Review – Ridefast Racing Hotwire Wheels
Carbon fiber wheels have been a hot-ticket upgrade over the last few years, with various brands vying for space in the market. RideFast Racing has emerged as a smaller company with a slightly different approach. This Southern California-based company is hoping to make carbon wheels more affordable and durable enough to last several seasons. We tested RideFast’s Hotwire wheels to see if they could hold up to a couple seasons of hard racing and riding.
Tech info: RideFast started out as a consumer-direct company but has opened a few select dealers in the last couple of years. While RideFast has a deep selection of wheels, the Hotwire is its dedicated cross-country race wheel, coming in at 1,334 grams for the 29-inch wheelset we tested. Hotwire wheels are offered in Boost and non-Boost thru-axle configurations and 27.5- and 29-inch diameters. The Hotwires use a unidirectional carbon fiber rim with 24 holes and an internal width of 23mm with a hookless rim bead. RideFast designed the Hotwire using one spoke length for the front and rear and a two-cross lacing pattern for a balance of stiffness and compliance. Last year RideFast redesigned its hubs, shedding weight from the front and increasing durability and engagement in the rear. RideFast now has its rear hub manufactured in Southern California and uses 72 points of engagement for a snappy and responsive ride. The freehub is made from titanium and is available in an XD driver and standard Shimano body. RideFast is confident in the durability of its freehub design and includes a lifetime guarantee. Our pair of test wheels retail for $1400 and come set up tubeless-ready. RideFast laces up all of its wheels in its Southern California facility and includes a two-year warranty for defects. RideFast offers a lifetime crash-replacement policy.
On the trail: Pulling the Hotwires out of the box, we were impressed with the weight and high-quality tubeless tape and valves that came installed. The hookless rim made seating our tires easy, and there was no special treatment required to get the tire on properly. The 23mm internal rim width gave our Maxxis Aspen 2.25 tires a rounded profile and not a square shape like wider rims that we have tested. Once on the trail, the Hotwires delivered performance and speed. The rear hub provided a practically effortless engagement that seemed to respond to just the thought of pedaling. While some quicker engagement hubs can have drag, the Hotwires found a balance, allowing the hoops to roll freely. Out of the saddle, the wheels were stiff and accelerated well. There is such a thing as a wheel that is too stiff, but the Hotwires felt compliant on technical terrain and not overly harsh. Carbon wheels have had a poor reputation over the years when it comes to durability. We spent almost two full seasons on the Hotwires, covering hundreds of singletrack miles with no issues. The Hotwires have proven to be a well-designed, high-performance pair of hoops that are just as good if not better than many of the bigger brands on the market. RideFast’s grass-roots approach to building a successful company makes it a brand to take seriously. If you are looking for a lightweight, high-performance pair of wheels for your next race season, Hotwires should be at or near the top of your list.