The tubeless XC-500s complement the regular XC-300s in FSA's wheel range. We’ve crashed the XC-500s around the woods and over some seriously rocky Welsh trails without incident, or even the need to take out our spoke key.
Our only criticism is that they look rather… well, ordinary. Especially when you view them next to FSA’s whizzy new cranks and its XC-100 wheels.
We’re well used to seeing FSA’s XC-300 wheels specced on lightweight, racy cross-country-orientated bikes. Despite their ﬂyweight looks, they’ve proven to be solid ﬁghters capable of going the full 12 rounds.
One thing the XC-300 isn’t, though, is a dedicated tubeless wheelset. Enter the new XC-500.
The XC-500 hasn’t been designed to be quite so light and ﬂighty as the XC-300. It’s still cross-country-speciﬁc, but a different sort of cross-country: more full-on than ﬁnesse. That said, it’s no slug, but FSA has openly aimed this wheelset at the sort of rider who likes to do battle with the terrain they ride.
The overall ride feel of the XC-500 is of no-nonsense dependability. The wheels come with quick-release levers, although the front can be converted to a 20mm thru-axle (not supplied).
Key to the strength of this wheelset are the 6061 T6 rims, a relatively broad 24mm across and with a strong triangular proﬁle and non-drilled spokebed. It’s going to take a serious hit to put a bend in it – although that does mean if you do bend one, it’ll be tough to correct with spoke tension alone.
The wheels have 24 double-butted stainless steel spokes, which isn’t many for hard-hitting cross-country wheels (28 or 32 are more obvious numbers). However, the spokes remained tight for the duration of our tests. Having just 24 also keeps the weight down – the rear weighs 1160g and the front 965g (without the excellent FSA Scatto QR levers).
The hubs are straight-pull CNC-machined alloy affairs in a nice black anodised ﬁnish. The hubs turn smoothly and remained perfectly adjusted throughout the test, while the sealed cartridges spin freely. Finally, the disc rotor mounts are fully integrated into the hub shells and use an ISO six-bolt pattern, giving users the widest selection of rotor options.
Fitting tubeless tyres is a breeze – the rim bed has no holes in it, so it’s automatically air-tight. FSA supplies tubeless valves (they’re already ﬁtted when you buy the wheels), and these work perfectly.