Tested: DT Swiss SPLINE ONE XM1501 29 30mm Wheelset

But things got off to a soft start, with DT’s first few models of rims proving about a resilient as a fairy floss raincoat. A few hard rides could leave them dented like my blind Nanna’s Corolla. We think it’s fair to say it took DT a few years of refinement to get their rim offerings up to scratch. Times have certainly changed, and the new XM1501 wheelset delivers the complete package, and a level of performance you’d expect from DT.

28 straight-pull spokes, front and rear.

Wider, finally.

Like many of the larger rim manufacturers, DT took a little while to get on board with the wide rim program to support the larger tyres that have become the norm for trail riding. But they’ve recently turned the ship around with a whole swathe of wider rims, under the banner of SPLINE ONE, which itself is divided into XR, XM and EX categories, designed for cross-country, all-mountain and Enduro use respectively.

Printed graphics, not fragile stickers.

The range includes these guys, the XM1501 30mm wheelset which runs 30mm-wide rims. We think 30mm is the sweetspot for most trail riding, but DT have five width options in this XM series from 22.5-40mm width, so you’ve got just about every base covered there!

Fitting the DT XM1501 30mm wheelset to our Jeffsy gave it a huge performance boost.

What bike did you run these on?

Our YT Jeffsy long-term test bike was crying out for a wider set of rims to allow it to reach its full potential. At around the same time, DT had just landed these new generation wheelset in Australia, featuring wider rims. We removed the under-gunned DT M1900 wheels from the YT, and on went the XM1501s. The transformation was instant and dramatic, traction was through the roof, as we could run almost 30% less tyre pressure, which combined with the stiffer rims made for more precise handling. Over the course of the review, we’ve run these wheels with Onza Ibex rubber in a 2.4″, and a Specialized Butcher/Slaughter combo in a 2.3″.

A 30mm width is right on the sweet spot for most riding, and works well with tyres in the 2.3-2.5″ range.

What do you like about them?

We’re big fans of high quality alloy wheels such as these, which are stiff, light (sub 1800g) and won’t break the bank. While a carbon wheelset has many benefits, the price of most carbon options is a big barrier (excluding some notable exceptions, such as these from Bontrager) and the durability of an alloy rim to keep rolling even when damaged is appealing too.

The hubs at the heart of this wheelset are brilliant – lightweight, reliable, and easy to service. The Star Ratchet freehub system has few moving parts, and so keeping it running smoothly is within reach of any mechanic. You don’t need any special tools to disassemble it, to give it all a clean or lube.

The Star Ratchet system is simple, with just the two springs and two ratchet rings to worry about. It’s easy to service and lasts a long time.

That same serviceability extends to the spokes and rim. There are 28 straight pull spokes, with external nipples for easy truing. That said, we’ve not needed to take a spoke key to these wheels. The nipples are injected with DT’s Prolock thread sealant, which helps prevent them working loose, and in our case they’ve stayed true and tight.

It might sound like a small thing, but the use of printed graphics as opposed to stickers is a nice touch. It sucks to pay top dollar for a set of wheels only to have the stickers peel or get rubbed off quickly.

Any downsides?

We only suffered one puncture with these rims, but it did result in a cut through the tyre, right on the bead. Upon closer comparison, we’ve noticed that the shape of the bead hook is noticeably sharper than many other alloy rims. While we can’t say for sure that this contributed to the tyre damage, it was interesting to note.

The rims are taped for tubeless with valves supplied. We did notice the bead hook is quite narrow, which may have contributed to us slicing a rear tyre along the tyre bead.

For me? 

The wheel market is a crowded space at the moment, with custom and off-the-shelf options in carbon and alloy galore. You only need to scroll back through the past 12 months of reviews here and see how many wheelsets we’ve tested to get an idea of all the options out there now.

At almost $1500, these wheels sit right at the upper end of the range for alloy rims. As such, they’re really aimed at the rider who wants a high performance set of wheels but who either doesn’t trust carbon (and plenty don’t) or who won’t stretch the budget another few hundred to get into the carbon realm. If that sounds like you, then put these wheels on the shortlist.



Flow’s First Bite – Wheelworks FLITE Wide Alloy Trail 29”

Wheel Works Flite Alloy-0010

Custom decals available from over 60 colours, CNC cut in house.
Custom decals available from over 60 colours, CNC cut in house.

We all know carbon wheels have their big benefits, but there’s no hiding their propensity to explode if hit hard enough, while aluminium rims can withstand a beating for longer. Sure the top downhill and enduro pro riders might have carbon wheels, with a rack of spares at the ready but you can bet the privateer racer who bets on aluminium to get them through.

From our standpoint, we are currently seeing a divide in the mountain bike scene when it comes to the material of choice for wheels. While there are weight and ride quality properties to be benefited from the more expensive carbon option, aluminium rims have gained a lot of ground and a decent wide rim wheelset is more commonplace on high spec bikes than ever before.Wheel Works Flite Alloy-9963

Aluminium rims are much cheaper than expensive carbon rims.
Aluminium rims are much cheaper than expensive carbon rims.

Wheelworks are not your average wheel, they are handbuilt in Wellington NZ to an exceptionally high standard, dive into the Wheelworks story a little more here – we interview Tristan Thomas about the ins and outs of the brand, dis[elling many wheel myths, and what makes them different to the masses.

We’re fitting this set to our Norco Sight C 9.2 test bike which currently has RaceFace 30mm wheels on Shimano XT hubs, which have been great, we’ll see how these handbuilt wheels with wider rims stack up. Stay tuned for more!

72 point engagement hubs, they sound and feel very precise and high quality.
72 point engagement hubs, they sound and feel very precise and high quality.

Wheelworks FLITE Wide Alloy-0088


Wheelworks FLITE Wide Alloy Trail 29″.

1900 grams with rim strip and valves as pictured.

35mm internal width.

2″ up to 2.8″ plus tyre width compatible.

Dial hubs, 72-point engagement with angled flanges and low-friction seals.

Hub weights – 135/250g.

DT Swiss Aerolite spokes with Wheelworks lifetime broken spoke guarantee.

Tubeless tape and lightweight aluminium valves included.

Custom ordered decals, CNC in-house, available in about 30 different colours.

Time to fit and punish!
Time to fit and punish!
Onto the Norco Sight for testing.
Onto the Norco Sight for testing.

Mavic Crossmax XL WTS Wheelset

Mavic’s Crossmax wheels have quite the reputation. Mavic, the French gods of rolling gear, have long made the rims and wheels that other manufacturers aspire to equal, and the Crossmax line has been at the pinnacle – le summet, if you will.

Mavic Crossmax XL 10


Mavic Crossmax XL 2

Their are four flavours of Crossmax wheels available, and we’re taking a look at the newest version of the XL wheelset in a 650B format (26″ and 29″ are available too), which is right in the sweet spot with the popularity of enduro-style riding/racing. Mavic bill these wheels as the “adventurer’s choice”;  I once ate a sea urchin, that’s pretty adventurous, so hopefully we make the cut.

Mavic Crossmax XL 1

First thing, these wheels come pre-dressed with some excellent looking tyres! Mavic have been developing rubber for both mountain and road bikes over the past few years, and this will be our first experience on their treads. The Quest tyres are a 2.4″ width, with a generous bag to them, nice and soft compound, with a lowish-profile centre tread. The claimed weight for them is 780g in 650B, and of course they’re tubeless ready too.

Mavic Crossmax XL 8
The 2.4″ Quest tyres are a soft compound, with a tread pattern we definitely like the look of.

The wheels themselves are a pleasant evolution, rather than a blank-sheet re-design. Mavic have bumped the internal width of the rims up to 23mm, for more tyre stability, as well as changing the rim profile to make it more dent resistant. The milling on both the hub and rim is something pretty special, giving the wheels that gorgeous ‘carved from a hunk of aluminium’ industrial chic that we really like. 24 massive Zircal spokes hold each wheel together, with radial lacing on the rear driveside.

Mavic Crossmax XL 9
The four-pawl freehub body feels light and crisp in action. Easy serviceability has always been a feature of Mavic hubs too.

We haven’t yet removed the tyres to weigh the wheels on their own, but the claimed figure is 1710g. With tyres and tubes fitted, the complete weight of our 650B wheels is just on 3.6kg, which will drop significantly once we go tubeless (valves are supplied).

Mavic Crossmax XL 3
With a 23mm internal width, the Crossmax XL rims aren’t as wide as many we’ve tested lately – will there be enough support?

We’re genuinely looking forward to riding some Mavic wheels again. With the trends towards super-wide rims we’ve been seeing in the all-mountain category, it’ll be good see how some high-quality not-so-wide wheels perform in comparison. These will be finding their way onto our Norco Range long-term test bike very shortly. NB. Our wheels are fitted with an XD Driver body, not a Shimano driver as is standard.

Tested: SRAM Roam 50 29er Wheelset

When a wheelset proves to be light, stiff and durable, it becomes pretty hard to put together a particularly interesting review, but we’ll try!

What can you say? They've been perfect.
What can you say? They’ve been perfect.

The Roam 50s are SRAM’s versatile alloy-rimmed trail wheel. There’s also a carbon version, the Roam 60, which isn’t actually any lighter, but has the strength and stiffness benefits of carbon construction.

It’s worth mentioning too that SRAM have the serious cross-country crowd covered with the lightweight Rise wheelsets and if you’re more gravity oriented, there’s the tougher Rail series wheels too. Put simply, SRAM now have a shedload of wheels for you to pick from. You can get the Roam, Rise and Rail wheels in 26″, 27.5″ or 29″ versions. We tested the big 29er hoops.

There is a carbon version of this wheel available too, in 26, 27.5 or 29er sizes.
There is a carbon version of this wheel available too, in 26, 27.5 or 29er sizes.

Since we first received these wheels, we’ve only had a month or so on the trails with the Roams so we can’t honestly comment on the long-term durability, but we’ve not been nice to these wheels in order to cram as much punishment in as possible in a short period.

The hub shells use SRAM's Double Decker spoke flange design. The spokes are long, but the wheels are stiff all the same.
The hub shells use SRAM’s Double Decker spoke flange design. The spokes are long, but the wheels are stiff all the same.

In a nutshell, these wheels are as true as the day we fitted them, the sealed bearings and superb freehub are still spinning perfectly smoothly, and we’ve suffered negligible air loss with them set up tubeless. Speaking of tubeless, the rims come pre-fitted with a super tough tape that seals up the rim bed nicely, plus valves are included.

SRAM Rise 50 wheel-5

The Double Decker hub design is very low profile, which looks good, but it does mean the spokes are very long – something that many 29er wheels try to avoid in order to maximise wheel stiffness. That said, these wheels are surprisingly stiff, more than stiff enough for all but the heaviest or roughest riders. Furthermore, the 21mm internal rim width gives your tyres a good measure of support too, helping keep everything going where you want it to, rather than squirming about.

The rims are offset, allowing the use of one spoke length across both wheels. A generous 21mm internal width ensures good support for wide trail rubber.
The rims are offset, allowing the use of one spoke length across both wheels. A generous 21mm internal width ensures good support for wide trail rubber.

On the subject of spokes, SRAM have made life very easy for mechanics the world over, but using the one spoke length for both drive-side and non drive-side of front AND rear wheels! No more spoke length calculators!

The axles are modular, so you can run all the common dropout configurations, and the freehub mechanism (DT’s Star Ratchet) is one of the easiest to maintain on the market. We love servicing these freehubs, the simplicity is just so perfect.

We're running XX1 on our test wheels. Make sure you grease up the freehub body before installing your cassette if you're going 11-speed too.
We’re running XX1 on our test wheels. Make sure you grease up the freehub body before installing your cassette if you’re going 11-speed too.

On the subject of freehub bodies, if you’re running the SRAM XD body for SRAM’s XX1 or X01 cassette, make sure you use lots of grease when you install the cassette. We had a drama with a cassette getting stuck and it was a real battle to free it (almost resulting in a ruined XX1 cassette; now that would’ve been expensive).

We’d love to try the Roam 60 carbon versions of these wheels, because we’re very impressed by the 50s and can only imagine how good the stiffer carbon rim would make this wheelset.



Fresh Product: SRAM Roam 50 29er Wheelset

ROAM Farther.
Fast climbs and fast descents—from sun up till sundown. Truly made for the modern mountain biker, ROAM wheels use a special balance of low-inertia design, weight and strength to excel on a wide variety of terrain. They’re durable enough for hours in the saddle, yet light enough for race day.

It’s everything the modern mountain biker could ask for. One of the lightest alloy trail wheels in the market, ROAM 50 delivers a smart balance of weight, inertia and stiffness—making for a very responsive and predictable wheel. Thanks to our WIDE ANGLE rim, its tire profile delivers superior traction.

• Intended use: XC/TR
• Available in all 3 wheel sizes: 26, 27.5 and 29in
• Lightweight aluminum rim with asymmetrical TAPER CORE profile
• WIDE ANGLE profile: 21mm inside, 25mm outside rim width
• UST compatible
• Available with 11-speed XD™ Driver Body, 10- or 9-speed driver body
• Aluminum nipples with nylon lock ring
• SOLO SPOKE design with double butted, lightweight steel spokes
• Durable hub internals with Star Ratchet system
• SIDE SWAP easy conversion to all axle types
• DOUBLE-DECKER hub shell design
• Weight: 1475g (26in), 1530g (27.5in), 1610g (29in). Wheel pair in lightest configuration