Way back in the dark cold wintery month of March I posted an “On Test” article about the hardware in the WTB LaserDisc Trail 29er wheelset. Several hundred miles of dirt have passed beneath the wheels since then, and I’m ready to post the final review.
These wheels are overbuilt, strong, and stiff. I purposely rode these wheels hard through rougher lines than I would normaly choose just to see if I could knock them out of true. No luck. They’ve caught plenty of air at FATS, and plowed through miles of rock gardens on the Pinhoti trail. They’re still perfectly true. No problems with the hubs either, they’re still smooth and spin a long time. The freehub in the rear wheel is quiet, making only a faint clicking noise when coasting along.
The LaserDisc wheels feel great in the corners thanks to the stiff build and high spoke tension that keeps them from flexing. They have a wider rim than my usual wheelset which spreads out the tire a bit and lets the sidewalls provide more support, which meant I could use less air pressure than normal to get the same ride feel. It also puts more tread in contact with the dirt which helps with grip in the corners. When I was using tubes I did occasionally bang the rim into roots/rocks but, surprisingly, there were no ill effects. I never pinch flatted and the rims have no dents. I only did that few times however, as I converted the wheels to tubeless for the majority of the test period (more on that later).
Weight, tubeless use, and bang for the buck are the only things I can complain about with these wheels. One of the biggest areas of concern people have about 29er wheels is that they’ll be heavier and harder to accelerate. These wheels won’t do much to help debunk that notion – especially when compared to lighter, more XC-oriented wheels. They’re about half a pound heavier per wheel than my usual wheelset and the difference is very noticeable – these are more difficult to get up to speed. For less than the full asking price of $680 for the set you can find lighter tubeless-ready wheels with similar design goals. Finally, the front axle cannot be converted to different standards (mine is the 15mm thru-axle version).
There’s good and bad news here with regards to running these wheels tubeless. The bad news is the wheels are NOT designed to be used tubeless, and doing so probably voids the warranty. The good news is they work well converted to tubeless using the Gorilla tape ghetto method I explained in this how-to article. I used Specialized 2Bliss Ready tires and they worked perfectly – I was even able to inflate them using just a floor pump.
The LaserDisc Trail wheels are strong, stiff, and reliable. However, they aren’t very light, they’re not officially tubeless-ready, and a little expensive for what you get in my opinion. Lightweight XC racers should look elsewhere as other options might work better for them. But, for heavier or more aggressive all-mountain riders, these could be just the ticket – especially if you can find them on sale.
Thanks to the folks at WTB for providing these wheels for review.