Best options for wheelset after upgrading fork to thru axle, or not- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Best options for wheelset after upgrading fork to thru axle, or not

    Hi everyone. New to the forum and to MTB. A few months ago, I took the kids for a haircut and bought a mint yet used 2017 specialized rockhopper comp on the way home (long story, short, but my wife has all the details.)

    Now, I love riding so much that I thought about upgrading to a full suspension or better bike in general in the offseason. But I realized there are just a few things I don't like about this bike that I got for just $350: the suntour air suspension isn't good, the bike is a little heavy, and I wish the rims (21mm) were a little wider, lighter and tubeless. Dropper post is also something I'll do at some point (external mount only).


    But then I went to upgrade these forks and it's like the time my wife had me get tampons. There's so many brands and sizes and flow rates and it's blowing my mind. So, here's where I'm at:


    Rock Shox reba forks are a must. Since I'm getting new forks, why not swap out the 9mm QR for 100 mm (or Boost, because that is also a thing, I kid you not.) thru axle? Easy enough. But then finding a wheelset that is 100mm front and 10mm 135 QR is a pain. It exists, I think because I don't know all the compatibility issues, here and here also here with these convertible hubs. I'm also not sold on Conti X-Cross tires, but that's an easy swap out. Most hubs I'm finding are also 6-bolt, which means I'll also need new rotors (just rotors, right!?) but not new brakes or pads.


    So, should I ... A. just get a QR fork and call it a day B. Find a thru axle fork and upgrade the front wheel only (not ideal, since I don't love these wheels.) C. Buy a set of mismatched wheels that are linked above. D. Get a complete and more common wheelset and find some adapter thing that will allow the new rear hub to work on my 10x135mm QR rear? or E. Something else?


    I think a new wheelset with fresh tires (I need them anyway) and new fork will shed a few pounds and make this bike work well for my not very skilled rides on trails and rocky, rough terrain I frequently encounter. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  2. #2
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    How much do you want to spend? You could drop $1k in a heartbeat on this upgrade depending on the direction you go.

    New old stock wheels with old spacing could actually make a big difference in how your bike rides, if the current wheels are heavy. Answer the above question first, though...

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply! Iíve seen Rebas lightly used for $200-250, and the linked wheelset is another $200. Iíd probably sell the tires and get Maxxis, so thereís another $100. Thatís about what I want to spend. I figure Iíll have a decent bike for under $900 and can get something much nicer in a few years. Itís actually not a bad bike, minus those few things i mentioned.

  4. #4
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    Doubt youíll get $100 for the tires...

    I was actually going to recommend you pick up a used fork and new front wheel. Reba will be a nice upgrade.

    Boost or non-boost wheel depends on which fork you find. I wouldnít go out of my way to get Boost spacing though - and you definitely canít use Boost spacing in your rear wheel. Good wheels are a major upgrade.

    Last pointer, measure your steer tube to ensure you buy a fork that fits.

  5. #5
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    Thanks! Yea, I meant that I would have to buy Maxxis tires for $100. I think I'll get $20 for those tires. Does this wheelset seem reasonable? Or this one?

    I think my budget allows for me to replace the forks with a good condition Reba or maybe SID brain fork (I did learn about the travel, offset and steerer tube length) and still have a $300 or so for wheels and tires (and new rotors, right?)

    It's a weird place with hardtails because you can get a good used full suspension bike in my town for like $1K. I want to keep upgrades under $500 or so, excluding tires and other more wearable parts. Another bummer is that the Rockhopper steerer tube is super short (like under 5 inches) so there's little chance of moving a good fork to a newer bike. The wheels likely won't be compatible either.

  6. #6
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    Youíre thinking about this in the right way, for the most part.

    If you want to possibly move the fork to another bike, the extra steer tube length can be taken up with additional spacers. Some guys donít like 1.5 inches of spacers above their stem - thatís up to you. At the least, youíll get a chance to pay around with bar height...

    Regarding wheels, youíre in a tough spot. Any wheel you buy for the rear will be hard to move to a new frame being that Boost has become the norm. Higher quality hubs have conversion kits that can be used to move from 135 to 148 but Iíve not gone thru the process so donít have the specifics. I would ask for wheel recommendations in the Wheel forum.

    If it were me, Iíd buy a good set of wheels and plan to keep the hardtail even if I bought a FS bike down the road. You should be able to find a used set of wheels in good condition for $250-ish. Even Shimano XT hubs on good rims would be ok. The 1st eBay link is for a wheelset in Australia, just FYI.

  7. #7
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    If you don't mind spending some more money, consider the Hunt wheels

    they are adaptable to various standards are reasonably priced and could follow you to a new bike and/or frame.

    Their hubs have a standard option:
    Standard - 142x12 (Rear) with 100x15mm (Front). QR adapters available - just complete the simple form after checkout. Rock Shox Torque Caps available - just add a comment in the notes section on the cart page.

    https://www.huntbikewheels.cc/collec...e-mtb-wheelset

    and I bet if you called they could set you up with exactly what you need with the ability to upgrade the wheels in the future if needed. They have lots of styles to choose from as well.
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  8. #8
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    mnigro, that is a great point about the steerer spacers. It makes sense to try it out before cutting! So, I think my best bet is to either just replace the forks, keeping it all qr, and then decide on a wheelset later. Or do both, in which case I would switch to 15x100 (Boost is hard because it's impossible to find boost front, qr rear).

    I think the second option is better because it's within my budget and the thru axle seems like it's not a superficial upgrade. Keeping the bike also makes sense. I live near Rothrock Forest (very appropriately named) Pennsylvania and a beater bike seems like a good idea.

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