WTB Releases Proterra Wheelsets That Won't Break the Bank

Jan 27, 2021
by Alicia Leggett  
WTB Proterra

WTB has announced the release of its Proterra Tough and Proterra Light wheelsets, which are designed to bring some elements of pricier wheels, like quick engagement and reliability, into the everyman's wheel market.

The 32-hole Proterra Tough rims are designed for trail riders and have a 30 mm internal width, while the 28-hole Proterra Light wheels are targeted at gravel and XC riders, and are available in 23 mm, 25 mm, and 27 mm internal widths. The 27 mm and 30 mm options come with Boost hubs, and the wheelsets with narrower rims come gravel-ready with 12x100 mm and 12x142 mm hubs.

The hubs use a six-pawl freehub design with 3.7 degrees of engagement, and the wheels are built up with double-butted J-bend spokes and Sapim secure lock nipples at WTB's California headquarters.

WTB Proterra
WTB Proterra

All of the Proterra wheels come tubeless-ready, with the Tough sets available in 27.5” or 29” and the Light 27 mm sets available in 29”. For gravel, the options are 23x700 and 25x650. Weight for a 29" Proterra Tough wheelset is a claimed 2,112 grams.

The Proterra wheels are available at WTB.com for $649.90 USD for a set, or separately for $294.95 USD (front) and $354.95 USD (rear).


98 Comments

  • 122 0
 If you press your ear to the ground you can hear the angry mob of pinkbikers with a hope/stans combo marching.
  • 74 3
 And you can hear the rumblings of the dentists in their Sprinters coming to explain how anything cheaper than their Enve x Chris King wheels is unrideable
  • 87 2
 @Shred-BC: And those with diy j-bend 350/EX511's will grab popcorn and chuckle at all the fuss.
  • 11 1
 @Eatsdirt:
HAHA! Agree, after having bought a 'take-off' set of DT EX1700's from some dentist: j-bend, 350 w/ratchet, boost spacing!
  • 30 2
 @thomasjkenney1024: good thing you got the 350s with the ratchet, because I hear you can't get far with the 350s without the ratchet Wink
  • 2 2
 @privateer-wheels: Guess he's referring to the 1900 wheelsets of DTSwiss that come with a 370 that's without ratchet (and are seldomly built into 1700 OEM wheelsets).
  • 3 0
 @Eatsdirt: I got EX511s built up by professional wheelbuilders with 350s for 550€. I really don’t see how these WTB should be better than that for pretty much the same price.
  • 3 0
 @Upduro: My round of cedar and wood dowel never fails!!
  • 2 0
 @danimaniac: it's a joke. I'm teasing.
  • 1 0
 The stans are such garbage, that unless the rider is extremely slow, or under 120lbs that they get totally trashed
  • 1 0
 @NoDHinKentucky : The correct term is "pinkers"
  • 1 0
 That's me! (:
  • 60 3
 WTB rims and rebranded novatec hubs, what could possibly go wrong?
  • 11 0
 Never novatec, not even once www.pinkbike.com/photo/20061696
  • 10 0
 To be fair, the 6 pawl Novatecs are... less bad.
  • 10 0
 The Factor (by Novatec) hubs I’ve been riding all year have been fabulous and their high POE has been awesome. Not sure I’d ride anything straight Novatec but apparently they can build some decent stuff.
  • 6 0
 @Dornbox: just wait, the freehub bearing will go and take everything with it
  • 7 0
 Got a new bike a couple months ago with the stans hubs. Destroyed the durasync freehub, got an upgraded replacement (speed sync) on warranty, which seemed better, but then the ratchet ring stripped out. Never had a bike with a more obvious week link than that garbage hub.
  • 1 0
 @Tr011: is this in reference to Novatec as a manufacturer or first hand experience with the Factor line? Thanks
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: That was disturbing
  • 4 1
 @Dornbox: I doubt it's in reference to Factors. In the past 3 years I have had a couple hundred Factor hubs come though my hands and across my bench, and I have had zero come back with a failed bearing. I call BS.
  • 8 0
 The proterra hubs are extremely reliable and are certainly not rebranded Novatec. Seems like you're one of those guys who has no idea what you're talking about..
  • 3 0
 @hamncheez: I've been using D042SB for years and only have to replace bearings once. That was easy AF and cheap AF. Steel free hub body is still intact. I don't know about other models but Novatec made some good stuff over the years IMO.
  • 1 0
 @Tr011: Yep. That happened to me with two sets of Novatecs.
  • 1 0
 @EnduroriderPL: One of those pictured freehubs is steel (and noticeably heavier). Its the one on the right. The freehub body itself was fine, what happened instead is the pawls all sheared off.
  • 1 0
 @hamncheez: I bought spare pawls for pennies without a problem. I've never used but still there were available as spares without any problems.
  • 1 0
 @EnduroriderPL: So I should have a bucket of them and replace them after every other ride?

All three of these freehubs were from a combined 300 miles of riding. I'm no MVDP I'm not putting down serious watts.
  • 1 0
 every 300 miles? seriously? This is genuine incredible because mine lasted years but on standard shimano layout.

For curiocity I would replace them with aftermarket and see what's what.

What about inside race of the hub - was is also worn out?
  • 2 0
 @EnduroriderPL: All three of these COMBINED had 300 miles on them. I got a new hub after that (a cheap, used, $40 Roval hub thats been flawless for over 1,000 miles, tracked on Strava). I also broke several ratchet/spline rings (whatever they're called). Novatec warrantied everything every single time, but I got sick of the down time and unreliability. One of the freehubs broke on the first ride after it was installed.

I suspect it comes down to the four pawl design and small diameter of the freehub. Only two pawls are ever engaged, and with a lever radius half of some other brands, its just way too much torque.
  • 2 0
 @hamncheez: that's messed up story right there! Frown On the contrary: I've never had problem with pawls on really low budget hubs as long as there were shimano, 2 pawl set up. I don't know what Novatec did but it seems that materials they've used is soft crapp Frown
  • 3 2
 @Dornbox: For sure. Factor is definitely the premium face of the operation, but you're right about the Novatec quality overall. Underrated hub brand with a surprisingly large industry footprint. Durable, easy to service in most cases, and full of options. I would need to dig deeper to verify this, but they may well have been/remain the manufacturer behind the Nukeproof-branded hub products as well. Another nice thing is that Novatec is finally moving in a more Western-style website direction, with easier to find specs for the Western consumer or wheelbuilder, including the essentials for spoke calculations. Needless to say, that data should always be handy.
  • 3 0
 Yea had Novatec hubs on a Stock Karate Monkey and the rear axle bent and the rim cracked at the weld within a couple months. WTB warrantied the rim quickly and got it rebuilt but Novatec said they knew of the issue and I could buy the “upgraded axle” to fix the problem. Also the HG Freehub is sketch. But it was the stock Wheels, I actually rode the bike on trails and the complete bike cost less than a I9 or King Wheelset so whatcha want!
  • 1 0
 @SirWilhelm: Disappointing to hear that. That's too bad about the axle (and admittedly there are certainly better customer-service solutions), but I'm not surprised that WTB took care of you ASAP with the rim. What hub model was it? I would like to think Novatec has improved since then. The Novatec hubs I have had strong experiences with are all XD-driver based, and I have also had zero issues with their front hubs, especially the burlier models taking Torque Caps. The XD-based Boost models use a reinforced and/or oversized design that externally (if not internally) looks a little like its Factor big brothers.
  • 1 0
 @HogtownWheelsmith: Click on my pic above. Notice that I destroyed both aluminum and steel XD drivers.
  • 2 0
 @HogtownWheelsmith: I believe it is a “ BM5-T18I00900044-F1” which is the only markings on the freehub and hub. I’ve heard from my local shop that some Novatec stuff is okay, but this one turned out to be a bit of a lemon.
  • 1 0
 @SirWilhelm: Got it. Sounds like it was a dud. I would need to see it to determine whether yours was a better Novatec model rebranded OEM with that product number, but that seems unlikely. The better Novatec stuff - the stuff even some pro riders will use (including in freeride in Europe) - will typically start with a mountain product notation of "DB" or something similar. Anyway, hopefully you won't have another poor hub to speak of - that's a rough break.
  • 46 2
 Wtb wheels... where the wheels break themselves, NOT your bank
  • 33 2
 WTB: Wheels That Break
  • 7 0
 I dont get this. I ride pretty hard and have KOM Tough 27.5 with i27. I have trued them 1 time. Theyre tied to J bend RF Vault hubs. Honestly really dig the wheels. I know its a different hub. Have people had bad experiences?
  • 5 4
 @chillrider199: Maybe "Chillrider" is a more chill rider than they realize?
  • 5 1
 @beeeefkirky: WTB - walk the bike
  • 3 0
 @chillrider199: everything breaks for some people. Like you my WTB rims stayed true for years. Eventually I bent one, it was a very inexpensive rim to replace. I laced it to the original Novatec hub whose bearings had lasted years and were cheap/easy to replace. I don't smash the pedals but still wear out chains/cassettes regularly. If you're smooth things last longer, even when hitting everything.
  • 3 0
 @flaflow: Totally agree - I've bent Race Face Turbine rims and destroyed their hub as well. Had cheaper wheels that sometimes lasted longer and sometimes not. Don't tend to break half as much stuff these days. A lot really depends on riding style and if you ride all year round
  • 4 1
 @flaflow: you also live in Florida, in Utah no matter how smooth you are, every component dies. Geography matters
  • 2 0
 @5afety3rd: I'd like to invite you down. 1st you'll love the winter ride. 2nd you'll see you don't need a Wasatch front to find rocks and roots, or 10ft drops.
  • 3 0
 @flaflow: It's about vert and terrain too, not just difficulty/"gnar factor". I have ridden many of the chunky areas in FL (Alafia, Oleta, Santos, Tom Brown, etc) and it can definitely get hairy and techy, but there's a difference when your daily ride can be 2k up a fire road and then 2k down a super rocky trail. There are places where one may be more technically difficult, but the other just eats parts.. comparison that comes to mind is Grand Targhee vs the stuff in Pisgah north of Brevard. Pisgah is techier but the dh trails at the Ghee will thrash your bike. Another example would be porcupine rim (or half of moab) - not that hard, but lots of square edged rocks.

I do agree that rider smoothness has a lot to do with it, but at some point the terrain is the terrain and will have it's way with your bike parts
  • 3 3
 @chillrider199: In my opinion you're right to not get it. Good for you for sticking your neck out and commenting. WTB makes fine rims for the money, and their consistency and feature set seemingly expands with every passing riding season. Any rim can have issues; let us recall that the most high-profile Pinkbike wheel review of the past two years (the Paul Aston epic) focused on a rim set that cost as much as some car insurance! Take it from a wheelbuilder with extensive experience lacing with WTB: it's quality, affordable stuff. Same goes for their tires, a testament to the brand overall. I would place WTB third on my select list of companies that have, to my workshop, consistently delivered with true tire carcasses that won't diminish the visual straightness of a carefully completed hand wheelbuild (Michelin and Schwalbe being the other two notable companies). Enjoy your wheels. Vault hubs are total baller, by the way.
  • 1 0
 @flaflow: i'll keep my winter ahab laps thanks
  • 37 1
 Wait 12x142 is a gravel standard? Dam... and here I have been risking my life mountain biking with that hub size.
  • 2 0
 That also lists "Shimano HG 11spd" as an option - guessing that's for a roadie cassette, but it doesn't say so it's anybody's guess.

At least they put this in - "Does your gravel bike require a 15x100mm front hub? Use coupon code ProterraEndcaps during checkout to swap the 12x100mm end caps for 15x100mm." So 15x100 is gravel as well. Razz Also, centerlock only for the gravel/road? I know there are adapters, but c'mon.

Then there are what they consider MTB - no non-boost options and SRAM XDR/Microspline ONLY - no Shimano HG freehubs to be found!

It's clear who they're catering to here, except it isn't. Offering only the newest standards cuts out the low end of the market, but the subpar hubs cut out the higher end and much of the mid-tier. Soooo...their target demographic is...IDK really.
  • 25 0
 Does anyone else read the headline with "affordable" and for a split second think,"$350? $400???" and then see the price and sigh.. That said, I built up some Hope Pro 4's to some Halo Vapour 35's. 3 seasons, nothing at all to complain about. Lighter then the WTB's and $100 less..
  • 18 0
 But that was 3 season's ago. Demand and shipping prices have driven prices up at least 69%. Or 420%. I forget the numbers exactly.
  • 1 0
 @dangeraem: and if you're smart you're stocking up on spares now.

prices going up a lot this year.
  • 3 0
 There is a he fact that prices are increasing but I still feel like there are quite a lot of wheels around being marketed as value that are neither cheap nor light. I'd rather get a custom wheelset every day of the week.
  • 1 0
 @dangeraem: I blame Dick Pound
  • 18 0
 Yeah, they're affordable, because the hubs are garbage.

Cheaping on hubs is a stoopid place to save money because a failed hub is way more disasterous than a bent rim; fix a rim with some pliers and ride on.

DT Swiss Star Drive for the win
  • 6 0
 the worst part is you could build a set of wheels with WTB rims with DT 350 hubs for about the same price as this wheelset
  • 4 0
 It's an ok price - but when you can build something custom for similar prices (and weight) with dt350 or some bling color hope hubs.....
  • 3 14
flag N0R415CAL (Jan 27, 2021 at 21:20) (Below Threshold)
 The proterra Hubs are high quality and extremely reliable. Lab and field testing has these hubs running much longer than your DT350 with much higher engagement.
  • 8 0
 @N0R415CAL: Can you please provide the setup and data for your lab and field testing, especially with respect to durability?
  • 15 0
 So nukeproof horizon but twice the price..high fives all round
  • 15 0
 Deore got robbed.
  • 11 2
 My WTB i29's were really bad. I had to religiously re-tighten/true the wheel on a regular basis but it was a loosing battle. To the point where I would bring a spoke wrench with me on rides and tighten them up every hour or so. Hopefully that have gotten a little more dialed since 2017.
  • 39 0
 "it was a loosing battle"

I see what you did there.
  • 21 0
 @MtbSince84: but does he?
  • 5 0
 @greener1: Admittedly... No. Lol.
  • 11 1
 These are not relatively affordable TBH Could build a set of DT swiss 350 hubs laced with EX471 or EX511 for cheaper.
  • 2 0
 @Eatsdirt: yeah, I can get those built up for a hundo less all day.
  • 6 1
 Price and weight are a joke. There are a lot of WAY better options for a lower pricetag out there. For that money you can even have a custom set built by someone with decent hubs, butted spokes and DT Ex511.... I really wonder why people are buying stuff like this.
  • 8 0
 "which are designed to bring some elements of pricier wheels", i.e. most of the price.
  • 6 1
 Wait, how the hell is $650/£480 cheap or even "good value/affordable" for a basic, not light, Asian-made (only assembled in the US) wheelset with off-the-shelf/catalogue Novatec hubs?

I paid £270 (40%+ less!) for a pair of similar weight Superstar wheels on UK-manufactured hubs with EU-made SKF bearings that so far have had zero issues.

You can pay even less for some generic Nukeproof wheels that would be comparable to those WTBs.

I get paying more for better quality but this? Someone's high.
  • 10 2
 That weight, at that price .. srsly?
  • 6 0
 Where are these $500 DT Swiss wheelsets on 350’s everyone’s talking about?
  • 4 0
 I like how simple the "Light" and "Tough" options are to sort out.

How many rims did you send to the recycling heap last year? 1, get Light. >1 go Tough.
  • 2 0
 I've got the i23s on my gravel bike. Lots of trying, I've fully retensioned both wheels and the cassette drags like crazy, causing the chain to sag and clunk around when you're going fast and coasting. And I just learned they're incredibly heavy, holy shit.
  • 4 2
 The OEM wheelset on your next $4-5k bike just good enough that you can't justify upgrading them. Well played WTB well played.... Don't recall ever hearing " built myself up a set of WTBs on ...." more like "had to true these f*ckers again, I wish they put better wheels OEM on my ..."
  • 3 0
 Over 2kg for XC? Wow, that't the weight you normaly get for DH wheels. For about half the price i get wheelsets with the same or even less weight.
  • 1 0
 Surprised to see so many people bashing wtb rims, then again every article I see is just people bashing stuff lol. My bike came with wtb sti 30 rims and they've been great, haven't had to tighten a single spoke in almost a year and they're straight as the day I got them. Either I'm not riding hard enough, I'm not overweight, or I'm riding smoother than average haha.
  • 4 0
 Dt350 511 are going to stay eating WTBs lunch for breakfast.
  • 3 1
 Crap pictures for a news/product release...
I have to guess wtf they actually look like including the rim profile ...
  • 7 5
 Chromag rims and Hope hubs. Just saying
  • 3 0
 Options are nice.
  • 2 0
 Just what I needed! 27mm wide rims for my gravel bike.
  • 1 1
 Would this be a better option or would raceface ar30 (370dt hubs) be better?
  • 2 1
 laughs in Shimano Deore hubs laced to Mondraker own brand rims
  • 1 0
 This is 1000 CAD. Yeah were in a epidemic.
  • 2 0
 Still are.
  • 1 0
 What frame has that pretty sparkly green on it?
  • 1 0
 @Explodo It looks like a Kona...maybe the 2021 Process 153 DL 29.
  • 1 0
 @coregrind: Thanks! It does look like it geometrically, but the colors are way different on the Kona website and the pic above. I wonder what the real color is...guess I'll have to go looking.
  • 1 2
 Only thing worse than a crank brothers wheel set, a wtb wheel set.....
  • 4 0
 Crank Brothers has actually really done well with their latest generation hoops, both carbon and alloy.
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