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Wider hoops for under



Wheels are perhaps one of the few things on the bicycle that one might think are immutable. Essentially the technology has remained unchanged for hundreds of years, but there are so many teeny-tiny permutations on the basic design which can affict themselves on the unwary.


Recently, there has been one of many seismic shifts in mountain biking, as once again, the relentless progress of technology roars its bellowing challenge, and manufacturers scurry to build appropriate sacrificial offerings. Yes, I’m talking about wider rims. The essential idea is that the wider the rim, the more air volume there is for a given tyre size, and the more adjustment is available in terms of useable traction and useable air pressure.

A lot of the increases in rim width have been carried out in the upper echelons of the wheel market – basically put, if you wanted wide in the past, you went carbon. We chose a budget of £500 for our grouptest, as trickle-down technology, and the advent of chubby 27.5+ bikes, has seen a shift in what constitutes ‘normal’ further down the tiers, to the point where such wheels, with decent hubs and still decent, light aluminium rims, are slightly more affordable – at least, they’re less than the month’s salary that carbon ones can sometimes cost.

One of the things that this wheelset test brought home to us was how fragmented the wheel market has become. After a rear wheel? You can order your wheels in 135mm QR, 142mm thru-axle, 148mm Boost, with either a Shimano or a SRAM XD driver. That’s six options already, with a similar number on the front. And while fewer companies are now offering 26in wheels, they’re still available, along with 27.5in and 29in wheels. And let’s not even talk about 6-bolt or centrelock rotor fittings...

Hopefully in a year or two the industry will settle down – Boost will be here for a good while we suspect – but as it stands, there is a bewildering array of choices available to snag the unwary. But for now, allow us to give you the skinny on the wide:


Price: £499.00 per pair // From: Madison,

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About Singletrack

International Adventure: Patagonia – Barney travels to this remote region of Chilé to find some killer singletrack – and a fair bit of dust. We Work Here: Rocky Mountain – We take a trip to the distant (but still very wet) shores of North Vancouver, to see the inner workings of one of Canada’s oldest mountain bike companies. UK Adventure: Dances with Wolves – Andy McCandlish takes a chilly trip down memory lane with Ed Oxley and Andy McKenna. UK Adventure: Riding Through The Seasons – Sanny extols the virtues of riding all year round. Room 101 – Mark is the ultimate arbiter of your submissions to our Room of Shame. Classic Ride: Capel Curig – There’s more to Snowdonia than a few trail centres and a mountain. Grouptest: Wider Wheels – The Grinder team put six sub-£500 wheelsets through the mill. Bike Test: Flat-out Race Bikes – We take a look at three nose-to-the-wheel speed machines. Through the Grinder – A plethora of promising products, assessed by our accomplished assemblage of trusted and true testers. Grinder Bike: Pivot Mach 4 Carbon – Chipps takes a long look at Pivot’s swoopy carbon trail/race monster. 15 Years of Spine Lines – To celebrate our 15th year, some of the best – and the weirdest – of our Spine Lines. International Adventure: Suisse Rolling – Jérôme Clementz takes a busman’s holiday in the Swiss Alps. The Last Word – Antony de Heveningham wonders if we’re actually in the golden age of mountain biking right now.