One of the moans levelled at 29er mountain bike wheels is that they’re bound to be heavier than their 26er equivalents. Well, not necessarily. As thoughts develop on the softer roll and consequent damage protection of bigger wheels and the bigger volume tyres that are typically ﬁtted to them, both manufacturers and riders are realising that you can theoretically run lighter parts on 29ers. At least, you could if they were available.
The good news is that, as 29ers come of age, wheel weights are dropping to a point where if you want to build a super-light 29er, you now can. Tipping the scales at 736g front, 852g rear, plus quick-releases at 50g and 47g apiece, the American Classic 29ers are among the lightest ready-built 29er wheels we’ve tested. Their pricetag is far more attractive than most too, although you could certainly ﬁnd a cheaper option if you chose your hubs, spokes and rims separately and found a good local wheel builder.
The front wheel comes with an easy-to-retroﬁt 15mm through-axle parts kit; it takes about ﬁve minutes to convert. Or you can choose to run it with the quick-release; American Classic quick-releases are excellent. Build quality is superb, with large ﬂange hubs keeping the spokes shorter, suitably tight for noticeably snappy acceleration and minimum ﬂex on bumpy corners. The rim beds are ﬁtted with thick rim tapes ready to accept UST tubeless, tubeless-ready or normal tyres.
We set them up with tubeless-ready treads and liquid latex sealant; they inﬂated and sealed instantly. We also really like the design of the American Classic patented cassette body, which we’ve seen on WTB’s hubs recently too. The lightweight aluminium shell is reinforced with three hard steel sleeves that effectively stop the cassette from chewing at the edges of the sprocket slots.
Out on the trail, in four months of use including some pretty ﬁlthy autumn and winter rides, we've had no cause for complaint. The rims are still true, despite a few low tyre pressure rim strikes over the rocks, the hubs are still spinning free with no bearing play and the tubeless-ready tyres we ﬁtted have remained ﬂat-free. There aren’t that many ready-built 29er wheelsets on the market yet, at least not in mainstream independent shops. We’d say these American Classics are among the best, and are a superb way of adding extra zip to your big wheeler.