Waltworks V2 Rigid AndrewM (2).JPG
REVIEW

Min-Maxed-Metal: WTB KOM Light & Tough Rims

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Sep 4, 2020
Reading time

Silent Partners

Sometimes, when it comes to bicycle parts, the absolute truth doesn't really matter in the shop or on the trail. Like, for example, what way the spoke heads face in your hub flanges. I've seen two near brawls on the subject - one drunken and one sober - between wrenches I respect and appreciate. But I've had wheels built both ways and a blend of the two, and it's one of those things that I appreciate you may feel strongly about, but I couldn't give two shakes.

On the other hand, my spoke heads are always going to be facing one way or the other. I'm sorry, but even if it was provable that direct-pull spokes are better in every way than a classic j-bend, you can keep them. Some things are worth hanging on to just because they are. And given that the only selling feature companies use in favour of direct pull spokes is stiffness, well, I'll take my noodly wheels, thank you. How bloody stiff do you want your wheels to be?

WTB's KOM rims are remarkably unremarkable in this regard. Are they stiff? Are they flexy? Neither. Under this 190lb rider, with 32 spokes, whether mounted to a 160mm travel full suspension bike or on my fully rigid single speed, they just are. Are what? A perfect blend of stiffness, weight, durability, price, ease-of-inflation, tubeless reliability, and a plethora of width options. It's a really nice package for 100 USD per rim.

Industry Nine Hydra NSMB AndrewM (10).JPG

WTB KOM rims laced to a pair of Industry Nine Hydra hubs. The red rim strip is called Solid Strip. It covers a recessed channel so my tubeless tape installs perfectly with no sagging at the spoke holes.

Chris King Ring Drive Hub NSMB AndrewM  (19).JPG

And here, laced to a pair of Chris King RingDrive hubs. Both the Light and Tough versions of the KOM use angled drilling to disperse spoke tension and can be tightened to a max of 110-120 KgF.

I've been riding two pairs of KOM rims for months: one pair of i40 rims with 2.6"-3.0" tires, and one pair with an i40 front and i35 rear with 2.6 - 2.8 tires up front and 2.3 - 2.8 tires for the i35 on the back. The rims are all laced up with Sapim butted spokes and TLC brass nipples and built by my friend Dumpster Bear (thanks Dumpy-B!).

Standard procedure for an NSMB wheel review is that we don't use any sort of insert during the test period but I made an exception - which involved a lot of removing and installing CushCore - for this process because I don't ride my rigid bike without inserts for suspension. When running the wheels on my Marin I never had inserts installed and when riding them on my Waltworks I always had some combination of CushCore Plus & Pro.

For the insatiably curious, here's a tire breakdown:

  • Alpine Trail: Front (no insert): 2.8" WTB Vigilante Tough, 2.6" Vigilante Tough, 2.35" e13 LG1, 2.6" Bontrager SE5.
  • Alpine Trail: Rear (no insert): 2.6" Vigilante Tough, 2.35" e13 semi-slick.
  • Waltworks: Front-Rigid (CushCore): 2.8" Vigilante Tough.
  • Waltworks: Front-Suspension (no insert): 2.8" Vigilante Tough; (w/ CushCore): 2.6" Vigilate Tough
  • Waltworks: Rear (CushCore): 2.8" Vigilate Tough, 2.6" Vigilante Tough, 2.6" Bontrager SE2, 2.6" Teravail Cumberland.

This probably sounds strange, but a fair amount of the time I was running a 2.8" tire on the i35 KOM on my hardtail and a 2.6" tire on the i40 KOM on my Alpine Trail. This winter I'll be moving a Bontrager G5, a serious min-max tire contender, to one of the i40 rims to compare the profile to the nominal i29/i30 rims that are coming with most bikes and wheels.

Waltworks V2 Rigid AndrewM (2).JPG

For wheel tests the NSMB standard is to not use tire inserts but I made an exception for my rigid bike because CushCore is life changing on the Shore.

Industry Nine Hydra NSMB AndrewM (14).JPG

With the i40/i40 KOM setup on the Industry Nines I used CushCore Plus. With the i40/i35 setup on the Kings I use Plus in the front and a combo of Plus & Pro in the rear.

Industry Nine Hydra NSMB AndrewM (15).JPG

I put a couple of small dents in the i40 KOM on the back of my Alpine Trail but it stilled aired up tubeless without an issue when reinstalling it on the single speed.

One of the selling points I often hear for carbon rims is that they never need to be trued because the rim itself has so much structure. Certainly, the few sets of carbon wheels I've tested have needed less routine maintenance than aluminum rims for the same application so I'll agree there's some truth to that. I've needed to turn the spoke key a few times on all four wheels. Interestingly, more so when they've been run without inserts.

But, the flip side is I know a lot of folks with carbon wheels who break spokes like they're made of dried pasta, and aside from obvious crash damage, that's not an issue I've had with any of the aluminum wheels I've tested and continues to be true for the WTB KOM models.

Tough vs Light

I can't provide an apples-to-apples comparison of the KOM rims because I've been running the Tough version on the rear and the Light version on the front for both sets. It just makes sense. Internally, the KOM Tough version uses dual support beams between the inner and outer walls to reinforce the rims. The Tough version comes in a range of internal widths - 25, 29, 35, 40, & 45mm - and WTB sells this as their Enduro/Gravity option.

Comparing i40 rims, the KOM Light drops about 50 grams but the difference becomes smaller as the rims get narrower. These lose the I-Beam construction but honestly, while I've dented a few front rims, for my riding the kind of "oops" it would take to potato-chip a KOM Light rim is going to do the same to the Tough. The Light version is available in the same range of internal widths and also adds an i21 option for offroading your gravel bike.

I'd be running inserts on my own bike anyways, so I can be easily swayed on whether two KOM Light rims makes sense in getting back 100 grams or whether two KOM Tough rims makes sense since at that point weight doesn't even matter. Oh, bicycle philosophizing.

CushCore Plus.JPG

High Grip vs Fast Rolling. In a 2.6" or 2.8" the WTB Vigilante Tough is my all-time favourite tire. These have been swapped around so many times - with and without inserts - and are somehow still running totally straight.

Chris King Ring Drive Hub NSMB AndrewM  (18).JPG

These rims are also still running straight. There are a couple-or-few small dents from riding with an insert but in the real world I would just be throwing in inserts and forgetting they were there.

I have had another KOM fan suggest to me that at 220lbs he notices a stiffness difference between the KOM Tough & Light options in an i29 size. That's on both an enduro bike and a hardtail and if it's happening with the i29 I can only imagine it scales to the wider rim options.

I've certainly noticed when wheels are exceptionally stiff: the Reynolds carbon rims I've tested; Mavics with bladed aluminum spokes; Industry Nines with their aluminum spokes mated to carbon hoops. The few set of Enve wheels that I have tried. Sure, they're stiff. As with handlebars, I don't really see that as a benefit for any mountain bike application whether it's slamming gnarly trails on a 6" bike or trying to survive an outing on my rigid. I'm not de-tensioning my spokes or otherwise actively seeking wet-noddle-rims it's just that, as long as the rims take a beating, I'm simply not out seeking any increase in stiffness over options like these WTB KOM rims.

Ignoring inserts for a moment, the story of the day is lifetime warranty on carbon rims and I've had some interesting discussion - usually centered around Chris King hubs - about upfront cost vs. lifetime investment. How many rims can an alloy rim rider wreck before they could have just bought carbon? The math is complicated by brand-to-brand comparisons. For some riders a two-year, no questions asked replacement warranty is probably the winning value. For others, a lifetime replacement policy where they have to pay for spokes, nipples, and wheel builds probably balances out for the best. For the vast majority of mountain bikers in the world it probably doesn't matter either way nor does it likely matter if the rims are laid up plastic or extruded aluminum.

Chris King Hub Dumpster Bear Build NSMB AndrewM (1).JPG

I've run 2.8" on the front of my Marin using a Manitou Mezzer and two generations of the SR Suntour Durolux.

PNW Rainier NSMB AndrewM.JPG

The i40 also works great with all the 2.6" tires I've tried. The 2.6" Vigilante and Bontrager SE5 are favourites designed for an i29/i30 rim but that I think awesome on an i40.

Chris King Hub Dumpster Bear Build NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

This rear wheel has been smacked around consistently. The i35 is probably the best go-to size option for folks that want to experiment with a wide range of rubber sizes.

Once a rider is running massive inserts, long travel, lower pressures, and tough-as tires, I frankly don't see any reason not to stick with aluminum rims. I'm wary of riders who claim to appreciate carbon's stiffness improvements - especially you folks breaking spokes all the time - but hey, whatever works for you. Riders who aren't racing uphill and never wreck wheels? These build up plenty stiff.

In a typical min-max conclusion cop out, if you can afford carbon, and want carbon, ride carbon. Just maybe don't wax poetic to me about all the benefits you perceive unless you fit that narrowing window of riders smashing trails without inserts ("just add more pressure", right?). If you're sticking with aluminum, whether it's price or application, absolutely check out Wilderness Trail Bike's KOM rim options. It's an option I rarely hear thrown around locally, but over two sets I'm happily riding and recommending them.

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Comments

martin
+2 Andrew Major Doug M.
Martin  - Sept. 4, 2020, 10:10 a.m.

Thanks for the review! I was curious about the difference between the Tough and Light and this review nicely covers that.

I'm running an i29 KOM Tough on the front (they didn't have the Light rim in stock when I needed one) without insert, and an Asym i29 in the rear (because that's what I had last year) with a Cushcore Pro (both 29"). The Asym(etric) rim builds a wheel with more even tension on each side but I still prefer the traditional centered spoke holes and the KOM's shape. I haven't had to touch either wheels' tension this season and both stayed true in the 500km I've done so far. On the Asym, one side is taller than the other and it seems to pick up rocks more often. Maybe it's just coincidence, but this doesn't happen with the KOM it seems so that's another plus for the KOM.

I've had an older Laserdisc FR rim from WTB which had a center rib reinforcing similar to those on the KOM Tough and used it for 5 seasons on the front without ever truing it I think. That's why as soon as they had the KOM Tough I went for that. I don't mind the weight penalty if it lasts, and all WTB rims I've had convinced me that they make great rims!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Martin Doug M.
Andrew Major  - Sept. 4, 2020, 12:59 p.m.

Absolutely understand where a rider would just go KOM Tough. Especially with the even more minimal weight savings at i29.

Like Velocity, the angles hole drilling is a beauty. Was just truing an old hoop with straight drilling and the difference with the way the nipples can bind is notable.

Reply

Vikb
+2 Andrew Major AJ Barlas
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 4, 2020, 10:39 a.m.

Having tried both carbon and metal rims I'm trending back towards metal at the moment. I had no issues with carbon except when I wasn't paying close attention and bought a rim profile that was particularly stiff...my bad. I also bought $200 Light Bicycle rims and didn't have any failures so got them at a good price and could have bought multiple replacement rims and still not paid brand name carbon pricing. But, metal rims are cheaper and work well as long as I am paying attention to my tire pressure. Just about every time I have dinged a metal rim [and had a pinch flat] started with me sitting on my bike thinking "Hmmm maybe I should add some air? Errrr...nah it'll be fine and I'll do that before next ride." Famous last words. ;-)

I'll keep my eye on these WTB rims next time I need some. I like their other products.

Reply

krisrayner
+1 Andrew Major
Kris Rayner  - Sept. 4, 2020, 10:45 a.m.

Good to know about these.  Currently running Derby carbon rims that I picked up used for a cheap price, but I’ve broke one of the rims already. I got a crash replacement and steppes up to the DH layup. If I break another I’ll probably go back to aluminum. I did have a prior set of WTB i23 that developed cracking around the spoke holes. Have you taken any deeper inspections to the rims?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 4, 2020, 1:02 p.m.

I’ve pulled the tires off and re-taped a number of times and there’s no issue around the spoke holes. If you were really concerned you could build with DT nipple washers. 

I don’t any past experience with WTB’s higher end rims, just the inexpensive OE options on a lot of bikes. These are really nice.

Reply

nouseforaname
+1 Andrew Major
Nouseforaname  - Sept. 4, 2020, 11:50 a.m.

I smash (ish) trails without inserts. And used to go through a rim and a half a year. After rebuilding my latest rear wheel, I was wincing every time I was ripping through some chunder. That wincing has disappeared now I have some wheels that get refreshed for free if I do something stupid.

I don't want my wheels to be heavier - inserts - just so I can run the tire pressure I want without worrying about blammo-ing my rim into a rock. I've tried riding more sensibly and that didn't work either. Maybe I'll try the new Tannus inserts as they don't seem too hefty, and they're on the shelf locally, but that is low down on the list now that I don't have to worry about dents.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 4, 2020, 1:03 p.m.

This combo (smash + no insert + not running DJ pressure) is absolutely where good carbon rims win. Think I covered it :-).

Reply

D_C_
+1 Andrew Major
DMVancouver  - Sept. 4, 2020, 11:56 a.m.

I have found most alloy rims to be silent performers. The biggest thing I consider when choosing an aluminum rim is durability vs. weight. Anecdotally, some rims have been found to be more prone to denting or damage than others, but some sort of destructive testing of several rims side-by-side using standardized methodology would be very useful.

Reply

morgan-heater
+1 Andrew Major
Morgan Heater  - Sept. 4, 2020, noon

I was blowing through a couple of rims a season, and got a new bike that came with carbon rims. I broke the carbon rim after 2-weeks, but it had a super nice hub. I decided to try another carbon rim from WAO. Broke that three weeks later (running 25 psi), and was very happy I'd gotten the brand with the life time warranty, and their response was near instant. Now I'm running cush-core and haven't had any issues. I probably could have stuck with aluminum and cushcore.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 4, 2020, 1:07 p.m.

I’ve had great results with Bontrager’s new carbon rim with no inserts. Carbon presents a value case to me with that setup. 

Once I add CushCore (real inserts) I can’t justify the price for fantastic plastic.

Reply

morgan-heater
+1 Andrew Major
Morgan Heater  - Sept. 4, 2020, 5:03 p.m.

The only argument that could sway me is that if I keep my bike long enough, it may pay for itself, but it's probably pretty unlikely with cushcore.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 6, 2020, 11:06 a.m.

I have managed to dent a rim with CushCore (running very low pressure) but it was a massive hit and tiny dent. All-in-all I think properly sized CushCore could prolong my rim life forever with aluminum rims as long as I stay on top of spoke tension.

Reply

andy-eunson
+1 Andrew Major
Andy Eunson  - Sept. 4, 2020, 12:17 p.m.

I read an article probably 20 years ago now about lacing. Shimano had built a large number of road wheels with all the lacing possibilities. Gave them to their pro teams to ride and race on. Symmetrical heads in pulling, symmetrical heads out pulling, asymmetrical heads in pulling drive etc. My recollection was that heads in pulling on the drive side was very slightly Less likely to break but there was very little real difference. The only time I’ve had spokes break from fatigue was when I used those really light DT Revolution Race (I think). 

I’ve had issues with carbon rimmed wheels loosing rear spoke tension after a season or two. The Zipp 303 cross tubular rear wheel became super loose but I retentioned it and it was fine. I concluded it was simply poorly built. But then those rims melted a bit from braking heat and were replaced. Then the front hub was recalled. I ain’t buying no Zipp products again. My Enve M30 had creaking spokes on the rear which ultimately was permanently fixed with a rebuild with new spokes. Same with the used set I bought for another bike. I could feel the difference though between the ENVE 29er wheels which replaced the Stan’s Arch rimmed wheels. Better acceleration feel. And damn tough. Lots of rim strikes but never any damage. But I don’t weigh much. 140 ish  

For me the carbon rims offer no fuss durability. I rarely need to true them up whereas when I was on aluminum rims that was more frequently needed. 

The last time I damaged a rim it was an aluminum Stan’s rim. I must have centre punched something because although the rim was still round and true, the rim bed had a crack a couple cm long right through the rim tape.

But when I buy a bike I don’t necessarily look for carbon rims. I look at the whole package and often to get the brakes and drivetrain I want, there will be a carbon frame and wheels with it.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Andy Eunson Allen Lloyd
Andrew Major  - Sept. 6, 2020, 11:13 a.m.

I've pretty much given up on stock bikes. Some companies make it brutal to buy a frame only (see new Trek Slash for an example) but with the right frame choice I feel I can create better value for myself. 

Just one example, all the X01 bikes coming with a GX cassette and chain where I would invert that parts selection. Or going with an all-steel Deore 12spd cassette for the durability mixed, a Deore derailleur because who can tell the difference between that and XT, and then an XTR shifter for that boutique shifting feeling that you now spend $12,000 to get on a complete bike. 

Give me Aeffect R cranks with a Chris King rear hub. The cheapest PNW dropper post with a good saddle. Magura MT-5 brakes and great tires. It really isn't that hard but I get where companies spec'ing completes are bound by groupsets/levels/expectations.

Reply

Vikb
+2 Andrew Major Nouseforaname
Vik Banerjee  - Sept. 4, 2020, 2:22 p.m.

BTW - that is that purple bike a Chromag? I didn't know they made rigid bikes! I thought they were cool! ;-)

Reply

velocipedestrian
+1 Andrew Major
Velocipedestrian  - Sept. 4, 2020, 3:02 p.m.

It's probably that new Marin El Roy to get all matchy-matchy with the Alpine Trail.

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AndrewMajor
+1 twk
Andrew Major  - Sept. 4, 2020, 6:08 p.m.

Harharhar... 

Do really, really like the El Roy on paper - 435mm CS is getting there! I enjoy the unique profile too. Also 140mm fork makes sense for this platform.

I can’t help but grumble at the absence of adjustable dropouts for single speeding (435-455).

Reply

twk
+2 Andrew Major Andy Eunson
twk  - Sept. 5, 2020, 4:15 a.m.

In my experience riding my Moxie at short (~425 and less short ~435), less short delivers a more balanced and somehow equally flickable ride at 470mm reach. Longer chainstays all the way!

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AndrewMajor
+2 ChocolateThunder Andy Eunson
Andrew Major  - Sept. 5, 2020, 7:43 a.m.

Longer chainstays don’t win the parking lot test - ever - or I think we’d see much better balanced bicycles.

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kurt-adams
+1 Andrew Major
Kurt Adams  - Sept. 5, 2020, 6:49 a.m.

A side note to the ss option, which also annoyed me. Im looking to upgrade my 15 yr old ss Chameleon, do you have any good ss suggestions for complete bikes that come in at "cheaper" price point? It will be my second bike so I don't want to spend a ton of cash. Ideally a steel frame something trail worthy, i was kinda thinking the Kona Unit  with some upgrades?

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AndrewMajor
+1 Christopher Daniel
Andrew Major  - Sept. 5, 2020, 7:48 a.m.

Can’t disagree more! Until Honzo ESD was released the Unit was their most aggressive hardtail whether running rigid or a 120mm fork. Add an Angleset and party! I wrote a short piece about it. 

New Chameleon aluminum rides well and has okay geo. Locally I wish the HTA was slacker sagged that I can get to with an IS Angleset. Specialized FUSE is another one to look at. RSD middle child as well. 

Off the rack, I would be buying a Honzo ESD for SS with a suspension fork. Unit if I wanted the rigid option.

Reply

kurt-adams
+1 Andrew Major
Kurt Adams  - Sept. 5, 2020, 1:49 p.m.

Right on thanks, All those bikes are on my list ! And great peice on the min-max ss!

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 7, 2020, 9:36 p.m.

Thanks Kurt!

I do have grand plans to put up some more SS content in the future as well but between parenting, riding, and my various jobs there is only so much time for side projects.

Matteries
0
Matteries  - Nov. 7, 2020, 3:11 p.m.

Very much agree with the recommendation for the Kona Unit and angleset. I picked up a 2018 Kona Unit X a couple years back and recently added a -1.5 works component headset which has been a great addition, especially to the 2018 model which has a 69 head tube angle.  67.5 works fine running it rigid for the local trails I can ride to, or if I want to I can put on my 120mm fork and slack it out a bit more.  Picking up a 2019 or 2020 Unit and giving it the same treatment is super tempting since its a degree slacker to start. I'm thinking of building up a new wheelset to replace the stock 27.5+ and the KOM i45s look like a good option.  I had a nice set of 29er wheels (I9 hubs, DT Swiss rims) built up over the summer, which are great for rides with the suspension fork but I like the 27.5x3 tires when I'm running rigid SS and going back to the stock 27.5 wheelset from the 29er setup is kind of painful.

Tremeer023
+1 Kurt Adams
Tremeer023  - Sept. 5, 2020, 10:52 a.m.

I'd be interested to know of any budget friendly ss options.  I had this problem when researching ss trail worthy bikes as there are not many out there really.  Most are frame only and more pricey, especially in steel (I went with a Moxie frame in the end). The NS eccentric cromo is cheaper.  British company Identiti have a good ss dropout system but they're alu frames.

Re WTB rims, I've run a rear Asym 35 rim for a couple of years and it feels like a quality product.  Broke some spokes though, but that's probably 'cos I built the wheel myself, LOL.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Tremeer023
Andrew Major  - Sept. 7, 2020, 9:35 p.m.

You're always going to pay more for good sliders. It adds a surprising amount (shocking even) to the raw frame cost when companies are purchasing the frames.

That said, I always just say to factor in the savings on a shifter, derailleur, and cassette, chain, and housing and even at the NX level that usually makes up the difference. 

For a rigid package, I don't think you can beat the Kona Unit (and a Works Components angleset) for price v. ride quality v. geo. And hey, also factor in the savings over even a cheap suspension fork then! (against the cost of a i40 rim and 29x2.8" tire). 

For an aggressive frame with swingers I think this year it has to be the Kona Honzo ESD?! I'm also a fan of the RSD Middle Child. Most of the other bikes that would be on my list (Marin El Roy!) don't have sliders.

chris_d
+1 Tremeer023
Christopher Daniel  - Sept. 6, 2020, 7:21 p.m.

I'm building a bike like that and ended up ordering a Ragley frame to build up. They're inexpensive, even with shipping from the UK.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Tremeer023 Christopher Daniel
Andrew Major  - Sept. 7, 2020, 9:29 p.m.

How can Ragley have an entire range of relatively interesting modern hardtails and not offer a single model with sliding or swinging dropouts? All you ever hear about British riding is how flat most of it is and how much endless 3ft deep mud, that is ~"unlike mud you have ever experienced anywhere else you live even if you think you know what mud is," and no one there rides single speeds? 

And yeah, maybe single speeding doesn't appeal to you today. But why limit yourself when there are so many great hardtail options that do have sliding dropouts?!?

Tremeer023
+1 Christopher Daniel
Tremeer023  - Sept. 8, 2020, 2:27 a.m.

I had a Ragley Mmmbop prior to the Moxie and enjoyed it a lot.  Wanted another one really, but for the ss option.  RSD Middlechild was also in my top 3. 

And yes, a lot of the UK does lend itself to ss riding.  Where I live in south England is quite flat but most of the ss riders I see are on DJ bikes.

chris_d
+1 Andrew Major
Christopher Daniel  - Sept. 11, 2020, 1:50 p.m.

All my other bikes are SS (highball) or fixed (90s Mikkelsen custom), and this will let me slow down and hang with the group on bigger rides. As always, though, I wish they did swinging drops. I worked for Paragon Machine Works back then, and they have an excellent assortment of single-speed-able drops.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 11, 2020, 3 p.m.

Yep; Paragon swingers on both my Walts. They work amazing.

AndrewMajor
+6 twk Vik Banerjee Tremeer023 Greg Bly Cr4w Mammal
Andrew Major  - Sept. 4, 2020, 6:11 p.m.

Vik, you have to get it right. The two choices for spontaneously commenting on my bike are:

1) “Sweet Chromag!”

and...

2) “What Chromag is that?”

I also once got this gem:

~”I can’t believe Chromag made a rigid mountain bike. Aren’t they supposed to be cool?!”

Reply

Jotegir
+1 Martin
Lu Kz  - Sept. 4, 2020, 11:24 p.m.

If you're gunna do a WTB build, I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend using nipple washers.  After a full season on my tough rear rim I had about 6 spokes all start to pull through the rim at the same time. Be careful out there!

Reply

martin
+2 Lu Kz Andrew Major
Martin  - Sept. 5, 2020, 4:14 a.m.

Since the KOM Tough doesn't have eyelets, I used Sapim polyax nipple washers on my build. First I used Whisky stainless washers but their sharp edges dug through the nipples so I replaced the nipples (Sapim brass) and used the Sapim washers. I thought it was overkill since the spoke bed is pretty thick but now it seems like it was a good idea.

I haven't heard of anyone having this issue though. At what spoke tension have you built your wheel?

Reply

Jotegir
+2 Martin Andrew Major
Lu Kz  - Sept. 5, 2020, 6:39 a.m.

To be honest, I don't recall since I built it coming in to the 2019 season. 

But I own a spoke tensiometer and build within a 5% variance. I am also heavy. And it was a rear rim. And it spend many, many days in various bike parks in BC. And I send my rear wheel in to stuff that I probably shouldn't. 

I'm not upset and I didn't even try warrantying the wheel. I felt that for the money, it reached the natural end of it's life. It worked fine for the price and at my weight, speed, and the amount of bike park I run, alloy rims are disposable items. In hindsight though nipple washers are the way to go as this is the only time I've ever had this unique problem. Usually after 1-2 seasons my rear rim on this type of bike is slightly (edit - completely and utterly thrashed) toasted anyway though.  

On the day in question, my friend noticed my rear wheel was stupid out of true at the top of Sun Peaks. I looked and saw the nipples pulling through the rim (and quite dramatically, no less!). Was I going to take the lift down? No. So in WTB's defense, they did make a product that held up to one last lap of Honey Drop in it's current state. 

I've since rebuilt the wheelset with the more expensive Spank vibrocore rims. They've taken a decent number of slams over the summer and don't show it at all.

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martin
+3 Andrew Major Lu Kz Greg Bly
Martin  - Sept. 5, 2020, 7:45 a.m.

As a side note to this, WTB's warranty has been awesome with me. One of my Asym rims had a bump at the weld and I sent them a picture to ask if it was normal. Without me asking, they told me they'd send me a new rim and that I could keep the old one as a spare or finish the season with it. 

If you haven't disposed of the rim already, you could always ask them about the nipples pulling through and see what they say. I've been really impressed with my warranty experience, and even if I was already sold on their rims, this is the kind of service that keeps me as a loyal customer for a long time!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Lu Kz
Andrew Major  - Sept. 5, 2020, 7:52 a.m.

What model of rim was it? Insert or no insert? Other than maybe a rim punched out of round it’s hard to imagine nipples pulling out of the KOM Tough but I’ve seen enough rim failures that I guess anything can happen though.

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Jotegir
+1 AJ Barlas
Lu Kz  - Sept. 5, 2020, 8:55 a.m.

KOM Tough I29 in 29" rims. It could be a serious fluke or a legitimate warranty issue (as I guess it's pretty rare these days!) but I didn't build with washers AND the rim got beat down after beat down. For perspective, when people ask me my favourite time to ride Whistler bike park, despite most people saying spring/fall when the trails are smooth, I love the week after Crankworx when everything is grenaded. Really make the big bikes work.

Oh right, and no insert. I have yet to run them because I'm only interested in cushcore or tannis and the former is perpetually out of stock whenever I wanna do an NRG order, and I've not bothered to set up an account with the latter.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 6, 2020, 11:19 a.m.

If you don't count grams, CushCore absolutely pays for itself in improved ride quality AND rim protection. I always have considered it as a wear item but even on the rigid where it's my suspension and I literally bottom on the inserts all the time every ride, and I expect they'll last years to come the way performance and wear is going.

Shoreloamer
+1 Andrew Major
Greg Bly  - Sept. 5, 2020, 10:35 a.m.

Do rims cause spokes to come loose?  I know that if I build a wheel carefully , constantly pre tention the spokes during the build and getting picky about even spoke tension than wheels going out of true is not an issue. 

Takes me years ( or one ride!)  To dent an Al. Rim before it's unrideable. Then it's a mere hundred bucks for a new rim. 

Luv the pics. North Shore looks it's best when the cloads drape over the landscape.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Sept. 6, 2020, 11:16 a.m.

Thanks Greg! Yeah, it's hard to take a bad photo when the Shore is the Shore... even my poor talent is hidden well. 

Agree re. staying on top of tension and that's also my experience with aluminum rims pre-CushCore. CushCore absolutely pays for itself in ride quality AND rim protection for those of us who don't count grams.

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andy-eunson
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Andy Eunson  - Sept. 8, 2020, 9:23 a.m.

My experience with carbon Zipp cyclocross wheel, ENVE 29er M60, and a used set of ENVE 27.5 M60 is that those wheels suffered from detensioned spokes. And not just a few spokes but generally all of them. I’d tighten everything up using my tension meter but they measured OK on the Enve’s but they creaked a lot. Still I tightened a bit and the creaking went away. The Zipp’s were completely loose which I attribute to a shit factory build. The solution to the ENVE creaking was new spokes.

The Reserves on my Chameleon have been stellar for 2.5 hard seasons. The Bontrager wheels on my Remedy have also been without a problem for 1.5 seasons.

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bumVSmtn
+1 Andrew Major
bumVSmtn  - Sept. 6, 2020, 7:38 a.m.

been rolling WTB i29 rims on Hope Pro 4 hubs for a couple years now. had a set of 27.5 that i ran for 2 seasons and barely needed a true. no inserts and quality casing tires. pressures in the low 20s. admittedly a lot of my riding is on buff idaho trails, but in my own mind i ride fairly aggressively. my only dents have occurred on the OEM versions of these rims after a direct hit and too low of pressures. currently have a set of 29” wheels (i29 on Pro4s) on my hardtail that will migrate over to my full suspension bike shortly, and to future builds as well!

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hbelly13
+1 Andrew Major
Raymond Epstein  - Sept. 7, 2020, 7:10 a.m.

Good stuff. What is the fender you're running on the Waltworks?

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AndrewMajor
+1 Raymond Epstein
Andrew Major  - Sept. 7, 2020, 9:13 p.m.

That's a modified Mudhugger. I taped over the mounting points on the fender and drilled a single hole where it bolts to the arch on my rigid fork (arch included specifically for this purpose - which adds a lot of weight because you can no longer use butted fork legs, but I think it was worth it). 

Just, just, clears my full-sized 2.8" Vigi.

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zachary_miller
+1 Andrew Major
Zachary Miller  - Sept. 7, 2020, 10:03 a.m.

I dig the focus on durable wheels vs. the fancy schmancy lightweight carbon mumbo jumbo... so what's your take comparing these to your beloved Duallys?

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AndrewMajor
+1 Zachary Miller
Andrew Major  - Sept. 7, 2020, 9:23 p.m.

So, obviously, the Dually rims look freakin' gorgeous in high polish and automatically win any competition there. Both rims have angled drilling for the spoke bed so I'd say they're equally nice to build. I don't have any science to back this up but I'd say from the types of dents I've put in the rims that the Velocity uses a bit softer alloy or the construction of their bead hook is a bit more prone to denting. 

I wouldn't say I struggled to air up my Dually rims, or my wife's Dually rims, tubeless but the WTB certainly popped on with less fuss so for the few rider's I received messages from who couldn't make the Dually rims tubeless for whatever reason the KOM would absolutely be the better choice. 

I love that the Velocity is made in North America. I wish more products were and I love to support that for my own purchases when it makes sense (hence my wife also running Dually rims). The premium to buy an apples to apples Dually (ano black v. ano black) is 50 USD per rim over the KOM. It's still not huge money (100 USD over a wheel build) especially compared to the cost of carbon but it's not justifiable solely on performance. So that made in NA factor is going to be a key in any rider's decision to purchase Velocity I think. 

Helpful?

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zachary_miller
+1 Andrew Major
Zachary Miller  - Sept. 9, 2020, 6:32 a.m.

Super helpful. I've been chewing on rim choice for a while as I've finally decided my beloved old surly rabbitholes are utterly toasted. This will certainly provide a great baseline for deciding direction. 

Just to ask as well, how do KOMs compare to RF ARC40s that I've noticed you dabbled with? The Arcs have that new higher strength alloy if my memory serves me correct...

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AndrewMajor
+1 Zachary Miller
Andrew Major  - Sept. 10, 2020, 9:57 a.m.

I haven’t ridden the new ARC rims yet. I had good results with the old ones but they certainly/anecdotally dented easier than other premium alloy rims In the same situation.

I know a few people who’ve been on the new offset ARC rims with great results so I’d agree they’re worth looking into as well.

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