2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Hot wheels for your favorite mountain biker

No. 1 upgrade? A shiny new wheelset — the lighter and stiffer the better

Holiday Gift Guide Wheels

2015 Holiday Gift Guide

No. 1 component upgrade? A set of shiny new wheels. Lighter, faster and stronger are all potential gains when you swap out your old hoops. And what better time to do so than around the holidays. So whether you’re buying for a significant other — or just sprucing up your own rig, here are eight great mountain bike wheels — plus two amazing tires to wrap around them.

Mavic Wheel

Mavic Crossmax XL Pro LTD Wheel-Tire System

Famed French wheel maker Mavic takes a holistic approach to development, paying careful consideration to how wheel and tire work together as one. The Crossmax XL Pro LTD Wheel-Tire System is a shining example of this process. The 23mm internal width rims are designed to be more impact resistant, while ISM (Inter Spoke Milling) machining reduces weight and inertia. The end result is a wheelset that’s playful, easy to handle, and helps you save energy whether speeding up or slowing down. Meanwhile, the Mavic tires serve the specific needs of the front and rear wheels. Up front the Crossmax Charge XL has an aggressive tread profile with large and high knobs, excellent mud clearing, and a soft compound for better grip. The rear-specific Crossmax Quest XL has a shallower profile, with smaller knobs, and the new X-mix dual compound for fast rolling performance, better traction, and confident cornering. Both tires use a dual ply casing for solid durability at a competitive weight. Claimed wheelset weight is 1710 grams sans tires. Price: $1000 | More info at www.mavic.us

Nox Composites Kitsuma 27.5 Carbon Fiber Wheels

Nox Composites Kitsuma 27.5 Carbon Fiber Wheels

For those days when durability and confidence in your gear is essential, the Nox Composites new Kitsuma 27.5 carbon fiber wheel is a great choice. All Nox Composites hoops feature UniWeave construction for improved stiffness and durability, an Anti-Burp bump for easier tubeless set-up, and confidence boosting RockGuard rim protection that’s more resistant to surface damage. The Kitsuma 27.5’s asymmetric offset design improves spoke tension, and there’s even a downhill version of this rim that has the same profile but adds about 50 grams of material for increased stiffness and structural integrity. And perhaps most important of all, rim width is 42mm external, 36mm internal, allowing you to take full advantage of the new breed of 2.3” to 3.0” tires flooding the market. Get ready to experience grip and lateral holding forces like you didn’t think were possible on a mountain bike. Price: From $1398 | More info at www.noxcomposites.com

SRAM Roam 60 Wheels

SRAM Roam 60 Wheels

At 21mm internal depth, these wheels fall at the narrower end of this round-up. But with a claimed wheelset of 1,570 grams for 27.5, and a price below $1000, they present great value whether your gift getter is an XC racer or all-mountain trail masher. These UST compatible hoops come spun with Sapim CX Sprint bladed straight pull spokes, and a DT Swiss Star Ratchet freehub. They’re also easily convertible between the various axle types. Indeed, SRAM calls them a one-wheelset quiver thanks to its process of layering extra material onto stress points, which makes the Roam 60 rim light enough for long climbs, but burly enough to tackle enduro racing. Price: $970-$1230 | More info at www.sram.com

DT Swiss XMC 1200 SPLINE Wheels

DT Swiss XMC 1200 SPLINE Wheels

Roll out for big adventure rides on the new DT Swiss XMC (cross mountain carbon) 1200 Spline wheelset that has a claimed wheelset weight of 1410 grams and is available in 27.5 and 29. Internal rim width is 24mm for improved tire support, while the hookless design of the rim eases tubeless set-up. The new Spline hub is the lightest DT Swiss has built. Price: $2600 | More info at www.dtswiss.com

Maxxis Minion DHF 3C MaxxGrip/TR/DoubleDown 27.5x2.50WT

Maxxis Minion DHF Tire

You need tires for your wheels, and you’d be hard pressed to do better than the standard in trail-ready rubber, the Maxxis Minion DHF. These tires are designed for the loose (and sometimes muddy) conditions of aggressive all-mountain terrain. The DHF incorporates ramped knobs for low rolling resistance and channel-cut knobs to increase gripping edges, giving straight-line control and precise cornering. Now available with DD technology 120 tpi folding downhill casing. Price: $85 | More info at www.maxxis.com

Continue to page 2 for more hot wheels for your favorite mountain biker »

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.

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