I’ve been staying away from any bike bling websites this year to keep my limited bike budget in check. My plan has been to focus any $$ spent on existing bikes I am riding a lot. So naturally my Santa Cruz Nomad came to mind. I’ve been interested in trying out the wide Velocity P35 rims with Continental Trail King 2.4″ tires. My stock Nomad wheels are 4yrs old and have taken a beating so I figured a new set of hoops was a good investment and that way I’d always have a spare wheel in case of a failure.
Building up quality wheels from parts is expensive so I kept putting the project off as it felt like too much money to drop all at once. Then a generous friend bought me the Velocity P35 rims as a surprise gift [thanks!] which got the ball rolling. I hunted down a deal on the Hope Pro II hubs the following month and then a month later paid for the spokes/nipples/wheel building. It was hard to wait that long to get everything rolling, but teaching myself a little impulse control isn’t a bad thing!
The difference in width between the stock DT Swiss 5.1D rim and the P35 is shocking. You gain at least 30% in width jumping to the wider rim with a weight gain of only 100g per wheel. The P35 is also said to be stiffer due to the width and profile of the rim.
I’ve enjoyed the tubeless Continental Trail Kings on my Nomad’s stock rims so I wanted to setup the new wheels tubeless. They were easy to mount tubeless. I used a layer of Stan’s yellow tape with a Stan’s rubber freeride rim strip over top and a healthy dose of sealant. So far they have been 100% reliable losing next to no air.
These rims are painted which has resulted in the odd nick in the finish already. I would have preferred if they were anodized red. The P35 stickers looks lame, but they are starting to peel off so I’ll just complete the job and enjoy some unbranded rims. Overall the red wheels add a nice splash of colour to this bike and I’m counting on them to help it pop out of the frame in gloomy mountain bike action shots.
To be fair I had no complaints about my Nomad running the stock wheels. They’ve seen a minimal amount of maintenance and never given me any trouble.
It’s hard to capture how damn wide these 2.4″ tires look mounted up to the P35 rims. The only word that comes to mind is – Massive! The profile is also a lot flatter without the excessive “light bulb” bulge that happens on the narrower rim. I used a pressure of 21psi rear and 18psi front. I may go lower yet. With the narrower stock rims I was running closer to 24/21psi. Combining the better tire profile and lower pressure I am expecting awesome traction from this setup – although I won’t fully get to test this out until it starts to rain in September.
One issue to keep in mind is that wide rims and wide tires need a lot of frame clearance to fit well. This combo is pushing the capabilities of the rear end of the Nomad to the limit with just a little room to spare. Our wet weather riding doesn’t involve any sticky mud. If it did my rear wheel would probably lock up frequently.
Of course given the suspension capabilities of the Nomad I don’t think there really is a need for bigger rubber.
Summertime on the South Shore of Vancouver Island is the wrong time of the year to test traction as it’s dry and everything is hooking up well. So I’ll follow up on this review in the winter with an update on that front. What I can say so far is that the steering precision of my Nomad has gone from decent to laser beam like. I didn’t notice a problem in the past, but now I can ride just about any line I want with confidence that wherever I want my bike to go it will go – exactly. I chalk that up to having stiffer rims and most importantly a better tire profile. With the support of the wider P35 rims the tire doesn’t squirm as much laterally allowing for very accurate steering.
The Hope Pro II hubs look lovely and have been working fine. I like the fact that these hubs are easily converted to any wheel standard with a set of low cost adapters. My Nomad is 4yrs old and although I plan to keep it another 4yrs it’s quite possible that a hard crash or the constant pounding it takes might necessitate a new frame or fork at some point. I wanted to make sure these wheels could be used on any new frame/fork standard I end up running. From what I hear these hubs are easy to service and don’t need frequent maintenance. I’m still on the same bearings in my DT Swiss hubs so I imagine I won’t be servicing the new Hope hubs for many years.
One thing to note about Hope rear hubs is that they make a very loud sound when freewheeling – definitely not trail ninja friendly.
I didn’t weigh these rims or wheels so I won’t talk much about that aspect other than to say wide rims and wide rubber are clearly not weight weenie items. However the specs on the P35′s show them to only be 100g heavier than the specs on my stock DT Swiss 5.1D rims. That’s not a tragically large weight penalty in my books for the increased traction potential and improved steering precision.
My Nomad has two main missions in life 1) fun play bike 2) performance mountain bike. When I am riding by myself or with slower riders it’s the first mission and when I am trying to stay in contact with faster riders it’s the second. The new wheels with wide rubber really enhance the bike’s playfulness and my ability to descend faster with confidence. On the other hand the extra weight pushes an already heavy bike further away from being a speed demon on the flats and climbs.
If money was no object I’d keep the Nomad as is for playful riding and build up a light/fast full suspension MTB for shredding with the rocket assisted riders. That’s not going to happen anytime soon so my back up plan is to clean up the stock DT Swiss wheels and mount up some narrower/lighter 2.2″ rubber for faster rides. That will give me 2 options I can swap back and forth in a few minutes with minimal cost.
Wide rims that work well with fat rubber. Ideal for the all mountain rider who values steering precision and traction over lightweight.
- improved steering precision with wide 2.4″ tire
- look great
- not too heavy for wide rim
- built up true
- easy to setup tubeless
- expect improved traction [to be confirmed]
- heavier than a standard width rim
- expensive to build custom wheelset
- painted finish not as durable as anodization
- wide rim + tire may not fit into some frames
- cheap looking stickers that peel off easily