Shimano’s MT620 alloy wheels may come at a bargain price, but that’s not necessarily a marker of performance.
On the face of it, it’s hard to see where too many cost savings have been made – a good start for the Japanese brand.
Shimano gives you a broad alloy asymmetric rim, which I measured at just over 29mm wide internally.
The rim’s asymmetry is to give better triangulation of the wheels’ 24 non-butted aluminium spokes, which was the joint-lowest number out of the wheels I had on test.
The rim is pre-taped and looks very tidy internally. Asymmetric rims can be a bit of a pain when it comes to the valve stem’s lockring and rubber grommet because the rim falls away from the valve hole at different angles on either side of the valve.
However, Shimano supplies the valve with an asymmetric washer to even out the lockring’s pressure – a nice touch that helped make the MT620 wheels nice and easy to set up tubeless.
Getting tyres on and off is easy thanks to an average outer rim diameter and a fairly deep central well. This central well is reasonably wide too, which means it is easy to drop both sides of the tyre’s bead into the well.
The valve, inside the rim, is quite tall, though, so you may have to wrestle the tyre bead over it if you pop the tyre on from the opposite side of where it needs to be.
The hubs have an easy-to-use Center Lock rotor attachment, and adaptors are available should you wish to use six-bolt rotors for your brakes.
Shimano has long used cup and cone bearings (AKA angular contact bearings) in its wheels and this is the case with the MT620s.
Rather than a sealed, effectively one-piece cartridge bearing, individual ball bearings are held in the hub shell’s bearing race, while the threaded axle sandwiches them with a further set of bearing races.
This gives plenty of accessibility to the bearings for maintenance, although you’ll need cone spanners and some patience to get them just so.
Cup and cone bearings can be trickier to look after, but if you have the knack we’ve found the bearings last a long time.
I didn’t think they felt quite as smooth as other wheels’ bearings on test when spun between my fingers off the bike, but this doesn’t translate to anything of note on the trail.
The wheels come with a Micro Spline freehub for Shimano’s 12-speed cassettes. No XD driver is available.
Shimano MT620 performance
The wheels’ cheap price-point belies their performance. Tyres popped into place easily on the rim, the wheels span nicely and the freehub engaged reliably with only the occasional clang through the wheel’s alloy construction.
The 10-degree engagement angle isn’t the snappiest, but it is acceptable for the price.
Ridden back-to-back with the lighter and cheaper wheels also on test, the MT620s are a touch softer than some when really pushing them hard into corners, or where super-precise lines are needed.
This means they don’t get pushed off lines easily, but if you’re a hard-charging rider or someone who puts a lot of stress through your wheels, you may want hoops with a higher spoke count, even if that asymmetric rim design is there to boost relative stiffness for a given number of spokes.
During testing, the wheels suffered a few knocks and bruises, with the rim wall leaving the test with the odd dent.
Despite this, I experienced no loss of tyre pressures and only noticed the dents when removing the tyres.
This is an experience I had with a number of alloy rims on test, rather than a specific issue with Shimano’s rims.
Shimano MT620 bottom line
If you’re on a budget and need a pair of hoops to keep you rolling, I have no issues recommending these wheels.
They’re not the lightest, nor the fanciest, and may need a little more TLC to keep them running smooth for years, but if you’re not a heavyweight on wheels and don’t want to spend a packet, they’re well worth a look.
How we tested
Wheels are a pretty pricey upgrade, so we put 12 trail/enduro sets to the test to find out if there’s an inherent benefit to pricey carbon fibre hoops or is alloy better for hard-hitting rims?
The wheelsets were taken on back-to-back runs down selected tracks in the Welsh woods and at BikePark Wales. They were pummelled over and into rocks and drops, turns and berms, and off-camber roots.
To keep things fair, all our testing was done on the same bikes, both hardtail and full-sus, with the same tyres (thanks Specialized!) at the same pressures.
We tested 29in wheels, but most are offered in 650b versions too. While we predominantly ran 2.6in rubber, we also slung some 2.3in tyres on, and we varied the pressures between test sessions to see what difference we could feel.
Bikes shouldn’t be a pain to live with, so we took into account the ease with which tyres could be fitted and inflated. Likewise, we considered how easy it was to access bearings and swap freehubs, too.
Also on test
- Nukeproof Horizon V2
- Zipp 3ZERO MOTO
- DT Swiss M1900 Spline
- ENVE MTB Foundation AM30
- Halo Vortex MTC Enduro
- Hope Fortus 30
- Hunt Enduro Wide V2
- Mavic Crossmax XL S
- Reserve 30 I9 Hydra
- Syncros Revelstoke 1.0
- Crankbrothers Synthesis Enduro Alloy
|Price||br_price, 5, 3, Price, GBP £360.00|
|Weight||br_weight, 5, 6, Weight, 2,247g (29in) – per set, Array, g|
|Brand||br_brand, 5, 10, Brand, Shimano|
|Features||br_Features, 11, 0, Features, Weight (f): 997g
Weight (r): 1,250g
Engagement angle: 10 degrees
|Brake type||br_brakeTypeSimple, 11, 0, Brake type, Disc|
|Freehub||br_freehub, 11, 0, Freehub, Micro Spline|
|Rim internal width||br_rimInternalWidth, 11, 0, Rim internal width, 29.3|
|Rim material||br_rimMaterial, 11, 0, Rim material, Aluminium|
|Spoke count||br_spokeCountFront, 11, 0, Spoke count, 24 front, 24 rear|
|Wheel size||br_wheelSize, 11, 0, Wheel size, 29in/700c|