Hubs, spokes, rims, tyres, tubes or tubeless, air pressures etc. There’s a lot to discuss when it comes to the wheels and tyres and when you are riding they are your personal connection to the hard ground that’s rushing by!
So I thought, being as I have two sets of these round items, that I’d give you all an introduction to what I roll on.
MuddyGoose came with a set of fairly standard entry-level wheels, as you’d expect for a fairly standard entry-level aluminium hardtail. These are assembled from AlexRims TD24 rims, unbranded hubs which I believe are Formula hubs and basic black straight pull spokes. The hubs are simple cup and cone type and have standard 9mm axles for use with QR skewers and no doubt the wheels are factory machine built wheels. For my mountain biking I decided that I wanted something a little more high spec and following a couple of competition wins I bought some wheel components with my CRC voucher winnings.
I decided that as the new wheels would be my mountain biking wheels, the old wheels could be re-purposed as urban/road wheels. So I looked into thin, semi-slick tyres for 26″ wheels and discovered the Continental Travel Contacts and bought a pair of these in size 26 x 1.75. They have a slick centre surface for general riding on and large side knobs that are supposed to provide additional grip if riding light off-road surfaces such as grass, gravel and mud. Then because the tyres have good puncture protection and I wanted to keep rolling weight down, I have used light weight inner tubes.
I use these wheels and tyres when I’m commuting by cycle path or road, if I’m travelling by bike for transport requirements around Peterborough and also if I just fancy a road based ride instead of going off-road. I can pump the tyres up to 80 psi which gives a fast rolling ride and still provides plenty of grip in both wet and dry conditions. I have also used these tyres infrequently on more ‘off-road’ surfaces and although they will get you through it’s not the most fulfilling experience and I will always favour my proper mountain bike wheelset in such a situation. Especially if mud is involved; you need to be cautious on slick mud with these tyres.
My mountain bike wheelset is my ‘premium’ set. It’s the set that I assembled myself and the set that I personally chose the components for, albeit with a budget limit! The rims are Mavic XM819 UST tubeless rims and they are laced to Superstar Components Switch Evo hubs in blue using DT Swiss double butted black spokes. The hubs are through axle hubs but maintain the standard size axle so that they are compatible with my existing frame and fork, this requires a set of 9 and 10 mm QR through axles so I bought from Superstar Components again and I went for lime green to contrast the blue.
On these wheels I have 26 x 2.25 UST tubeless Schwalbe Nobby Nic tyres. These provide the ‘off-road’ grip and compliance that you would never get from my urban tyres. The tubeless part of this setup was easy to achieve because it’s all official UST components and I could not be more please with my decision to ditch the tubes. In contrast to the 80 psi that I run in my urban tyres, these off-road tyres I run at 25-30 psi, which increases the rolling resistance on hard surfaces like roads but greatly improves performance off-road.
In some ways it’s a luxury to have two sets of wheels and to me it came as a result of a magazine competition win but in retrospect it is a good way to have the flexibility of two bikes in just the one. There’s no need to keep pumping tyres up for commuting and releasing the air again for off-road. There’s no need to put up with a compromise when it comes to tyre choice. And with QR wheels it really does only take a few moments to swap them over.