Hope Pro 2/Mavic XM719 mountain bike wheelset £283

Trail tough, well-built wheels

BikeRadar score 4.5/5

It’s commonly believed that handmade wheels are prohibitively expensive, but these Merlin hoops prove that a custom package can come in under budget and up to scratch. They use Hope Pro 2 hubs, in the QR20 axle variant, laced to popular Mavic XM719 rims with classic DT Comp spokes.

The appeal of a custom build lies in its versatility. We had brass nipples and double-butted spokes for a tougher, longer-lasting wheel but you could spec alloys and spindly Revolutions if minimising weight was your main concern.

Similarly, there’s more scope to mix and match your genres within one wheelset. Petite riders might pair a lightweight hub with a wider rim, while those who like to pack the miles in could choose Shimano’s endlessly serviceable hubs laced to a super-light hoop.

Our wheels performed flawlessly. Truth and tension were perfect from the off and stayed that way throughout. The rim walls withstood plenty of abuse and there was no hint of a whimper from the freehub.

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