Sped Precision Maul DH Wheelset
Words by Sourpatch // Photos & Tested by Chili Dog & Sourpatch
Earlier this year, I had the misfortune of blowing up a set of carbon wheels on my Trek Session. Shortly thereafter the search for a replacement wheelset began. As luck would have it, Colin Esquibel of Spēd Precision reached out about testing their newly launched Maul DH wheels. I jumped at the chance to get them on my trusty steed. After hearing how much my coworker Chili Dog loved the Spēd Maul TR wheels (Read that review here), I couldn’t wait to get ‘em mounted up.
The Maul DH wheels share the same mold as the Maul TR wheels, come tubeless ready and have the same overall hub design. But that’s where the similarities end. The DH wheels have an entirely different and beefier layup to get the impact strength and lateral rigidity up to snuff for the demands of a downhill bike. The wheels are also built with thicker spokes to aid in rigidity. Spēd builds the wheels with an emphasis on steering precision, stiffness and durability. While the hub design is the same as the TR’s, the flanges on the DH version are widened to accommodate the larger axle spacing of downhill frames. Spēd includes 150mm and 157mm axle caps with their DH wheelsets. Our rear wheel came equipped with the 150mm caps out of the box, so we had to swap in the 157mm caps to fit the Session. It took more time to grab the tools than it did to perform the swap itself. The freehub bodies are just as easy to swap should you ever need to change between an XD or Shimano driver.
We headed up to Snow Summit during their Crafts ‘N Cranks event to pick our wheelset up from Colin and break them in with some laps in the park. As a bonus, Kenda Tire was set up right next the Spēd booth and hooked us up with a set of DH casing HellKats. Before even making it to the start of the trail I realized the hubs are very quiet. Once on the trail I enjoyed being able to hear the sound of the tires tearing through the earth instead of a constant buzz. Knowing I had factory support at the base of the hill, I went straight to it, riding the Maul DH wheels like they had been mine for months.
Maybe it was my careless ‘ride ‘em hard’ mindset but, after the first couple turns, I really did feel like I had been riding them for months. Corning speed and stability are second to none on the Maul DH’s. They can be driven into a corner with unyielding confidence so long as there is trust in the tires. Towards the end of the day, the 28psi I started with had slowly snuck out of my new tires. I noticed a little bit more squirm but didn’t think anything of it. On one of my last runs of the day I drove the bike hard into a right hand paver corner, just about blowing the tire off the rim. The stiffness of these wheels kept me upright and let me know it was time to air up.
That was far from the end of their abuse though. The wheels then made their way up to Mammoth Mountain for several more days of torture under Chili Dog’s bike. Mammoth is not a forgiving bike park, with technical trails full of jagged granite. The loose soils also necessitate low tire pressures, which combined with the sharp rocks make a fine recipe for carbon wheel destruction. Yet the Maul DH wheels persevered. The number of rim pinging rock hits received would make lesser carbon designs quake, but upon close inspection there was absolutely no damage. Chili Dog did end up breaking off the overly tall rear valve stem during his Mammoth debauchery, but so far that has been the only casualty. We were impressed that a wheel so resilient to impact could still ride so smooth and controlled. While the DH layup is noticeably stiffer than the trail version we previously tested, every tester noted how poised and well tuned the ride is.