Vuelta All-Mountain MTB and Team V MTB wheelset

Pro Reviews Wheels

Introduction

I’ve ridden both these wheelsets in their intended use in terrain mainly in the South-West British Columbia area (North Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler) and also in Vancouver Island. While I haven’t gone out of my way to beat on these wheels (so will skip the hackneyed promises that I thoroughly thrashed them) I have ridden them enough times that I have a general idea of their performance in the medium term.

Additionally the weather here has been good so I haven’t really pushed these wheels around in wet sloppy conditions or stuffed them into big wet holes and crashed – all that sort of methodology. Some issues only show up in cold, wet conditions so I can’t speak to matters such as freehub durability for example. I will promise that if I have long – term issues with the wheels then I will report back in comments.

Finally, and most importantly I will recite the standard blurb re my background. I am 160 lbs and 5′ 11″ and have had over 15 years experience riding bikes in North Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, the Chilcotins and many other areas in B.C. and Alberta. I’ve also made many bike trips to Utah, Washington, Oregon, California and Ontario (for example) so I’ve had some experience biking in a variety of terrain. My bias is towards pedalling up and unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, I actually enjoy riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.

Note a couple of things: (i) I’m light so don’t stress out wheels very much; and (ii) I’m experienced so don’t lawndart/endo very much anymore. If you’re heavy and tend to crash a lot please keep that in mind when considering my comments.

 

 


Vuelta’s Team V MTB wheelset. Tested on a Rocky Mountain Element (IRC Mythos front 2.1, Maxxis Larsen TT rear 2.0)


 

KEY FEATURES (more about the wheelsets at Vuelta’s homepage here)

The Vuelta wheelset is sufficiently terse that I can reproduce the features here:

Vuelta Team V MTB wheelset

  • Handbuilt 26” Alloy MTB Straight Pull XC Wheelset
  • Rims: Welded 23mm-wide 6066 aluminum alloy, anodized eyelets, disc only,
  • Spokes: Double-butted 2.0-1.6-2.0 stainless steel w/T73 alloy nipples, 3X front/rear
  • Hubs: Lightweight Straight Pull, 6-bolt disc-compatible design w/Japanese-made EZO cartridge bearings (2Fx4R), 28H front/28H rear
  • Extras: Lightweight QR skewers with machined aluminum levers & hardened cro-mo shafts, urethane-coated nylon rim strips
  • Compatibility: Shimano 8/9 speed
  • Colors: Black w/Red Hubs and Spoke Nipples

Weight: Front 700g/Rear 900g = Pair 1600g

 

Vuelta Team V MTB wheelset closeup

 

 

 

 

Vuelta All Mountain MTB wheelset

  • Handbuilt 26” Alloy All Mountain Wheelset
  • Rims: Welded 32mm-wide 6066 aluminum alloy, anodized eyelets, disc only, 19mm medium-V MTB
  • Spokes: 2.0 stainless steel spokes w/brass nipples, 3X front/rear Hubs: Lightweight 6-bolt IS disc-compatible design w/Japanese-made EZO cartridge bearings (2Fx4R), 32H front/36H rear; 16 engagement points
  • Special Features: Front Hub — quick-change 15mm/20mm through-axle/QR, Rear Hub — quick-change 12mm bolt/QR, all parts included
  • Extras: Lightweight QR skewers with machined aluminum levers & hardened cro-mo shafts, urethane-coated nylon rim strips
  • Compatibility: Shimano 8/9 speed
  • Color: White

 

Weight: Front 837g/Rear 1065g = Pair 1902g

 

Vuelta All Mountain MTB wheelset closeup


 

 

 

LOOKS

I lied when I said that all I look for in a wheelset is (i) weight; (ii) stiffness; (iii) build/materials quality; and (iv) engagement. Let’s be honest, you buy after-market wheelsets because they’re eye-candy. You might think that the Vuelta wheelsets fall short in this regard because they come in black or white. Take a look at the pictures above. Although Vuelta is now designed in the US and based in the US they have European roots; perhaps that is why it is such a stylish set of wheels. Even someone with one eye can tell that these wheelsets are gorgeous – sharp, fast-looking graphics. Almost in-your-face fast. I suppose that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but in my opinion these wheelsets are lookers.

Now we are done with the real reason people buy wheels on with the rest of the review ….

 

 

 

WEIGHT

At 1600g, the Team V MTB xc wheelset is about average in the weight category for this class of wheelset. Looking at the build that’s not surprising. There’s nothing too exotic going on here (eg ti spokes, brass nipples etc). It’s just a solid workmanlike build.

At 1900g, the same can be said for the All-Mountain wheelset. There are much lighter wheels in this category but by the same token, there are many heavier all-mountain wheelsets.

Source for comparables for weight-weenie wheels is here. Source for comparables for portlier wheelsets is a google search for All-Mountain wheelset weight and here (higher end-wheels < $ 1,000 pricepoint).

 

 

STIFFNESS

This is where both Vuelta wheelsets shine. I like a lot of spoke tension in my wheels. I like precise wheels. Yes it can mean that you break spokes easily if you hit the wheels hard but I’ll take that if it means a wheel that feels solid and true.

I put a spoke wrench to these wheels as soon as I got them. Sometimes I find that out of the box wheels feel a bit loose and I like to tension the spokes a bit more. There was no such issue with either Vuelta wheelset. Putting them on dirt bore out their impression. Leaning the wheels into corners I could feel that they were predictable and stiff. I wasn’t so surprised that this was the case with the All-Mountain wheels; since a 3 cross 32 front and 36 spoke rear wheel with a 32mm cross section should feel plenty stiff. I was much more so pleasantly surprised with the lighter weight Team V wheelset (also 3 cross, but 28 front and rear spokes).

 


 

Team V MTB xc wheelset – Angry Midget, Squamish


 

BUILD/MATERIALS QUALITY

As soon as I got the wheels I took them both for a spin. There was none of that pinging sound that sometimes happens when you get a machine – built wheel that hasn’t been relieved. The Hand-buillt/ Hand-tested mantra recited by Vuelta is indeed borne out by the quality of the build. I’ve already mentioned that the wheels are stiff (which suits my personal preference). Additionally the wheels are well-built. Tension is even. I endoed on the Team V wheelset landing on my head and shoulder and twisting the bars. The wheels were perfectly true following this inadvertent stress-test. I’ve cased a few gaps and landed a few drops to flat on the All-Mountain wheelset and they’re spinning just fine and dandy. Not even a flat spot.

On a bit of a tangent, but also speaking to materials quality and the degree of thought that goes into these wheels, changing the All-Mountain wheelset from 15 to 20mm axles is easy. The end caps are press-fit so they won’t fall off. Simply set the end caps onto the hub; the tolerances are very good so everything sits together nice and tight. The same ease of swapping applies to the rear hub and the option to go with either a 9 or 12mm axle (spacing is 135mm).

I will note that the hub end caps on the Team V wheelset are not swappable from 9mm to 15mm at the present. That’s a shame since many in the XC/light AM wheelset world are giving consumers the option to go either way.

I will further note that the Team V wheelset uses straight pull double-butted spokes while the All-Mountain wheelsets uses more normal J-bend spokes. Plan your spare parts accordingly.

 

 

HUB ENGAGEMENT

There’s not much to say about the hub engagement of the Vuelta wheelsets. They are both decidedly ordinary 3 pawl systems with 24 points of engagement. The freehub is proprietary for both wheels. The All Mountain freehub body is nickel-plated steel while the Team V’s freehub body is alloy. and weighs 146 grams. Both freehubs run on a steel bushing, though the All Mountain freehub bushing is much larger than the Team V’s to accomodate the wheel’s quick change axle design.

Let’s talk a bit about engagement. It’s important because faster engagement means that your crank arms have to move less to “engage” the drive mechanism and move the rear wheel. This can be important in many situations; eg trials or trials-type moves (think ratcheting on obstacles); or attacking climbs. There are different schools of thoughts on the appropriate amount of engagement and the number of pawls in a freehub body. Basically, a pawl is the number of internal teeth that engage the freehub body of a rear wheel. The trick is to find a happy medium; too many pawls and you have drag. Too few pawls and you have slow engagement

Everyone has their own opinion on this and here’s mine. 24 engagement points is minimal. To be more blunt its quite poor. Industry leaders in hubs which have lots of engagement and not a lot of drag include Chris King (ring drive, 72 points) and Industry Nine (6 pawls 120 point).but these are astronomically priced hubs and have little relevance to this comparison. To be even more blunt, at its lower end price point, the Vuelta All Mountain wheelset is acceptable. At its higher-end price point, the Vuelta Team V MTB wheelset is less than acceptable; there should be more engagement points and a better freehub body with that wheelset.


AM Wheelset – High Society – Whistler valley trails

 


 

OVERALL COMMENTS

Good

  • Reasonably priced
  • Spokes are beautifully tensioned
  • That handbuilt sticker on the wheels doesn’t lie and it’s a good build
  • Light XC wheels, reasonably light AM wheels (both wheels what you would expect for this class at this price point)
  • Gorgeous looker with sharp graphics
  • AM wheelset has easy axle change
  • End caps on AM wheelset are press-fit so don’t fall off 

Bad

  • Both hubs have only 24 engagement points
  • No option to change end-caps on XC wheelset so you are “stuck” with conventional wheel options
  • Color options are limited to black for the XC wheels and black/white for the AM wheels

 

Current retail Price Team V Mtb XC Wheels: $ 500

Current retail Price All-Mountain Wheels: $ 350


 

About the author: Lee Lau

Lee Lau calls North Vancouver and Whistler BC home. He's had over 15 years experience riding bikes mainly in western North America and in Europe. Unlike many people who learned to ride bikes on North Shore trails, he actually enjoys riding (and sometimes bushwhacking) uphill.


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  • yeahdog31 says:

    Did you notice if the graphics/decals are easily removable? I like the white wheels but prefer a stealthy look without tons of words spinning around and around…

  • LeeL says:

    yeahdog – you’d have to scrape the graphics to get them off so unfortunately that won’t work

  • wilkez says:

    So far on the the AM wheels after 4 or 5 rides they seem to be solid wheels. Light, stiff, smooth hubs, adequate engagement and they have been able to withstand my hack riding. I’ll see how the longevity of them is by next season!

    Oh yah, and they look pretty good in white.

  • Disco says:

    Bout right for the segment but $50-$100 more than sloppy beads are worth, companies ought to liable claiming strips and goo safely hold air instead of just licensing UST; but if the world of MTB wheels had any justice spindly road QR skewers would have been rightfully banished a decade ago.

  • breezy says:

    any info on the hub? loud, quiet? hold true to some pretty hard riding? thanks

  • LeeL says:

    Breezy – its a quiet but noticeable clicking sound. It’s still holding up fine

  • wilkez says:

    The hub is average as far as noise is concerned. Loud enough that you know it’s still there and working, but not loud enough to annoy you. I rode those wheels all season long fairly hard on everything from epic alpine rides to wet nasty north shore rides and they are still in great shape and are still true. As comparison, I broke 3 wheels last season due to my style of riding so the fact that these withstood my punishment is impressive.

  • whitey says:

    How’s the wheel holding up? any long term review? Thanks

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