Product Test: Spank Spike 350 Vibrocore Wheels
Vibrocore is a patented technology from Spank Industries originally designed to take the buzz out of aluminum handlebars. For many riders, carbon bars have been a go-to option because they tend to offer increased stiffness, reduced weight and have improved damping properties over their aluminum counterparts. Spank, however, is a firm believer in making environmentally friendly products, and, due to the fact that aluminum is far more recyclable than carbon fiber, they looked for ways to make aluminum products perform at the same level as carbon ones. This was achieved by using their patented Vibrocore technology—a technology that consists of a biodegradable complex foam proprietary to Spank. By injecting handlebars with foam, Spank was able to manufacture its handlebars with thinner walls, resulting in more flex and a lighter-weight construction. The inner foam increases overall strength.
Spank, after finding success with its Vibrocore technology, decided to incorporate it into a wheelset. The Spike 350 Vibrocore wheels were soon born. We installed a pair of these new Spike 350s onto a few of our long-travel bikes with the goal of abusing them to the best of our ability.
The Spank Spike 350 Vibrocore wheelset is intended for downhill and freeride applications. The wheelset features a 17mm profile height and a 35mm outer width, along with a 30.5mm inner width. Spank claims these wheels are compatible with tires ranging in size from 2.0 inches to 2.6 inches. The shallow rim depth and wide profile offer increased lateral stiffness as well as torsional strength. Meanwhile, the thinner inner-wall construction combined with Vibrocore foam adds radial compliance. Spank offers these wheels in 27.5-inch and 29-inch options, both with a 32-hole rim and a three-cross lacing pattern. The wheelset uses J-hook triple-butted spokes and comes ready for tubeless tires with tape installed and valves included. A wide range of hub spacing options are available, including Boost, Super Boost, DH standards, and the previous standard of 12×142 and 15×100. Different graphic colors are also available, along with the option of a Shimano or SRAM freehub driver body. Our 27.5-inch wheelset with Boost hub spacing and an XD driver body weighed in right around 2000 grams. Spank Spike 350 Vibrocore wheels sell for $700 and can be purchased directly from Spank Industries’ website.
Field test results:
We handed off these wheels to one of our downhill and enduro testers without mentioning the technology hidden inside. Our test rider had no issue mounting a pair of Maxxis Minion 2.5-inch tires and claimed they were easy to set up tubeless. After a few weeks of sideways landings, rock strikes and general abuse, our tester came back to us saying he noticed something different about these wheels but couldn’t quite put his finger on it. The Spike 350s made a noticeable difference over rough terrain, absorbing hits unlike other wheelsets he had ridden. He stated it was easier to hold his line through rough sections and thought the trails felt just a bit smoother than they previously had with his other wheels. He then mentioned the wheels felt a touch heavy for enduro use, but he thought the durability was a worthy trade-off for downhill riding or extra gnarly enduro courses. We later let him in on the secret behind these wheels and noticed everything he was saying was in line with Spank’s claims.
Next, it was our turn. The rest of our test crew pounded out some laps and experienced similar results. The Spank Spike 350 Vibrocore wheels proved they can take a beating and keep rolling. They managed to smooth out the trails a bit and increased our confidence due to their ability to stay on line and not be deflected by ruts or rocks. The weight might be a concern for some riders, but considering the intended purpose of these wheels, it’s hard to knock them for it. At $700, these wheels could be a good choice for many downhill riders or an enduro racer willing to lug a little more weight to the top of a stage in return for durability and reassurance on the descents. spank-ind.com
•Smooths out the ride
•Affordable price tag
4 1/2 out of 5 Stars
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