To really get the most out of your biking experience, you must ensure every element is perfect. Whether you are race biking or cross country biking, elements such as good quality wheels are essential to get your bike to work to its full potential. Thus, it is always important to ensure the appropriate and quality wheel type is installed on your bike.
The best mtb wheels enhance performance and stability. They are built to be strong and sturdy enough to support the frame of your bike. Whilst doing so, they also provide support to your tires, ensuring you have ample control and traction.
Below you will find a list of the 8 best mountain bike wheels in 2020 to choose from. And before, you make that decision and spend your money, you should go through the buying guide to ensure you make the right choice.
How To Choose MTB Wheels – Buying Guide
When choosing the best mountain bike wheels, the weight is an important factor to consider. Generally, you want the wheels to be lightweight. Lightweight mountain bike wheels allow you to easily accelerate or decelerate your bike without compromising your safety, control or using a lot of effort. This feature also makes ascending a hill much easier for the rider.
However, you must also consider the functionality and durability of your wheels. If the wheels are too lightweight then, this might affect their durability and performance. Carbon mtb wheels, for example, tend to be lighter than aluminum mtb wheels. However, Carbon also tends to be much stronger than aluminum.
Rim Width And Material
The rim width of your wheel can be measured both internally and externally. The internal width is a more determining factor as it affects the shape and therefore, its functionality. Narrow rims mean narrow tire volumes with a rounder finish. Wider rims on the other end increase the tire volume thus, giving it a wider finish and a flatter and square profile.
Many riders prefer wider rims because they provide a more stable ride. So even on sharp corners or contoured terrains, you can predict the rhythm of your ride. Yet, even with this fact, it is always best to appropriately pair your mountain bike with the right rim width.
Mountain bike wheels come in two common types, namely carbon and aluminum. Mtb carbon wheels tend to be more costly than aluminum ones. Carbon mtb wheels are built to be sturdier and lighter.
You want your wheels to be tougher to make the riding more stable and smooth. Tougher wheels will also provide more support to your bike even on rough and rocky terrain. A carbon 29er wheelset, for example, is easier to handle and is tougher even on rough terrain than an aluminum one.
Yet, aluminum alloys also provide great ruggedness and weather resistant features such as corrosion resistance. And if you are on a budget but still looking for good quality mountain bike wheels then the aluminum alloy wheels are a good option.
The best mtb wheels are built with wider rim profiles. This makes riding so much easier for you. Wider rim profiles also make it easier to ride in non-conventional paths such as broader sidewalls. Additionally, having a wider rim profile provides extra grip, support, and stability when you are riding. To complement the wide rim profile, you must also know to choose the right material and depth.
The design of the hub bearings on your wheels will determine their functionality. The best mtb wheels are built with smooth bearings to make them spin easily. They also need to be well lubricated to ensure smooth riding. To get the best options, always know the bearing casing specifications and rubber seals.
Sealed bearings are always the best options as cup and cone bearings require frequent maintenance. You will know that the bearings of your bike wheels don’t function well as they will become dry, metallic and rough thus, making it more difficult for your wheels to spin.
Mtb wheel compatibility comes in different stages. First, you will come across wheels that are compatible with disc or rim brakes whilst others are only compatible with disc brakes. For disc brakes, you will also have to examine the wheel’s brake rotor compatibility. These mounting designs feature a six bolt or center lock mounting. You will easily find this information on the specifications of the wheels.
Additionally, you must also examine the cassette compatibility of your wheels. So if you own a high performance bike with a wide train, you must also ensure that your bike wheels are compatible. If you have a drive train with a wide ration, go for wheels that are compatible with at least 11-speed cassettes.
In general, you will come across 3 types of mountain bike wheels. The type is indicated in wheel size. Commonly, you will come across a 26 inch, 27.5 inch, and 29-inch wheels. 27.5-inch wheels are sometimes referred to as 650B wheels. As their sizes suggest, 26-inch wheels are the smallest whilst 29-inch wheels are the largest of the batch.
26-inch wheels are light and rigid thus, they provide quick acceleration and smooth riding on twisting single track trails even at high speed. They are also great to ride in corners and can be paired with a narrow bar. 29-inch wheels on the other end are built with larger spokes. When riding bikes with 29-inch wheels more effort is required to turn the wheels.
Additionally, their large size also makes them slower to react especially if you are about to run into a ditch. However, if you ride through obstacles such as rocks and roots, 29-inch wheels are much smoother. If you are a taller person, then 29-inch wheels are better and easier to handle.
27.5-inch wheels tend to be in the middle. They provide a subtle speed, weight, and reasonable handling. 27.5-inch wheels are also light whilst their rolling power is similar to that of larger wheels. Their traction isn’t that bad as well.
Your bike’s spokes are also very important to examine. The best mountain bike wheels will be fitted with more spokes to make them stronger and less likely to snap. However, even with the number, you must also consider the spokes construction. Slightly thicker spokes made of stainless steel are the best option. Yet, you must also know that there are different types of spokes.
Straight gauge spokes, for example, tend to be the same length with a thick cross section to give them a stiffer finish. So, they are ideally used for heavy duty and BMX bikes. Single butted spokes are also thick and converge near the hub. They offer added strength and stiffness to disc brake compatible wheels.
Double butted spokes are the opposite of single ones. They tend to be thinner in the middle to make the wheels less stiff and strong. Thus, they are ideal for light bikes. Aero bladed spokes on the other end are flat and tougher making them road racing worthy. Straight pull spokes are designed with ultra strength and stiffness by eliminating all weak spots.
26er vs 29er
The main difference between a 26er and 29er is the size. A 26er is a 26-inch wheel. It is light and smaller but tends to be quite stiff. 26ers allow you to accelerate easily and quickly and also make cornering easier.
29ers are larger 29-inch wheels. Compared to 26ers, 29ers allows the rider to achieve a top speed in no time. They also tend to be smoother to ride on obstacles such as roots and rocks because of their larger profile.
You will be more comfortable with 29ers on longer and rougher terrains such as bike packing on the Appalachian trail than you would on 26ers. However, due to their larger profile, 29ers will react much slower in case of unpleasant terrains. They also offer slower off the line acceleration. And if you are a shorter person, you may have difficulties to handle them.
Tire Type (Tubes vs Tubeless)
Many wheels will also come with tires. Wheel tires will come either tube or tubeless. The ideal type of tire entirely depends on your preferences. Tubed tires tend to be cheaper and quite easy to replace. Their only disadvantage is that they are prone to punctures especially if you are a frequent or rough rider. Tubeless tires on the other end tend to be more costly but durable. They are also light and very easy to fix their punctures due to their self-sealing properties.
Q: Are Carbon MTB Wheels Worth It?
Carbon mtb wheels become necessary if you have heavy duty and high performance bike. This is due to the lightweight and stiff nature of carbon mtb wheels. However, if you are a light rider, aluminum alloy wheels are enough. But if you have extra cash to spend, you can go for carbon wheels to enhance the performance of your bike.
Q: What Size Mountain Bike Wheels Do I Need?
If you are looking for smoother riding especially on rocky terrains, then go for 29-inch wheels. Otherwise, 27.5-inch wheels are ok. 26-inch wheels are ideal for dirt jumping, freeriding and for kids bikes. In general, 29-inch wheels are ideal for cross country riding whilst 27.5 wheels are ideal for trail biking.
Q: When Should I Replace My Bike Wheels?
Regular cross country and trail bikes will last for at least 2500 miles of riding. Racing bikes on the other end will only last for half of the cross country and trail bike duration. And if you can’t gauge your miles, the physical signs will alert you. If you notice your bike shaking or vibrating when you ride it or if the rims are bent and damaged, then it is time to replace the wheels.
Q: What Is A Hub?
The hub is the center of the wheel. It is what connects the wheel to the bike. Your wheel hub is the solid part at the center of the wheel where the spokes run towards. It looks like a solid axle and is fitted with bearings that connect it to an outer shell. The outer shell is wheel spokes are fixed to.
Q: What Is Lacing?
Lacing is the way the spokes on the wheels are arranged between the hub and the rim. There are several kinds of lacing designs depending on the wheel. This includes three cross lacing, two cross lacing, two to one lacing, and Mavic isopulse racing.
Q: What Is Boost?
A boost is an axle platform which widens the rear axle by 6mm and the front axle by 10mm. It is the latest design and its normally found on performance mountain bikes. Widening your axles means that the hub flange can be increased. This helps to increase wheel strength on any wheel size.
Globo Surf Overview
The mtb wheels reviews outline how the best mtb wheels form the foundations of an excellent mountain bike. The reviews also offer a useful guide on what to look for when you are choosing the appropriate wheels for your mountain bike. Whether you are a race biker or just a mom looking to replace their trail bike wheels so you can enjoy rides at the park with your kids – a good quality mtb wheel is important. So what’s left to do is to browse the list of the 8 best mountain bike wheels above to find the right option for you.