Just through the doors and awaiting a full off-road test at this year’s Moab 24-hour race, 13-14 October, are these carbon rimmed, tubular-tyred wheels from Tufo, the XC LPs.
The 24 hole deep section carbon rims are laced via Sapim bladed spokes to DT Swiss centerlock disc hubs. The XC2 1.95in tyres have a low profile tread pattern that's designed for fast rolling on hard terrain. The pair weighs 1350grams (including tyres but without quick release skewers). On their own the XC2 tubular tyres weigh 450g.
The tubulars were incredibly easy to stick to the rims with the supplied tape. We'd even go as far as saying they're easier to mount than tubeless tyres especially with no messing around with gap-sealing latex fluid. The only thing to ensure is mounting the tyre straight on the rim.
Tufo supply tyre sealant should you puncture but interestingly they recommend only filling the tubular after puncturing. You also get a valve tool for removing the presta core. Justin Loretz, chief weight-weenie at our sister publication What Mountain Bike, will be giving them a thorough testing at 24 Hours of Moab, we'll give you the heads up on how they performed at a later date.
If you’re not familiar with tubulars, the tyre is a sealed tube, sewn shut, that’s glued to the rim; the design is still very common on the road. The advantages are lower weight, because of the lack of a tyre bead and hooked rim sidewalls, and less chance of a pinch puncture. The disadvantage is that you have to carry a complete spare tyre for racing rather than just a tube. Wolber made mountain bike tubulars back in the ’80s, but they soon faded from view.
Back then, the weight advantage of an aluminium-rimmed wheel wasn’t enough to make tubulars attractive. This time round, the weight-saving of the carbon rims means these wheels weigh the same with tyres as a very light pair of regular wheels without, hence their reappearance.
The rim is only compatible with tubular tyres so you're pretty much stuck, literally, with Tufo’s tyres (we expect the Dugast Rhino XLs that Thomas Frischknecht uses would also fit). These are all very much aimed at cross-country racers.
And the price is going to make them the domain of dedicated weight weenies only: US$1,990.00.