WTB launched their CZR rims late last season, but at the time there weren't any pre-built wheel sets to go with them. That's not a big deal if you're a wheelbuilding wizard, or have a trustworthy mechanic at a local shop to turn to, but not all riders have the skills or patience to go that route. That's why WTB now offers the CZR i30 wheels, which use those distinctive-looking carbon rims laced up to WTB's Frequency hubs with 28 double-butted spokes and brass nipples.
The 29” wheels are aimed at trail and enduro riding, and according to WTB, they were designed with a focus on strength rather than achieving a specific weight target, although the 1884 gram figure on the scale is fairly typical for carbon wheels in this category.
CZR i30 Details
• Intended use: trail / enduro
• 29" only
• Carbon rims, asymmetric design
• 30mm internal rim width
• 28 spokes, brass nipples
• WTB Frequency hubs, 5-degrees between engagement points
• Weight: 1884g; front: 871g / rear: 1013g
• MSRP: $1,600 USD
The front wheel is priced at $749.95, and the rear goes for $849.95, with either a SRAM XD or Shimano Microspline driver body.
WTB covers the wheels with their 'Ride With Confidence Guarantee', which says that if the wheels break during a ride then they'll replace them for free. The terms are a little different if you run them over, or forget they're on your roof when you hit up the Wendy's drive-through. In those cases, WTB offers the rim replacement for 50% off of MSRP. Details
As the name implies, the CZR i30 rims have a 30mm internal width, and use a hookless bead. The spoke holes are reinforced with a raised, diamond shaped section of extra carbon to help ensure the spokes don't pull through during hard impacts. The spoke holes are offset, in order to allow for more even spoke tension between the drive and non-drive side spokes.
The wheels come with an extra strip of nylon situated underneath the rim strip that's meant to keep the tape from pushing into the spoke holes, and to keep the air inside your tire even if a spoke breaks and starts attacking the rim tape.
The Frequency hubs use six pawls that are offset into two groups of three, which is how the 36 teeth in the hub shell are able to deliver 5-degrees between engagement points. The wheels ship with heavy duty pawl springs installed that create a relatively loud ratcheting noise while coasting. For fans of quieter hubs, WTB offers a lighter spring kit that reduces the decibel level.Performance
These days, it's pretty rare for a set of wheels to cause any problems when installing tubeless tires, and that held true with the CZR's. I've had a few different tire setups on these wheels and in all instances the tires settled into place and inflated without a fuss.
Out on the trail, the CZRs felt precise and snappy, the traits that helped carbon wheels gain traction in the first place, while remaining comfortable enough to use on long, rough trails without worrying about getting early-onset arthritis.
I would place the CZR wheels on the stiffer side of the spectrum, at least compared to Zipp's 3Zero Moto wheels or Enve's AM, but they were never uncomfortable or difficult to handle. They feel closer to 'traditional' carbon wheels versus the more compliant options that have been hitting the market, but they're not unduly harsh or jarring in chunky terrain. As far as hub engagement goes, the 5-degrees between engagement points was quick enough for my tastes, and I didn't encounter any unwanted popping noises or skipping from the freehub.
Both wheels are still spinning true, and they've been smashed and bashed down plenty of rough trails. I did have one pinch flat that came from smacking a very sharp rock that was (im)perfectly placed in the middle of a big G-out, although I think it fair to chock that one up to a tire casing issue rather than the rim design.
Conditions have ranged from dry to drier, so I can't really comment on how the hub will hold up to a few months of splashing through hub deep pedals – I'll update this review if any issues arise. The hub internals looked decent when I pulled it apart for photos, although a little more grease wouldn't hurt – something to consider if you live in an extra-wet zone. How Do They Compare?
The above chart lays out a handful of options that fall into the same category as the CZR i30 wheels. The CZR's price tag makes them the most expensive non-North American made wheelset on the list - the Zipp and Enve wheels are made in the United States, and the We Are Ones are made in British Columbia. That doesn't affect the ride quality in the slightest, but there are riders out there who prefer to buy semi-local when possible. I've spent time on every set of wheels on that chart, so which one would I choose? It would really depend on what my top priorities were.
If I was hunting for the most comfortable wheels, price be damned, the Zipp 3Zero Motos are the way to go. The Enves are another compelling option - I'm a big fan of their on-trail feel. They're not as compliant as the Zipps, but they still do a great job of muting trail vibrations, and they're lighter too.
Riders who prefer a more traditional carbon wheel feel, those who want a stiffer, more snappy ride, will find that in the Bontrager and WTB wheelsets. Those Bontrager wheels offer a very good price to weight ratio in this category. The We Are One wheels fall into this category too, and their price can be dropped down by going with Industry Nine's 1/1 hubs instead of the super-fast engaging Hydras.
Solid, snappy ride feel+
J-bend spokes, brass nipples+
Subtle graphics and unique rim shape
Middle of the road price, weight