MTB GUIDE - CHOOSING WHEELS
Everyone can see what a wheel is like. Each of its components, to a greater or lesser extent, influences the dynamics while riding. The most basic and key element is the rim and it is the rim which is the subject of today's article, namely how to choose the perfect rim width for yourself. How to make the right choice among wide range of rims available on the market?
Everyone who is at least a little bit interested in the technical side of bicycles knows that even a millimeter can make a difference on a bike. It is no different when it comes to the rim. This parameter will determine the strength of the wheel, its weight, as well as the width of the tire and its grip. The right choice of the rim directly translates into the parameters and efficiency of the ride, and thus the purpose of the wheels.
There are different widths of rims used for MTB marathon, XC race, and still different for enduro or downhill. The main parameter which determines the purpose of a rim is its internal width (mm). We present below 3 selected models from our range of wheels. Do you know the use of each rim?
DT XR 361
ZTR FLOW 29 MM
THIS RIM CAN TAKE A LOT
The rims most commonly used in XC racing and MTB marathons have an internal width from 20-26 mm, which allows for low wheel weight. Low weight of the rim means less rolling resistance and is paid special attention to in XC and marathons. For those who are interested in enduro and downhill, it is recommended to choose wider rims and usually the inner width is 26-35 mm. The wider the rim, the more it unfortunately weighs, but what is most important - it increases its resistance to all kind of impacts, which may occur on mountain path full of roots, stones, long flights and jumps. There is a reason why the widest rims are chosen by downhill cycling enthusiasts, where the wheels, as well as the whole bike, get a really big kick.
WHEN DOES WEIGHT MATTER?
If you don't want to race but just ride for fun, opt for a slightly heavier but a few millimetres wider rim. This will increase comfort and reliability of your ride. Concerning taking part in MTB competitions. As we mentioned before, in disciplines like XC or marathons, weight really matters, and due to the specifics of the ride, reducing the weight of the bike has become a key aspect when choosing components. The lower the weight of the bike, the less power you have to generate, and the more power you save, the better your score.
CARBONE IN MTB
IS LIGHT AND WIDE
A wider rim on an MTB means, in short, easier riding on technical terrain. Unfortunately the wider the rim, the heavier the wheels. The solution is lightweight carbon wheels, whose advantages will be strongly felt where weight matters - marathons and Cross Country (XC) races. On average you can save about 100-150 grams compared to aluminium wheels of the same width.
The trend towards wider rims has been driven by the increasing difficulty of the tracks. It is especially visible during the World Cups. A wide rim is certainly heavier, but it also increases the stability of the wheel and improves the comfort of the bike, which is important on technically difficult obstacles. A tyre on a wider rim fits the ride much better, which is especially important when maneuvering off-road. It is much more stable than the same tyre on a narrower rim as there is more surface in contact with the ground.
As an interesting example of a complete revolution of the industry, we can mention the BST technology, pioneered by the American company Stan's NoTubes in ZTR rims. The BST technology is based on lowering and widening the rim sidewalls at the same time. With a wider rim the tires fit really well and allow less tire pressure to be applied, resulting in increased comfort on more difficult terrain.
Wider rim = more grip, then why think about narrower rims?
It all depends on the terrain in which you want to use your wheels. If you need wheels for flat terrain, you can safely choose narrower rims, while gaining better wheel weight. However, if you're looking for racing in the mountains or enduro riding for example, the width of the rim can help significantly in overcoming obstacles and provide much more strength to the whole wheel.
For example, Enduro is a discipline focused on riding in mountainous terrain. You can get on an Enduro in the woods, but the potential of the bike is only revealed in dynamic off-road conditions, such as mountain trails or specially built trails. In such conditions, the wheels have to withstand much higher loads. In addition, weight is also important, because the bike must not only handle well on downhills, but also weigh enough to overcome the uphills without huge resistance. In this situation you have to find the golden mean between how much you want to go off the weight of the wheels for the sake of durability. As we mentioned before, the inner width of enduro rims is 26mm to even 35mm.
Similar rules of finding the golden mean apply to wheels for marathons and XC. With the difference, that routes of typical mountain marathons are usually not as extreme as those of enduro or XC. That's why you can easily choose narrower rim, being guided by the correlation between the weight of the wheels, comfort of riding in difficult terrain and their durability.
Below we present the most frequently chosen and recommended wheels for MTB marathons, enduro and downhill. The recommendations below are supported by years of experience in wheel building and customers' opinions. It is important to us that the wheels are, above all, reliable and, where required, also light.