Maxlight IX 29er wheelset (13)
While low to mid-price 29ers are getting their spec increasingly well sorted, a lot still fall short on wheel performance. The extra diameter magnifies the effect of excess mass, so every gram is more of a grunt. Longer spokes mean flex that would be tolerable in a 26in design blows up into a vague, wandering and baggy-feeling wagon wheel.
Unless you build them right, light wheels have a habit of collapsing or warping easily if you stray even slightly outside their comfort zone. That’s becoming a bigger problem as big wheels appear on increasingly aggressive trail and all-mountain bikes. The good news is that none of these scenarios is likely to trouble these Maxlight wheels.
A lot of the technology here is borrowed from the well-proven products of Upgrade’s dirt bike stablemate, DMR. The stiff 26mm-wide rim section is an upsized version of the bombproof Threat jump bike rim; its generous breadth does a great job of fattening up and stabilising tyres, and it’s tubeless ready.
Maxlight has stuck with 32 three-cross, triple-butted spokes rather than saving weight with minimal spoking or radial lacing pattern. The results have proved tough and tenaciously true.
The bearings haven’t been bothered by submersion, hosings or sub zero running either, and the freehub is unscarred even with cheap ‘non spider’ cassettes. Sleeved inserts make them 9mm QR/15mm screw-thru on the front, and QR or 142x12mm on the back, without compromising stiffness or bearing life with wobbly end caps.
Given their strength, stiffness and traditional build you might expect them to be heavy. At 1,750g (795g front/955g rear) they’re light enough to feel fast and responsive, and there’s no spoke twang or wind up when you punch the pedals hard. Being able to fatten up a narrower tyre or run tubeless lets you take more weight out of the full wheel pack if you want to.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.