NUKEPROOF HORIZON V2 WHEELSET REVIEW
BUDGET WHEELSET WITH PREMIUM PERFORMANCE
Words by Robert Johnston | Photos by Adam Lievesley
Go back a few years and a solidly performing wheelset at a reasonable price was somewhat hard to come by. These days, we’re almost spoilt for choice, with most manufacturers figuring out a successful formula to produce a wheel that’s adequately strong for a good pummeling without resorting to the extreme weight of some rims in the past. The budget-performance category is arguably the hottest and most highly contended sector, being the intelligent choice for the majority of riders. Nukeproof has had a wheelset out for a few years, but it never seemed to quite match up to its competitors. With their V2 Horizon wheelset, they hoped to change that – read on to find out if they were successful.
The Nukeproof Horizon V2 wheelset features a ground-up redesign in order to bring what Nukeproof believes to be the best blend of strength, stiffness and weight in the sub-£400 ($562.98) price class, suitable for Enduro and Downhill use. Rather than calling upon a WTB rim as they had previously, they developed their own front and rear specific rims, with the same overall profile (30mm inner width, 35mm outer, 21.6mm depth) but thicker walls on the rear to handle the increased abuse at a 30g weight penalty. These rims feature Nukeproof’s own Aluminum Alloy blend, which they claim to provide the strength of a 7-series alloy without the brittleness that the higher stiffness alloys usually suffer from. Replacement rims can be sourced from Nukeproof for £69.99 should the worst happen out on the trails.
Both hubs spin on Enduro ABEC5 bearings, with provisions to reduce the chance of dirt ingress and keep them spinning smoothly for longer. The rear hub features 102 engagement points, giving a fast 3.52 degrees of slack. The reliability is increased by the three teeth on each of the 6 pawls, increasing the amount of contact area to transmit pedaling forces into the rear wheel. Both hubs are available in a range of shells with end cap options to suit all major enduro and downhill axle standards, with a 6-bolt brake mount only.
J-bend spokes are used throughout, to make sourcing replacements easy. Nukeproof doesn’t include any spares but provides the required lengths to take the hassle out of the situation. Both wheels come pre-taped and with a high-quality insert-friendly valve installed, making tubeless setup a breeze.
Pulling the Horizon V2’s out the box, it’s clear that Nukeproof have put some effort into making them feel like a premium wheelset. The high gloss hubs and the matte rims with relatively low-key graphics give a premium look, and the slight “stick” of the tight tolerance bearing seals indicate they should be able to survive the worst of the elements. If you’re looking to add a flashy touch to your bike, these aren’t the wheels for you, but that’s not what they were designed for. Mounting tires is as easy as most, with a reasonable tire bed profile that allows for easy mounting and a high success rate for tubeless setup. The included valves are of a good quality, with the nice touch of the valve core removal tool integrated into the valve cap that makes injecting sealant or blasting air a touch more hassle-free.
On the trail, the Horizon’s feel reassuringly sturdy. That’s not to say they’re exceptionally stiff but pushing them hard through compressions and around turns there’s no wallowing to be felt, as some others in the class can suffer from. Their ability to mute trail vibrations ranks solidly mid-pack in my estimations, though I’ve not got any data to back that up. The pickup on the hub is quick – not insanely quick like the likes of an I9 Hydra but definitely quick – but more importantly it’s solid, with no flex in the pawls to be felt. This is important to feel secure when mashing on the pedals and encourages the watts to be laid down with a nicely snappy response. They sit towards the upper end of the scale in terms of freehub noise, but as with any hub, the addition of some extra, slightly thicker lubricant can help to tame this. The weight is certainly not light in the grand scheme of things, but is reasonable for their downhill rating, and they don’t feel overly sluggish to spin up to speed for it.
The Horizon V2’s spent the entirety of their test time mounted to 140-150mm travel bikes. While this may not give notions of them being pushed to their enduro and downhill capability limits, they in fact saw a barrage of abuse with these shorter travel machines being used for meaty enduro and bike park laps that pushed them hard. With less travel to take the cushion out of impacts, the forces from heavy landings and rough terrain are instead spread throughout the rest of the bike components, with the wheels being the first item to feel them. Coming out the other side of a four-month test period, it’s evident that the Horizon V2’s have seen some abuse, but they’ve handled it admirably. Admittedly the rear wheel was never ridden without an insert, but at pressures down to the low 20 PSI’s for my 210lb/95kg mass there were still plentiful rim-stinging impacts felt, which have yet to leave any sign of serious duress. And the insert-free front wheel equally withstood its fair share of rock-littered trail abuse without a flinch.
As literally every rear wheel I’ve ever tested has, the spokes loosened off after a couple of months of sideways landings and squaring off turns. Impressively though, the Horizon V2’s held their true pretty damn well, only deviating from straight by about 1mm and quickly returning back to straight with a little bit of attention from a spoke key.
The bearings are still spinning very well after this test period, which included a depressingly wet start to the Summer followed by a whole load of dust, and the freehub has resisted the majority of water and dirt ingress in this time also, maintaining the same level of “buzz” throughout and leaving the grease inside relatively clean. There’s not been a single instance of skipping or a sound that has deviated from the smooth rhythmic “buzz” of the pawls, nor any pops or creaks from the rest of the wheels. I get the impression these are in it for the long haul. At £400 per pair, you really can’t go wrong.
The Nukeproof Horizon V2 wheelset offers budget conscious enduro and downhill mountain bikers a wheelset that supports hard charging without resorting to overly burly components. High quality hubs with a good pickup matched with custom rims present a great value proposition for those looking to upgrade their lackluster stock wheelset.
Price: $562.98/£400 pair
Weight: 903g (F), 1149g (R / 15×100/12x148mm w/Sram XD)