Independent Product Review done by Spark Bike Review
You’ve just bought your dream bike. It’s got all the bells and whistles, from your favourite handlebar grips to your most comfortable saddle. So, what’s next? Surely there must be something else; something you can upgrade? Something to make your MTB life that much faster? (and stiffer) Considered by many experts to be one of the best additions or ‘pimps’ you can make to your mountain bike, is a set of carbon fibre wheels. While there are tonnes of brands to choose from; we went local and hopped on a set of Concept Speed’s mountain bike specific carbon wheels.
Distributed and marketed by Bicycle Power Trading, they offer a range of carbon only complete, road or mountain bike wheelsets. With rim-only options available too. Most of the time though it makes sense just to get the complete package, and not have to worry about outsourcing the hubs and spokes – unless you’re going for a full on custom-build. Bicycle Power Trading’s website features the option to select your correct hub and axle size, creating a very easy process for placing your order and getting your wheels delivered to your doorstep.
Carbon is a hot a topic – some composites cost more than others, while others not so much. To construct wheels for the climate of mountain biking, Concept Speed opted for a composite that’s orientated around stiffness and durability. This durability is backed by a 2-year warranty with a 3-year crash replacement policy from Bicycle Power Trading.
It’s in the details:
The design of the rim follows an asymmetric shape, with added stiffness in the areas where the spokes meet the rim. This ensures that there is no room for error during performance, and more accurately, no room for unnecessary flexing. In a nutshell, the asymmetric rim design compensates for the immense force on the wheel itself and allows the rider to fully utilize the narrow rim width for manoeuvrability and speed. While the rigidity of the rim keeps reliability high for when you need to hit the hard stuff.
Concept Speed have also thought of the practicalities and, in some cases difficulties that a rider might face with wheelsets in general. These difficulties often lie with tyres and getting them on and off the rim. When I added my own tyres – a set of Bontrager XR3’s – to the wheel setup, I was quite surprised that slipping the rubber on and off the rims were easy. Unlike other wheelsets I’ve tried. Ultimately this is a result of the rim wall having being hook free and allowing the tyres to set easily on the rim, and not end up skew. Inflation was also easy, and it didn’t take long to get the wheels ready to roll.
Rim Material 3k modular carbon construction, guaranteeing extreme strength & durability
Rim Depth 25 mm (front & rear)
External Rim Width 29 mm (front & rear)
Internal Rim Width 24 mm front (front & rear)
Front Wheel Weight 750 g
Rear Wheel Weight 900 g
Total Weight 1650 g
Tire Type Tubeless-ready hookless rim profile for a no-burp tyre fit & easy inflation
Front Spokes Pillar double butted 292 (non-drive) 294 (drive)
Rear Spokes Pillar double butted 292 (drive) 294 (non-drive)
Compatibility Shimano/SRAM (10 / 11 speed) or XX1 (11 / 12 speed SRAM)
Nipple 16 mm brass
Max Rider Weight None
Max Tyre Pressure 30 psi
On the trail…
The first thing you really notice on the trail with these wheels, are how quickly the rear hub kicks-in to drive when turning the pedals. And I think its fair to say that Concept Speed have put some thought into the creation and engineering of their standard out of the box hubs. The stiffness factor is massively important for the hubs; and that being said, a decent amount can be felt when sprinting and navigating through technical sections. Its not as if the wheels tend towards the floppy and lymph side based on the standard hubs that have been used.
Downhills with Concept Speed’s XC specific wheels, are absolute bliss. I was fortunate enough to take on some rocky and sketchy terrain and come out unharmed. All in the name of testing of course, but I can honestly say afterwards, the wheels had no apparent signs of carbon fatigue or willingness to buckle. I checked the spoke tension too, and everything was still solid. It seems that its not just the carbon rims that are good value – but the hubs and spokes too.
Like most things in life, there was a downside to these wheels. As much as I liked the hubs that Concept Speed made use of, I couldn’t enjoy the bearings within the hubs. While they were neat and did the job – they didn’t strike me as heavy duty, or long-lasting bearings. They seemed a little loose when I checked the hubs, with a minor margin of play.
From a cross-country rider’s point of view, the wheels are easy to steer around corners, and light enough to achieve lift-off without much effort. They’re pretty much your typical XC wheelset, with all the necessary characteristics and bit of a local flare.
While the rims themselves have a narrow 24mm internal rim width (since they’re designed for XC riding) I feel they can still find a home among trail riders. For those that aren’t concerned with speed, or weight; the wheels manage to give you a well-balanced ride. They’re sturdy and will inspire confidence in any rider. So in essence, don’t be alarmed by the narrower rim; you can still have fun on them.
Concept Speed 29″ XC Wheelset – RRP: R15,999.00 – R24,999.00 (depending on your hub choice – boost or non-boost)