In fundamental terms, the mountain bike wheel really hasn't changed a lot over the course of its history; a hub, a rim, all supported by a bunch of spokes. But on a more subtle level, one of those components - the rim - is actually one of the areas of bike design in which we've seen some of the coolest, most beneficial technological developments in recent years.
The not-so-minor details
Pacenti TL28 Rims
Rim only weight:
Secure tubeless bead.
23mm internal width is still on the narrow side for modern trail hoops.
Firstly, improvements in the way the tyre and rim interface has meant that going tubeless is easy and secure, making tubeless now the norm. And secondly, we’ve seen construction evolve towards wider rim profiles, which brings with it a host of benefits, the foremost of which is better tyre stability at lower pressures (and therefore, more grip). These two changes alone have probably had more of an impact in terms of improving genuine on-trail performance than all the suspension tweaks combined in the past few years.
While carbon rims get a lot of attention at the moment, the truth is that carbon hoops just aren’t practical for most people. They cost a bomb, which means a big outlay both to buy them initially, and to replace one should you manage to crunch it. For the bulk of us, a good quality alloy rim is still the most sensible, practical choice. The new L Series rims from Pacenti fall into this camp – high quality, sensibly priced, beautifully made, alloy rims. We’ve got a set of Pacenti’s new TL28 hoops built up onto exquisite Chris King hubs
The name Pacenti might be vaguely familiar to many readers; Kirk Pacenti is one of the industry’s best regarded innovators, with more than 20 years experience. In recent years, he was one of the leading agitators for the introduction of the 650b format – a quick Google will bring up many references to Pacenti as the ‘Godfather of 650b’. In the spirit of early pioneers like Tom Ritchey or Gary Fisher he’s also constantly challenging the industry to re-think the way we approach mountain bike geometry.
The TL28 rims are available in 27.5 or 29er sizes, with 28 or 32 hole drillings, and Pacenti bill them as their do-it-all rim, covering everything from XC to all-mountain. If you’re after an Enduro or downhill rim, they’ve also got the beefier DL31 in their range. As you might have guessed from the name, the rims are 28mm wide (external width), with a tubeless ready bead. Internally, they measure up at 23mm, which is more on the cross-country end of the rim-width spectrum nowadays. They’re a classic, good looking rim; reinforced stainless steel eyelets, with a welded join and subtle removable graphics too. The rims don’t come pre-taped, but a strip of high-pressure tubeless rim tape is all you need to go tubeless.
Given his reputation as Mr 650b it’s perhaps odd that we’ve decided to test a set of Pacenti’s 29er hoops! The rim weight for a 29er hoop is 444g, and built up onto some gorgeous King Boost hubs, the complete wheelset is 1862g, which is a sturdy but not overly heavy figure. They’ve built up rock solid, with heaps of spoke tension, making them feel immediately reassuringly strong and stiff. To test the rim’s claims of offering good tyre support, we’ve fitted some large rubber – Continental’s Mountain King tyres in 2.4″ width. The whole lot has been fitted to our Norco Optic C9.2 test bike.
We’ll be giving these rims a hiding over the coming weeks, so tune back in for a full review soon.