28 sep 2020
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT WHEELSET FOR OFF-ROAD
With mountain bikes becoming increasingly specialized, tailored to different riding styles and terrain, the sheer amount of options on offer can be overwhelming. There are many different disciplines, XC (Cross Country), Trail, Enduro and more, each with a different kind of wheelset to choose from. Full Speed Ahead presents a full range of off-road wheels, covering all category needs. But what are the main differences between them, and how to choose the right wheelset for your needs? Find out more in our guide below.
CROSS COUNTRY / MARATHON
XC is arguably the broadest possible style of mountain biking. 29er wheels are more or less standard on XC bikes thanks to the increased rolling efficiency, roll-over ability and stability offered. Expect rim materials to be a mix of lightweight aluminium of entry-level to mid-range options, with carbon rims becoming available as budgets increase. For these disciplines, FSA offers K-Force Wider25 and SL-K Wider25 wheelsets, that feature robust carbon rim for improved durability.
The largest and most omnipresent category in the mountain bike scene, Trail bikes are best described as the all-rounder of single track, designed to be efficient on the climbs, while still providing plenty of confidence and control on rough and technical descents. Wheel sizes remain a hot topic within the Trail bike category, with some riders focused on the smaller 27.5in size for nimbleness, while others prefer the larger 29er wheel for its greater roll-over and speed. Brands like FSA are on the fence, offering both, for example Afterburner Wider27 is a respectably lightweight and versatile choice for trail riding that's put up well with some heavy usage.
ALL MOUNTAIN (AKA DOWN COUNTRY)
Finding the best mountain bike wheelset for all-mountain can be a tricky job because wheels are arguably one of the most critical upgrades you can make to your mountain bike. Grid is FSA’s alloy group specifically targeted to the budget-conscious yet demanding All Mountain and light Enduro rider. This lightweight group was developed with our sponsored riders to ensure authentic trail-ready performance without breaking the budget.
Enduro (and Downhill) wheelsets feature a robust carbon rim for improved durability. Wheelsets are almost exclusively set up tubeless. Tubeless tire setups are favoured in mountain biking thanks to the lower pressures they allow, increasing the contact patch and allowing the more aggressive tires to grip the trail more efficiently, all with much less flat tire possibility. Boost spacing (wider axle widths front and rear) is also in play on most, if not all, Enduro bikes on the market, giving the larger wheel sizes (27.5 and 29) a huge increase in lateral stiffness. The Gradient Wider29 carbon wheelset is FSA’s Enduro family for those of you that like to grip it and rip it. The result of the entire design is a very stiff, impressively strong, yet range for MTB riders.