April 29, 2014
A complete bargain for all-round Mountain Biking™. As long as you’re unlikely to need to switch axle standards often, these will serve you well.
Shimano’s Deore XT mountain bike wheels appear to be aimed – like the rest of the XT groupset – at the nicer end of the ‘it-just-works’ spectrum of mountain bike equipment.
First impressions were of a good looking wheelset. In these days of MASSIVE SHOUTY COLOURED RIM GRAPHICS which easily clash with one’s frame colour, the subtle white graphics are a bonus to the eyes of this tester. Collar and cuffs, dahlinks.
The rims are tubeless-ready and Maxxis, Continental and Bontrager tyres all easily inflated using a track pump and a couple of cups of Stan’s sealant.
There are 24 straight pull steel spokes laced to a turret-flange version of the venerable cup-and-cone bearing Deore XT hubs. Said hubs are 15mm through-axle front, 135mm quick-release rear and are supplied with the yet-to-be-improved-upon Deore XT quick release as well. What they aren’t, is adaptable – but there is a 142x12mm option rear wheel should you need it.
Rotor attachment is via Shimano’s usual CenterLock, to which I mounted Magura 6-bolt rotors using KCNC adaptors without a problem. Pick-up speed is reasonable, and the steel freehub body means you don’t have to buy expensive alloy spider cassettes to prevent damage in this area. In use these wheels are very fast rolling and very quiet, which was quite a revelation for riders used to louder, slightly stickier Hope hubs. Despite the low spoke count, the wheels feel nice and stiff.
I’m quite a princess about wheel stiffness, but there was no noticeable difference in ride feel from the Arch EX rims used on the bike previously. The rims are wide enough for larger tyres, with 2.25in to 2.4in tyres used throughout the test period with no noticeable flop or fold under hard cornering loads. They’re still straight as a die despite being hammered on a hardtail, and we’ve had no call to tweak or adjust the bearings. Just fast and smooth all the way.