WTB HTZ EBIKE SPECIFIC WHEELS
BUILT FOR BURL, DESIGNED TO LAST
Words by Drew Rohde
Video by Brian Niles/Treeline Cinematics
WTB’s new HTZ i30 wheel is the brand’s first purpose-built eMTB wheelset designed to withstand the extended miles and repeated downhills of abuse that eBikes are so wonderfully capable of. As this new discipline of mountain biking continues to grow and evolve, so to are the products and components that support them. WTB HTZ i30 wheels have been beefed up, with wall thickness growing up to 20%, an asymmetric spoke offset to balance tension and loads as well as a host of impressive features like double-stacked bearings and increased sleeve diameters. Let’s dive in and look at what makes these beef cakes unique and worth considering for your next eBike wheel upgrade.
WTB studied failures, feedback and what eBikes do to components. When it comes to overall wheel strength and durability, energy will always exploit the weakest link, or spoke…that was a wheelie bad joke, sorry. For that reason, WTB started an entirely new project in the HTZ.
Featuring a heat-treated steel freehub body with a six-pawl ratchet system that engages simultaneously (8.5-degrees), eMTB riders won’t have to fear that their bike’s power will be seizing and deforming and pieces no matter how steep your climbs are. Rear axle sleeve diameters are increased from 15mm to 17mm but still run 12mm axles for a reduction in flex and wear on bearings. Speaking of bearings, WTB HTZ eBike wheels feature double-stacked Enduro bearings. Two bearings side by side means that angular load will be reduced, stiffness is increased and the stress on the bearings is spread out, increasing component life.
WTB shared that they had done side-by-side testing with competitor’s eBike hubs compared to the new HTZ hubs. According to WTB, competitor hubs were failing around the 2,000 start/stop cycles while the HTZ hubs hit 40,000 cycles.
HTZ rim walls are thicker than WTB’s stout KOM Tough rims and feature an asymmetric spoke offset. This offset helps even out spoke tension as both drive and non-drive side spokes can share a more even tension and length. By having more even tension pulling from both sides, the wheel isn’t naturally biased towards one side, just waiting for an impact or strain to pull them off-center.
Another neat feature found inside the rims is WTB’s Solid Strip. This is a solid nylon strip that fits between the rim and tubeless tape. It ensures a smooth surface but also prevents the tape from being punctured or indenting and potentially causing air to leak out.
All HTZ wheels sold in North America are assembled in WTB’s California facility while European wheels will be hand-built in Italy.
Available in either 27.5” or 29-inch sizes, the WTB HTZ i30 wheelset will retail for $769.90, or $329.95 (front) and $439.95 (rear).
THE WOLF’S FIRST IMPRESSION
Like much of the industry, the launch of these wheels has been pushed back quite a while, which allowed us to get way more miles on the product compared to most of our Dissected features. While this isn’t our official long-term review of the WTB HTZ eBike wheels, we’ve got enough miles on them to be pretty confident in saying, they ain’t light, but they’re gonna last!
At 2,600-grams for a wheelset, they’re not designed to be the lightest showboat wheels on the market, but they are certainly built to be some of the longest lasting. Ride quality doesn’t suffer either as they’re not overly stiff or abusive by any means. The WTB HTZ i30 wheels offer a nicely damped, and fairly compliant ride without being overly stiff or abusive. These are traits we’re fond of when it comes to mountain bike wheels.
Overall, WTB have done some really cool stuff when it comes to creating an eBike-specific wheelset that is seemingly bombproof. We’ll work hard to put our set through the wringer this winter to finalize our long-term review but up til this point, we don’t suspect anything is going to chance as they’re still spinning round as they did when we unboxed them.