29er mountain bikes are more popular than ever these days but there still aren’t a lot of choices when it comes to components, especially wheels. Fortunately Easton offers 29-inch versions of two of its most popular wheel sets – the XC One and XC Tw0 – and I recently got a chance to try out the former on my Redline d660. The Easton XC One wheels are “designed to inspire the most demanding XC rider,” a claim I definitely needed to verify for myself 🙂
If you’ve been following the 29er debate over the past year or two you know one of the big disadvantages of 29er wheels is their weight, specifically when it comes to the rotational energy required to get things rolling. The XC One wheel set weighs in at just 1720 grams for the pair which is 170 grams lighter than the 26″ XC Twos (and only 135 grams heavier than the 26″ XC Ones!). I knocked off nearly a pound (425 grams) replacing the wheels that came with my bike and noticed quicker acceleration and faster climbing right away. I still haven’t found a major MTB wheel company offering a lighter stock wheel set than the Easton XC One 29ers.
By default 29er wheels face another disadvantage in the strength and stiffness department. Because the wheel radius is larger (14.5″ vs. 13″ for standard MTB wheels) spokes are 11.5% longer and are more prone to bending and flexing along their length (believe me, I already destroyed one set of 29er wheels in pretty a minor crash). Wheel manufacturers usually compensate by making the spokes stronger (read: heavier) or adding more spokes (also adding weight) but somehow Easton has avoided both. The 29er XC One wheels use just 24 double butted, cold forged Sapim spokes which are lightweight and high strength. The upshot? Easton XC One 29er wheels are up to 36% stiffer than the competition while remaining 10% lighter.
The Easton XC One 29er wheels use the same high tech hubs found in the original XC One wheels. This means you get the same large diameter axle to reduce wheel flex and the wide diameter rear wheel pawl carrier to improve torque transmission. And just like the original XC Ones, these babies are hand built and as true as George Washington right out of the box.
On the trails these wheels transformed my ride into a brand new bike (no exaggeration). On fast, twisty singletrack the stiff XC Ones helped compensate for the wide 29er turning radius with laser accurate cornering and control. During test rides I noticed responsive acceleration coming out of sharp turns and even dead stops, leaving my legs fresh and begging for more! Climbing on the lightweight 29″ XC Ones was a breeze and made swoopy descents feel a bit undeserved.
The XC One freehubs produce just enough buzzing to let you know they’re working smoothly but not enough to annoy the crap out of everyone around you. While these wheels are meant for epic XC riding and not FR or DH, mine have remained true even after some serious bumps and bruises at high speed. Small jumps (less than a couple feet or so) felt great on these wheels and produced no noticeable flex.
Thanks to Easton, 29er riders don’t have to settle for heavy, poorly designed wheels any longer. The XC One 29er wheels allow you to reap all the benefits of bigger wheels without many of the hassles you’ve come to expect. Looking for a set of lightweight, dependable, and stiff 29er wheels for racing and epic rides? Look no further than the Easton XC Ones.