We've all heard Keith Bontrager's 'Strong. Light. Cheap. Pick two.' adage before, and in the XC world that saying still tends to hold true. Silt wheels, the small Irish upstart, are hoping to change that with their XC Carbon wheelset. The wheels weigh in at 1396 grams for the pair, and are priced at $1,000 USD.
That's obviously still a lot of money, but compared to the prices of other carbon wheelsets in this category these are one of the least expensive pre-built options currently on the market. So while cheap might not be the right word, they're still a relative bargain. As for the strong portion of the equation, I've been bashing them around for the last few months to see what they can handle.
Silt XC Details
• Wheel size: 29"
• Intended use: cross-country
• Rim material: carbon fiber
• Rim width: 27mm (internal)
• Hubs: Silt Ratchet Drive
• Rider weight limit: 120 kg (264 lb)
• Weight: 632 g (front) / 764 g (rear) / 1396 g total
• MSRP: $1,000 USD
• More info: www.siltmtb.com
The XC wheels' carbon rims have an internal width of 27mm, and a depth of 25mm. The rim bead is 2mm thick, which is pretty typical for a cross-country rim, although we are starting to see more options hit the market that are a little wider, in the neighborhood of 4mm. The idea is that a wider rim bead helps reduce the likelihood of a pinch flat when the tire gets smashed against the rim.
The 28 hole rims are laced up to Silt's own hubs with Pillar bladed spokes in a 2-cross pattern.
The rear hub uses Silt's Ratchet Drive system that functions in a similar manner to what's found on DT Swiss' EXP series of hubs. A 36-tooth ratchet ring is fixed in place on the inboard portion of the hub, and it interfaces with another ratchet ring that sits on a leaf spring in the freehub body. That means there's 10-degrees of crank rotation between engagement points, a fairly typical number.
The wheels use a total of six stainless steel bearings (two in the front and four in the rear) in the common 6902 and 6804 sizes. Accessing the bearing that's behind the fixed ratchet ring does require a special tool, but thankfully Silt has those available for $15. The wheels do come with spare spokes, spare nipples, and tubeless valves at no extra charge. SETUP
Getting the Silt XC wheels setup up tubeless was relatively straightforward, although I did need to resort to a charger-style pump to get the extra blast of air needed to seat the tires. Whether that's down to the tires or the rim design is hard to say – I was using lighter, thinner casing tires for most of the test period, and those can require additional coaxing to pop into place.
I ran a couple of different tire combinations during testing, with widths between 2.3” - 2.4”, and tire pressures in the low 20's, typically 21 psi in the front and 23 psi in the rear. Those pressures worked well for the wetter conditions that prevailed, and I managed to avoid any pinch flats during that time. ON THE TRAIL
The Silt XC wheels took the place of a wheelset that was just 100 grams lighter, so it wasn't the wheelset's fairly light weight that I noticed right away. Instead, it was the racket the hub made when I was coasting. Now, I've ridden my fair share of loud hubs, but out of the box Silt's Ratchet Drive is louder and more distracting than anything I've tried before. The overall decibel level is louder than a Chris King or Industry Nine hub, and the lower pitch seems like it makes it more noticeable.
Granted, I prefer quiet hubs over noisy ones, but I think the cacophony this hub makes may be excessive even for riders who think they're in the “loud hubs are better” camp. I was able to quiet it down to a much more tolerable level with a mixture of Dumonde Tech freehub oil and DT Swiss special grease, but over time the noise will return as the oil and grease dissipate (Silt also has their own MV1 grease for sale that can be used to help reduce the noise). The hub has a very positive engagement, and I didn't experience any popping, skipping, or anything that would make me worry about stomping on the pedals as hard as possible. The 10-degrees of engagement is fairly typical, and while there are plenty of faster-engaging options out there, I never had any moments when I thought that a few degrees quicker engagement would have improved my ride experience.
Noise aside, the Silt XC wheels have a precise feel to them, with a slightly sharper ride quality than the Roval Control
wheels that I recently tested. By 'sharp' I mean that they transmit a little more trail feedback. It's not a massive difference, but I found the Roval wheels had a slightly more muted ride feel. There's no way to attribute that to one specific factor, but the Roval's wider and slightly thicker rims may play a part here - they seemed to disappear underneath me a little more, while the Silt wheels were a little more pingy in rougher sections of trail.
Silt's Ratchet Drive uses one fixed and one free ratchet ring, each with 36 teeth.DURABILITY
The rims themselves have held up well to everything I've subjected them to, and that includes plenty of root-filled, techy XC trails, the kind with tricky sections that would probably cause a bunch of riders to get off and start running during a race.
They have a decidedly XC feel to them, and by that I mean that I never felt the temptation to put heavy duty tires on them and stick them on an enduro bike to shed some weight. While they deliver plenty of stiffness and precision for cross-country and general trail duties, they're not designed for smashing down the roughest trails around, or hitting big drops. Still, they withstood plenty of rooty, chunky descents without needing a trip to the truing stand, or making any worrying noises.
As far as wet weather durability goes, the bearings are still spinning smoothly, and there aren't any signs of unexpected corrosion or water ingress.
It's worth noting that these wheels do have a 120 kg (264 lb) rider weight limit, and Silt recommends that riders over 90 kg (198 lb) check them regularly. That's not quite as high as the 275 lb weight limit of the Roval Control carbon wheels, but it's not that far off. For heavier riders looking for light wheels without a weight limit, Reserve's 28 XC
wheelset may fit the bill, albeit at a higher price.
Silt does have a generous crash replacement program. According to the terms, "If your carbon wheels are damaged as a result of a crash; SILT MTB will replace the damaged part at no cost to the original owner. Labour, additional parts are not covered."
Excellent price for a set of light carbon wheels+
Good crash replacement policy
Extra loud freehub noise might be too much for some riders
|Silt have pulled off an impressive feat with their XC wheelset, putting together a package that strikes a great balance between price, weight, and strength. The loud freehub body was a bit much for my ears, but that's really my only gripe about these light and precise wheels. — Mike Kazimer|
It not really the carbon that's the problem, it's the wheel system as a whole. I think a heavier rider could get away with carbon XC rims easy if the had 32h and bigger tires.
That being said, i feel like I've become an expert on where to cut weight first
In a place like the Midwest this wheelset is unlikely to be pushed to the breaking point. Out west, an “XC” ride might involve a bunch of climbing, but then some vicious rock gardens (and maybe some airtime) on the down.
So I guess I’d like to know how this will do with some inserts and sturdier tires.
Definitely looking forward to long-term follow ups on durability, and how they compare to some of the heavier options available. Thanks Mike!
I've been riding a WR1 Agent 29 wheelset that checks in at 1900g and has been bomb-proof for me, so something like the Roval Control looks really nice as a potential lighter "trail" upgrade.
If the Enduro version are anything to go by I'd say these would be well worth the nod, Lifetime replacement on the carbon rims too so can't really go far wrong.
I’ll bite, why the inserts and sturdier tires on a weight limited XC wheel.
My assumption is you’d just go to. Stan’s flow/arch rim (If price was the concern)
Or a WAO Faction if ya want carbon
Not judging, just asking.
Side note, inserts and burlier tires are the cats meow.
Bottoming out suspension with lower than adequated pressures untill it fails.
curbing tires on sharp edges with lower and lower pressure untill there is no system anymore.
recreating accidents with frames, on the likes of Friday Fails.
You know, destructive testing, with notes of how it goes each time.
maybe throw some pressure washer at the paint to see if it flaks, or the bearings degrease...
I like that if I do I can go to the local Specialized dealer to whine. Communicating with China for my previous wheels was about as effective as sending up smoke signals and squinting hopefully at the horizon.
I murdered a rim, sent them the info that afternoon and had an email in the morning saying a replacement was in the mail. Received shortly after. Pretty painless tbh.
Light Bicycle’s warranty is fine but it's not no-questions-asked, and the crash replacement policy is a 25% discount on a replacement.
Procore Review 2015:
Of course, the first thing I did when somebody told me that it would be virtually impossible to pinch-flat or burp a Procore protected tire, was to try to pinch-flat and burp it. The first test was to put 6bar/87psi into the Procore and 0.3bar/5psi in the outer chamber; pedal as fast as I could towards a 20cm tall curbstone, then sit down and hit it, full speed. I can report no punctures or dings to the rim, and not even the sound of a metal to concrete connection. Second, was to perform a few cutties and square off a few corners. (The previous curbstones worked out well as a berm.) I was pleasantly surprised by my parking lot trial. There was seemingly no way of getting the tire to lose any pressure. Even if you release all the pressure from the outer chamber and try to dislodge the bead with your hands - you can't, it's locked in there solid by the Procore liner. Later, on the trail, I never managed to puncture the tire during a normal ride.
WeAreOne Revive - I9 1/1 - 1540g - $1,475
Nobl TR33 - DT350 - 1570g - $1,100 (3/5 year warranty/crash replacement) - $1,200 (lifetime warranty / crash replacement)
ICAN ("Chinese Carbon") F922 - DT240 - 1,199g - $990
Honestly, so long as the company can stick around, this sounds like a pretty good "value" wheelset. Their other wheelsets have been reviewed by other pubs, and no-one reported any issues.
I don't love the freehub sound, but I'm not sure that I'd pay an extra $500+ to replace it with my preferred "swarm of angry-bees" I9 sound + "all the engagement ever".
I love my DTSwiss hubs but the local shop (which is incredible) weren’t able to even remove the lock ring last week and they didn’t want to risk blowing up a very nicely build wheel. I’d have to send it back into DTSwiss if I wanted it removed. Such a dumbass design where each pedal essentially tightens it a bit.
That annoying future English teacher