If you want to add some bling to your mountain bike, where do you turn? Chances are good that Spank Industries will be on your short list of bling-centric brands thanks to the bright anodizing they offer on a variety of components.
While I’ve been on the lookout for a new set of hoops for my personal bike for some time, Spank’s Oozy Trail 345 wheels made me go from casual interest to instant desire immediately. Not only do they promise high quality, modern design, and interesting technology, but they are available in a shiny anodized blue–the perfect match for the blue-and-white frame on my GT Force.
Bling is great, but the quality needs to be more than skin deep. Here’s how these wheels fared over the course of my test.
The Spank Oozy Trail 345 wheelset offers wide rims–perfect for modern trail and enduro riding. The rims measure 30mm wide internally, and 34.5mm wide externally–hence the name 345. The Oozy Trail 345 wheels are available in either 27.5” or 29” versions. I tested the 27.5” model on my GT Force enduro bike.
The wheels feature 32 straight pull, triple butted spokes laced 3-cross with alloy nipples. The wheels are hand-built and trued to provide the utmost in reliability.
I tested a set of wheels with 15x100mm front and 12x142mm rear Spank Oozy Trail Hubs. This set of hubs is also convertible to a wide range of spacing and axle options, thanks to available adaptors. The hubs feature “30T engagement and [a] tried and true 3 pawl system [to] deliver a good blend of quick pick up and trustworthy durability,” according to Spank. This equates to hub engagement every 12°. Discs mount to a standard 6 bolt setup, and the wheels come with a Shimano freehub installed (although an XD driver is available). If you have a modern Boost-spaced frame, this same wheelset is also available in that width.
The rims themselves feature Spank’s latest technology. To keep tubeless tires securely in place and to reduce burping, BeadBite offers “6 rows of tiny ridges that run along the vertical and horizontal faces of the bead seats.” Basically, the ridges help keep the tire on the rim, even at low air pressures. The bead also includes what Spank calls a “BeadNip” design, which is basically a second, smaller bead hook below the main tire bead to provide even more tire security. So, the wheels essentially have two bead hooks, which Spank claims helps eliminate pinch flats, retain air pressure, and more. Ironically, this seems like the opposite approach to the hookless design that many other brands have recently embraced.
Finally, there is a wave shape to the bottom of the inside of the rim, which Spank claims increases strength and rigidity while reducing weight.
The full 27.5” wheelset weighs about 2000g, with the 29” wheelset weighing about 2070g. The rim alone weighs about 520g for 27.5” and roughly 540g for 29”.
Out on the Trail
Thanks to pre-taped rims and preinstalled Presta valves, tubeless installation was quick and painless. While a few tires I tried did fit a bit tight on the rim, I was always able to get the tires to seat quickly and easily with my Topeak JoeBlow Booster floor pump, meaning I was out the door and riding in no time!
The 30mm internal rim width meshed well with my 2.5″ WT Maxxis Minion DHF tire up front, providing a nice, round profile with plenty of volume. The trail feel was immediately natural and predictable, with an excellent blend of traction, lug bite, and tire volume.
Throughout the majority of my test, the Oozy Trail 345 wheels performed flawlessly. They confidently tracked straight through formidable rock gardens at high speeds, with minimal deflection. The wheels stayed well-tensioned and true the entire test, and were so sturdy that I noticed the bearings on my bike need an overhaul–the wheels are no longer the limiting factor in lateral stiffness.
While blasting through one high-speed rock garden, I did manage to pinch flat my rear tire–the Michelin Wild AM–on a sharp, square-edged hit, despite running 27-28psi pressure. If you read my review of the Wild AM, you’ll find that I wasn’t a big fan of this tire. Also, at 2.35” wide, it barely worked on this rim, squaring out a touch more than preferred. Essentially, I put most of the blame on the pinch flat on the tire and not the rim.
Regardless of where the blame is assigned, the impact did severely dent the rim. I was a little worried that I’d destroyed the rim on my brand new wheelset, as I was truly enjoying the ride quality of the Oozy wheels and didn’t want to switch back to my old wheels. After tubing the tire and limping home, I took a set of pliers to the rim and was able to carefully bend it back part way. I successfully seated up a tubeless tire, and have been running the wheel that way ever since.
I spoke with Spank at Interbike, and they said they’ve designed the rim walls to intentionally bend instead of cracking to avoid catastrophic failure. That’s exactly how the experience unfolded after my pinch flat. I’ve been riding a slightly-dented rim for months now with no issues. The dent didn’t introduce a wobble into the rim, and there’s been no loosening of the spokes or issues with the wheel going out of true. The sidewall dented, I bent it back, put a new tire on, and it’s been golden since then.
While denting a rim is never fun, the Oozy took a serious hit–just about any rim would have dented. What’s more telling about the Oozy’s long-term durability isn’t that the rim dented, but that the wheel is still rolling along flawlessly months later, in spite of this issue. I’m content to give the Oozy a thumbs up in the durability department.
Right before I began testing the Oozy wheels I’d spent a few months riding on Industry Nine hubs. Going from 3° of engagement to 12° was an unpleasant shock to the system. However, at $649 MSRP for this entire wheelset, we’re talking about an entire wheelset–hubs, rims, spokes, the whole nine–that retails for just $74 more than what Industry Nine’s hubs cost on their own. Ultimately, this is a budget-friendly wheel upgrade that will likely provide some serious improvement over a stock wheelset. Finally, Spank does sell the Oozy Trail 345 rims on their own ($90/rim), making it possible to mix and match a custom build.
The bright blue Oozy Trail 345 wheels successfully spiced up the look of my personal bike, but they also ratcheted up the performance considerably. Finally switching my own rig to a modern-width enduro wheelset evoked a sigh of relief,
Surprisingly, I’ve experienced durability issues with many modern “enduro” wheelsets on other test bikes, so despite pinch flatting and denting the rim on the Oozy, I’m quite pleased with these wheels overall. Despite taking a major hit, the rear wheel is still rolling straight and promises great performance for years to come.
Finally, for just under $650, this is one high-quality wheel upgrade that won’t force you to mortgage your home.
Thanks to Spank for providing the Oozy Trail 345 wheels for review.