Mountain bike riding and racing is a lot easier with lighter bikes. The lighter the bike and rider, the faster you go. Light wheels have a great advantage over heavy wheels, where acceleration and snap is much harder to accomplish with heavy wheels. Fatigue sets in sooner with heaver wheels. 29’er wheels are heavier then traditional 26’er wheels because of there size. Not only does the rim have more material, but the spokes are longer and the tire has more rubber all adding weight. With more weight, it’s takes more energy to sprint or accelerate of short hills or grind up longer hills.
Last season (2010) I started racing a 29’er, and the stock wheels weighted 1900g, without tires or cassette. That’s pretty heavy for a race wheelset. Where I ride, there is no shortage of long climbs, most climbs are 20min to 1hr (or more), so I searched for a light 29’er wheelset. I knew I wanted something around the 1400g weight, and didn’t want to spend more then $1000. That’s not an easy task. Most carbon rims are 1400-1500g, but cost $2000-$3000. I saw a lot of people riding the Stans NoTubes ZTR 29er Race Gold. The price and weight fit right into my criteria. However, the product website stated there was a rider weight limit of 170lbs. Last year I was weighing 10-12lbs + gear more then that. I’m not very agressive downhill rider, even in races I tend to pick a smooth line when possible. Also I knew I would only race with these wheels, using the stock wheels for training. I decided to get a set.
I put these wheels on and noticed right way how light the wheels are. They dropped the overall weight of my bike from 25.5-24 lbs, all rotational weight. The set came with the valve steams and rim tape. The Maxxis Ikons tires mounted as tubeless very easy, much easier then the stock wheels I had.
I put a whole season racing on these wheels. I raced them in a 24hr race in Feburary, many marathon distrance races, and 2 100 mile races, and a couple of XC races. Each of them I PR’d my time, significantly. I think part of the improvement is having a lighter wheel set, obviously much of it is fitness. These wheels held up great in all occasions. No dents in the rims, and only trued them once, all season. I did break a spoke, which isn’t too surprising, because they are pretty thin.
I am very happy with the performance. I found I could run less air than the stock wheels because the rims are a little wider at 24.2mm. Having a wider rim, allows less air pressure while giving more traction and suple ride. I did notice on fast hard corners, there was some flex in the rear wheel, which I haven’t felt on other wheels. Climbing and sprinting became a bit easier. I could go faster, with less power (proved with my Quarq Power Meter).
Overall, I think this is a great set of wheels. Would I recommend them to anybody? I don’t think so. If you are a heavy and/or aggressive rider, you would probably damage/destroy these. Lighter or less aggressive riders would probably have the same experience as I.
- rim width: 24.2 (external)
- axle: Ti
- weight: 1340
- axle size: 15mm QR F, 9mm R
- material: 6061 Alloy
- color: Black
- hubs: Stans 3.30Ti
- tubeless ready: yes
- spokes: 1.8/1.5 DT Revolution Black