Spēd Precision is one of the more recent brands to jump into the fold of carbon wheels. The company's founder is no rookie to the industry, however, with a background that stems as far back to a time where many of us were more than likely either in nappies or beginning to roll about on training wheels. After some moving about in more recent years, the decision to start a wheel company was taken and they haven’t looked back.
The goal was to create a carbon set of wheels for most dirt disciplines; DH, trail/enduro, XC, and Cyclocross, with a number of slightly different approaches taken in an effort to create something that was durable, rode really well and was still durable. In an effort to maintain better control over the complete wheelset, rather than just a rim, Spēd chose to invest in tooling to manufacturing their own hubs, as well as the carbon rim. They partnered with HT for their spokes.
The brands' more aggressive wheels come with the Maul name and include the Maul DH and the Maul Trail—which they state can do anything up to competitive enduro racing. The rim profile in these wheels is the same, but the layup is different for the DH version in an effort to account for the extra abuse that downhill has on a wheel. On the topic of DH, Harry Molloy’s rider led, FS Patrol Funn World Cup team are on the Spēd wheels for 2017. With the changes to the layup, there is a claimed difference of about 80g between the two Maul rim variations and the full DH wheelset weighs in at a claimed 1,975g while the Trail wheels weigh in at a claimed 1,775g.
Aside from the changes to the rim layup, the only other difference is in the hub spacing options, with the driver and the spokes in each being the same. Both wheelsets are built with 28 straight-pull, HT spokes (while the XC wheels are built with 24 spokes in the front and 28 in the rear) and they include a socketed spoke nipple, which is said to make it easier to build a wheel or replace spokes.
A lot of the quality control on the wheel build comes into play at the spoke interface. Spēd’s rims contain a supported, reinforced nipple support that is directional to match spoke entry, which Spēd claim that along with their own manufactured hub, creates a more controlled wheel build. They mentioned that one reason for this is the nipples fit flush against the rim bed, rather than being pulled to an angle and only having a portion of the nipple contacting the surface, ensuring a better interface.
The rim bed is also a little different too, with the inclusion of a four degree angled tire bed to help with seating the tires, and a bead hook—each, they claim to help with tire security as well. Spēd decided to use a bead hook after seeing elite level riders burping or rolling tires completely off their hookless rims, even going so far as mentioning that some riders may even be using materials such as silicone in hopes of keeping the tires in place. Including the bead hook, the internal width of the Maul’s is 28mm, and 30mm without the hook.
The internal width was a process too and rather than picking a number that seems like it would sell well, Spēd mentioned that they instead worked with tire manufacturers to find an optimal width for competition size tires (2.3"–2.4"). Sample tires were also mounted and tested during the process, allowing the brand to be sure that they seated well to the rim and provided a good profile.
The Maul wheel builds each use the same rear driver, which is a fairly impressive looking unit in and of itself. It contains an oversized race that butts against a large bearing inside the drive-side of the hub. The hub consists of 6 pawls, each double stepped and supported by another good size bearing. The pawls are offset so that three are engaged on 42t drive ring in the hub shell, and create 3.5 degrees of engagement.
The Maul DH wheels retail for $1,900 USD and the Maul Trail retail for $1,750 USD. The Sparth XC wheels are built with all of the same ideas as the Maul, only in a slimmer, lighter package. The driver is more traditional, but said to still be a completely reliable system and includes four pawls and 4.1 degrees of engagement. The rim is a lower profile to save weight and comes in at 1,370g for the 27.5” and 1,420g for the 29. While working with the tire manufacturers on the XC rims a 1.9" wide tire was used and resulted in a 21mm internal width for the rim. These retail for $1,550 USD.
The wheels are available in all of the modern hub offerings and we’ll be putting a set of the Maul Trail wheels to the test in the very near future. For more on the wheels, you can check out their website