One of the things that makes a good decision on a wheelset so crucial is the price, which can be a significant fraction of what you spent on your bike in some cases. We’re here to help you make the right choice without wasting your hard earned cash. Here are our top choices for wheels from light duty trail work to blasting double-blacks at Whistler.
- The range-topping carbon e*thirteen TRS Race Carbon
- Stan’s eminently affordable carbon Flow S1
- DT Swiss’ admirable Spline Boost 35
- WTB’s even more affordable ST i-25
- Nukeproof’s plus-friendly Neutron
- Industry Nine’s Backcountry wheelset
For more information on each, scroll below or select what you’re interested in from the contents page. We’ve also included a section at the bottom on why wheels are often the most economical way to upgrade your bike.
How To Know If You Need New Wheels?
The last thing you want is to buy an expensive wheelset that you don’t need. Thankfully, wheels have ways of telling you when it’s time to replace them.
You should look out for:
- Buckling, when the wheel moves from side to side as it rolls
- Loose spokes or spokes that are vastly different in tension
- Bent rims and dents from misadventures in rock gardens or one send too hard
- Play in the hub, when the hub can be seen to visibly move relative to the axle.
The Best Enduro Wheels
The Best Carbon Enduro Wheels
These sturdy rims from the biggest name in tubeless systems are the latest in a long line of rims that have been whipped around by riders like Sam Dale and Wyn Masters. They aren’t the lightest things on the market but they make up for it with excellent performance and total durability at an extremely competitive price that belies their carbon nature.
The Best 29″ Enduro Wheels
You won’t find a category that the DT Swiss Spline family isn’t smashing right now. Its wide plus size 29” rims are on a completely different level compared to similar plus wheels on the market. It has the laser accuracy and drop-the-hammer responsiveness you’d expect from a great 29er wheel as well as an exceptional balance between flow and feedback. And of course as you would expect from 29” wheels it offers the massive advantage of higher rolling speed over more rugged terrain and feels right at home on wider trails.
The DT Swiss Spline Boost 35 is our 29” choice for speed, grip and sensitivity on a cheaper alloy rim.
Best Value Carbon Enduro Mountain Bike Wheels
E*thirteen’s wheels have quickly built a reputation for impressive durability. The TRS Race Carbon is an excellent example of why as they can handle some serious abuse. Offered in both 27.5” and 29” sizes, we found it excelled most as a set of all-rounder wheels for your 29er. It definitely won’t come cheap, but it might be lot less than you expect to pay for a set of touch high end carbon wheels.
This wheelset offers just what you would expect for the money. It’s tough, super-responsive and lightweight enough to give 29ers the bounce, agility and acceleration that they are often accused of lacking. If you want to save a bit of cash you can build the 29″ up from the rim as opposed to buying the complete wheel laced to the hub.
Best Budget Mountain Bike Rims
The ST i23-29 rims make sure nobody gets left behind before they even make it to the trailhead. The understated affordable solution that were the chosen rims of the famous Calibre Bossnut (V1 and 2) make a perfect solution for those who want to enjoy tubeless enduro with a bit of money in the bank left over for the next upgrade. We found they stayed straight even after prolonged hard riding, with 6 foot drops and gaps included. If you’re looking to spare some serious cash while getting reliable tubeless-ready rims the WTB ST i-25s are for you.
Best Wheels for Plus Tires
A great all-around set of enduro mountain bike wheels that break from the crowd through the sizing options. If you’re a tire nerd these are the wheels for you, with options for regular width and two different plus tire widths to tailor your handling to the wide variety of plus tires available today. These aren’t as highly rated as the Hope wheels and may not be as cheap as the i25s, but they come in as a strong middle ground as one of the most purchased wheelsets at Chain Reaction Cycles. These wheels are also known for an easy tubeless conversion, a virtual necessity on today’s gnarly trails, as well as ‘forgiving’ strength, coming in at a respectable 2kg per set.
The most competitive plus wheelset in its price category we’ve seen yet. As the name suggests this wheelset was made with hard backcountry miles in mind. This makes them a great choice for all round enduro riding and basically everything else too, according to Industry Nine.
Their bikepacking focus makes these wheels a little more lightweight and climb focused than what some would like for enduro, but when you’re on the flat or going uphill you can really feel the difference. In the end it’ll come down to personal preference what you are after the most. If cost isn’t so much of an issue and you want to get a versatile and reliable plus wheelset that’ll let you get out into the non-competitive side of mountain biking then you really can’t go wrong here.
Mountain Bike Wheels – The Most Economical Bike Upgrade
The decision of what wheelset to run is arguably the most important decision you could make when you feel the need for a big upgrade or adjustment to your enduro mountain bike. It affects every aspect of how your bike handles and requires you to perfectly judge the balance between strength and weight to achieve a fast and durable wheel. It’s hard to look at numbers and reports on factors like stiffness and width and judge exactly how they’ll impact your riding experience but trust us, just because it’s hard to quantify doesn’t mean you won’t notice it out on the trail.
Wheelsets are especially important because of how rotational mass works. If you want to accelerate like a dragster it helps to minimize the amount of weight you have to get spinning. This means that as a general rule adding weight on the wheel is equivalent to adding four times that weight to the frame.
Lighter rims also improve your handling because you don’t need to change as much of the rotational inertia you’ve built up. You need to save as much as you can considering how heavy mountain bike tires are and these rims can help you do just that.