Last November we previewed the build of some Nextie NXT29AS30 rims that would be the new race wheels for MarathonMTB.com Team racer Imogen Smith. Having raced on NoTubes Valor rims for over three seasons, then spent some time on an earlier generation of 30mm Nextie rims, Imogen knew she wanted something wider than the Valors, stiffer would be nice, as would a more reliable hub, centrelock rotor attachment due to ease of rotor removal for travel, and hopefully not too heavy. Although weight wasn’t the number one focus.
You can see the build and first look at the wheels in our previous post.
Wheel build and longevity
Save for some scratches on the rims from rocks, and from hooks when hanging the bike – the rims are still A1. The wheels were built by Nick Both at Play Bikes – and he cut the spokes as well. They’re tight as a drum and the spoke tension hasn’t been touched. While Imogen is a light weight rider she does ride a lot, and the lack of maintenance required with these wheels has been impressive. No truing, no broken spokes, no cracked nipples. Does an asymmetric profile help? Maybe.
The hub bearings are all still amazing, and the freehub did get a 54t ratchet upgrade in around March. It saves 10g, and decreases the lag in the pedal stroke. DT Swiss say it increases drag but to be honest, I believe it feels a lot better. While the bearings haven’t been out for service the grease around the star ratchet has been cleaned out and refreshed about 3 times. It’s a tool free job although that means it can be tool free when the wheels fall over, something that can happen when the wheels are race spares, with the EIE Carbon wheels now being used as race wheels.
Bike setup changes with Nextie NXT29AS30 rims
Ok, this is a big one – we tested a whole lot of Maxxis tyres last year, and all that was done on NoTubes Valors. For those tests Imogen was running about 19 in the front and 20 in the back. And this was because she had been playing with seeing how low she could run her tyres for her weight and riding. The Valors have an internal rim width of about 22mm – whereas these Nextie rims are wider with an internal width of 25mm. That means they let a tyre ‘bag up’ a little more, so you can run a little less pressure and reduce rolling resistance and gain traction and comfort.
Through repeated trial and error Imogen now races on 17psi front and 19psi rear in these wheels, with 2.2″ tyres like a typical Ardent Race/Ikon combination.
“With the evolution of my riding it has taken me a long time to get tyre pressure (and suspension pressure) right. For most of my racing career my race weight has been just over 50kg, and as a fairly light weight rider it has taken a while for wheel technology to catch up so lighter riders can get the supple and reliable wheel setup that they need and get a similar experience to heavier riders. Wider rims have allowed me to do that, and it’s helped me take my riding to the next level.”
Of course, things continue to change, and with Imogen now on the lighter EIE carbon wheels (about 160g lighter) and with Maxxis 2.25″ tyres the fine tuning has begun again.
“Being able to run the tyres at a pressure where they don’t squirm, or bottom out, or bounce off everything has made a big difference – I even now run a full remote lockout on my Norco Revolver, with a push to unlock function as sometimes I can just use the suppleness of the Maxxis tyres at low pressure for the traction I need, with my bike fully locked out.”
So if you’re reading this review for questions on durability – they’re strong. The rims have not made direct impact with square edges with pressure too low. But they have been ridden and raced a whole lot. The 24/28 spoke count is fine – although Imogen does notice the front wheel on the EIE wheels with 28 spokes is a little stiffer. Having ridden these Nextie wheels I agree – 24 hole is ok for a light rider, but it is still not as stiff.
The wheels have never caused a headache for tubeless setup, although much of that is to do with your tape, valve, tyres and technique. But the rim shape has certainly helped.
Would I buy another set of these rims? No. For our use 365g, 25mm internal and 30mm deep isn’t really what we are after now. Ligher, shallower and maybe a little wider is where things are headed, and the mix of rims we are on now do most of those things. Rim technology is changing quickly from Asian manufacturers like Light Bicycle, Nextie, EIE Carbon and others. As an example, the 310g gram NXT29U30 would be the first thing I’d look at from Nextie if I was to build another set right now.
Building a set like this isn’t for everyone. If we do damage one, chances are it’s our fault. No worries, we’re happy to accept responsibilty. But then we need to order a rim, and pay for it and shipping. Then for a rebuild. It could be a few weeks all up, depending on the turnaround from your wheel builder. When you consider some brands have serious warranty programs in place to support you via a local dealer you have to see the value in that convenience. It is also a lot faster in the first place to go buy a set of wheels compared to sourcing parts and finding the right wheel builder!
But if you do go this way – enjoy the process. It’s a lot of fun picking and choosing the parts you want to get the build and outcome that suits your riding and racing.