One of the most upgraded parts on any mountain bike these days has to be the wheels. Or, as is sometimes the case, rims.
And, like frames, cranks and handlebars, the material du jour is carbon fibre. The charge has been led by big-name (and big-dollar) brands and rightly so, but there has been a big emergence of carbon components coming out of China for a few years now. Nextie is a brand that has really stepped up the affordable carbon rim stakes of late, and they came to my attention early this year via a strong facebook presence which seemed to be full of happy customers and some interesting products.
After reading up on the many reviews of Nextie’s rims, a lot of them for fat bike rims, I was ready to find out more and a quick email to Brian was drafted. Within hours I had received a detailed reply and even a friend request on the dreaded fb! As I’d previously read, the customer service was already proving to be top notch. I was after something wide, as a friend had been riding 40mm wide carbon hoops and was raving about them. Plus, there were more than a few wheel builders using other Chinese made carbon hoops with great success. I was ready to pull the trigger, and ordered a set of 35mm wide, 32 hole rims in 27.5/650b size.
Within a couple of weeks the rims arrived, with the pleasant surprise that I didn’t have to pay any extra tax or duty on them, which can be the bane of the internet shopper (I’m not usually one of them!). I ripped the Hope hubs from my wheelset and got to lacing up the Nexties. Now I’m no wheel builder by any stretch, but I found these pretty straightforward and hassle-free to get round and true. A sticker next to the valve hole indicates the spoke direction, and away you go. I laced them 3-cross with Sapim double-butted spokes and brass nipples.
I was hoping to notice a significant improvement to my bike’s performance and I wasn’t disappointed at all. The reduction in weight over my alloy rims was more noticeable in acceleration than on the scales, but the extra width is what is most impressive on the benefits scale. Cornering is made more predictable and stable due to the wider contact area of the tyre, and running a big 2.4 up front gives an almost fat-bike tyre profile! Maybe not, but the wide rim spreads the tyre out and utilises the side knobs a lot more, squaring up the profile a bit and offering gobs of cornering traction.
The tyres I used weren’t exactly fast-rolling, super-light offerings by any means, but the Nextie’s low weight (for the width) allowed the bike to accelerate with the feel of a much more race-oriented wheelset. These rims are meant for the more gravity-based type of event where you have to climb a bit too (yeah, you know what I mean) but make a great all-rounder for aggressive trail riders who want some more burl in their wheels without extra weight. If you don’t want to have to re-mortgage the house to get a light, tough carbon wheelset, then the Nexties are a logical choice and one you won’t regret (especially when the credit card bill comes).