Shimano XT 29″er Wheels: Out Of The Box- by Guitar Ted

Recently we announced a few items from Shimano that we have received for test and review, (seen here), and as mentioned in that post, we have sent on a few of the items to Grannygear. He’ll chime in soon with his take on the products he received. Right now it is my turn to talk about these hoops for 29″ers from Shimano.

shimano xt 29er wheels

Shimano XT 29"er wheels

Shimano has had a single wheel set for 29″ers since the late 00′s and added a budget minded choice a couple of years ago, but you do not hear too much about them. We’re taking a look at the Deore XT level wheels here which have a UST, smooth inner rim well with no spoke hole drillings.

Tech Intro: Shimano gets by without piercing the inner rim well by using a small pad of aluminum reinforcement and a “T-Nut” type arrangement on the outside of the rim. This is then drilled and threaded to accept a “nut” which is in turn threaded onto the end of a double butted spoke. That spoke is a straight pull style and has a threaded end that interfaces with the hub flange. The rim extrusion can therefore be thinned out, and thus save weight. Even though the rim extrusion is thinner, Shimano claims the design has yielded a stiffer rim overall. In fact, this is an entirely new rim extrusion, and is not the same as the previous version of this 29″er wheel set.

The benefits are obviously the UST rim well, which needs no rim tape to be used with a tube or to be set up tubeless. The spokes also eliminate the “J” bend which is a noted high stress area and a point at which spokes often fail. Using the threaded ends on the spokes allows for replacement if necessary, but obviously the special nuts which attach at each end of these spokes needs to be purchased from Shimano.

Hubs: Shimano has traditionally always used angular contact bearings with a labyrinth seal system and these XT wheels are no different in this regard. This means that the bearings are adjustable and serviceable. Shimano specs the rear freehub with a stronger, double pawl engagement mechanism to better cope with the higher torque loads Shimano feels 29″er off road riders dish out. Note: I counted 36 clicks in one full rotation of the freehub. Of course, the freehub is 10 speed compatible. A traditional 9mm quick release is used for the rear hub, which may seem somewhat off the back in these days of 142mm X 12mm through axles, but Deore XT skewers are probably some of the best wheel clampers around. :)

The hub shell is also a completely new design from the previous 29″er wheels. This new design, with “pulsar” styled flanges, cants the edges of the flanges toward the rim to get the spokes aligned a bit better, but more importantly, the new design shortens the spoke length by 4mm overall from the previous edition of these wheels. This, Shimano claims, also will stiffen up the feel of these wheels substantially over the previous version.

Shimano's "T-Nut" spoke interface/reinforcement: Image courtesy of Shimano

These new wheels also feature the “e-thru” QR15 through axle for the front hub, a first in the 29″er version, and Shimano says a standard 9mm quick release version will be offered later on in 2013. The front wheel is not convertible. The wheels feature the Center Lock rotor mounting standard, and of course, we have a set of Center Lock rotors to affix to these. Both wheels feature what Shimano dubs as “2-cross laced Tangent straight laced spokes”, which seems a bit confusing. Just think 2 cross, but the 24 spokes on each wheel do not actually touch at the crossings. Close on the second cross, but there is a tiny bit of space between each spoke none the less.

Weight: Front wheel- 850gm Rear wheel- 990gm Rotors- 130gm each (Note: The wheels were weighed with tubeless valve stems installed.) MSRP: $799.99 for the set. Model Number: M-785

Stay tuned for the set up with these and a First Impressions will follow once we can access the trails again post Winter. :)

Note: Shimano sent these wheels for test and review at no charge to twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.