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  1. #1
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    Bikepacking wheelset recommendations

    I am looking to replace my wheelset (26" 6-bolt disc) and am wondering if people have recommendations for relatively light and affordable wheels they like for bikepacking. I use the same bike for XC trail riding most of the time and then bikepacking when I am able. So, I am looking for something that is a go-to XC wheel (light and strong) but is also appropriate for heavier loads. I don't mind a little extra wheel weight if it makes for a better load carrier (and I do some jumping, but nothing more than 3 feet). But in reality, the vast majority of my riding is day trips for pleasure, so I want to retain some of the light responsiveness of an XC wheel. Still I am open to all suggestions...

    I am hoping to spend $300 or less. Currently I have Bontrager Selects (2003) UST rims on there. Rear hub is on its way out after a repacking about 6 months ago. Crunchy! Would like to meet or exceed this quality.

    I've been looking at Mavic XC717's and Crosstrails, DT Swiss 4.2 XCs and Easton XC 1's or XC 2's but I am having a hard time cross-comparing.

    Any recommendations or feedback from experience appreciated!!

  2. #2
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    These would be good, imo (not mine, don't know seller, etc.). The hubs are bomber, the rims are on the wider side to go with the trends of our times. Weight wouldn't be too bad and the price is right. Don't know which hub to frame interface you need, though.

  3. #3
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Hi wahday,
    Did you build a new wheel set yet? Was wondering which you decided on.
    I'm a big fan of Mavic's and have them on my XC 26 and DH 26
    For my 29er bikepacker I decided to try the Swiss M520 32 spoke.
    So far I'm liking them as well.

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  4. #4
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    Have not taken the plunge. I am torn between waiting for the current rear hub to grind to a halt or preempting that. I usually avoid buying new things until I need them. Plus, much of the expendable income is going toward the kids at this point in the year. But I do think I need to upgrade before my next bikepacking trip come spring. I don't want it to fail way out in the middle of nowhere.

    Good to hear feedback on the Mavics. They are on my list as well. What model do you have? The 717s are the ones on my list.

    I had also been looking at some DT Swiss 530s even though they are an AM/Enduro wheel. Saw a nice buildup on DT Swiss 350 hubs for a pretty good deal. Still mulling. Part of the challenge is I have ONE mountain bike that I use for both regular weekly XC riding and also for bikepacking. So, trying to cut the difference between a light wheel and a strong one. Without breaking the bank. My bike is pretty light, though, so I don't want to weigh it down too much with mondo rims.

  5. #5
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    If you have the time and desire, building wheels is fun. I usually lace and tension my own and let the LBS due the final tensioning and trueing. You can even do it right on your bike. Building one wheel at a time is a good way to save some cash and get better components. Personally, I would look at the 350s or some Hopes and pick up some Stan's Flows on sale (old version). Pretty much what's on my bike (29 rather than 26) and hold up great.
    "Paved roads...just another example of needless government spending"—paraphrased from rhino_adv

  6. #6
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    I'm wondering what hoops to get too.
    I am convinced to get a 15mm Schmidt ISO SON28 for the front to have generator power, and prob mate it to a Phil cassette hub in the rear and Mavic enduro rims, but if I was going with non generator hubs and on a tighter budget, I'd go with Hope Hoops (pro 2 evo hubs).

    Actually, I am on a tight budget but it makes sense to save up for the good stuff if you are going to be putting on the mileage and finding yourself in remote places.

  7. #7
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahday View Post
    Have not taken the plunge. I am torn between waiting for the current rear hub to grind to a halt or preempting that. I usually avoid buying new things until I need them. Plus, much of the expendable income is going toward the kids at this point in the year. But I do think I need to upgrade before my next bikepacking trip come spring. I don't want it to fail way out in the middle of nowhere.

    Good to hear feedback on the Mavics. They are on my list as well. What model do you have? The 717s are the ones on my list.

    I had also been looking at some DT Swiss 530s even though they are an AM/Enduro wheel. Saw a nice buildup on DT Swiss 350 hubs for a pretty good deal. Still mulling. Part of the challenge is I have ONE mountain bike that I use for both regular weekly XC riding and also for bikepacking. So, trying to cut the difference between a light wheel and a strong one. Without breaking the bank. My bike is pretty light, though, so I don't want to weigh it down too much with mondo rims.
    The Yeti asx (my ski resort bike)has Cross Max SX and the Azonic(do everything else bike) has Cross Land UST's
    Both of these wheel sets have been bullet proof for several years.

    I just had JPaks tune my 29er M520 wheels. These wheels were machine built.
    Joe said the tension was on the loose side and uneven.
    When the bike was packed with camping gear this was very noticeable.

    I'm a big fan of lighter wheels since unsprund weight in the tires and wheels is much more noticeable than above the shocks.
    I don't think you would go wrong with any you've listed.
    Maybe pick the lighter one and go with a heaver gauge spoke to help with the gear load.
    I know when I bikepack I go DH much slower and no jumping so a lighter rim should be fine.
    The spokes are what's really carrying the weight. Just something to think about.
    Last edited by SingleTrackLovr; 12-21-2012 at 06:59 AM.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbbun View Post
    I'm wondering what hoops to get too.
    I am convinced to get a 15mm Schmidt ISO SON28 for the front to have generator power, and prob mate it to a Phil cassette hub in the rear and Mavic enduro rims, but if I was going with non generator hubs and on a tighter budget, I'd go with Hope Hoops (pro 2 evo hubs).

    Actually, I am on a tight budget but it makes sense to save up for the good stuff if you are going to be putting on the mileage and finding yourself in remote places.
    Sweet! Where did you get the SON? I have the newer SON28 with a QR skewer and it's great, but I wish I would have waited for the 15 mil.

    Sorry for the hijack
    "Paved roads...just another example of needless government spending"—paraphrased from rhino_adv

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by intheways View Post
    If you have the time and desire, building wheels is fun. I usually lace and tension my own and let the LBS due the final tensioning and trueing. You can even do it right on your bike. Building one wheel at a time is a good way to save some cash and get better components. Personally, I would look at the 350s or some Hopes and pick up some Stan's Flows on sale (old version). Pretty much what's on my bike (29 rather than 26) and hold up great.
    Well this is something of a confidence builder and I had not thought to do as much as I can and then take it to the shop for the fine tuning. That's a great idea. I've been very happy with my most recent LBS relationship - a small shop with a great mechanic who takes the time to show you everything and explain it.

    Since I have some time here (I hope) before the current wheelset needs to be replaced, I will look into this possibility. I am definitely excited to do more work on my own and this might be just the thing to stretch my comfort zone.

    Re: Dynamo hubs, I am curious what peoples' experience has been with them. A friend has one (and I don't know what brand) but laments that the USB output is pretty low and makes it difficult to charge his iphone. So, he is using an external battery pack that can handle slower dribs of input and store it. Then charges the iphone from that. Have any of you had this issue with the dynamo hubs? That the output is too low to charge cell phone batteries? Just curious. I love the idea but have wondered about performance. As mentioned in another thread, something like the BioLite stove which converts heat to USB output seems to provide better charging potential, though you can only do so while operating the stove (but it uses twigs and forest material, so no threat of running out).

    Thanks for all the input. Keep it coming! Would like to hear more about what others are doing WRT wheels...

  10. #10
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    wah,

    The suggestions here seem sound. I don't have a lot to add, but I do think wheelset selection is every bit as important as frame selection–maybe more so.

    I've most recently run Specialized Control EL, which are similar to Stan's Alpine. It makes a great XC rim, which is essentially what I got them for, but leave a bit to be desired with loaded biking in the rough stuff.

    A great XC rim being a great bikepacking rim is somewhat incongruous to my mind. A stiffer, wider rim (as mentioned/inferred by others here) seems like a great direction for bikepacking. FWIW, I'm thinking the more trail-oriented offerings make better BP'ing gear. I've decided to upgrade my wheels to AM carbon with this in mind. Too spendy to fit your criteria I realize, but my point being that putting extra into a wheelset is a worthy investment if bikepacking regularly is in the plan. I'm impressed by the Stan's Flows I have on my non-bikepacking bike, and think they would make a great BP wheel at any diameter. The Frequency rims Jan pointed out look like an super value. Some extra heft along with added stiffness and strength is a penalty I'd live with if I was planning on BP as a regular activity.

    Cheers,

    Mike

  11. #11
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    Just wanted to update folks on my purchase. I went with WTB Frequency i19 rims on XT hubs. So far so good. Light, stiff, responsive and…tubeless! Only done one bikepacking trip but absolutely no issues under weight. Got them on ebay for under $300 new.

    Really enjoying the tubeless setup, especially for my more regular (non-bikepacking) riding. Speed, grip, a little extra bounce – it’s a very satisfying experience.

  12. #12
    ColoradoCoolBreeze
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahday View Post
    Just wanted to update folks on my purchase. I went with WTB Frequency i19 rims on XT hubs. So far so good. Light, stiff, responsive and…tubeless! Only done one bikepacking trip but absolutely no issues under weight. Got them on ebay for under $300 new.

    Really enjoying the tubeless setup, especially for my more regular (non-bikepacking) riding. Speed, grip, a little extra bounce – it’s a very satisfying experience.
    Sounds like a good wheels set. What tires did you decide to put on them?

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  13. #13
    ballbuster
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahday View Post
    Just wanted to update folks on my purchase. I went with WTB Frequency i19 rims on XT hubs. So far so good. Light, stiff, responsive and…tubeless! Only done one bikepacking trip but absolutely no issues under weight. Got them on ebay for under $300 new.

    Really enjoying the tubeless setup, especially for my more regular (non-bikepacking) riding. Speed, grip, a little extra bounce – it’s a very satisfying experience.
    Nice!

    After tacoing one of my DT X470 29er wheels, I replaced the hoop with a Sun Inferno 23 rim, and found that it was way stiffer than the DT Swiss at about the same weight. Plus, it has a welded seam (as opposed to the pin press-fit seam on the X470) and was pretty cheap at $45 list price. QBP distributes them, which means any LBS can get them pretty easily.

    I'm pretty sure they have a 26er version of that rim.

    In the past, I've been a fan of the Bontrager Mustang rims. They aren't that cheap, but they are light strong and stiff. I think they discontinued them a while back, but I'm sure whatever they replaced it with is good. I think Sun Metals makes Bontrager rims.

    I'm hearing good things about the new WTB rims. I've owned WTB SpeedDisc XC rims, and they are cheap and hold up okay, but they're kinda heavy for an XC rim... Like 520g whereas most XC kinda 29er rims are in the 475g range. Basically, that's nearly 50g of weight that isn't adding any strength or width to the wheel.

    If you have budget, those cheap chinese carbon rims have been pretty dang bulletproof for me, and they weigh in under 400g. So, lighter and stiffer! The tend to come out around $170 each shipped, so that bumps up the budget quite a bit from a $50 rim.

    BTW, this is a great addition to the bag of tricks if you taco a wheel in the field. I'd imagine bikepackers would rather not ruin a whole weekend over a little tacoed wheel.

    Skip to 1:20 for the fun parts.


  14. #14
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    Great video. Wonder how often that would work and how often it would result in even worse. Definitely worth a try if you're stuck in the middle of nowhere though.

  15. #15
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    Bikepacking wheelset recommendations

    Quote Originally Posted by SingleTrackLovr View Post
    Sounds like a good wheels set. What tires did you decide to put on them?
    Geax aka TNTs just because I got a good deal on them. They work great for my terrain in terms of tread pattern but wear quickly. Still, a very fast tire! Love them for my regular riding especially - great stick and great in the corners. And really enjoying tubeless. Probably will try something new next time though. Would like a bit more durability.

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