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Hammered: Wheels

10:07 21st September 2009 by James Renwick
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HAMMERED
Bontrager Race Lite Tubeless Wheelset
Had a bit of a shoe–in this pair. These wheels needed to go in because having come as stock on a Trek EX9 test bike that has been thrashed around the woods for six months by everyone and their neighbour, they’ve stood up remarkably well. In fact the old Race Lite is still pretty straight and true. Up front the spokes are as perfectly tensioned as the day they left the factory. On the rear there has been a slight tension loss and it’s not quite as sharp as the day it arrived, but then you have to bear in mind the healthy disrespect it’s had. Where do they stand as an all–round UK trail wheel? Well compared to say a Specialized Roval I’d say it’s slightly stronger wheel but at almost half the price!

This is an excellent wheelset for bombing around on. When you consider that you get DT Swiss hubs, super strong 24mm rims, 28 spoke design, tubeless compatibility when the supplied rim strip is used, and a well thought skewer package for under three hundred quid, it all makes sense. Compare that to the price of a Shimano XT wheelset or a Mavic. Now the Mavic is definitely a stronger wheel but then it’s double the money. Obviously you have to make such comparisons to others but nearly always Bontrager components seem to come across as excellent value, quality and design. Recommended. SJ
Price: £279.99
Contact: Trek 01908 282 626
www.bontrager.com

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Mavic Crossmax Sx
Normally if someone asks me what wheels they should buy I tell them to ignore off–the–peg wheels and instead get some hubs and rims built up by a decent wheel builder. The reason being that you normally get much more for your money, and you can get a traditional 32 or 36 hole wheel repaired quickly pretty much anywhere. But, over the past two years these Crossmax SX’s have impressed me so much that I’ve had to reconsider that piece of advice. Yes they might cost a considerable amount more than a regular set of wheels, and you’ll be lucky to find a shop which has either replacement spokes or rims in stock, but after only having to tweak them twice in the past two years I think that’s hardly relevant.

They are so strong and reliable, and I reckon it’d be almost impossible to build up a standard pair of wheels with a strength to weight ratio to rival these. For longer rides I sometimes think I should be running something even lighter, with a bit of a trade–off in strength, but then saying that I always keep these on as I love knowing that no matter what I come across these wheels will come out straight the other side. I always run them tubeless, and the only wheels I can think that I might replace them with are the latest version of the SX’s which have a faster freehub engagement and offer the same level of strength despite losing over 150g of material. Bombproof, light (relatively), and super pimp, I can’t ask for more. EH
Price: £550.00
www.mavic.com
Shimano M770 XT

All Mountain Wheels
Picking these up in naked form (no tyres or cassette) my first thoughts were… burly. For a set of wheels this is generally a good thing, and over the last year they have stayed true and the rims are still without ding even though there’s been a fair amount of ping. In terms of roll I don’t think that they’re the fastest you can buy, but they’re strong and for the money they’re very good value. Apart from a bit of dirt the 20mm front wheel is almost indistinguishable from when it came out of the box, but the rear has had a more
colourful time of things. I’ve mangled spokes twice with a misbehaving rear mech, each time though I simply replaced the spokes and then tightened them up. I got the wheel true again with no effort at all.

I have also run these tubeless from day one and they are responsible for converting me. Disc mount wise they only come with Shimano’s Centre–Lock system, but that’s not really a problem because it’s a very quick, simple and reliable system to use, and if you do need to run 6–bolt rotors there are plenty of conversion kits on the market. All in all these are a stocky set of wheels that take the hits in their stride without making a fuss about it. They run quietly, but with all the makeup they shout a bit too loudly for my liking, they’re just a bit too garish. Great value wheels though, and the narrower and lighter XC version (which comes with a 15mm front hub option) is probably worth a look too if these are anything to go by. MR
Price: Front 20mm £185.95, Rear QR £205.52
Madison 0800 1300 598
www.shimano.com

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