Tubular Verdict – part 1: AX – LIGHTNESS / TUNE Tubular Wheels: by c_g

It has been a long time since I last posted my ride impressions on these “uber-wheels” (here) At 1116 g for the complete set they are sure to be among the lightest 29er wheels in existence. What is even more amazing is that they do this with a more or less standard built of 32 spokes and 3x cross lacing – though admittedly with the lightest ingredients possible :). If you want to recap the intro and tech info on the AX-LIGHTNESS/TUNE tubular 29er wheels, have a look (here).


USE: These wheels have been ridden on and off throughout the entire year. All in all they have been subject to loads of technical rides and long XC style outings with occasional jumps and minor drops. They have seen lots of foul weather as well. Though ridden a lot and hard, I admit I have never put them into real race action, which is what they really are made for – simply because the opportunity didn’t materialize. I don´t think many people will be using such a set for general and trail riding like I did, but the simple fact that they held up fine throughout, it is a good indication of their capabilities.

For mounting them on the ROCKY MOUNTAIN Element they have been converted from quick release to 15 mm front and 142/12 rear – a thing that does require some technical skills. The entire hub is built on a very tight fit and so taking out both axles, pressing the new ones in and adjusting the bearing play via 0.1 mm spacers is something that requires some caution and skill. Most riders will probably do better to get them in hands of some experienced mechanic for conversion. 13_AX

In my ride impressions I have stated the three prime qualities of the TUNE/AX-Lightness wheels:


I don´t think I need to emphasize the lightness any further. Often, when getting off other test wheels (and check my record, none of them have been heavy :)), I was amazed what difference the low weight and rotational mass made. All of a sudden I was feeling like a “hero on climbs”, making my riding buddies wonder “what great shape he was in this day”. I acknowledge that when running light components the amazement wears out as one gets used to the lower weight, mentally and physically taking it for granted. but here the difference was so prominent that the effect wore off much, much slower … they are so much faster.

Be sure that when you have them as race day wheels only that you got yourself a real world advantage and a very special psychological boost all at once.

Luckily this record weight is also coupled with a very high lateral stiffness – easily as stiff as any other XC wheels I have ridden this year, actually stiffer than ANY 29″er set of wheels I have ridden this year.

In the light of our carbon rim series – here is an example of a rim (made of carbon) that is lighter than almost anything out there, yet leads to a laterally stiff wheel you have to try to believe. I am convinced much of this lack of flex comes from the carbon rims themselves, but the traditional 32 spokes with 3x lacing, plus the high spoke tension do have a big part in creating such an excellent performer as well.

Furthermore all engineers I talked to agree that from their perspective using Carbon on a tubular rim construction is the optimal way to benefit from the material´s properties – and I have no reason to disagree!!

TUNE/AX-Lightness wheel VERDICT: When it comes to putting my verdict together, I see that my former words remain true 100% – these wheels are nothing short of amazing and I can confidently say that in direct comparison most other wheel sets will feel slow.

With all the time and miles on them I can say they have taken my riding willingly without any fussing, which at that extremely low weight is really good. These wheels (together with tubular tires) have an ability to make riding and particularly climbing seem (almost :)) effortless. The AX-Lightness/Tune wheels are highlight for sure and a revelation to most riders who have never ridden anything alike but the price tag of nearly 3 grand for a set of wheels will probably appeal to only a select few.


The TUNE Prince (front) and Princess (rear) hubs are extremely light and still durable– the conversion option, though quite elaborate and not as consumer friendly as the exchangeable end caps in many other wheels, is further icing on the cake. My set of test wheels with Tune´s limited 20th anniversary edition (with the beautiful laser etched graphics, that are near impossible to photograph) with the serial number 0029 has been yet another touch that is almost too much to take without getting spoiled :).