XL in the higher speed, and acceleration runs we did. It has plenty of grunt, and feels very stable but the XL just felt even more stable, and easier to control and maneuver when cruising at high speed. they both had great braking when bringing the wheel down from High speed during our acceleration runs. Both wheels build power relentlessly; the 16X feels quicker off the line due to the low end grunt. However, to us the XL felt faster, and easier to control, and slightly more stable to near the top. I think the XL does the higher speed cruising/touring thing marginally better; although, both are fantastic.
18XL - 8
16X - 7
Note: In the Lutalo scorebook. Only Gotway wheels currently have the speed capability to break into +8 scores. Eight is as much as a KS wheel can achieve because of the relatively conservative top speed setting of 31 mph compared to the only other speed competitor they have: Gotway.
18XL has the big footplatforms, I don't think there is a more comfortable long range touring wheel available today.
I find the 16X to be very comfortable as well: especially, with that tall plush tire, and gel pads underneath the grip tape plate; this is definitely a step in the right direction. The 10 degree angle on the FP's help you feel locked in and secure. I haven't yet taken the X on a long tour but, I'm going to go out on a limb and rate this despite my limited exposure to the wheel, I felt that the XL (which in fairness I have taken on many long rides) would be marginally more comfortable on a long ride than the 16X. Lets call the score I give a temporary, "so far" score. This score could change based on how well the gel pads do their job on a long expedition with the 16X. Going with champion rules here. The Challenger must beat the incumbent decisively in order to win. In this comparison, the 16X is the Challenger; so, For now I will give the XL the slight edge until the 16X proves otherwise in this category.
18XL - 10
16X - 9
ERGONOMICS, FEATURES, AND SPECS
I see no need to go over each individual feature of KS wheels; it’s already very well documented. Kingsong wheels have the best ergonomics, and features in the business; hands down. Neither model carries any clear advantage over the other in regard to ergonomics. They also have the same features and specs; save the 2200 watt motor in the 16X and better sounding speakers. However, these are trickle down, in-model improvements that will probably be seen in the next batch of 18XLs.They are both the best in the business.
18XL - 9
16X - 10
The quality, reliability and durability of Kingsong wheels is legendary. No wheel is perfect, but no other brand is higher quality, more reliable, or more durable. These wheels take a licking and keep on ticking. Thankfully, all brands are improving, but Kingsong is still the top of the food chain. However, the 16X is a new model that is still working through some early production firmware bugs. Although I am certain that it will come out on the better side of these struggles, it is a new model without the history of the 18XL so I can not rate it as highly at the time of this comparison.
18XL - 9
16X - 8
18XL - 48 of 60
16X - 48 of 60
Overall Grade: 80% of 100%
18XL - B-
16X - B-
Result: can't go wrong either one.