Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Project Wide Gravel Wheels

Well.......look at that, would ya?
Okay.......White Industries came through. I have the hubs in hand and now, as I am wont to do, I have instigated another "project". This one will be a wheel build to test my theory on wide rims for gravel.

Before I get into my hypothesis, let's take a look at these gorgeous black anodized goodies here, shall we? Of course, they are from White Industries and are their new disc hubs dubbed "XMR". What does that stand for? Who knows! I would say, "good looking", sleek", and light weight, but none of those terms start with "X" "M" or "R". White Industries says the hubs have a 6-4 titanium free hub body, a six bolt disc rotor interface, available swappable end caps for through axle compatibility, or as in my case, the standard traditional quick release caps which are included, and an 11 speed compatibility with backwards compatibility to 10 speed and 9 speed cassettes via an included spacer. Pretty swank looks, if I say so myself, with laser etched graphics, and an availability in a few different anodized hues to boot. I chose black so I can swap these wheels, when they are built, between multiple bikes if I so choose and they will look great in all of them. I must say that I was sorely tempted by the option of getting White Industries XMR hubs in luscious purple ano though!

These hubs came highly recommended to me, but of course, there are more things to a wheel than hubs. I also chose WTB's KOM i25 rims for this build, and here's where it gets interesting, as far as my theory goes here. First, you need to know that WTB KOM i25 rims are 25mm inside width, so they are pretty wide rims! Keep in mind that most road-ish, cyclo-cross rims run in the 17mm-19mm inner rim width territory. Yeah......these are wide rims!! Well, for 35-40mm tires, they are wide rims. And see......that's the thing, everybody is going wide and wider off road, so why not for gravel? I mean, a 30mm wide rim is considered XC-ish these days and 35-40mm inner rim widths are commonplace on trail bikes. Every road rim that is introduced gets wider as well. So, it only follows that gravel riders might be benefiting from the same ideas, right? Well, we will see......

KOM rims come in several widths and diameters, but I chose the biggest and widest!
I figure we can look at gravel road tires as "plus sized road tires", so wider rims make sense to me in that vein. My hope is that the wider KOM i25 will do for the 38mm-40mm tires I intend to use on them what the wider mtb rims and 27.5+ tires did for my "Fat Fargo". Those corpulent wheels transformed the Fat Fargo into a rough terrain eating machine. Maybe wider rims will help stabilize gravel tires and help them roll over loose, deep gravel at lowered pressures better than they do on more traditional width cyclo-cross or road rims, the likes of which I have been using. Maybe that will translate into a more comfortable, less fatiguing ride quality which will help me out on longer rides. That's the hope and what I intend on finding out.

So, stay tuned for a detailed wheel build post, then I'll pop on some bigger gravel going rubber and then these will be featured first on my Twin Six Standard Rando, but I fully expect to also use them on my Raleigh Tamland Two and my Gen I Fargo.


JR. Z. said...

XMR. If I had to guess, I'd say "X" (cross), "M" (mountain), "R" (road)? Also, I'm very curious to see you thoughts on riding the wider rims. I've noticed with fatbikes that the wider rim/tire ratios roll easier but end up being more like basket balls when the terrain gets rough... My favorite set up for an all condition combo were Buds (260mm bead to bead) on Marge Lites (65mm) rims. Because of what I've observed in this respect, I have to wonder if significantly wider rims on gravel tires will produce a similar action.

Guitar Ted said...

@JR. Z.- Yeah, that's a good guess! Probably right, I'd say.

I am going to do a direct comparison between the wider rim/tire and similar tire on a "traditional" rim for gravel to find out, hopefully, if 25mm is too wide or if it is better in any way. Thank you for your thoughts on the matter. Much appreciated!

Steve Chan said...

If you get a chance, please check if the Twin Six rando will take fat 650B rubber. A 50mm+ 650B tire in a road geometry frame would be pretty cool for pretty much anything I might want to ride.

Barturtle said...

Look forward to your report. I recently procured a pair of Blunt SS wheels and intend to use them for rubber from 40mm out to 2.4", but have been wondering if there was a point at which switching to something more aero like the HED Ardennes+ or Velocity Aileron would make more sense.

S Sprague said...

Glad to see the hubs make it to you! I hope that these will be way more reliable than the Phil Wood hubs you had some years ago. I was pretty disappointed in those PW hubs. All of my White Industry Hubs have been bulletproof (knock on wood)! Even my Rolf wheels (that have White Industry manufactured hubs) have bee great. Looking forward to reading more of your build!