Kakah's Custom Big-Mountain Wheel Build

Aug 4, 2008
by Mike Levy  
The Pinkbike crew gets to roll on the latest and greatest all too often. You guys call it "testing", while I call it living the dream. But what do we choose when we have to slap down some of our own hard earned coin on parts for our ride?

I've recently invested in a set of brand spanking new custom wheels for my all-mountain bike. I only wanted a set of wheels that approach the weight of XC race hoops, and something wide enough as to work good with 2.5" width tires, and sturdy enough to stand up to the odd booter or big gap if I am feeling zesty enough. That's not too much to ask for is it?

Read on to find out what I chose....After spending so much time on other peoples wheel's I finally decided to put together a set of my own. I'll stop short of telling you that I was starting to feel guilty about beating down "test" wheelsets, because I don't. What I was lusting after though was something of my own, something light but strong, and a set of wheels that would be perfect for the sort of riding I've been doing a lot of lately.

It's not like my list of wants was too demanding. I'm only looking for a set of wheels that approach the weight of XC race hoops, and something wide enough as to work good with 2.5" width tires, and sturdy enough to stand up to the odd booter or even road gap if I am feeling zesty enough. So yeah, all I need is your average run of the mill wheels!

Let's get started....



At the center of it all sits some beautifully understated WTB hubs. Done in flat black and finished with laser etched logo's, the LaserDisc Lite rear and Super Duty 20 mm front hubs look the part. There are far more expensive hubs in all sorts of fancy boy colors, and cheaper generic hubs that may (or may not...) be up to the task, so why did I build my personal wheels around WTB's hub set?

Cori's mom likes my parts also...

Cori's mom likes my parts also...

<Deleted photo>

The boy's at WTB go to some great lengths to produce some very light hubs without sacrificing reliability in the process. The LaserDisc Lite rear hub spins upon a uber-strong alloy axle, saving a load of weight in the process. Before you question the use of aluminum, keep in mind that the Super Duty rear hub that is intended for heavy FR/DH use takes advantage of the same system and has survived many seasons on my DH bike.




Aluminum is also used for the freehub body, an easy spot to drop a load of weight over a steel version. That's not all though, look closer and you should see the beveled trailing edge on the drive splines. The entire hub shell has been relieved of any excess material, leaving the meat where it's needed and trimming the fat where it isn't. You can tell that somebody at WTB has sat down and really thought out the details.

Aluminum freehub body

Aluminum freehub body


Speaking of details, the inner workings of the rear hub has a few interesting ones. The quickly engaging freehub uses a clutch plate just underneath the body itself. A pickup point on the body is in near constant contact with the plate, which in turn engages all the pawls at the same instant. It's an inventive system that has some real world advantages, the biggest being the lack of dependence on any springs that could (and would) gum up over time. Simply put, instead of spring tension forcing the pawls to engage, it uses the torque you put down to activate. All of the six pawls (each with two contact points) are forced to engage at exactly the same instant, as opposed to a more traditional system where one or more of the pawls may be stuck down due to contamination, focusing the load onto a single pawl. That should never be an issue with the LaserDisc Lite, pretty cool!

From the inside out: Aluminum axle, inner bearing, clutch plate (you can see the pickup points) and pawls

From the inside out: Aluminum axle, inner bearing, clutch plate (you can see the pickup points) and pawls


-282 grams (w/o skewer)

-Both 32 and 28 hole options

-135 mm quick release only

-Black or silver (32 hole only)

-Sealed bearings

- $250.00 Canadian msrp

I needed a 20 mm thru-axle hub for the front so I side stepped over to the Super Duty line of hubs from WTB. There really isn't too much to do to a front hub, but WTB has managed to massage the weight down to an impressive 188 grams. Like the rear, the Super Duty has been parred down to only what's needed. Large reliefs in the flanges and a very minimal set of rotor mounts put it squarely into the svelte category of 20 mm hubs.

LaserDisc Super Duty 20 mm hub

LaserDisc Super Duty 20 mm hub


-188 grams

-Both 32 and 28 hole options

-Black only

- $175 canadian msrp

Check out www.wtb.com to learn more about their products.



Spokes don't get the respect that they deserve. When a customer is purchasing a hand built wheel from me, the majority of the time the only concern they have about spokes is for me to make sure that they are black. Most of us only remember spokes when one manages to separate itself from either the hub or nipple, and then all we do is curse them! So after years of building wheels with standard, but proven spokes, I decided to splurge on some Sapim CX-ray's for my personal build.



Sapim manufactures spokes for every sort of bike and price point, but the CX-Ray is their highest end offering. It's common to see CX-ray's used on road wheelsets approaching 1000 grams (for the pair!) and under much higher tension than what you would use a mountain bike wheel.


The CX-Ray's have been manipulated about as much as you could ever do to a steel spoke. What you are left with is butted and bladed spoke that is nearly the weight of a titanium spoke, but far more resistant to stretching and flexing. The finished product is also lighter than a straight gauge spoke, saving 152 grams over 64 spokes. While the weight savings are nice, the real benefit comes from the bladed cross section. Not for aerodynamics though, but for tensioning and truing.



With a regular round spoke it can be difficult to visually see if the nipple is free to turn or if you are in fact winding up the spoke along it's length. Wind-up is not an issue when first building the wheels, but can come into play down the road after many miles in the rain and mud. Using a slotted tool to hold the mid section of the spoke in place while turning the nipples prevents wind-up and generally makes everything easier. And no, there is no black.

-Available from 182 mm to 310 mm, in even lengths only

- $348 canadian msrp for a package of 100 spokes

Check out Sapim if spokes are your thing.



Because this wheelset will be going on my all-mountain bike I wanted to use a rim that struck a happy medium between weight, width, and strength. After some homework I decided on a set of Stan's ZTR Flow rims. With a claimed weight of only 470 grams, the Flow's complement my spoke and hub choices quite nicely. I did get a surprise when I weighed them and they came in well under the claimed weight at only 442 grams! How often does that happen?




The Flow's 28 mm overall width, and 22.6 mm inner width, should also work perfectly with the 2.3-2.5" wide tires that they will be shod with the majority of the time. Any skinnier and it would have a negative affect on a tires profile. The rims feature two unique features, the first being a slightly lower sidewall height, and the second is something called Bead Socket Technology (BST). The shallower sidewall in theory should lower the amount of pinch flats due to the tires larger than average volume. BST refers to the shape of the inner portion of the sidewall. The Flow rim's have a much smaller bead hook, and also a much rounder shape to mate to the tire's bead. BST's intention is to create a tighter seal between the tire and rim.

The picture explains it far better than me

The picture explains it far better than me


-Welded joint

-470 grams claimed (mine came in at 442!)

-available in 26" with 32 holes, as well 29" with both 32 and 36 hole options

-black anodized

- $139.90 Canadian msrp



How'd it turn out?

The finished product is exactly what I was hoping for. Weighing in at only 1687 grams for the pair (780 front, 907 rear), they actually came in lighter than I was anticipating. I managed to shed about a pound and a half off my bike, and in rotating weight nonetheless. Having a light wheelset is fine and dandy, but my end goal was to have a set of relatively light but strong wheels. They are also going to be the "control wheels" for a number of test bikes in the future so they should get plenty of time put on them.


Visually the wheels do not compare to some of the eye catching products out there. That was the goal though and do they look quite stealth with their simple black rim's and hubs, laced with silver spokes and nipples.


I'll be putting in a load of XC miles on them, but don't get the wrong idea as I'll also be pushing the wheel well past what they are intended for. Sure, they'll be on shorter travel all-mountain rigs, but I tend not to shy away from too much regardless of the bike I'm on. Only time will tell how the WTB, Sapim, and Stan's (as well is my wheel building skills!) combination will hold up in the long run. We'll keep you posted!


WTB
Sapim
Stan's NoTubes

-Mike "kakah" Levy


69 Comments

  • + 18
 I can't read when having those boobies in the background...
  • + 7
 Same here, only opened it because of the first pic..what a tease..
  • + 14
 nice wheels and all... but Cori's mom is back! haha
  • + 37
 We Want More Of Corie's Mom!
  • + 16
 There will be more.....
  • + 12
 boobies! ...but seriously we need more of coris momtup
  • + 12
 MILF
  • + 9
 BOOBIES!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • + 1
 hahaha nice update Wink
  • + 6
 I have a rear super duty on my Sunday, i have to say its excellent, far better pick up/engagment than any Hope or even my old(er) Hadley. Excellent hubs...why aren't they more popular? They should be, they have THE best customer service. I lost the rotor side axel head/spacer at a race and mailed them asking where i could get one, a week later one arrived in the post completely free. EXCELLENT COMPANY!!!
  • + 4
 Customer service counts for a ton. The guys behind WTB are are super rad and stand behind their parts!
  • + 4
 i just like the pretty pictures.... a whole load of that article goes str8 over my head...

important facts:

1) Uber Strong!
2) Super Light!
3) Breasts in the 1st Picture... Some Size!
4) all the other shit below that takes too long to read... id rather be riding then wasting an hour reading that..

in future go ... Hubs Good ... Hubs Strong... Hubs Light... Hubs Good Looking... Go Buy... (keep it cave man style and short)
  • + 2
 An hour to read that?! You should practice more! =) You always have the option of not reading, but if you were looking for a set of similar wheels, or just curious about these ones, then you may want to read it all. If not then you can just look at the pretty pictures=)
  • + 1
 That clutch plate can actually give rise to "gunking up". American Classic runs a similar system and I have had to service several that had contamination/grease problems.

Aluminum axels suck too, the cassette tends to chew them up something fierce.

My opinion.
  • + 1
 I also have an American Classic wheelset (on my road bike) that uses the exact same internals as the WTB hub. I haven't had to service either of the rear hubs yet, only two months on the WTB but almost two full seasons on the American Classic. Basically nothing is immune to contamination over time but the clutch plate system can at least work through it better than a traditional pawl system. I can't count the amount of riders hubs I've had apart that needed a through cleaning or even having to replace the pawl spring(s). Everything needs to be taken care of over time though...

I think you are referring to the aluminum freehub, not the axle. I've heard this complaint before and seen some pretty chewed up aluminum freehub body's on peoples bikes, but I've never had any issues. Except for the E2200's I tested I can't remember the last time I had a wheelset with a steel freehub body. It's been two months of solid riding so far, I had the cassette off three days ago and the freehub body looked as good as new. And I'm using a cassette that doesn't have a carrier/spider which doesn't help! I'll keep you posted though!
  • + 3
 That bossum certainly compliments the hubset very nicely, but when the day is over, I have to stay true to the Deemax setup, because they have never let me down.
  • + 0
 I've got a set of WTB hubs on my Giant Reign and I'm completely UN-impressed. The front is fine but the rear developed play after two months of riding. Everything I've tried to tighten the axle only works for about two rides. I called WTB and they sent me a new bearing kit and freehub body (their service is excellent) but I can't for the life of me figure out how to swap the parts out.
  • + 5
 i like the first pic
  • + 5
 the tits was nice !! Wink
  • + 1
 I have been running the ZTR flow rims for about 6 months now and a really impressed. They have done everything from trail and jump to 4x and DH with no problems. Highly recommended.
  • + 2
 i didnt read much, but that sure looks like a solid wheelset, some pretty cool technology is in that
  • + 2
 I used the WTB dual duty DH/FR WHEELSET for a couple of months and I say: VERY STRONG! VERY CHEAP!! VERY LIGHT!BUY IT!
  • + 0
 Thanks for posting this. Ive been wanting to build up a set of stans flow for my dh rig for a long time but never had a solid review on them. Ride them hard! and let us know.
  • + 2
 ridiculous,

I've actually had them on the go for a few months now. There will be a proper review posted at some point in the future but the Flow rims have been impressive so far. True and there are no flat spots, even though I've been riding like there should be lately! I'd run them on a DH bike in a second, especially if I mostly used a 2.5" tire like a Highroller.
  • + 1
 everyone buy the flow rims!!!! they are amazing, i have been running one set on my trail bike and one set on my dh bike. the shop i work at is a stans dealer so i get them cheap but i still highly recomend them to everyone. if you're going to build them for downhill and want to have a really light wheelset go with the flow rims laced to wtb super duty hubs front and rear. the wtb hubs are super cheap for what they are and are very very light. im on my dh bike i am running a kenda nevegal 2.35 in the rear and the nevegal 2.5 in the front. i highly recomend this tire set up. hope this post is a help to everyone interested in these rims!
  • + 4
 o and cori's mom is looking good as always ;-)
  • + 0
 minion, nuff said about tires
  • + 2
 Dude the fake tities make that hub look cheap! Nah just kiddin, nice hub and Im pretty stocked on those tities!
  • + 1
 You know there are girls that ride too, and we have boobs of our own, we don't need to sdee others to sell stuff
  • + 0
 No disrespect intended, but the spokes are pointing the wrong way on the wtb wheelset, I would just expect a profesional wheel builder like yourself would like to know
  • + 0
 bizarrely well spotted - I would tend to agree.
  • + 0
 I ran these rims for a while - until I rolled my Minions off when railing a berm. Nice and light but couldn't trust them after that, especially on the front.
  • + 2
 man those look sweet id like to be the guy taking pics of the first pic
  • + 2
 when is her next photo shoot coming and i hope its with some of my parts:P
  • + 2
 the tits would look better if she wasnt wearing the bra!
  • + 1
 cori's mom has large breastesesssss
  • + 0
 its gonna be more of a buxx that a click when its not pedalling! i dont know the word
  • + 1
 haha coris mom is gotta get it on
  • + 0
 It dosent say what spoke length was used in the wheelset cos im intrested in them myself now...
  • + 0
 you know i would have never looked at this hubs but something randomly drew me in. I wonder what it was??
  • + 0
 I actually have that hub, it makes a really nice click. That's a dialed wheelset.
  • + 0
 I use the same sapim spokes on my blackmarket. You said there is no black. Are you sure because I got them in black.
  • + 0
 According to the Sapim site, and both Canadian distributors, silver is the only option. There are many different types of Sapim spokes though and I'm sure some of them come in black.
  • + 1
 What a stunning set of pawls!
  • + 0
 can read with those nice boobies in the back lol
  • + 0
 great hes runnin a german fork
  • + 1
 nice tits
  • + 0
 the spokes are similar to dt swiss alpine spokes
  • + 0
 oh the hub is pretty nice too
  • - 1
 i would rather stick with my proII's just as light and more well known compnay.
  • + 0
 i would agree with that. the proII's are very nice hubs, thats what im running on the front of my dh bike. the only thing about the proII's is they are more expensive and you cant get them in a 150x12 rear(correct me if im wrong about the 150x12 thing)
  • + 0
 I think your wrong, not 100% but i think so
  • + 0
 yup i was wrong... i think im gunna get a hope pro 2 for the rear now to match the front...
  • + 1
 insane set
  • + 1
 whose remedy is that?
  • + 21
 i like the boobs better than the cassette
  • + 14
 Thats a hub not cassete, but im the lame one for noticing that instead of cori's mom!
  • + 0
 doubts anyone was even looking at the hub
  • + 0
 screw the hubs i want the tities Big Grin
  • + 0
 nice boobs:P haha and nice parts
  • + 0
 Looking forward to hear on how the Flows hold up. Beat em' hard!
  • + 0
 cant**
  • + 0
 me like
  • + 0
 those tits r nice lol
  • + 0
 nice trek
  • - 2
 Sick
  • - 2
 Corie's Mom is so hot now.I thik i'm in love with her.
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