Review: Silt AM 29 Alloy Wheels

Apr 15, 2021
by Henry Quinney  

Silt is a relatively new company based in Northern Ireland. They were founded by Alan Graham, previously of Nukeproof and Hunt, to be a direct to consumer wheel manufacturer that offers both value and performance. They sell a whole array of wheels, with XC, enduro and e-bike offerings available in a selection of alloy or carbon.

To say that they’re merely cheap and cheerful would be a grave disservice though. Through my dealings with the company, there seems to be a genuine and earnest desire within Silt to give the customer a well made yet budget-friendly product. The wheels themselves certainly are not short of tech, either. They come it at a very reasonable £370 and weigh a competitive 1869g for a 29 inch set. 27.5 and mixed sized sets are also available.
Silt AM Alloy 29
• 30mm internal rim width
• Weight (actual): 1885g
• Spoke Count: 32 front/rear
• Spokes: Sapim Double Butted
• Price: £370

The flagship of their design is undoubtedly their Ratchet Drive Hub Technology. There are other pieces of genuinely good design throughout the wheel, such as a nicely ramped edge on the well of the rim, which is there to help tires initially seal and then get up on the bead while you inflate them.

The hub technology itself is not completely different from what some other brands are doing. The main difference would be the leaf spring, as opposed to a coiled spring that you may find in other hubs. One ratchet is secured into the hub and then then the other rotates and engages as needed. The main advantage of a system such as this is that when the faces of the ratchets engage with one another, they engage all their teeth near-instantly under power. This, in turn, helps spread the load across the mechanism which should help with longevity. A more traditional ratchet and pawl mechanism does not benefit in this way.

Removing the freehub is relatively easy and just requires a 3mm allen key and a 17mm cone spanner. Once loosened, everything is very easy to access and clean, should you need to. If you wanted to remove the affixed ratchet disc, or indeed the bearing behind it, you would need a special tool. Silt makes a point of offering this as cheaply as they can, which I think is a commendable approach. They have a spares section of their website which all seems reasonably priced.

The wheels use a 30mm internal width rim; the hubs were assembled with a very adequate amount of aqua grease to ensure a good barrier to corrosion as well as minimal drag. Here, you can see the leaf spring used.

The wheels use a mixture of 6902 and 6802 cartridge bearings. They have a contact seal to face outwards to shield the innards from unwanted grit and moisture. I tested these wheels over an uncharacteristically wet Portuguese winter. Not only did this mean that the bike got dirty but it was also cleaned after most rides. Despite this, the bearings still spin as smoothly as the day the wheels arrived. The end caps on the front wheel use a well-fitting seal to not only protect bearings but also to secure the caps in the hub. Again, this is a nice touch and balances function and form.

The wheels use 32 Sapim double butted spokes front and rear and are genuinely “tubeless ready”, in that they come pre-taped and the valves are provided. The wheels also come with spare spokes for each of the sizes used.


Initially, when riding the wheels, I found them to be very stiff. Comfort sometimes can be overlooked, especially in wheels. That being said, it is subject to a myriad of different factors - weight, bike, setup, location etc. I do find though, that wheels can come too highly strung from the factory.

It’s a bit of a thankless task for wheel builders, I suppose. If they go too low then it can deliver a vague sensation to the rider and even lose tension over time. Too tight and comfort and deflection can be a real issue. That’s also not to mention how spoke tension will work inversely to tire pressure, which is impossible for them to predict. I do tend to run my bike's suspension very firm, which may not have helped. Essentially, when a tire tracks the terrain it’s sending information to the rim, spokes and subsequently axle. If there is too much tension there, sharp spikes in compression don’t have their edges taken off and it’s all loaded through the axle and I think it can overwhelm the fork - giving a very unsettled and fatiguing the rider. You can have the best suspension setup in the world, but if the information that is being passed on is predominantly large spikes of force then it won’t feel very good.

The wheels are available with your freehub body of choice.

After initially riding the bike on rockier, firmer trails, I thought that I would venture off to find something a little softer if only to see how the wheels coped. On these trails, the feeling was vastly improved. However, if ever there was a section of rock or roots, I did feel as if I was being bounced off line. For your reference, I was running an Assegai 2.5 WT Exo+ at 21PSI in the front and an Aggressor 2.5 WT DD at 25PSI in the rear with a small insert.

They did ride well on softer terrain, and if you wanted to put large amounts of side load through the back of the bike, the stiff platform meant you could really carve into things.

Now outfitted with the information with how the wheels rode on softer terrain, I went to do some back to back setup changes on a trail that’s particularly rough and demands a lot from both body and bike. After several runs I found my ideal setup to be with half a turn of tension removed from the front and a quarter from the rear. Sadly, where I was living, I didn’t have access to a spoke-tension gauge so this is hard for me to quantify. With this amendment, it transformed the wheels and I got them to a place where I found them to be very comfortable and offer a vastly improved performance. I think the rim is adequately stiff to enable it to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of lateral stiffness and support. This is good news as it allows you to fine-tune the spoke tension to suit the rider and strike a balance between compliance and stiffness.

I spoke to Alan Graham regarding this issue and he explained that the wheels I received were tensioned to 130KGF, as opposed to the 120KGF standard. He went onto explain that knowing that the wheels were going to be bashed into goodness-knows-what over a few months they wanted to give me the most suitable tension. When I backed off the tension, I probably went back to the stock tension. For my weight of 83 kg and my riding style of ‘hit things’ this tension seemed a great compromise between stiffness and compliance.

Interestingly, Silt hopes to one day offer custom-tensioned wheels to customers. I’m not quite sure how they will execute this but it sounds like a great idea. As you may have guessed, it’s something I think about when going between wheels and really believe it can have a huge impact on the performance of your bike. As ever, if you’re not sure how, or indeed what to do, then please go and see a trained mechanic before grabbing the mole grips and applying liberal amounts of elbow grease.


I was initially given the choice between the alloy or the carbon AM wheels. The carbon, while not ridiculous in the context of other options, are dearer at £800. I felt that the alloy wheelset, which costs less than half, was a better representation of what I would personally buy and would be more relevant to a lot of readers.

The Silt wheels were used with several different tire brands; the dings weren't big and the rim always soldiered on but after 2 months of riding there were multiple of a similar size.

Whether or not alloy is more reliable is a contentious subject but it does not tend to fail in such a spectacular manner when it does eventually give up the ghost. That said, alloy rims do respond to impacts in different ways. I think I’m quite realistic with my expectations of a rim and I don’t expect it to come out unscathed if the riding is rough. A recent Pinkbike poll would suggest that I’m not alone in this outlook.

I suppose in an ideal world, I would have a rim that is impervious damage that is a competitive weight. However, I understand that everything is a compromise. The Silts took some serious knocks over the course of testing and, while the rim is dinged and dented, it never ruined or stopped a ride.

The first impact to damage the rim was solely down to rider error but did leave me concerned for the longevity of the wheels as it happened very soon after I received them, but throughout the test they seemed to hold up well. After two months the Silt AM Alloy wheels still happily keep air pressure and stay in a ridable condition, even if slightly worse-for-wear; this is a vast improvement over my previous rear rim from another company that lasted less than a month before it wouldn’t hold air. By that comparison, the Silts robustness seems very reasonable.

I expect some people may be horrified at my short expectations of wheels but I really want to emphasise how rocky and flat-out horrible some of the trails were. Great to ride but they were nothing short of abusive to wheels. In other places, this wouldn’t be a concern. Some rims are made of cheese, and I think it would be very unfair to level that accusation at the Silt AMs. After all, most things will break if you hit them hard enough - it all comes down to what's a reasonable expectation.

Once I reach a certain threshold of impact resistance, my next concern is how they react to impacts. Do they fail straight away? Crack? Lose air? Make seating tires impossible in the future? Even though the Silt rim did take something of a beating, I would never say it failed. Even at its worst, with 3 dings in it, seating tires was never too much of an issue. I believe this was helped by the ramped profile of the bead.

As mentioned the internals stayed smooth and drag-free for the duration of the test. One small quirk, however, was the freehub would come loose when I took out my rear axle. This was quite annoying, especially as I was taking my wheel off every day during a tire comparison. I initially was torquing it with the cone spanner, but after a few times I realised finger-tight was just as effective (or maybe as ineffective). This, in a way, meant that it became a minor issue. It wouldn't become loose during a ride, only when I removed the axle. If ever I forgot to check, the leaf spring would ensure that the gears didn’t slip, even if the shifting was inconsistent. I’m loathed to put thread lock on fine threads or unknown alloys so I left it as it was. It was an irritant though. I tried to reduce friction on the axle by regularly cleaning it and applying fresh grease. This helped but only in the immediate short term.

I spoke to Silt regarding this issue and they explained that this can be remedied with a small drop of thread lock. They also added that they now include this step for all of their wheels in production.


+ Reasonably priced
+ Good weather sealing

- High initial spoke tension led to harsh ride
- Freehub loosening during wheel removal

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesI'm a big proponent of companies that value their customers and have a no-bulls*** approach to products. I really feel Silt occupy that kind of space. To say there weren't some teething issues would be untrue, and the issue with the loosening freehub is still ongoing, but with all that said, for the value, they're still a good option.

If this was a wheelset twice the price would I be so forgiving? Probably not. But do I think that Silt, with maybe a little refinement, could be in place to ruffle the feathers of the status quo? Absolutely. I enjoyed great and constant communication throughout the test. I know you might think that this is always the way due to the fact that I work in the industry, but I can assure you it is not. They were also humble and very happy to receive the feedback, which is also an encouraging trait.
Henry Quinney

Author Info:
henryquinney avatar

Member since Jun 3, 2014
310 articles

  • 60 19
 Would you please stop telling that spoke tension is a way to tune wheel stiffness? That is (at least in the region of tension where the wheel doesn‘t collapse right away or gets destoyed really fast) just complete BS...
  • 26 8
 Hi @lukesky. Would you be able to help me out here and explain slightly further? As I feel there is a bit of disconnect.

For me, I would say, as I reference in the article, that an adequately stiff rim is very important. Of course, there are multiple directions that we could be refering to, which doesn't help. When I talk about stiffness in relation to the spokes, as I do in this article, it's largely how the spokes transmit information or feedback to the rider. In that instance, spoke tension does have large effect in terms of both performance and comfort. That said, if you had a very flexible rim then I don't think spoke tension alone would save you. I hope that was clear through out the article but am genuinely curious for you feedback. Thanks
  • 23 2
 @henryquinney and I were talking just yesterday about putting this to the test by doing back-to-back runs with extreme spoke tensions and using telemetry to measure the effect. I don't think it's fair to say that it's "just complete BS", but I haven't seen great evidence either way so far. Perhaps you know something I don't?
  • 37 2
 @henryquinney: @seb-stott: Page 71 in the third edition of Jobst Brandt’s “The Bicycle Wheel”; “It has often been suggested that looser spoking will improve the cushioning of a wheel, for instance one used on rough roads. Because the elasticity of spokes arises from the material properties of steel and is not affected by more or less tension, no change in ride quality can be achieved by loose spoking. Spoking with less than optimal tension only forfeits strength and durability.”
  • 37 2
 That’s not how Young’s modulus works. Sorry. Try different number of spokes, or gauge, but not tension.
  • 4 6
 130kgf IMO, is way too high of tension for a modern mnt bike wheel. A road wheel with that tension might be more acceptable, but considering how mnt bike wheels see high impact loads, 100-120kgf would be better.
  • 10 0
 A wheel that feels overly stiff, and seemingly dents easily. Best of both worlds...
  • 12 8
 @Broth-Ratchurch: I can't say I've read that work but it does sound very interesting! I would contend though that everything has an operating window. In the review, my suggestion is that the spokes weren't in that window. I would also suggest that our spokes are affected by constantly differing loads when we ride a trail.

If I'm honest, and excuse me for being quite direct, I'm not theorising in detail how spoke tension changes ride quality only that in this instance it did. I felt it relevant to include as I feel that a competent rider would feel this change.

Thanks for the info though - I'll be sure to check it out. Cheers.
  • 10 7
 @Broth-Ratchurch: Perhaps an analogy would help. Think of a coil shock, it has a threaded collar to preload the spring. Increasing preload doesn't change the spring rate, but it does change the feel of the suspension. Think of spoke tension as preload.
  • 5 0
 @henryquinney: I thought that when you're riding you're actually "hanging" from the hubs rather than pushing down on the spokes. If so, tension couldn't matter, could it?
  • 6 1
 @Broth-Ratchurch: I think this only assumes completely radial force. Since mountain biking will apply forces in different directions other than purely radial, and looser spoke tension would increase the lateral compliance (or at least I think it would) of the wheel then that would probably feel like a softer ride. But to say that no change in ride quality can be achieved by loose spoking does not seem accurate.
  • 1 0
 @kcy4130: but that's a situation with pure axial load. A wheel is more complicated than that.
  • 2 2
 Spokes are under tension at the top of the rim when riding. So if you back the nipple off a few turns, you increase the distance from nipple base to flange interface. Which one way or another creates more room for the rim or flange to “give”. I don’t see how it could be any other way.
  • 2 2
 @VelkePivo: Yes, this is true.

This is just me thinking aloud so please pinch some salt in anticipation... although the hub does hang, I think of it as the hub moves what would be "up and down" in relation to the ground within the rim, instead of the rim moving around the hub. In my head this is how I build wheels - not for the rim to be true but for the hub to be perfectly central and aligned. I would hazard a guess and say that although the hub is only moving "up", and as you say pushing into the load bearing spokes, it is also almost tethered by spokes to the side. If it were a clock face then the spokes from 2-4 would affect how easily that hub is to move "up and down". I would also suggest the third cross in the lacing also adds stiffness and is affected by spoken tension. You might have seen that some straight pull hubs have spokes that don't touch. This also affects overall wheel stiffness. There is a calculation I'm sure, but I don't know what it is. Haha.
  • 7 0
 @zachyc: Yeah, the loading on a given spoke is complex but the results are the same. We are in agreement, I think: Does altering spoke tension make a noticeable difference in vertical stiffness of a wheel? Maybe to someone really in tune with their bike, but not noticeable to me. Does spoke tension make an obvious and easily noticeable difference in the lateral stiffness of a wheel? Absolutely!
  • 5 0
 @seb-stott: Once the tension is enough to secure the spoke is just tight enough for the functional range of deflection of the rimm, adding tension will not increase the system stiffness. It will be brazing angle cross section and number of spokes, together with the rim modulus of inertia, to determine that.

A wheel is a curved beam on a elastic foundation as first described by Winkler in 1867.
  • 13 0
 I believe there is a master thesis from Damon Rinard - I believe ex cervelo engineer that looked at spoke tension versus wheel stiffness. The conclusion was that only at very low tensions does is influence the stiffness of the wheel.
  • 3 0
 @rickybobby18: Either way you have the same moment of inertia and young modulus. There's no more "room", the deflection for a given force will be the same.
  • 2 1
Maybe I have formulated too harshly, I‘m sorry for that but this and a few other things get told time after time even after proven wrong more than once.
As others have already pointed out, it has to do with the behaviour of the spokes when loaded, see Young‘s modulus or also stress-strain curve. Basically, to create a different feeling, you have to get one of two load cases:
1) Some spokes are so loose that they are not tensioned anymore when the wheel is loaded. This will lead to a drastic drop in stiffness of the wheel and to a few other problems like nipples coming loose if there is no additional threadlocker involved and decreased lifetime of the spokes because of the different load case.
2) Some spokes are tensioned so high they get above their elastic limit when the wheel is loaded, leading to plastic elongation of said spokes and: a) a slightly detensioned wheel operating in the regular window, b) spokes that are enlongated enough and dentensioned enough to fit in to case 1) or c) broken spokes.
There have been quite a few experiments for that, for example
  • 45 0
 During hard riding there are plenty situations (sideloads and heavy braking) where the spokes on the opposite side to the occuring loads completly loose tension momentarily. 250N sideload at the tire contact patch is enough for an average aluminium enduro wheel.
While riding over straight perpendicular bumps you won't notice a difference with lowering spoke tension. If you don't ride hard enough you also won't notice a difference - the classic theory applys.
We find that especially on rough natural trails with off camber sections and rough/bumpy corners you do notice a difference at some point. "At some point" means that you have to go really low, about 700-800N on the steep spoke angle side to make it obvious. What's happening isnt that the spokes "flex/bend/stretch", but rather that the rim can move around more in relation to the hub. I get that in theory you think that the rim can only move in relation to the hub when the spokes stretch but in reality an aluminium rim goes into a "potato-chip" shape. This completly relieves some spokes from all their tension which allows for the rim to radially and axially move around the hub.
This is in our mind also the main difference why carbon can be harsh and shallow aluminium rims are more forgiving and this rim deformation in a lot of cases also is the reason why you get tire marks inside your rear triangle during hard cornering.
Almost all carbon rims don't go into that "potato chip" shape during riding due to their inherent axial stiffness and especially shallow aluminium rims do this very easily. There is basically zero difference when you measure vertical deformation of a wheel, no matter the rim material or rim height so that "vertical" compliance" doesnt come from literally radial deformation of the rim. A Stans rim doesn't compress more than one of those older Enve rims under radial load at the hub axle/tire contact point (ok, maybe a few hundredth mm).

I hope it gets clear what I am trying to say as for me it gets kind of difficult to find the proper English words for some things I am trying to say.
  • 4 2
 @kcy4130: Not trying to nit pick, but preload doesn't change how the shock feels -as you said, it doesn't affect the spring rate. It can mildly change how the bike feels by elevating the bottom bracket at sag and, maybe, affecting the initial harshness when the wheel returns to the ground after leaving it. But much in the same way decreasing spring preload doesn't make your shock more compliant, decreasing tension doesn't make your wheel more compliant.
I admit it's counter intuitive!
  • 47 2
 I think largely what is being said here about tension - once you get in a healthy range, it not affecting stiffness/feel - is largely correct and had been proven many times over by different academics. Assertions made here by the reviewer and by the manufacturer are misleading, and largely incorrect. The difference in stiffness, trail feedback, and overall wheel integrity between 120kgf and 130kgf is nil.

What bothers me the most about this review and, and many others like it on wheels, is that they ever so lightly skim build quality. The reviewer will speak to how they 'feel' or how the wheels 'feel', they speak to spokes popping, nipples loosening every so often, but they never REALLY address build quality. Build quality is as material a factor in wheel performance and durability as the parts they are made of. Pinkbike has an opportunity to make this tangible and clear to readers, but make little effort to do it in an objective manner. Here the reviewer 'feels' there may be tension issues, but the reader gets "Sadly, where I was living, I didn’t have access to a spoke-tension gauge so this is hard for me to quantify". And then you call the manufacturer and just take their word for it?! I am embarrassed for you guys. Pinkbike ( @mikekazimer @brianpark @sarahmoore @mikelevy ), if you are going to review wheels you need to put tension meters in the hands of reviewers like @henryquinney . Otherwise this is just the blind leading the blind. Why theorize when you can pull the data and demonstrate quite easily if you have an issue, and whether or not the wheels you received are well built, or need work?

@seb-stott @henryquinney instead of getting fancy and academic with telemetry, why not start with the basics. Get some tension meters, and come up with a process by which you test and document build quality. That would be far more valuable for the average reader, and you'll be keeping manufacturers honest while your at it.
  • 5 0
 Beat me to it. A constantly repeated myth.
  • 7 0
 @newmencomponents: thank you! This is why my next set of wheels is gonna be made by Newmen!
  • 6 0
 @ratedgg13: I so wish Newmen had US distribution. Their engineering really does seem a cut above the rest.
  • 3 0
 @sspiff: You can buy them via Bike24 (when anything is in stock ever again...) with very reasonable shipping to north america.
  • 2 0
 @dldewar: I think this strange conversation comes from Santa Cruz syndicate. They have talked alot about reducing spoke tension for certain tracks. This shouldn't be done with your daily driver wheelset. I don't touch them. if had wheels to burn and blow up I might play with it.
Also none of us are greg minnaar and wouldn't notice the amount the tension was reduced. We aren't talking much. 1/8th turn all the way around. If they went too loose they would wreck rims every run.
  • 5 0
 @privateer-wheels: well said. I shouldn't have even commented before reading your breakdown. Cheers!
  • 3 0
 @makripper: there is so much to discuss here - spoke choice, tension rim strength etc... I really am not advocating for anything other than the lateral stiffness of the wheel was pretty much the same in the research Damon did until you pretty much loosened the spokes off. One of my largest pet peeves is the assertion that tensile strength has anything to do with lateral stiffness. Try C-Rays versus a thicker lower tensile strength spoke and see which has more lateral stiffness - as stated in this thread - it is all about the spoke section.......

Maybe @levy has to do another one of his myths things after some research.
  • 6 0
 @makripper: Thanks! Reliable and consistent commentary on build quality is a big gaping hole in most wheel reviews, and fairly low hanging fruit to flesh out and implement. This would provide real value to readers/buyers, in my humble opinion.

Manufacturers who are slapping parts together with no QC (of which there are many) need to have some light shun on them. Manufacturers committed to build quality should be recognized as well, I think.
  • 23 2
 @newmencomponents - Thanks for the breakdown.

@privateer-wheels - hello there. You've raised some great points in your comment and some of it is fair. I suppose I would very strongly dispute that the difference is nil. I don't really know what to say other than I felt it, I have also detected over tensioned wheels before and would back my ability to do so again. So, although the science is really interesting and I think this has been a great discussion, there's clearly something going on there that nobody has yet been able to explain to me and no amount of "it doesn't make a difference" is going to change that. I know I can tell the difference so to be told that I didn't is... well it's a bit like the whole thing about "wisdom is knowing a tomato is a fruit and knowledge is not putting it in a fruit salad". I don't really want to get into an argument over the internet but to kind of be called out in an accusatory tone isn't all that great.

I would say that the most "basic" thing a rider can do is feel. I felt them to be too harsh and subsequently remedied it and they subsequently feel different, and in my opinion better. Honestly, this isn't some bizarre skill specific to me and it's not uncommon for race mechanics to tweak tension depending upon rider feedback for a very tangible gain. I'm genuinely surprised that people feel so confident in telling somebody they can't feel something just because they perhaps don't tend to. That to me is strange, if I'm completely honest, and certainly isn't the way that I go about reading reviews. But hey, there is obviously an element of lack-of-trust there and that's fair enough - I'm just some stranger on the internet, after all. I've taken your feedback on board and will genuinely re-address some of the things you've raised in my own methodology. Truthfully, every day is a school day and hence my genuine interest in what people have had to say. I think it's been a great discussion. I've got some new wheels currently on test and I hope I can go some way to building that trust in future reviews.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read and comment but that's enough internet for me today. Cheers.
  • 9 1
 @henryquinney: Unless you have tested double blind to establish that riders can actually feel the difference, it is just placebo. Young’s Modulus is scientific law, unlike beliefs formed by non rigorous subjective analysis.
  • 17 2
 @henryquinney: I appreciate your comment Henry. It certainly isn't my intention to call any one individual out on what they feel or don't feel. Is it possible you are ultra sensitive and noticing a real world difference between 120-130 kgf - maybe, but I would say unlikely. Is it possible that this is just some sort of placebo affect? Just as likely. There is also a third alternative here as well - let's go with the you actually felt a difference for a second - I won't discount you on this. You felt a difference, I believe you, and I am not being sarcastic in saying that. Let's rewind and go though the series of events here for alternative 3:

The wheels arrived to you, with high-tension. Over-tensioned even. But you really can't quantify that, as you mentioned. Silt says 130kgf, bur perhaps they were higher...or lower. Who knows really? You go on further to say "When I backed off the tension, I probably went back to the stock tension". This is highly speculative. Not trying to attack you here, but you really don't know where the tensions were, and you don't know for certain where the tensions ended. Perhaps the change in tension was more substantial than you think, greater than 10kgf. Maybe this is why you are feeling a difference, because the change was larger than 10kgf. Perhaps significantly larger. Again, who really knows? Alternative 3 is that change in tension was more than you think. As we, we don't have enough evidence to say one way or the other, apart from feeling and speculation. Real data would be helpful in this case - I am sure you would agree.

The point I am trying to drive home is that nearly all wheel reviews look like this. This is not a you problem, this is a general wheel review issue. Many have this gaping hole. And for me, as a wheebuilder, yes that makes it hard to trust a review. That probably also makes my perspective a little different, and perhaps a little less forgiving. I see a lot of wheels from factories well over and well under save tension limits. In the last week alone I've seen a pair of wheels with average tensions of 150-160kgf on the high tension side of a wheel - tensions that void many rim and hub warranties. And I am not talking cheap wheels, either. So to see reviewers noting high/low tensions, or symptoms of high/low tensions, and strictly speaking to feel without grabbing the data to give these feelings and manufacture clams some substance, it's hard for me anyway not to want to ask questions. And drive home the fact that wheel reviews need more analytics and focus on build quality. I'll reiterate that doing so is pretty cheap and easy adds to reviews, and Pinkbike should step up and put tension meters in the hands of wheel reviewers.

Henry, I'll go a step further. If you want to continue reviewing wheels and Pinkbike isn't open to putting a meter in your hands, I will buy you one personally. Just reach out behind the scenes for a quick wheel chat, and I will make that happen for you in fairly short order.
  • 2 1
 Excuse my typos. Fat thumbs, small screen, tired eyes.
  • 3 0
 @privateer-wheels: Very few people have tensionmeter to start with. Even fewer have a Jobst Brandt tensionmeter, which is the most accurate type. The only one I have ever seen in person is the one I own. Even a Brandt tensionmeter is only accurate to about +/- 10%.

Whenever someone says they have tensioned to X, keep in mind, it is really x +/-20%. Brandt being the dedicated engineer he was found no difference in stiffness of wheels when tensions were changed. What he found was there were two important tension, the first being the one when exceeded that caused the wheel to fail, the second being when going below, the nipples would back out. Because of the asymmetrical build of most wheels, the low side tension is 60-70% of high side. Even with this there is a pretty wide range of acceptable tensions.

Far more important is equal tension. This can be had without a tension meter, plucking the spokes and getting the tone matched gets you equal tension (even more than a tensionmeter will).
  • 2 1
 @carym: to clarify - there is accuracy - then there is precision. Most tension meters have the accuracy you have described but may have much better precision (the repeatability of measurements). You can test this by taking multiple measurements on the same spoke. Considering this - they are more reliable on ensuring equal tension and relative differences between the high and low side then absolute tensions. Suggest the tensionmeter would be better than plucking the spokes. At least for a tone deaf jock......
  • 6 2
 @carym: hey! I get that most people don't own one, but if you are reviewing wheels you probably should. Even a ParkTool Blue is better than none, and will give you some indication on whether or not you are in a healthy tension range. Having measurements, even taken with a grain of salt for a level of error, gives us an ability to converse about where a wheel is at. In this case, it would give us a relative idea/measure of the amount of adjustment the reviewer made to get from X to Y. I think that would be quite useful for the discussion. Also much easier to take measurements from a meter to populate a radar graph to publish to speak to spoke to spoke consistency. I don't know how to turn pitch/tone into a graph quite as easily...or at all =P. But I think achieving a reasonable level of tension AND getting even tension spoke to spoke are important, and while the later isn't really what's discussed in review it would be great to see it discussed in all reviews. Don't you agree?

Personally, I use tone/acoustics to help when I build, in tandem with a very good meter. It's important to note that variance in spoke thickness of even 0.05-0.10mm can change the tone of two spokes at equal tension (if you have a good ear), and it's not uncommon to see such variance in spoke thickness in one spoke to the next in a bag of 500 blanks. Or at least this has been my experience having consumed many bags of spokes, and using tone and measurement instruments in sync work best for me. It's worth noting that I have met many wheel builders and have never met two with the exact same methods. Many don't use acoustics at all.

The fact that there is a margin of error in use, does not justify to not use the tools at all, and you know this of course because you went and bought a meter. On the Jobst Brandt style meter, good on you for wanting to own a good meter. I know a good handful of people with them, and I know three people alone who build or have built them. We have several here, a WheelFanatyk which is great for recording the radar graphs for a quick diagnosis, as well as a couple of custom-made European units which are quite likely the most precise custom-made meters you'll find, significantly more accurate and precise than the WF largely due to the THK roller bearing installed on the backside which make them virtually frictionless, high quality springs and dial indicators. We use these in combination with a swiss made calibration jig to create a custom tension chart for each meter and each spoke being used for any particular wheel build. Of course it also matters how you treat these tools in use as well...consistent technique...yadda yadda. We do what we can to minimize error and increase precision and accuracy.

There is room here to really go down the rabbit hole on fine details, tools, work methods, etc. I think we need to step back from the deep dive however, and acknowledge that currently wheel reviews do not attempt to quantify or even qualify substantially, build quality. And it would be nice if it could be addressed, and doing it with tools that have a margin of error is better than not doing it at all.
  • 3 1
 @privateer-wheels maybe you should do wheel reviews (not kidding)
  • 8 0
 Wow, after looking at all these comments, looks like shit just got wheel!
  • 2 0
 @henryquinney: Is it possible you were feeling a placebo effect?
  • 2 1
 @privateer-wheels: already offered to buy PB a wheel tension meter for more accurate reviews, up to PB now to either call the bluff of straight up add a level of testing that is obviously lacking. Or maybe put Henry in a lab and determine he's the world's first verified (and calibrated) human tension meter.
  • 2 0
 A quarter/ half turn is 3 or 6 kgf at most on the typical aluminum rim (Stan's Arch) with DT Competitions, even less on plain gauge.

Basically, most people can at best feel a 6-7 percent difference. This is a ~4% difference in feel if the relation were one to one. The difference, if there were one with a direct relation to spoke tension, is a ghost feeling, a placebo effect and a mind game at worst.
  • 1 0
 Although a better explanation for feel may be found in the inherent strain related dampening. No dampening can occur for any strain already observed, and the natural frequency is higher. Check this out:
  • 1 0
 @makripper: I agree with you, although I don't think it was all the members of the Syndicate. Minaar and crazy Marshy were notorious for messing with spoke tension on the first carbon wheels they ran back in the day. While there might have been some placebo effect going on in Greg's head, it was a bit conspicuous when it was always him rolling down to the finish on a broken rim. Reducing spoke tension causes complete detensioning under load and only increases force impulses within the rim. Peaty was heavier and more of a basher, and Bryceland cornered harder, yet neither of them broke rims during race runs because they left the spokes tensioned as intended.
  • 33 7
 Can people stop comparing wheels to cheese please? It’s misleading. For instance you can’t have a wheel on your cracker/baguette for lunch. Also, there is such a thing as a wheel of cheese, so, more confusion.

I get it, cheese is soft, some wheels are soft. In future can we have some other analogies please.
  • 50 6
 You're British! What do you even know about cheese? Wink
  • 11 0

Or Silton? I get confused.
  • 13 2
 @pakleni: And here I was thinking there would be some mature responses...
  • 4 0
 @pakleni: Hope you're ready to throw hands brother because a lot of Brits will fight you over disrespecting our cheese lol
  • 7 0
 I've seen your cheese shops and they're crap!
  • 4 0
 Fair enough, but after owning E13 alloy rims, I can think of no other analogy.

Or perhaps I should switch to “the consistency of melted butter “?
  • 3 0
 @pakleni: swiss cheese??!! Made in the same factory as Maxxis bike tyres! Flavourless rubber full of holes.
Crunchy extra nature Cheddar, Wensleydale, Cornish Brie, etc.
  • 2 0
 I compare wheels to noodles if they are too soft. Noodles are the best, but don't want my wheels to feel noodle-ly.
  • 16 0
 Why don't they talk about engagement points?
  • 5 0
 Agreed, it seems if there are less than 36 engagement points or so, people rather not mention it for some reason.
  • 8 0
 It's not even mentioned on their website as far as I could find. Solid looking wheels, but hub engagement really is a factor when shopping aftermarket wheelsets.
  • 3 0
 Actually it looks like a 36t ratchet from the picture in the "spares" section of the site.
  • 2 0
 Judging by / counting on the photo where you can see the internals, I would say 32 engagement points, so 11.25 degrees.
  • 3 0
 @TibZ: On a ratchet ring hub, those splines only hold the ratchet in place, they don't provide the freehub action. Here's the link to the ratchet ring replacement, which I count 36 teeth on.
  • 15 0
 Hi Adam, good spot and for reference, the wheels have a 36t (10-deg) ratchet disc and we're working on the 54t which is a completely retrofittable part.
  • 3 0
 @N-60: indeed, you are right, excuse my brain fart.
  • 1 0
 @SILTMTB: you have a video up on youtube that calls out 6.6 degree engagement for your mtb hubs, that's not what you're currently shipping?
  • 3 0
 @stephenwithaph: Hi Stephen, this is a video illustrating how the ratchet system works. We originally had a 54t designed but manufacturing these at scale slowed the release of this version. Hence, the hubs come with the 36t version and the 54t will be released soon. This is a completely retrofittable part also. If customers do purchase the 36t and wan the the 54t when it is available, we'll send these out free of charge.
  • 1 0
 @SILTMTB: Let me get this straight--30mm internal width, a respectable weight, a reasonable price.. and you're going to send out 54t to anyone who purchases the 36t and wants to upgrade *free of charge*? I'm all in. Question is, do you have a distro in the states yet? And do you sell your hubs alone? Thanks for bringing this to market!
  • 3 0
 @mikealive: Hi Mike, our goal is to offer riders the best pound-for-pound wheels possible and for the money, few should come close to us for the level of tech you get. We planned to have the 54t released on release but machining the parts to a scalable level is incredibly difficult. For prototypes, this is okay but once we switched this to scale, it's hard to control the QC levels. Hence, we have changed the machining a bit to make sure the 54t stands the test of time without shearing. Anyway, that's correct. The ratchet disc isn't expensive for us to make and when we have this ready, we will give riders the option to choose which version they like and assume everyone will wan the 54t anyway. If customers have bought from us already and they want the 54t, as a customer of ours already, we would send these parts free of charge. Yes, we will have the hubs for available separately and we will have these added to the website shortly. At the moment, we are a direct to consumer brand Mike. I hope this helps. Alan.
  • 1 1
 @SILTMTB: I went to your website. No option to buy the hubs separately. You could have just saved me the time and explained that you don't have a stateside distro and currently no shipping options to the US. That would be valuable information for many people here. Cheers.
  • 7 2
 Excellent review. Thank you for mentioning wheel stiffness, and for showing photos of the dents. Very few other wheel reviews do this. It's always a shame when a company modifies their product for a review. There's no point reviewing something that's different from what the public will receive. The fact that they increased spoke tension for your review, hoping to get a better review score, doesn't sit very well.
  • 2 1
 Hi hardtailparty, thank you for the comment on this. As Henry touched on in the review, we want to offer riders the choice of tension and if customers have a tension they would prefer to ride at, all they have to do is tell us in the 'instructions' box on our website. Most of us have a preferred riding set up (tyre pressure, suspension, wheel tension etc.) and for our wheels, we want to extend this to riders as it can change the riding characteristics of the wheels. For this test, we asked Henry about the terrain he was riding over and when he said he was in Portugal riding very rocky, fast Enduro, we built a bit more tension into his wheels. We didn't know that Henry runs his suspension quite hard, otherwise we would have actually reduced the tension. Hence, doing this perhaps had the opposite effect for the purposes of this review; not favoured it! Anyway, we are working on our website to make this an easy option to choose. In the meantime we can do this no problem if customers tell us in the instructions box at basket stage. I hope this helps and explains the rationale. Alan.
  • 5 1
 @SILTMTB: thatnks for replying, that's a cool option when ordering.
  • 4 0
 These look like good value at a reasonable weight; as do the carbon ones. Good stuff.

One thing to consider for the manufacturer - it looks like the fixed side of the ratchet is installed with a pin spanner. It'll be all but impossible to remove it, whether for service or for change of POE. Speaking from my experience with a new set of DT EXP hubs, which in many ways are a similar design, you have to use a MASSIVE amount of torque to remove the threaded part, as it's constantly being tightened by drivetrain forces - clamping a hardened steel tool into a vice and using the whole wheel for leverage. There's no way you'll apply that kind of force with a pin spanner.
  • 1 0
 Last time I did the removal on a DT370 hub, my impromptu lever was about a meter long. I can see that shearing those two tiny pins with ease. Despite using the ring as a stationary ratchet, DT kept the spline on the inner ID for removal (no idea if the tool is common).
  • 2 0

The tool on the site looks burlier than what the diagram suggests, hopefully it stands up.
  • 3 0
 @N-60: That looks much better and completely incompatible with the exploded view!
  • 2 1
 Hi Dominic, Alan here from SILT. The ratchet plate is threaded into the freehub and is tightened with our ratchet tool which we sell for a nominal cost. We use the same technology on our partner road wheels and there are no issues when removing the plate to swap bearings out. As you point out, the best way is to put the tool in a vice and turn the wheel anti-clockwise to release. If this go, you can use a heat gun on the ratchet for ~1 minute to relax the material and easy enough to spin out.
  • 1 0
 @SILTMTB: what's the torque spec on the drive ring?
  • 5 1
 The counterfit RT900 6-hole rotors on the product page are not a good look & superfluous for MTB Smile
(shimano only make CL afaik)
  • 3 1
 Shimano makes lots of 6 bolt rotors.
  • 2 0
 @MisterChow: They do. But AFAIK there is no 6-bolt equivalent to the SM-RT900 rotor. There are however 6-bolt copy cats on aliexpress Smile
  • 1 1
 I have 6 bolt shimano rotors bud
  • 2 1
 @Mazador: also shimano does not list all its parts on their website. I have plenty of new components not listed on their site as their for oem.
  • 2 1
 @Mazador: It seems like Silt makes CL hubs:

But maybe the bigger question is why roadie rotors at all?
  • 2 0
 @MisterChow: Because it looks like they are from space. Technology!!!!
  • 1 1
 @Mazador: you mean IIIPRO? Those rotors were sold way before Shimano copied them in their similar IceTech design.
  • 2 0
 @zoobab2: Wasn't aware of those or the timing. Had RT900 knock offs in mind:
  • 5 0
 I feel these are too much of a tradeoff, trying to satisfy two end members. Personally, I'll wait jumping on the bandwagon until the Clay and Sand models come out.
  • 3 0
 I’ve got the Silt / Scribe alloy gravel wheels, carbon road wheels, and now carbon mtb wheels. So far for me they’ve been fantastic! Carbon ones come with a lifetime crash replacement warranty and free new bearings for the first three years too!!
  • 2 0
 Honestly never considered tuning spoke tension. Seems best to tension your wheel build for max strength, and tune for tracking and feel with tire type, pressure, and suspension settings? I'm a hack, so whatever. Not sayin they guy aint got a point. But wheels should be tight as a drum was the way I was taught. Id guess a different tire or a different pressure would trump detuning spoke tension, but that dont mean im right. Actually want to see if this becomes a thing...
  • 2 0
 As already stated, as long as spokes aren't slack or broken, the wheel deflection is based off of section and material properties of spokes. What can change with tension is natural frequency of the wheel assembly. At certain tensions a wheel can tend to resonate in a frequency range that is more or less perceptible harsh to your body. This is oscillic and can be a case of simply loosening a few spokes and perceiving as better due to less resonance in the vulnerable range. Likewise tightening slighty could also change it for the better. I had a stans arch mk3 built to perfection in round/trueness and spoke tension on a meter specifically calibrated for the 1.6mm sapim spokes and 120kgf on the drive side. Riding it you would swear there was a loose nipple in the rim (I looked twice). You'd thwack the rear wheel and get an obnoxious loose metallic vibration. Simply loosening a single spoke a half turn and it would go away. I ended up going for 125kgf drive side and its been quiet, perceivably less harsh and reliable for 6 months
  • 6 5
 For roughly that much you can build some wheels on XM481 or EX511 rims, 350 hubs and round spokes. Factor in an upgrade to 24 or 36t. Might be a boring choice, but it's tried, tested & proven. Interestingly it also usually undercuts the price of DT wheelsets.
  • 19 1
 if you budget $0 for the labor, maybe. lol

please find a 350/511 wheelset, built for this price.....
  • 7 8
 @conoat: I assemble the wheels myself - quite easy and takes 1h maybe (but it's definitely good idea to use either locking nipples or drop of thread locker) and buy a beer or pizza for a shop mechanic to finish them on a truing stand. It's 10-15min job for him.
Majority of time that takes to build a wheel comes from menial labor threading spokes and screwing nipples.
  • 2 0
 @conoat: this is about as close as you’ll find (needs VAT adding for the U.K.)
  • 12 0
 @msusic: if you came to me with already assembled wheels, but wanted me to true, dish and tension them, I would honestly charge you more than if you simply brought me a pile of parts! I cannot begin to tell you the horror stories of people doing things to save themselves money that ended up being total clusterf*cks. LOL
  • 2 0
 @conoat: went back to the notes of my wheelbuild from 9/2020. For what it's worth:
DT 350 boost SP hubs: 930PLN / 210EUR (DT4YOU)
XM481 Rims: 2x69EUR (wiggle)
Sapim Race spokes: 40EUR
Nipples: inc with rims

In this case they were self built. But in Poland at least, the difference (320 -> 415EUR) would easily cover a wheelbuild from someone reputable.

I've long found that an equivalent wheelset from parts is cheaper than the ready built system wheel when you buy parts and can either do the build yourself or have a reputable wheelbuilder locally. My points of reference were XM1700 & XM1501 wheelsets, and the config above falls somewhere between these - basically it's an XM1501 with 350 hubs.
  • 2 0
 @Mazador: I do not, in any way, doubt you can scoure the internet for the cheapest parts and build a wheelset yourself, for less than a prebuilt set of the same parts. That's what you are paying for! professional wheelbuilding talent isn't a dime a dozen. I charge $150 labor to build a set of wheels. add $15 if it's bladed spokes or hidden nipples ala enve. anyways, my point stands. you may not value your time at all. that's fair. but some people make $500/hr and to stop and spend 2 hours building wheels when someone else will happily do it for $150, is downright stupid.
  • 3 0
 @conoat: for me personally the time spent up to build up a wheel is relaxing and I treat it as time spent on a hobby (same goes for all work on my bikes). But do take into account that labour rates in our respective countries are going to be very different, which may change the equation significantly. For what it's worth I checked the pricing in Warsaw for one of the more respected wheelbuilders - let's just say it's a lot cheaper & my initial assesment works here Smile
  • 1 0
 "The main advantage of a system such as this is that when the faces of the ratchets engage with one another, they engage all their teeth near-instantly under power. This, in turn, helps spread the load across the mechanism which should help with longevity. A more traditional ratchet and pawl mechanism does not benefit in this way." I think DT will argue a little about the "longevity" Being that their system is proven back to the Hugi days.
  • 1 0
 Those dings in the aluminum are all too familiar from my Hunt Trail Wide aluminum hoops. I wasn't running unreasonable PSI, but I have 4-5 dings in the rear, I ended up having to put a cush core in the rear and have been happy with it since.
  • 2 1
 If anybody is sick and tired of replacing alloy rims all the time because of dents and tacos I would highly recommend a carbon wheelset. the higher initial cost really justifies itself with the time and money saved with your wheels on your bike and not in the shop. Especially with the lifetime warranties on a lot of them it's even more of a no brainer.
  • 1 0
 Regarding all the spoke tension discussion. While I can see the spokes in tension are the ones above the hub. Wouldn't the wheel also be affected by the gyroscopic effect. So that an impact underneath the hub (a rock) would actually be felt perpendicular to the point where the impact happened. Especially if there is a side load to the impact. Thereby bringing the tension of the spokes 90 degrees from the impact into the equation. If this is true then wouldn't spoke tension have an effect on how much/quickly this load would be transmitted to the rider.
  • 3 0
 Will I ever see a proper side to side review of aluminium rims/wheels with included rim impact test?
  • 1 0
 There's a good chance ze Germans (bike) have done it, would need to look around. Hunt showed some test numbers (theirs) in a wheel release this week
  • 1 0
 Good review. I wonder what alloy these are made out of? I have found Stans 6069 rims - the original Flows, to be the most bomb proof things out there. My WTB's, not the higher end ones, are as soft as cheese in comparison.
  • 1 1
 I haven't found a WTB product yet that is actually above average.
  • 2 0
 @5poundplumbbob: That's unfair, they used to make some great saddles and the Weirwolf grips were my favourites for years. The current tyres are good too.
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: I liked "favourites" and "tyres" . Ya the stuff is good/avg. There is just now stuff that is a lot better.
  • 1 0
 "The hub technology itself is not completely DifferenT from what some other brandS are doing. The main difference Would be the leaf spring, as opposed to a coIled Spring that you may find in other hubS."
  • 1 1
 Do Silt lace up the wheels themselves in Northern Ireland or are they put together somewhere else?

If they lace them up themselves then spoke tension based upon rider stats and proposed feel isn't difficult and is what any good wheelbuilder does already, but interestingly I don't think any of the online only wheel suppliers offer this. I can remember bike shops building wheels up for road sprinters with crazy high tensions and soldered spoke crossings to make them as stiff as possible.
  • 2 1
 Same cheese grade Kinlin rims that Hunt is using and OEM Chosen hubs which have a similar (if not worse) track record than Novatecs on Hunt. It’s a race to the bottom with all of these direct to consumer wheel brands.
  • 1 1
 There’s a awful lot of “engineers” commenting whose understanding of engineering is so limited that they think oversimplified models are acceptable. In the real world a lot of complex and superficially weird things happen when you’re dealing with dynamic loading.

You need to have the humility to say “well, the simple model says that spoke tension is irrelevant but pro riders are fiddling with it and they’re not all delusional so maybe there’s something I haven’t considered...”
  • 2 0
 Keep on them aluminum wheel reviews!
  • 1 3
 Of course spoke tensio makes for a stiffer build (to a point), there's no need to quote books or refer to youngs modulus, slacken your nipples off a turn or two two and go and ride, if you can't feel the difference you must be numb from the waist down.
  • 1 0
How do they sound? Smile
  • 3 0
 Great! A nice tone that's slightly higher pitched than some others. More of a gentle ring than a clack-clack-clack.
  • 3 1
  • 1 2
 Too bad they went with 6802/6902 bearings like DT. I think the move toward larger bearings like i9 has done with 6903 and 6804 is a boost for durability in this use case.
  • 4 1
 i9 and durability dont belong together, I have seen so many destroyed freehubs because of failed bearings
  • 2 1
 @Tr011: when serviced at the appropriate interval I've seen Hydra and Torch freehub bodies last quite a while
  • 1 0
 Killed my boost 101 rear bearings in 6 months on a play bike I barely rode. I have dt350s on my singlespeed and have 3 years and 15000 miles with only grease service.
  • 1 1
 @Jshemuel: you mean serviced every other ride to make sure your main double row $40 bearing didnt decide to kill itself?
  • 1 0
 wow solid nerding on this thread ...
  • 4 3
 New cheese wheels

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