WTB CZR i30 29 CARBON WHEEL REVIEW
Review by Drew Rohde | Still Photos by Max Rhulen
Long before this WTB CZR review was on my radar, I had the opportunity to build a dream bike, which you may have seen in our Enduro Bike Shootout in the Fall. I built up a Specialized Enduro with all sorts of trick parts, and the claims WTB made about the new CZR i30 piqued my interest. As a rider who values ride quality, compliance, and comfort with the right amount of stiffness, I was excited to see how they’d perform. With countless 5-star reviews on their website, it seems like our test riders aren’t the only ones impressed with these new carbon mountain bike wheels.
WTB states that the CZR i30 rims “were designed to handle it all.” We’ve heard that before…but to be more specific, the WBT CZR i30s are primarily aimed at aggressive trail and Enduro category riders. WTB’s CZR carbon rims feature a reinforced carbon layup, a large 5mm of asymmetric spoke offset, reinforced spoke beds, a hookless bead, and Solid Strip integration as part of their TCS tubeless system. The i30 rims have a 30mm inner rim width – shocking, we know – so optimal tire choices consist of 2.4-2.6” in width.
WTB’s Solid Strip is a durable nylon strip that lays in between the rim and tubeless tape. This keeps the tape smooth, but also protects against spoke puncture if you were to snap one off. We know our line choices are rarely perfect, so more protection can never hurt. It could easily be the difference between a single broken spoke ruining a race run or not, so it’s a move by WTB that we appreciate.
Other manufacturing processes include asymmetrical and 4D drilling for the 28 spoke holes on each rim. The asymmetrical layout allows for more evenly distributed spoke tension from each side, which means a more durable and stronger wheel. WTB’s 4D drilling also helps increase the stability and lifespan of the wheel components by drilling holes at an angle that matches the spoke’s path from the hub to the rim. WTB claims this helps eliminate binding and lateral loading of nipples.
WTB uses a 3-cross lacing pattern with brass nipples to bring long-term reliability to the CZR wheelset. The CZR i30 rims are laced to WTB Frequency hubs that have a 6-pawl design. This design features two offset groups of 3 pawls to engage at any one time. This provides an impressive five degrees of freehub engagement, without resorting to the micro-tooth style pawls. The pawls are equipped with heavy duty springs, giving them a greater force of engagement. This in return helps fight slipping when you get on the pedals hard. A different spring kit is available if a rider prefers lighter pawl engagement or a quieter ride.
The CZR i30 wheels come in both 27.5” and 29” offerings. Front wheels are $749.95, and rears are $849.95. That makes $1,600 per pair for those who don’t want to do the math. All wheels are offered with 15×110/12x148mm boost spacing and can be ordered with Shimano or Sram XD drivers. The WTB CZR i30 front wheel in 29” diameter weighs 878 grams and the rear varies depending on freehub body, but sits right around 1,030 grams. For hand-built wheels with a free crash replacement policy or factory rebuild options, WTB seems to have a pretty competitive offering in the premium carbon mountain bike wheel market, but how do they perform?
Over the last six months of reviewing the CRZ i30 wheels, we’ve passed the bike around to five different riders from 160lbs up to 195lbs, all with stellar response. Test rides included big mile pedals, through to a whole lot of bike park laps at a bike park known for eating wheels thanks to all the sharp, lava rock littering the trails.
When it comes to evaluating the pedaling performance and engagement of the CZR wheels, WTB’s frequency hub delivers on the promise of quick engagement and reliable performance. Whether we were half-cranking through technical rock gardens or laying down power hard out of corners, our testers had no complaints when it came time to pedal. They’re not the lightest carbon wheels out there but sit slightly below the weight of a competitive alloy wheel, which gives a quick feeling when combined with the snappy rear hub.
Performance didn’t go downhill once the trail did though. The CZR i30 wheels kept impressing with the way they held lines without beating us up. WTB have done a great job blending the needs of riders who want just enough stiffness in the corners with those who seek traction in wet roots or off camber rock gardens. I’d say the wheels sit somewhere between the Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 and We Are One Revolutions, while being a bit stiffer than the Zipp 3Zero Moto. Specifically, I think they’re a bit stiffer than the Zipp wheels in the corners, which berm-shredders will appreciate. I’d say the CZR i30s are closest to the WeAreOne wheels, which have a pretty die-hard following.
Areas that normally stand out for me as a test rider include high-frequency braking bumps and repeated square-edge bumps like roots or sharp rocks. Adding to that list is cornering predictability, and heavy, side-loading compressions, especially ones that rebound into lips or other airborne opportunities. I use each of these types of situations to evaluate the vertical compliance and comfort from a wheel. A healthy dose of compliance ensures that I won’t get too fatigued or beat up, and a wheel with compliance also means traction will be better as my bike will be more likely to stick on the ground instead of bouncing off obstacles constantly. Berms and side-loading compression dips also help to exaggerate any weaknesses a wheelset may have laterally. While the CZR’s are not the stiffest wheelset in concreted bike park berms, they are plenty stiff to keep the bike planted and going where you want it go, and accelerating with every pump and push. What stood out to me is that this stiffness doesn’t override the wheel’s ability to hold a line over off-camber sections of root and rock, something I encounter a lot more than steep, blue-groove berms. Because I’m more of a desert rat who spends more time searching for traction than railing flow trails, I put a bit more value on compliance over flat-out stiffness, which is another reason I love these wheels.
The Wolf’s Last Word
As we’ve learned over the last fifteen years of testing bikes and carbon wheels, marketing claims don’t mean much if the product doesn’t ride well on the trail. Lucky for me, the wheels have met all my expectations and even surpassed some, putting the WTB CZR i30 wheels in my top five favorite mountain bike wheels.
Overall WTB’s CZR i30 wheels are a very well rounded, good looking and company supported product that I would highly recommend for riders who are in the market for a premium enduro mountain bike wheelset. I am glad I chose these to build up my dream build and will likely pull them off to put on my next build, whatever that may be. Sure, they could be cheaper, and there could be more option to customize the decal colors, but in terms of performance they’re damn good.
Price: $1,599.90 (pair)
Weight: 1908g (claimed)
All Around Performance
Hold a line
Compliance and Comfort
Who doesn’t want lower prices?
We’d love to see colored decal kits
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