We've found the 15mm thru-axle standard to be light enough to satisfy the old XC racer in us, yet it offers up loads of front end stiffness in comparison to a wimpy old quick release. And when the trail gets really lumpy, it's still plenty stiff and plenty strong to handle anything we've got the cajones to ride. The steering precision of the 15mm axle is paramount, and what you'll notice is more confidence when you're really pushing hard. Shimano has paired their top-shelf XTR hubs with a scandium alloy rim to create this XTR Trail WH-M988 15mm Thru Wheelset. They're durable enough for tough rides on tough trails, yet light enough that you won't cuss them on long climbs.Shimano's dedication to UST rim certification is an important thing to consider when looking at these wheels. The testing and certification process is expensive and arduous, but when you're ready to install a tire, you'll appreciate their efforts. A true UST system allows the installation of tires by hand, and they'll seat and inflate using nothing more than a good floor pump. No joke. So ask yourself if you want to ride something into the backwoods that requires luck, black magic, and the dexterity of a surgeon to seat and inflate. Inside the scandium UST rims, black stainless steel 14/15/14 butted spokes center the XTR hubs. Both front and rear hubs are specific to this wheelset due to their compatibility with the straight pull spokes, otherwise they use the same internals as the XTR hubs sold individually. They're comprised of a 7075 T6 aluminum hubshell and axle, rolling on Shimano's cup and cone angular contact bearings. The loose ball bearings and cup/cone race system allows you or your mechanic to set the bearing preload to absolute perfection. By carefully adjusting the locknut assembly, it's possible to remove all radial and axial play in the bearing system without creating drag. In fact, if you've never felt the smoothness of XTR Hubs, you should grab a wheel and let it spin in your fingers for a while. You might wonder why you don't have them on your bike. The XTR Trail WH-M988 15mm Thru Wheelset is compatible with centerlock rotors. Though it carries the UST designation, you're not limited to tubeless tires only. Tube-type tires will also work just fine, and you won't have to bother with rims strips either, as the outside wall of the rim is pierced only for the valve stem hole. Both the front and rear hubs are protected from the elements with rubber contact seals and dust caps. The titanium freehub body is compatible with 9- and 10-speed cassettes. The included XTR rear quick release skewer is steel for durability and strength. The front wheel accepts a 15mm thru-axle (included with fork). The rim width of 26.4mm makes them compatible with tires ranging from 1.95 to 2.5". Both front and rear wheels have 24 stainless spokes in a two-cross pattern and are affixed to the rim with aluminum nipples.Note: The CenterLock lockring that comes with these wheels is over
Strengths: Strength to weight, UST rim, sealed rim does not need tape, look good, stay true when abused, ball bearings are easy to clean and adjust (if you have wrenches). Silent freehub. SO EASY TO GO TUBELESS!
Weaknesses: Not convertible axle sizes, proprietary spokes/hubs/nipples/rims can be a hassle IF you break a part. 24 spokes seems like it would not be good if one broke.
I love these wheels. I had similar XT set that were bullet proof, and these are the same after 60 hours of pretty hard riding at Downieville, Rockville, Skyline Napa, Tahoe granite, in addition to general smooth trails to get to these rocky fast descents. They are a great value on sale $400 - $550 if you shop hard. Like the XT set, I have never trued these, and they are still perfect. It is Crazy. Tubeless is very easy, most tubeless ready tires mount easily with floor pump. Stan's valves work with these rims if you need new ones. 24 strong spokes work well. I am so happy I have these! Custom wheels are a little cooler, and easier to repair, but the value of these on sale is hard to beat. XTR or XT I would highly recommend.
Favorite Trail: Seems the last one I rode is new favorite
Duration Product Used: 60 hours of pretty hard trails
Purchased At: eBay
Similar Products Used: XT (awesome), WTB Laserdisc (awesome and good value), Chris King/WTB i23 (superior, for my 29er), Azonic Outlaw (awesome convertible, heavy great set), Easton XC One (broken freehub in one week, but good customer service-refunded $)
Bike Setup: Turner 5 Spot, 2014 Pike, XT build with these XTR wheels
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: August 16, 2012
Look great (In my opinion)
Weaknesses: Rear hub.
Great looking wheels. Great UST setup. Stiff. Exceptionally poor hub reliability in any sort of inclement weather.
Constant servicing required to get them working well. Servicing is very fiddly.
Strengths: Very light Rim; 21mm inner-width allows large-volume Tires and excellent grip. 1670g total-weight . XTR Hubs are smooth, strong and long-lasting--and easy to adjust. Straight-pull spokes and high-tension make for a super-strong build. 3-year Warranty. A beautiful set of Wheels.
Beautiful design, Light, Strong, with the latest Technology--Shimano has improved its Wheels dramatically. Although retail was $1500, big discounts can be found online.
Similar Products Used: Most everything except Crank Bros. and the super-premiums like Industrial-9s and C.King.
Bike Setup: Fuji Outland RC; Nixon Platinum fork, RockShox Monarch; XTR Cranks; Sram X.0 rear-derailer; Formula K24 brakes
a All Mountain Rider
Date Reviewed: May 4, 2012
Strengths: Weight, UST, Hubs, Center Lock Disc
Weaknesses: None so far
Love these wheels, I especially like the fact that they are UST or I can run with a tube. Also, no need for rim tape...just install the tube and tire then off you go. Relatively light weight for this type of wheelset. Was able to score this the set new for only $499 free shipping and no tax in CA. Was looking at Stans Arch but for the price I couldn't pass these up. One last thing, XTR hubs, WOW. The hubs are worth the price alone.