WTB offers the LaserDisc DH wheelset as a low-cost, lightweight alternative for gravity riders who ride hard. I posted a preview of this wheelset last winter and now I’m finally ready to give my full review after months of thrashing. I conducted my rides on some of the most demanding trails in Whistler and Vancouver, so these wheels took quite a pounding. To see how they fared, read on…
The WTB LaserDisc DH wheels bolted onto my Banshee Legend MK II effortlessly and lowered my bike’s weight by over a pound. A quick parking lot test revealed a bike that had a livelier feel with faster acceleration. Dropping weight in the wheels means a lower rotational mass which is much more noticeable than weight reduction elsewhere on a bike. Needless to say, losing a full pound in wheel weight makes a big difference in the ride. Unless you’re already running a race-light wheelset, you will notice a difference too. These wheels may be light but I wanted to see how they would hold up against the world’s most demanding trails.
For the first month of testing I was surprised by how well these wheels held up. I pounded them on the rocky, pothole filled trails of Whistler and the Shore and they stayed straight and flat-spot free. I was surprised because normally I destroy wheels pretty quickly. Could these be the perfect DH wheels?
Well the LaserDisc’s are good but certainly not perfect. After a month of thrashing the rear wheel un-tensioned itself and I put a good sized flat spot in it. From this point on, the wheel de-tensioned, went out of true and flat spotted every 2 or 3 rides (after re-tensioning of course). The result is that I now have a rear wheel with 3 flat spots, some side to side wobble and loose spokes. The front wheel fared much better with just 1 minor flat spot. On a positive note, the hubs still run as fast and smooth as they did when they were new.
It may sound like these wheels didn’t hold up very well, but readers should know that I put much more strain on my equipment than the average rider. I have a plow-through-everything-quickly mentality, am 6’3” 200lbs with riding gear, and I ride the roughest, rootiest, rockiest trails in Canada. These wheels held up well for a month, so they will likely hold up for a full season under a lighter, finesse rider who frequents smoother trails. As someone who is tough on bike equipment, I’m used to breaking stuff; replacing the rims (edit: and spokes) should make these wheels good as new since the spokes and hubs have held up well.
If you’re a privateer racer or performance-minded downhiller looking for a lightweight, inexpensive wheelset, consider the WTB LaserDisc DH. These wheels do well on smooth, pedal-friendly tracks, though they’re not quite up to steep, burley tracks because they’re so lightweight. They are not bombproof, but will add horsepower to your bike when pedaling. I can’t think of a lighter DH wheelset at this price point, making the WTB LaserDisc DH wheels a great buy for the right rider.
Thanks to WTB for the test product.