Buying new tires for your mountain bike can seem intimidating. There are so many factors to consider and so much to think about. Then, once you get the tires, you have to worry about how difficult they will be to maintain.
To ease your worries, think about it like this: before buying new wheels, envision the style of riding you enjoy most. From this image, picking wheels will come easily.
- 1 Race Face Turbine R 29” Wheel
- 2 Industry Nine Enduro 305 Torch 29” Wheels
- 3 Industry Nine Trail-S Torch 29” Wheels
- 4 Stan’s Notubes S1 Sentry 29” Wheel
- 5 Stan’s Notubes Flow Mk3 29” Wheels
- 6 Buying Guide to Get the Best 29″ MTB Wheels
- 7 Getting to Know the Rim and Tubes
- 8 MTB Wheels Care and Maintenance
- 9 Conclusion
Regular readers will know, we’re big fans of all things Race Face. The Race Face 29″ Wheel is a great option if you are looking for a large, wide, heavy wheel. The wheel has a large flange to improve the bracing angle, plus a strong alloy for good impact resistance. This is certainly the wheel for the mountain biker who enjoys catching air and riding rough trails.
- 120 engagement points
- Good traction on turns
- Good quality for the price
- Wheel drag
If you’re a rider who likes to change up your style, the Industry Nine Enduro 305 Torch Wheels would be a great option.
The tires have wide rims, which makes them able to accommodate rough riding. But they are also tubeless ready, making them a more lightweight alternative to other wide-rimmed wheels.
- Wide inner rim
- Carbon fiber rims
- California Prop 65 warning
Another option from Industry Nine, the Trail-S Torch Wheels come with the same versatility as the Enduro 305 Torch Wheels. These tires are also tubeless and have the option for a 6-pawl upgrade.
- Good for varying riding styles
- 6 pawl upgrade option
- May not be good for a specialized riding style
The Stan’s Notubes S1 Sentry Wheels are a great option if you want a flexible, customizable wheel. They are lightweight, allowing you to gain speed. They also accommodate wide tires for good grip. The wheels also come equipped with 32 spokes for maximum durability.
- Great value
- Compatible with large tires
- Aluminum rims (instead of carbon fiber)
These wheels are another great tubeless options that come equipped with Stan’s WideRight Technology, which means they are optimized for all tires up to 2.8”.
Like the other wheels on this list, they are flexible to multiple riding styles. They come with many features, such as bead socket technology and Neo hubs with 36 engagement points.
- Secure Lock Aluminum Nipples
- WideRight Technology
- Carbon fiber technology with less expensive aluminum rims
- Not as durable
Buying Guide to Get the Best 29″ MTB Wheels
One of the first things to consider when buying new MTB wheels is wheel size. Mountain bikes are typically only compatible with a single wheel size, so you should check your bike before purchasing new wheels.
Wheel size largely depends on your riding style. If you are more of a street rider or don’t do much off-trail riding, 26″ is what you want.
On the other hand, 29″ wheels are best for riding in conditions with many rocks, hills, and bumps. 27.5″ is a great in-between size for the rider who enjoys a bit of everything.
The weight of the mountain bike wheels you choose also depends on your riding style. Lightweight wheels will allow you to accelerate quickly, maneuver sharply, and race. Heavy wheels, on the other hand, are best for jumping and trail riding. If you are looking for the lightest possible, you need to be looking at carbon mountain bike wheels.
Weight should be considered carefully, as you may want to mix and match weight combinations to specifically meet your needs. For example, if you enjoy riding down bumpy trails but still want quick acceleration, a heavy wheel with a light rim may be a good choice.
A major contributor to wheel weight is the spoke count of the wheel. While more spokes increase wheel durability and capability, they also add to weight.
This means that using a bike with a low number of spokes, such as around 20, would wear down and break more quickly on rocky trails than wheels with around 30 spokes.
Like wheel weight and spoke count, width is also an important factor to consider. It also depends on the style of riding you enjoy. 19-23mm makes for a narrow wheel that pairs well with a lightweight style for fast riding. Above 23mm is a wider wheel that is great for riding down rough trails.
Getting to Know the Rim and Tubes
Wheel rims are what hold the tire in place. They run along the outside edge, determining the width of the wheel. This means the size of the rim is vital to the style of riding the wheel can handle.
For example, wheels with a wider rim will have a wider tire. Because of this, they most likely will be heavier, and will be better suited for bumpy MTB riding.
Rims are typically made out of aluminum, but can also be made from carbon fiber. Aluminum is cheap and used for beginner to intermediate-level mountain bike riding.
Carbon fiber rims, better suited for advanced level riding, are gaining popularity in the MTB world, thanks to their flexibility in stiffness-to-weight ratio.
Tubes, or inner tubes, are used to hold the air inside the tire. They are typically made of butyl or latex, plus they’re made to be difficult to puncture. However, tubes contribute to tire weight, so more and more mountain bike tires are shifting toward a tubeless design.
New tubeless wheels are much lighter and work with a layer of rubber that lines the inside of the tire. This makes them airtight and hard to puncture.
Switching your mountain bike tires to ones with tubeless rims is a great idea if you’re wanting to decrease your tire weight.
MTB Wheels Care and Maintenance
Adjust and Replace Spokes
Making sure all spokes have equal tension and are functioning properly is vital to your bikes performance. If your spokes aren’t properly adjusted, your wheel’s tracking may not be properly aligned and can result in damage to the wheel.
You’ll want to replace faulty spokes by getting a new spoke of the right length and properly placing it into the wheel.
Grease Hub Bearings
Depending on how much you ride and the type of riding you do, your hub bearings will need to be regularly maintained.
This can be done at your local bike shop, or you can do it yourself. You will need to remove the alloy seal covers, replace the bearings with an identical version, and thoroughly grease them.
Make Sure the Rim is in Good Shape
Another important step to making sure your wheels function properly is checking the rim for damage. Dents are the most common form of rim damage and can be easily fixed with a wrench.
Other forms of damage, such as chips and scrapes, can be more difficult to fix. But they are important to wheel functionality and safety.
Before buying new MTB wheels, you should take into consideration what style of riding you enjoy and what type of wheels your bike can accommodate.
Consider their weight, size, and width to make sure you are getting the perfect tires for what you love to do. Then, pack your bag and hit the road.