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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just bought a new-to-me bike (2006 Kona Kula) and the wheels that came with it are pretty heavy and, just as bad (which is to say doesn't really matter but I don't like it), they don't match. So I'm looking at new 26" wheels.

I weigh about 200 pounds. I'll be using these wheels mostly for short track racing and trails, no serious downhill or jumps and nothing especially technical. I'm slow and don't ride very aggressively. I'd like to keep the budget around $300.

I was thinking I'd build a set of wheels, probably using either SLX or XT hubs. I've got 6-bolt rotors now, so either new rotors or adapters will go into the budget, but it seems like any non-Shimano hubs that don't blow the budget (i.e. SRAM) are questionable for off-road. For rims, I was considering Stan's Arch EX or maybe DT X 430s. I thought about Stan's Alpine or Olympic (available on closeout at an LBS), but I worry that they are too light for my weight.

The other thing I'm considering (throwing caution to the wind a bit on sturdiness) is Easton EA70 XC, which it looks like I can get for around $275.

Opinions? Suggestions?
 

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I am in search of some replacement rim suggestions also. I recently purchased a Norco Nitro 2014. Bike comes with some Alex MD19 rims, at my 270lb weight and not so good reviews and ratings of this wheel I don't think that they will last very long. Looking to replace after a few months of riding and would like a beefier wider wheel that would accept a more beefier tire other than the 2.1 that comes with the bike. Axle size is a 9mm F/R dropouts..if I'm saying that correct.

I forgot to mention the wheel size is a 29...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I was looking at those American Classic wheels earlier but thought they were out of my price range. That looks like a pretty nice deal.

On the other hand, a lot of people seem to have problems with the rear hub.
 

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I was looking at those American Classic wheels earlier but thought they were out of my price range. That looks like a pretty nice deal.

On the other hand, a lot of people seem to have problems with the rear hub.
The "problem" most people have is how slow the pawls engage compared to some other wheels. Because AC uses a cam plate to engage all 6 pawls simultaneously instead of springs, there is a delay compared to other similar POE hubs. On the upside there is virtually no drag and they are quiet. I've owned two wheelsets with WTB LaserDisc hubs (same design as AC) and have had ZERO durability issues at 225#.

Given the stock wheelset is the low engagement M475 hub, I seriously doubt you'd ever notice much of a difference in engagement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Actually, I was talking about mechanical problems. Three of four reviews on this site mention it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Let me clarify that I am definitely interested in the AC wheelset, and I appreciate the suggestion (and especially the link). I just want to be sure I understand any weaknesses it has. I like that it has 32 spokes, and obviously the weight is great. I also like that it doesn't have the awful graphics that AC tends to put on their road wheels.
 

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Just another suggestion. No personal experience but a friend of mine has these in a 29" and they've been pretty durable wheels, esp for a230lb dude. Azonic Outlaw 26" Wheelset New Pair | eBay
The complete opposite of what the OP is looking for...those are FR/DH wheels that are heavy duty for taking a beating. They're likely heavier than the "heavy" stock wheels he's trying to replace.
 

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Actually, I was talking about mechanical problems. Three of four reviews on this site mention it.
Hmm, well they are supposed to be the same mechanism as their nicer hubs with lower end bearings and less machining. I will tell you my WTB hubs have the less machining but better stainless steel bearings so maybe that makes a difference. Though bearings are easily replaced and cheap if you know the right places to get them (ie NOT from bicycle companies).

These are not nearly as light, though lighter than your current wheels. Great rims, most of the excess weight is in the Shimano XT six bolt hubs.
WTB Frequency I19 TC 26" Tubeless Mountain Bike Wheelset Shimano XT Hub 6 Bolt | eBay
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Those look pretty decent for the price. Truth be told, I'm not entirely sold on how light I need the wheels to be, especially if the weight is in the hubs.

The wheels I'm replacing aren't the stock wheels from the Kula. I get the impression that the previous owner got the frame second hand and started to do a dream build but then ran out of money before he got to the wheels and brakes. Either that or he started parting it out before I bought it. The front wheel is an M475 hub with an unbranded rim. The rear wheel has some kind of edco hub with a Mavic D321 rim.

There's nothing really wrong with these wheels except they aren't what I want on there.
 

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Those look pretty decent for the price. Truth be told, I'm not entirely sold on how light I need the wheels to be, especially if the weight is in the hubs.

The wheels I'm replacing aren't the stock wheels from the Kula. I get the impression that the previous owner got the frame second hand and started to do a dream build but then ran out of money before he got to the wheels and brakes. Either that or he started parting it out before I bought it. The front wheel is an M475 hub with an unbranded rim. The rear wheel has some kind of edco hub with a Mavic D321 rim.

There's nothing really wrong with these wheels except they aren't what I want on there.
Yea, the majority of the pork on that i19 wheelset is the XT hubs. If you want a little wider you can get the i23 rims for about the same price. Heavier but stronger and a you can generally run lower pressure and get better traction with your tires on a wider rim.

WTB Frequency TCS I23 Black Disc Wheelset 32h Shimano XT 6 Bolt 26" Wheels MTB | eBay

or with Sram hubs (little lighter, cartridge bearing hubs)
WTB Frequency I23 Mountain Bike Tubeless Wheelset 32h SRAM x9 6 Bolt Hub 26" | eBay
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I'm not loving the straight spokes on those builds, but it looks like I can build my own with butted spokes and M775 hubs for about the same price if Cambria and Colorado Cyclist really do have the things in stock that they claim they do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
So I ended up ordering a pair of the i19's and an M775 front hub from Cambria (~$100 total) just in time for the thread with the i23's cracking all over to get bumped. The picture on the Cambria site shows the 7000 graphic, and given the discount that's probably what they are. Oh well, I guess I'll build them carefully and hope for the best. I usually don't go overboard on spoke tension anyway.

Now I just need to decide between going cheap and getting the M675 rear hub and splurging on an M785. Looks like the differences are about 50 grams, 4 points of engagement, aluminum axle vs. steel and around $20. Is there any reason I shouldn't get the XT rear hub?
 

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Now I just need to decide between going cheap and getting the M675 rear hub and splurging on an M785. Looks like the differences are about 50 grams, 4 points of engagement, aluminum axle vs. steel and around $20. Is there any reason I shouldn't get the XT rear hub?
Not sure about the M785, but it's predecessor the M775 rear hub is notorious for axle and freehub failures. Meanwhile the M665 rear hub has been rock solid in durability so I would assume this would continue with the M675 as they are pretty much the same hub. I doubt you'd ever notice the 4 points of engagement or the 20 grams, but you will notice if the hub leaves you stranded miles from the trailhead. I'm 225# and would go with the M675 no question as I've owned a M665 and it was durable and trouble free.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yeah, that's kind of the way I was leaning after reading reviews and seeing the difference in bearing sizes. It seemed silly not to get a better hub for $20, but it seems ever sillier to spend an extra $20 if it isn't necessarily a better hub.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I got the rims today. It turns out they are the new WT69 version, so that's cool. They weighed 399 and 403 grams, which is a fair bit over what the WTB website claims but still pretty reasonable for my purposes.

With an M775 XT front hub, M675 SLX rear hub and DT Competition spokes the wheels came it at 1791 grams (without skewers or rim tape) and right around $210. I'm pretty happy with that.

Thanks again for your help, Bike Whisperer.
 

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I got the rims today. It turns out they are the new WT69 version, so that's cool. They weighed 399 and 403 grams, which is a fair bit over what the WTB website claims but still pretty reasonable for my purposes.

With an M775 XT front hub, M675 SLX rear hub and DT Competition spokes the wheels came it at 1791 grams (without skewers or rim tape) and right around $210. I'm pretty happy with that.

Thanks again for your help, Bike Whisperer.
Under 1800g with Shimano hubs...that's not too shabby. Please post pics.
 
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