Editor’s Note: This article is part of the Mtbr Ultimate Guide to winter mountain biking, fat bikes, gear, apparel and trainers. We are taking a deep dive into all manner of cold weather mountain bike gear, with round-ups and reviews of fat bikes, tires, wheels, apparel, trainers and more. To see all the articles, head over to our Winter Guide Hub Page.
For any wheeled vehicle, lowering rotational weight is one of the best ways to spend upgrade dollars. Just like on road and traditional mountain bikes, fat bikes benefit from lighter wheels. The big difference is just how much heft can be dropped. Installing a lighter set of wheels and going tubeless can drop pounds where mountain bikers typically measure gains in grams. Here are some (but certainly not all) of the best fat tire wheels on the market.
Bontrager’s Jackalope wheels are original running gear on Trek’s Farley fat bikes. With aluminum, tubeless ready, 80mm wide rims and 135/150mm front and 170/177mm rear axle options, Jackalope’s are a great option for 4” tire users looking for a new set of hoops. The hubs features interchangeable axles that allow for conversions to fit more frames and forks. Offset spoke hole drilling adds wheel strength. With the use of a tubeless rim strips, Bontrager’s Jackalope wheels can help drop significant weight from a fat bike. | Price: $999 | More info at www.trekbikes.com
Borealis Elite Carbon
The 80mm Reynolds carbon fiber rims on Borealis’ Elite Carbon wheels are made exclusively for Borealis. They use a double wall construction, are made in the USA, and weigh in at just 610 grams per rim. Laced to Borealis hubs using Wheelsmith spokes, the Elite Carbon wheels help fat bikers lose rotating weight on their steeds. Borealis’ hubs come in 150 thru axle front and 197x12mm rear. Axle caps are available to convert rear hubs to 190mm QR. Both Shimano and SRAM XD drivers are available in the black, red or blue hubs. | Price: $2300 (now on sale for $1699) | More info at www.fatbike.com
Fyxation’s Blackhawk wheelset is its most popular model. Priced at a budget-conscious $595, they are hand built in the U.S. at Fyxation’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin, headquarters. Fyxation boasts that this in-house assembly gives them tight quality control and the ability to easily customize wheels to suit customer needs. Using Fyxation hubs with 150/197mm front and rear spacing, Wheelsmith spokes and Sun-Ringle rims, a pair weighs in at 2700 grams. For those using a fat bike year round, also consider Fyxations’s 29+ Mulefut build for summer riding. | Price: $595 | More info at www.fyxation.com
HED’s fat bike wheel range is growing all the time. Its Big Alloy Deal (B.A.D.) wheelset is the newest in the Big Deal platform. Just like its carbon Big Deal rim brethren, the single wall construction is tubeless ready without a rim strip. The 80mm rims weigh 640 grams each. At the wheels’ center are HED’s new Brick House hubs, available in 135mm QR and thru-axle, 150mm thru front standards, and 170mm QR, 177mm thru, 190mm QR and 197mm thru rear axle variants. The pair weighs in at 2160 grams and are available now with both Shimano and SRAM XD cassette bodies. | Price: $1200 | More info at hedcycling.com
Industry Nine BigRig845
While Industry Nine offers carbon fat bike wheel options, it’s the BigRig845 that brings top-shelf performance in a more approachable package. With a bit more meat on the bones, I9 claims these wheels are up to year-round trail riding, even on the gnarly Pisgah trails in I9’s North Carolina backyard. With a myriad of color options and I9’s impressive, Asheville-made hubs, the BigRig845 wheels are offered in 170/177mm and 190/197mm rear spacing and 135-150mm front spacing. The rims have a 84.5mm internal width and are tubeless compatible. Full color customization is available and lead times are 2-3 weeks. | Price: $1275 base price ($1,435 as shown) | More info at www.industrynine.net
Kuroshiro Enso 6105
If you’re looking for premium fat bike rims, look no further. Billed as the widest fat bike rim on the market, Kuroshiro’s Enso 6105 is imported by Red Bear Products, another brainchild of Advocate Cycle’s Tim Krueger. Manufactured in Italy using an autoclave instead of a pressure mold, the Kuroshiro claims its rims have far better compaction than anything else in the bicycle industry. This leads to high strength while minimizing excess material. The Enso 6105 rim also features Kuroshiro’s Alpha Ridge design, which reinforces the rim. This ridge is also home to the spoke nipple holes, in this case designed for use with Sapim’s Polyax nipples. These nipples create a seal with the rim, eliminating the need for a tubeless rim strip. It’s super trick. Red Bear Products sells rims or builds them into Tune and Industry Nine hubs for an additional cost. | Price: $995 per rim | More info at www.redbearproducts.com