WTB Ci24 rims w/ White Industries XMR Hubs Reviewed

Words Jon Harris
Photos Jon Harris
Date Jan 15, 2017

The speed with which carbon rims were accepted into the mountain bike world is pretty interesting. If you look at the adoption of carbon frames, we saw that material proliferate through the World Cup XC circuit for some time before it started to appear in more aggressive applications. That wasn’t so apparent with rims, with aggressive riders getting their hands on carbon rims in a seemingly short timeframe. Like many established rim manufacturers (Mavic being a prime example), WTB did not rush into using the fantastic plastic in a rim application.

The WTB Ci24 rim was their first foray into the carbon rim world and is now joined by its wider sibling, the Ci31. I’ve had these wheels on my hard-ridden hardtail since February so this is a long overdue review, but the upside is that I can write without any ‘time will tell’ provisos because these wheels have been ridden extensively.

WTB Ci24 rims

WTB took a considered approach with their first carbon fiber rim, the Ci24. The hard work has paid off as these have proven themselves over the past 10 months of riding.

Design

While the Ci24 looks modest from the outside, it is packed with thoughtful design. The rims feature molded spoke holes, not drilled, which prevents the carbon strands from being broken during manufacture. Those spoke holes are, in WTB speak, 4D angled so the spoke departure angle lines up with its direction to the hub. The rim is amply deep too, deeper than other carbon rims that have passed through my garage recently. This does translate into the ride of the wheels as we will see.

In the highly debated world of rim widths, the Ci24 comes in at the narrower end of the current spectrum with an inner measurement of 24mm. This obviously doesn’t splay out a 2.3” tire the way the wider Ci31 rim might but for up to a 2.3” tire it gives a nice profile to most tires and good sidewall support to avoid squirming at lower pressures.

WTB Ci24 Rim

The Ci24 has quite a deep profile and this translates into a stiff wheel.

Weight is a critical stat for carbon rims and the Ci24 is not shy to jump on the scales with a claimed weight of 430 grams for the 29” rim (389 grams for the 27.5”). WTB tells us this rim was also built for strength and Mark Weir was charged with beating these mercilessly before they were released to the public.

wtb_ci24_rim_profile

The cutaway view showing a slightly hooked bead.

Sadly the days of WTB making their own hubs have gone, so in order to cure my pouting for this build they chose some local (to them) White Industries hubs. White may be a lesser known name but they have been making hubs since 1978 and the name is a throwback to the days of lurid anodizing. While their hubs haven’t been making as much noise (pun intended) in the mountain biking world of late they are renowned in skinnier-tired circles for being bomber premium hubs. The XMR hub set is a newer model for White Industries but it features some White hallmarks such as a 6-4 titanium freehub body. The rear hub here features a 3-pawl mechanism with 48 points of engagement which is just fine but for those that want a quicker engagement there is an option for that.

WTB Ci24 Rim

White Industries isn’t a name that you hear much mention of in the mountain bike world new but they still make some high-quality hubs.

The anodized blue finish of the hubs makes them stand out on this wheel build and adds some bling to the bike. And so they should, the hubs alone retail for $190 for the front and $350 for the rear in the fancy anodized colours. Polished silver hubs will save you a few shekels and still look pretty flash in my opinion. Laced together with 32 of DT’s finest bladed spokes and we have a strong stiff wheel build. A handsome set of wheels at that.

cross_section2

Mounting tires to WTB Ci24 Rims

Tires mounted up on the Ci24’s easily, without the need for tire levers, swearing or sore thumbs. WTB puts a lot of effort into designing their rims to be true to the word of the tubeless tire design guidelines, what they might refer to as their TCS rim profiles. This translates to the tires that I mounted up (a mix of Schwalbe, Maxxis and Specialized) inflating and sealing quickly without needing to resort to a compressor.

WTB Ci24 Rim

Understated graphics and black spokes and nipples act as a foil to the bright blue hubs.

Riding the WTB Ci24 rims

The ride with these wheels is what you might expect from carbon, laterally stiff with a crisp response to input at the bar and drive from the pedals that comes from a drum tight build. These wheels feel very stiff vertically compared to other wheel builds I’ve been on recently. I initially put this down to the bike that I had them fitted to, so I switched them to my other bike with a bit more spring at either end. While that put things into perspective it continued to feel that the depth of the Ci24 gives the rims less vertical compliance than some of the other carbon rims I’ve experienced. It’s apparent if you examine the physics but some of that feel could be due to spoke tension and type. I’d be intrigued to try the wider Ci31 rim on the back of my hardtail to see if the ability to drop a psi or two from the tire pressure would change my opinion.

Durability wise I haven’t had to take a spoke key to these wheels yet and that would be easy to do if needed. It’s kind of boring to say it but I really haven’t had to worry about the wheels and they didn’t arrive new either, having been under a couple of other media hacks previously. I think it’s a testament to their reliability, as I have ridden the snot out of these wheels in weekly races, weekend blasts and bigger adventures. The hubs are still spinning smooth with my only issue being a touch of play in the freehub that needed some exploration. It was a quick fix and hasn’t reoccurred since.

WTB Ci24 rims

The deep profile rims certainly give my Chromag Surface a purposeful look.

All in the WTB rims are a quality product from a manufacturer that has a strong reputation. Now the sticker shock, well it’s not that bad. The Ci24 WTB rims come in at a competitive US$549 each. Those sticklers for metal rims will still fall off their chairs but for those who stumped up for Enve rims that will seem like a bargain. With the introduction of the Ci31, WTB has a wider option for more aggressive riders.

WTB still has a full selection of aluminum rims – for under $100 US.

More info here on the WTB Ci24 rim.


Still happy with aluminum or ready to try carbon?

Comments

brumos
0
brumos  - Jan. 16, 2017, 3:12 p.m.

Slightly off topic but here's comparison of a generic chinese carbon rim vs. Enve.

Btw, this guy speaks the truth about carbon. You can check out his other vids where he cuts up carbon frames (mostly road bikes) and exposes some dodgy manufacturing.

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david-mills
0
David Mills  - Jan. 16, 2017, 9:03 p.m.

Holy crap! Dat void…

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0
t.odd  - Jan. 17, 2017, 7:57 a.m.

LOL, I'll continue to not waste my hard earned money on these ridiculously expensive items that get smashed into rocks.

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gg
0
gg  - Jan. 16, 2017, 8:51 a.m.

Nonetheless a "Rims Only" sticker shock of > CAD $1600 if purchased in Canada.
Bloat that to about $2400 with some hubs and we still aren't rolling.

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Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Jan. 16, 2017, 10:37 a.m.

Cheap, light & strong; pick any two, but the 3rd is not attainable.

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jonathan-harris
0
Jonathan Harris  - Jan. 16, 2017, 1:03 p.m.

Yeah sorry about the exchange rate issue right now. Don't see that changing soon either.

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Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Jan. 18, 2017, 10:55 a.m.

I'm relying on the the POTUS-elect make the greenback fluctuate on a regular basis by simply using his thumbs.

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david-mills
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David Mills  - Jan. 16, 2017, 8:39 a.m.

Any chance of a comparison between these hoops and product from the opposite ends of the spectrum? I'm thinking Enve [almost $1000 USD per rim] at one end, and ubiquitous Chinese carbon [Nextie, Light-Bicycle, etc. at under $200 USD per rim]. Not a shootout per se, but more like real vs advertised weights, "this one feels flexy", that sort of thing.

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cam@nsmb.com
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Cam McRae  - Jan. 16, 2017, 11:25 a.m.

John has a lot of time on ENVEs as well so he should be able to chime in.

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jonathan-harris
0
Jonathan Harris  - Jan. 16, 2017, 1:02 p.m.

Without writing another article I'd sum it up that these rims ride very similarly to the first and second generation Enve rims (I haven't had any time on the recent wider profile models). Also quite similar to the Reynolds rims. They are stiff laterally but also vertically as I mentioned.

I have lots of time on the Nobl TR33 and NOX Farlows and those two rims definitely seem to have more vertical complaince to their ride.

Claimed weights seem to be very similar but so often we have wheels fully built up sent to us so don't have a chance to check rim weights individually.

It's so hard to go toe to toe with these things as you'd have to build the wheels up as close to the same as possible. Same spokes, spoke tensions, hubs…

WTB turns out great product and these rims certainly seem to be continuing that habit.

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david-mills
0
David Mills  - Jan. 16, 2017, 2:12 p.m.

Thanks for that. I agree, WTB makes some good stuff - I wish I would have stocked up on the Stout 2.3 tires when they were still making them.

I'm going to be that guy and ask: how can you feel differences in vertical compliance in a rim? It's less than a mm of movement…

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jonathan-harris
0
Jonathan Harris  - Jan. 16, 2017, 9:50 p.m.

You would be surprised actually. It's something about the sort of higher frequency "chatter" that just feels sharper on the rims with a deeper section. It's subtle and can be influenced by tire pressure, sidewall stiffness etc, but as I mentioned in the article I switched my wheels around between bikes and definitely noticed that the WTB rims translated a little more of the trail into the bike.

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david-mills
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David Mills  - Jan. 17, 2017, 7:51 a.m.

Yes, I believe I would be surprised.

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gg
0
gg  - Jan. 17, 2017, 9:31 a.m.

In your experience on longer rides does that translate to discomfort ?
Do the wheels bounce off rocks/roots more due to the lesser vert compliance ?

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jonathan-harris
0
Jonathan Harris  - Jan. 18, 2017, 7:27 p.m.

The theory is that could be the case. It's much the same with some carbon bars being too stiff while others do a great job of dampening vibrations.

I've been told that some wheel builders are lacing these rims 2x to give some of that vertical compliance. Goes to show that so many things can vary based on the whole wheel build.

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Jan. 19, 2017, 12:35 p.m.

I'm curious about your last sentence. Would you mind explaining why there's less than 1 mm of movement? I'm assuming you're talking about the rim in the built wheel.

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david-mills
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David Mills  - Jan. 19, 2017, 2:52 p.m.

I can't explain vertical compliance better than these guys:
"The short answer is no, you will not be able to tell any difference in vertical compliance between a carbon wheel and an aluminum wheel. In short, changes in vertical compliance between two wheel setups can be contributed to other factors like tire volume, tire casing, tire pressure, frame flex, handlebar flex etc., not the wheel setups. No spoked bicycle wheel, even super-light alloy wheels with thin gauge spokes, have enough vertical compliance for you to feel a difference."
Source:

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nat-brown
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Nat Brown  - Jan. 19, 2017, 4:43 p.m.

Thanks.

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hbelly13
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Raymond Epstein  - Jan. 17, 2017, 7:26 a.m.

I have a set of custom built 27.5 wheels (LB 35mm AM/DH lay-up frt/rr, Hadley hubs, Sapim race spokes) that will be three years old in March. I weigh 215 lbs and they are aboard a Banshee Rune V2. I ride 2-4X a week with the grace of an angry bear. In that time span, I have not had a single flat, crack in the rims, burp, only a single broken spoke (tree branch) and they've never gone out true. This seems very improbable considering my aforementioned traits. The wheelset weighs in a reasonable, but not light 1820g. They've felt great and maintained all the nice characterizations that get riders excited about carbon wheelsets (stiff, fast acceleration, great tire profile, resilient). Cost-wise they are nearly impossible to beat and I know many riders that spent far more than I whose wheels did not hold up. No one has provided me a reason as to why I should run anything else.

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david-mills
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David Mills  - Jan. 17, 2017, 8:38 a.m.

That has been my experience as well. The LB 33s I built up 3 years ago have handily survived several rebuilds due to busted spokes, nipples [!] and a rear hub implosion. For stiffness and resistance to damage, I'd put them ahead of Mavic 823, less ~200g per rim. The 38s on my DH bike have held up far better than the Sun i29 [flat-spot-prone] wheels they replaced.

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whatyouthink
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whatyouthink  - Jan. 16, 2017, 8:26 a.m.

i think they are beautiful rims but the hooked carbon bead oddly freaks me out…

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jonas-dodd
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Jonas Dodd  - Jan. 16, 2017, 6:43 a.m.

That is one sexy bike. Thoughtful review too.

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