Tested: Praxis Works C32 Mountain Wheels

Praxis Works have entered the carbon wheelset game.
Praxis Works have entered the carbon wheelset game.

Praxis Works’ C32 Mountain wheels are the Californian brand’s first foray into the carbon wheel market, and you can read a bit more information about the history of these wheels and what you can expect out of the box in our First Bite.


How did the C32’s ride? 

The Praxis Works C32 Mountain wheels ride exactly as you’d expect from an all-mountain carbon wheelset, stiff and direct. Moving from an alloy wheelset onto the C32’s, the difference in stiffness is immediately noticeable when pushing through corners, or trying to track a straight line through rough terrain.

The C32's are about as stiff as wheels get.
The C32’s are about as stiff as wheels get.

Where on an alloy wheelset you feel a slight amount of flex pushing the bike into a corner, the C32’s go exactly where you point them, so be ready to hold on tight!

If you can hold on, the C32's will always go where you point them.
If you can hold on, the C32’s will always go where you point them.

The sensation is much the same through rough terrain. When you hop on the C32’s from an alloy wheelset, their stiffness and directness mean if you can hold on, the wheels will track a precise line without flexing and twisting, which is a sensation you don’t realise is happening until you ride a wheelset like the C32s.

We're big fans of the understated decals.
We’re big fans of the understated decals.

Whilst the extra stiffness is appreciated when laying down the watts, or keeping your line to the millimetre in a corner, it takes time to get used to the C32’s stiffness, as their lack of deflection and absorption of trail chatter requires a bit more of a forceful hand to stay on track when you first start riding them, where on a softer and flexier aluminium wheelset the wheels will absorb trail chatter, and can also settle the bike if it your line wavers.

You might want to take rough sections of trail a little easy on your first few rides on the C32's.
You might want to take rough sections of trail a little easy on your first few rides on the C32’s.

If you’re confident in your line selection and bike control, you’ll feel a lot faster on the C32’s quickly, but if technical terrain isn’t your forte then you might want to run slightly lower tyre pressures, to compensate for the C32’s stiffness.


They’re not too much lighter than many alloy wheelsets out there, do they feel faster?

Despite not weighing in at the lighter end of the carbon wheelset spectrum at 1761 grams for the set, these wheels are meant to take a battering, they’ve got a 32mm internal rim width, and we discovered throughout testing that they are indeed incredibly strong.

The C32's feature a spot on 32mm internal rim width.
The C32’s feature a spot on 32mm internal rim width.

When you want to get up to speed however, the C32’s are very crisp on the uptake, offering faster acceleration and rolling speed than their weight might suggest. The C32’s replaced a set of Bontrager Line Elite wheels on a Trek Slash 9.9, and whilst they’re only a tad over 100 grams lighter than the Bontragers, they feel much faster to accelerate out of corners, or up a pinch climb when starting from a low speed.

The front wheel feels easy to pop up into a manual or over trail obstacles.
The front wheel feels easy to pop up into a manual or over trail obstacles.

Part of this eagerness comes from the stiffness of the rims, and part of it the responsiveness of the Industry Nine hubs, which were a real standout.


Why were the hubs a standout?

Our C32’s were laced onto a set of Industry Nine Torch hubs. Both hubs spun smooth for the entirety of the test, despite most of the testing taking place in atrocious Sydney riding conditions, and the engagement on the rear was excellent, adding to the C32’s ability to quickly get back up to pace out of a corner or on a punchy climb.

In terms of servicing the hubs, after a few weeks of solid riding, we whipped the wheels out of the bike to see how the freehub internals have been holding up, and to gauge how easily serviceable they are.

To access the hub bearing and freehubs, it’s a matter of pulling off the end caps but blimey they are tight! We pulled and pulled on them for quite some time but the o-rings lock the end caps on very securely indeed. We ended up having to crack out a bearing puller tool kit to pop off the end cap it was so tight.

The Industry Nine's hub end caps are very tightly sealed.
The Industry Nine’s hub end caps are very tightly sealed.

The next step was to gently pull off the freehub body, but be warned the pawls and springs are not held together like many hubs are, resulting in a pawl flying out onto the work bench. These little objects are not what you want going missing on the floor; our advice would be to be gentle and careful when removing.

Six pawls provide almost instant engagement.
Six pawls provide almost instant engagement.

Once inside the internals of the freehub we expected a cleaner mechanism considering the extra-tight seals, the grease was a little dirty and there was evidence of moisture (the bike had just been washed).

The internals were a touch dirtier than we were expecting, but they were subjected to some attrocious riding conditions and unforgiving hosings.
The internals were a touch dirtier than we were expecting, but they were subjected to some atrocious riding conditions and unforgiving hosings.

What about the overall maintenance?

From a maintenance perspective, we’ve ridden the C32’s hard for a couple of months now, and the wheels haven’t needed any time in the truing stand, with the spokes remaining the same tension as the day we picked them up- that’s a thumbs up in that department!

Despite a few scratches on the rim, you wouldn't know our C32's are a couple of months old.
Despite a few scratches on the rim, you wouldn’t know our C32’s are a couple of months old.

Should I be worried about breaking a set of C32’s?

During our testing of the C32’s we had two incidents, both where we went into a clearly audible rock versus carbon duel, and to our disbelief there was no damage to be seen, and the tyre also remained intact and inflated both times.

We were really impressed by the C32's strength.
Fancy slamming your rear wheel into rocks? The C32’s can handle it.

Had these incidents occurred on an alloy wheelset, we’re almost certain we would’ve dented or cracked the rim, or at the very least suffered a flat tyre.


If they break and it’s not my fault, what’s the warranty like?

If you do happen to get unlucky (and judging by our testing we think you would have to be very unlucky indeed!) and break a set of C32’s, Praxis offer a discounted rate to re-lace the hub to a new rim, which can be arranged through your local shop.

The wheels also come with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty against defects, so you’re covered there as well.


Any lowlights?

Not really. The C32’s were subjected to a cruel test period and they remained in prime condition throughout. There was no loss of spoke tension, the wheels are still straight as an arrow and the hubs are spinning as smooth as they did on day one, with the crisp engagement you would expect from an Industry Nine hub.

Industry Nine's Torch hubs were a pleasure to ride.
Industry Nine’s Torch hubs were a pleasure to ride.

We discussed in the First Bite that the practicality element of these wheels is a big selling point, with their external nipples and J-bend spokes, and despite not having to true the wheels, or replace a spoke, in the event that you do have to do some maintenance, these features will make your life (or your mechanic’s) much easier. 

Hooray for external spokes!
Hooray for external spoke nipples!

Who are the C32 Mountain wheels for?

The C32 Mountain wheels would be a good upgrade for a wide variety of riders, from casual trail riders through to enduro racers. Their excellent balance of weight, strength, stiffness and serviceability make them a great option if you’re looking to upgrade your wheels, and we’re confident after riding the C32’s back to back with several other wheelsets that you’ll notice the difference on the trail immediately.

The C32 Mountain wheels are a versatile wheelset.
The C32 Mountain wheels are a versatile wheelset.

Are they worth it?

How long is a piece of string? Sure, these wheels are an expensive upgrade, but by no means are they the most expensive out there, and the performance benefits are there compared to a standard aluminium wheelset.

Praxis Works C32-9504

We’ve enjoyed our time on the C32’s immensely, now to figure out a way to not give them back!

 

 

Flow’s First Bite: Praxis Works C32 Mountain Wheels

The C32 Mountain Wheelset is Praxis Works' first carbon wheelset.
The C32 Mountain Wheelset is Praxis Works’ first carbon wheelset.

Out of the box it’s a chunky looking wheelset, with a hookless bead, wide profile and some fancy hubs, but that’s pretty standard for carbon wheels these days, so let’s jump into the interesting stuff.


What makes this carbon wheelset different?

One thing that stands out to us about the Praxis Works C32 Mountain Wheelset from the outset is its nods to practicality. Where many carbon wheelsets go for internal nipples and funky proprietary spokes, Praxis Works have stuck with external nipples, 32 hole hubs and classic J-bend spokes.

It's a double thumbs up for us for external nipples.
External spoke nipples get a double thumbs up from us.

The wheels also come with rim strips, valves and some spare service spokes, so you’ll be ready to roll out for your first ride in no time!

All taped up.
All taped up out of the box.

What’s the C32 Mountain wheelset intended for?

The Praxis Works C32 Mountain wheelset is aimed at the trail/all-mountain/enduro segment, utilising carbon for its strength and stiffness properties rather than creating an ultra-lightweight rim.

Our build uses Industry Nine’s Torch hub with a 6-bolt rotor system, and comes in at 1761 grams for the set, which is solid considering the wheel’s 38mm external diameter and 32mm internal rim width, as well as the wheelset using 32 spokes front and rear.

Praxis Works C32-4888


What sizes does it come in?

The C32 wheels are available in both 27.5” and 29” options.

Praxis Works C32-4897
We’re testing a set of 29″ C32 wheels.

Does it come in different hub options?

It sure does! You can get them in 142x12mm and boost 148x12mm hub spacing options, and there are two builds levels offered.

The C32 wheelset built up with Industry Nine torch hubs that we’ve got on test retails for $2800, and the Praxis Works branded DT Swiss 350 hub option costs $2600.

Our build uses Industry Nine's Torch hubs.
Our build uses Industry Nine’s Torch hubs.

The only exception is the 142×12 Praxis hubs, which come with Praxis’ own straight pull spoke design on one side, which is said to increase the stiffness of the 142x12mm wheel to that of a boost wheel.


What about freehub options?

You can purchase the C32 Mountain wheelset with both Shimano or SRAM compatible freehubs.

We'll be popping SRAM's soaring Eagle onto our wheelset.
We’ll be popping SRAM’s soaring Eagle onto our wheelset.

What’s the warranty like?

This is a question we get all the time when it comes to carbon wheelsets, and rightly so considering their price. The Praxis Works C32 Mountain wheelset comes with a 2-year warranty against manufacturing defects, but this doesn’t include barging into rocks at warp speed. We’ve got lots of riding planned for this wheelset, so lookout for the full review where we’ll be able to shed light on the C32’s durability over time.

Praxis Works C32-4884


Where to now?

Time to get some miles in we think. We’re fitting these wheels to a Trek Slash 9.9 that we use for some pretty demanding riding, so we’ve put on some beefy rubber. Keep an eye out for our full review once we’ve logged some solid trail time!