What You Really Want to Buy, But Won’t – MTB Part 1: Wheels

Nothing wakes up your bike like a quality wheelset. A good wheel upgrade will include a combination of increased stiffness, decreased weight, and improved freehub engagement, in ratios dependent on your particular needs. Though less weight is generally the focal point of wheelsets, it’s also true that sometimes a slightly heavier wheelset has other benefits that may be more important to your riding. Depending on your current set-up and how much cold hard cash you’re willing to spend on yourself, you may be able to have the best of everything.

While weight is always a concern, the more you rely on your legs for speed, as opposed to gravity, the lighter your wheelset should be. ENVE Composites’ M Series wheels make determining which wheel is best for your needs quite simple. Each wheel is named according to the time the rider spends (or importance they place upon) descending versus climbing. The ENVE M60 carbon wheelset is designed for riders whose experience is 60% descending and 40% climbing—or just about every modern trail rider. At 1400 grams (27.5″), the M60 is XC race ready, but it’s also endowed with enough resilience to recommend regularly rail your favorite rocky section. ENVE backs the rims up with a five year limited warranty.


Enve M60 Forty 27.5 wheels.

For dedicated enduro riding, otherwise known as downhilling on a bike you can pedal to the top, we are impressed with the e*thirteen TRS Race carbon wheels. Besides their remarkable (for carbon) sub-$1700 price tag, the TRS Races are pretty light at just 1691 grams (27.5″), especially considering the 27 millimeter internal width and beefy carbon lay up. Several of our employees have been punishing these wheels and walk away impressed after every ride. e*thirteen backs the TRS Race carbon wheels up with a five year limited warranty. Read our review here.


e*thirteen TRS Race carbon wheel.

If $1700 for a wheelset still makes you cringe, we present the Industry 9 Torch Trail S wheelset, which goes for under $900. Ask around at any trailhead or bike shop and you’ll undoubtedly hear about the legendary quality and performance of I9 Torch hubs, which are exactly what these wheels are built around. At only 1600 grams (27.5”) and with the three-degree engagement, six-pawl freehub, put these wheels on your bike for some real get-up-and-go. Extruded alloy rims and Sapim spokes keep the Trail S’s stiffness up and price down.


Industry 9 Torch Classic hub.

Finally, if you’re the proud owner of a 29″/27.5+ wheel compatible bike and are plus-size curious, the Specialized Roval Traverse 38 SL Fattie 27.5+ carbon wheelset is an unbeatable choice for turning your bike into an incredible traction machine. With the stellar combination of 1700 grams and $1500, you may end up selling the stock 29″ wheels that came with your bike after picking up these Roval 38 SL Fattie wheels.


Specialized Roval Traverse 38 SL Fattie 27.5+