Can 30/27mm, 370g rims deliver on the trail?
When released just over a year ago, we were pretty excited about Velocity’s Blunt SS rims. Measuring 30mm outside and 27mm between the bead hooks, the US-made rims were just-about-right for XC or light trail use, with their generous width taking 2.0, 2.2, and 2.4in tyres up a rung on the size ladder. While pretty much anyone can make a wide rim (and many have), making one that weighs a claimed 395g (for 27.5, 425g for 29ers) would be quite the feat.
So we built a pair. When our 27.5 samples arrived, they weighed a truly remarkable 370g apiece, despite having only 28 nipples’ worth of material removed. For those who haven’t been following rim weights in this time of pre-built wheels, that’s better than most carbon fibre rims at a fraction of the price. The result (with sensible DT 350 hubs and Competition spokes) was a 1,500g wheelset. And then we proceeded to toss them on a dropper-equipped, 140/120mm trail bike.
For nearly a year, the Blunt SSs were impressive performers. Fitted with 2.2 and 2.4in Maxxis tyres, the wheels were far less noodly than expected and noticeably more comfortable than many high-zoot carbon wheelsets. The weight was fantastic and the width added a measure of traction that only comes with well-spaced tyre beads and low pressures. Despite numerous rock strikes, the Blunts never lost purchase on the bead. Over a year of hard trail use, the Velocities accumulated a number of bends in the bead hook and dimples in the thin inner wall, but the wheels themselves remained largely true- requiring only one touch-up on the rear.
While they never felt ‘solid’ like some heavier wheels can, the Blunt SSs looked to be on track to be the rim to beat for cross-country and general trail use. Could it be that a reasonably-priced aluminum rim delivered cross-country race weight with trailbike width and durability? It was only when photographing the wheels for this review that the cracks began to appear. Literally.
While it would have been nice for such a freakishly light wheelset to be up to a year’s worth of rocky riding on a 5in bike, reality caught up with the Blunt SSs as several rear spokes began to pull through the rim. Now an overly -tight built could be to blame, and the low spoke count was certainly a contributor – but these rims were simply subjected to far worse than any sub-400g rim, carbon or aluminium, should have been. Wrapped in wider rubber and asked to deal with less rider weight, the front wheel is still going strong.
In the end the Blunt SSs get a qualified recommendation. The price is right, the width is fantastic, and they’re made in the first world. They’ll even allow the rescue of those emasculating 2.0s hidden in the back of the shed.
Unsurprisingly, if treated like a full-blown trail rim they’ll probably fail at some point (if something is too good to be true…). But if used as intended, adding volume and stability to XC race tyres, they’re more than up to the task and make carbon even harder than usual to justify. Acknowledging the need for reinforcement, Velocity is adding some material to future Blunt SS builds’ extrusion, easing the transition from reinforced nipple seat to thin wall and improving the rims’ resistance to each spoke’s pull.
More details from velocityusa.com
|From:||Brick Lane Bikes|
|Tested:||by Marc B for 11 Months|