Australian Mountain Bike



LAST issue we highlighte­d some of the options for improving your technique via skills courses or weekends. There’s a lot to be said for improving the rider – and then the bike. But that neglects the desire to own something beautiful, and something special. That basal need underpins many industries and passions. And mountainbi­king isn’t exempt.

If you’re after a flash wheelset you might automatica­lly think of something carbon, on anodized hubs, or a pre-built wheel with stiff alloy spokes. But if you’re after a race wheel for your XC/ marathon bike, they might not deliver everything you want.

I’ve got a set of ENVE wheels and, yes, the rims are built to anodized hubs. But they’re not my first choice for racing. Sometimes they’re too stiff, and often they are too heavy. As they use internal nipples, a broken spoke is a hassle to fix.

I have some other carbonrimm­ed wheels, from an Australian builder. Lighter, still very stiff, but the hub isn’t as resilient to jet washes at stage races. I also have some wheels that use a Stans Crest rim, laced to a Shimano XT hub on the front, and a DT240 on the back. I’ve had these for years. 32 spokes for reliabilit­y, handbuilt, and on a rim that is easy to inflate just about any tyre on, and easy to true. They’re not amazingly light, but their reliabilit­y means they have been around the world and around the country to epic rides and amazing races.

So for a race wheel, you want something that is light, strong, stiff for efficiency, reliable, serviceabl­e, adaptable, and straight forward for tyre set-up. Meet the Bontrager XXX TLR Disc 29 Wheelset.

When on the trail, racing or riding, these wheels feel fast. They accelerate quickly, and the engagement from the DT hub internals is fantastic. Not the fastest, but very reliable. Running a full bodied 2.2-inch tyre on the wheels, I had to ziptie the brake hose out of the way on my bike, as there was some rub under power that didn’t occur with other wheels. However that was also with slightly narrower tyres.

Living in Sydney, the wheels put up with a lot of rock, and sand. And rain. The hubs spin as smoothly as when we picked them up, and the wheels spin true. There has also been no irregular drop in pressure in the tyres. Although you don’t have to use the Bontrager rim strip, you can use the Stans yellow tape, the seal is so good and the weight difference so small that it really is the best option. Some may be concerned about alloy nipples, but on a race wheel that gets maintained it shouldn’t be a concern, especially with the Alpina locking nipples that are used.

I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the Bontrager XXX TLR Disc29 wheels, and if you’re under 86kg (in all your riding kit) and need a set of race wheels for your XC or Marathon bike, these are well worth considerin­g. They’re heading off to a longterm testbike for the next few months, so we’ll keep you updated via for how they go.

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