If Shimano's MT15s excel in one area it’s price, but that’s a damn good area to excel in, as it has a positive knock-on effect everywhere else. These are strong, good-looking trail wheels that with TLC, will serve you well for years.
Much of their strength is down to chunky rims, which at 19mm have enough internal width to support 2.3in tyres without either rounding off their shoulders or letting them twist and stretch. The downside is that they’re heavy; just under 2,000g for the set.
This has an effect on acceleration over similarly-priced but more ﬂimsily-rimmed sets. Nipples made from brass rather than aluminium add yet more weight – but greater reliability. The hubs are a similar story, preferring heavier, torsionally stiffer and potentially longer-lived cup-and-cone bearings to the throw-’em-away-and-ﬁt-new-ones sealed type.
Let the bearings behind those contact seals run loose (they can be prone to slackening off) and you can soon destroy the hub, so regularly check for play and invest in a set of cone spanners – and a cassette tool – if you really want them to go the distance. This is long-term maintenance; we didn’t have any issues during the test period.
The MT15s take Center Lock rotors. That cassette tool we mentioned before will double as a lockring tool for fitting the discs, though you'll need a deep, hollow design to clear the locking nut on the rear hub. Either that or shell out £20 for Shimano’s dedicated version.
Adaptors are available if you prefer to run six-bolt rotors. Of more consequence is the 9mm quick-release only ﬁtting. With 28 ﬂat-bladed spokes and those meaningful rims the MT15s are pretty tough, and they’d make an excellent budget second pair of wheels for attacking aggressive trails or black runs.
But riders interested in such terrain are increasingly running screw-through forks, so they’re out of luck. A 15mm front hub, at least, would be welcome. That said, these are supplied with a decent pair of skewers, so anyone looking to toughen up their 9mm trail bike on a budget could do a lot worse.
This article was originally published in Mountain Biking UK magazine.