Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So, Is Wider Better?

45mm wide Dually rims and a 2.4" 29"er tire
I have been riding a mountain bike long enough that my first mountain bike was set up on "wide" rims. Araya something or anothers, as I recall, but they were maybe 25mm wide, outside dimension. Then shortly afterward I recall rim widths shrinking dramatically as the 90's rolled on to where there were rims being run on mountain bikes that were the same width as road bikes were running with 23mm tires on them! We had to run 50-60psi just to keep those tires from rolling off the rims!

Of course, things swung back, but with the advent of fat bikes, it seems that, (whether fat bikes have anything to do with it or not, it seems all the wide rim stuff happened about the same time), it seems that all bicycle disciplines went in for wider rims. Road bikes got wider rims. Mountain bikes got wider rims. Even fat bikes went to 100mm rims. But it seems that the most extreme examples of rim width versus tire casing width is happening in the realm of 29 inch wheels.

If you had told me five years ago that I would be riding a 29"er with 45mm wide rims I would have laughed out loud. Oh, there were a few outliers back then, like the trials rims some guys were trying, or Kris Holm rims for unicycles. However; I figured that wasn't going to go anywhere, really. Even when I got a pair of Sun MTX-33 rims, I didn't build them up, figuring that wide of a rim was overkill. But a few things began to change my mind.

The joys of wider rims began to sink in with these Blunt 35's with Ardent 2.4" tires.
Back in 2010, I began riding on some Blunt 35's shod with tubeless Ardent 2.4" tires. I found that the footprint allowed for some "almost fat biking", and I actually could stay up on top of some crusty snowmobile trail at times. Okay, so that spurred my desires for a fat bike, which I got the following year, but I still wasn't 100% turned on to wider than 35mm rims for 29"ers. I figured 35mm was about the limit for me.

Then the nutters at Surly made that Krampus thing, and I rode one. Whoa! That was a game changer right there. Not so much for the 29+ thing, but for a "mid-fat" 29"er option, which I saw as being a bit more possible with the right 29"er frame and fork. I was still not really all in, but then Velocity did something else with a wider rim, and made the Dually, which turned out to be different in that it was a rare, double wall extrusion at a very wide, (for a 29"er), width. The weight looked reasonable, so I got a set of these wheels.

Was it worth it? The jury is still out on that, but so far, they have been a boatload of fun. The On One tires I put on them set up tubeless perfectly, and the wheels seem laterally stiff enough. The way they lay that On One tread down on the trail makes for superb traction, and small trail chatter is gone. They go fast too, with little rolling resistance and a not crazy weight. Yes- they are heavier than the XC racer geeks wheels, but these wheels clocked in at what many early sets of 29"er trail bike wheels came in at, so for the extra girth you really do not pay much of an extra weight penalty. Besides, these wheels are made for rolling over stuff and not for racing, so much.(Although I know someone that does race on Duallys!)

I give the Duallys my thumbs up so far, and the next step? Maybe a 29+ tire, but we'll see about that......

1 comment:

MG said...

I am a big fan of the Duallys too.

29+, and my Singular Rooster prototype, have totally changed my definition of the term "mountain bike", because today all I want to ride is wide rims and tires.