Help: I’m building a new wheelset

And now for a mish-mash of tire, tube and rim questions:

Hey Lee,

I’m at work with a deadline fast approaching, the kid has the swine flu — I’m pinnin-it man…

I’ll keep it short–I’m building-up a Pivot Mach 5. I ride in the Northeast–rocky , rooty, some slow technical, some let it rip sections. I weight ~ 185 geared-up. I’ll be using a new Fox 140 RLC FIT 15QR, so I need a new front wheel, which means I need a new wheel set. I have a set of Chris King hubs to use–question is, do I go tubeless, Stan’s rims and tubeless, or tube. What width rim is good for me (I ride Nevgals 2.35 front, 2.1 rear (Should I go 2.35 in the rear also))? Stan’s makes a pretty cool looking enduro rim that is 27mm wide and pretty light. If I go Stan’s, do I benefit more with regular tires and Stan’s tire sealant, or use tubeless tires??? Please enlighten me as to the pros and cons of the different set-ups.

Good luck with the twins, and I can’t wait for the two new books–WFO (seems only the older guys know what that means!)

Thanks, Marc

PS The sooner you can answer this, the sooner I can complete the build and rip this thing!

Hey Marc,

That’s a whole lot of questions crammed into a small space. OK, real quick to you can get building:

I guess those Chris Kings will work for, like, the rest of your life. Great hubs.

I tried hard to go tubeless a few years ago, but it proved to be such a pain I’m back to tubes. I was DH Racer Boy back then, and I had tons of problems with cut sidewalls, beads torn off rims (braaap!) and even failed rim seams. As a matter of fact, my Mavic DeeMax pulled that last move in a race, and it cost me several hundred dollars in lost podium steps. Not to mention needing compressed air, sealant, blah, blah, blah. As often as I was changing tires, tubeless was just too much to worry about.

I now rock tubes with pretty high pressure and semi-burly tires. The Specialized Control series has been a godsend for me. Light enough. Durable enough.


More and more people swear by tubeless, and the systems seem to be getting easier and more reliable. Plus there’s the potentially lower pressure, smoother ride, better traction and reduced pinch flats. (Brian Lopes was anti-tubeless for a long time, but he how rocks Stans for trail riding. That says a lot.)

So, what the heck, try tubeless. If that sucks, you can always run tubes.

You’ll get a better seal with less sealant if you rock tubeless-compatible tires. They’re burlier, too.

Tire size
Bigger! A man of your kung fu should be rocking 2.3s on both ends.

Rim width
27mm sounds about right. That’s what I run with my Eskar 2.3s.

Rim choice
I dunno man, there are lots of good rims out there. That said:

– I’ve heard good things about the Stan’s rims. They seem simple and smart.

– If you ride super hard, rims are disposable. Be careful how much money you attach to the ends of those spokes.

(Back to those DeeMaxes. Mavic makes great rims. I paid full retail for those bastards, thinking “OK no more screwing around.” But they have a weak point at the rim weld, and my rear failed at the wrong time. That cost me prize money and considerable frustration. That same impact would have bent — not broken — a softer, less expensive rim. Still angry!)

– As a Sun-sponsored rider, I’ve had great luck with my Charger 27 wheelset. Its Equalizer rims are plenty light, plenty strong and pretty inexpensive — about half the cost of Stans.

Bottom line
One thing I’ve learned about bike stuff in general and wheels in particular:

The supertrick stuff is supercool — DeeMax! Yellow! Sick! — as long as it isn’t broken.

Trying to find a certain rim strip, or rim, or spoke, or tire, can be a pain. Unless you’re Joe Sponsored Dude or you don’t break stuff, standard hubs and rims are the way.

Slap any good rim on those Kings. Try tubeless. Rip it!

WFO indeed.

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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