Friday, December 13, 2013 10.00am
By Guy Kesteven
USE joined the wagon wheel wars earlier this year, and its 29er Clincher wheels have impressed us with their tough, mud shedding performance since we started testing them in spring.
Granted, it wasn't a typical UK summer, with dust more an issue than mud for months, but the cartridge bearings have coped with hundreds of hardcore miles without any signs of wobble, grind or drag. That's not something you can say about every top-end wheel.
There's some scarring on the alloy freehub after severe single-ring abuse, but again not as much as other wheels, and the 12-degree engagement lag is acceptable for prompt acceleration.
The 30mm deep, 25mm wide carbon rims are built to USE's own spec, and coated in a Nano Surface layer that really does make them easy to clean. They've been totally bombproof structurally too, shrugging off regular rock impacts and a couple of serious crashes and still staying straight. We've not even had to re-tension any of the 28 Sapim CX Ray bladed spokes since they arrived.
The two-cross (rather than radial) spoking pattern keeps the front end more stable and reliably straight under braking too. That mid-width rim plumps up tyres nicely, and keeps up to 2.35in rubber stable. They're also tubeless ready, and inflate relatively easily with a track pump and sealant.
In fact, going tubeless with lower pressures offsets the solid and slightly dull feel of the USE wheels. The sturdy rather than sprightly feel can mostly be blamed on weight - at over 1800g (841g front, 969g rear) they're heavier than their competition, and not particularly light or stiff in comparison to significantly cheaper alloy wheels either. And while the front hub is QR or 15mm switchable, the rear is fixed at 135mm QR, which rules out the increasing number of 142x12mm axled bikes.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.
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