WILL CARBON WHEELS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Q: I always appreciate your knowledgeable suggestions. I am considering upgrading to a pair of carbon wheels for my 2017 Yeti ASR-C. Current set is a 2015 aluminum Mavic Crossmax SLR with 19-inch- width rims. I’m using 2.3 Maxxis Minion DHR and High Roller up front and like the setup. This is a non-Boost 142×12 set. I am curious if a proven carbon wheelset would result in significant weight reduction as well as improved performance? I’m near 70 with a recent full knee replacement. Suffice it to say that a lightweight XC wheelset will not get abused by me.
Michael Logan Pasadena, CA
A: A lighter set of wheels is one of the most effective upgrades you can make, if you’re willing to spend the money. Wheels are one of the more expensive upgrades, especially carbon ones, but the reduced rotational weight will make your bike a little easier to pedal. Enve Composites, DT Swiss and Reynolds have been the gold standard when it comes to carbon fiber wheels. Other brands have popped up, though, with high-quality wheels at a much lower price tag, like RideFast Racing. We just reviewed RideFast’s cross-country race wheel and have ridden some of their other wheels that have wider rims.
TIME FOR NEW SHOES
Q: Wondering what the difference is between the 510 Freerider Pro and the Freerider Contact? They are priced the same. I want the stiffest sole between the two. Any direction would be great. Thanks!
A: Both the Freerider Pro and Contact are great flat-pedal trail shoes; however, the difference is not in stiffness. In fact, these shoes offer very similar levels of stiffness. The main difference between the Pros and the Contacts is the sole. The Pro shoe features Stealth S1 rubber soles, while the Contact has Mi6 rubber soles. If you want a more planted feel with lots of traction, go with the Pros. If you want a little more float, go with the Contacts. In our experience, we have found the Pro’s S1 rubber last longer than the Contact’s Mi6 rubber. That said, the shoes should fit and feel similar. Hope this helps, and happy trails.
TO CONVERT OR NOT TO CONVERT
Q: During the winter I ride a Rocky Mountain Blizzard -50 fat bike (with a Bluto 120mm fork—a great bike) and wondering what you think about converting it into a summer bike. I’ve looked into getting a 27.5+ wheelset to switch in when the trails dry up—most likely using 3-inch tires. I have to go the custom-wheel-build route, and it is pretty pricey—about $1500 CAD. At this price, it would be a fairly expensive experiment since I won’t know how the changes to the geometry affect the bike handling or ride until I pay for the wheelset and take it out for a ride. My main ride during the summer is a Pivot 5.7 with 26-inch wheels, which I love, so I’m wondering if it is worthwhile to add a 27.5+ fat bike conversion hardtail to the stable. How will a fat bike with 26-inch wheels and 4.8- inch tires ride when using 27.5+ wheels and 3-inch tires? Local summer trails are relatively dry, with short, steep climbs and short, steep downhills.
Thanks for looking into this.
Love MBA and eagerly await the arrival of each monthly issue.
Ray Robertson Regina, Canada
A: Sounds like you have put some serious thought into the process of converting your Blizzard. At this point, the cost of your custom wheels is getting really close to the price of a plus-size hardtail. The Blizzard was designed around fat bike tires, but with the plus-sized hardtail, you’ll get the narrower Q-factor, which is a little easier to ride. Rocky Mountain offers the Growler in three different build kits with an aggressive geometry. Kona also has their lineup of Honzo hardtails that sit around $1400 and have geometries designed around 29 and 27.5+ wheel sizes.
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“Ask MBA” peeve of the month:
Facing the harsh reality that your stem will never be completely straight.
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