That’s the question most people ask when the big wheel appears on the trail.
Choosing carbon rims was not something I was really set to do. At the time I was looking at making different wheels to replace the stock WTB aluminum rims that came with my Santa Cruz Tallboy LT. Of course, I dreamed of ENVE and other high-end composite brands, but my budget could not get close to those options.
My brother-in-law pointed me to an article I read on Pinkbike.com that highlighted some of the products of Interbike 2013. There was a small piece of this guy from California who decided that there was no market for the rims he wanted, so he went away like everyone else and built them!
I bought them in the afternoon from what I read on the Derby site… you might say a bit emotional but reading through all the information it all makes sense. You can’t even argue about the price of these rims! With shipping in total, they come in at around $ 600.
When the rims arrived (I went for the heavy-duty option because I tend to climb the AM / technical trail) they were nicely packaged and I had various correspondence with Ray (Derby himself) about making and delivering them – he was very helpful.
I wanted to go for a tubeless set up so I bought all the stance kits needed for it and I mentioned before going to WTB Vigilance. I was taking this bike to Dubai in a few months and for this reason, it was the favorite weapon of most riders there!
Hobbes … I went for Chris Kings (Mango). Probably the ultimate bike tart choice but my head vision of stealth carbon black with these engineering geek-outs was enough for me to decide. I do not regret such a decision at all.
So after a few small hiccups, they all squared off and got ready to go.
My first few rides with the new wheelset were at Coed Y Brenin in North Wales UK. These are the paths of the forest – rocky, rooted, and rich in variety.
As soon as I hit the trail the reaction of the bike felt improved immediately. Carbon is an instant win for strength and weight loss like anything else, but with these wide rims, you also get confidence-boosting stability!
As a result, I find myself riding fast and smooth and usually have a lot of fun. The lizard grabs like in Burma and even checks the “heavy-duty” label on some jumps and drop-offs! The fault was hard to find.
I find that there is a little trade-off when it comes to climbing. It’s not a very noticeable thing but I do feel a little lazier in the long fire road type climb. Although it is not enough for me to consider giving them back! There is a downside though they don’t happen to be immense on the technical climb. Increased traction and width chew anything in your path, helping you to hold on to steep cliffs. I’m starting to win sections that used to confuse me a bit…
Chris Kings is a revelation. It sounds incredibly nerdy but with an almost instantaneous preoccupation with each paddle stroke, you get more control over slower speeds and lightning acceleration – not to mention the word literally deforestation!
Vigilant tires attached to the rims provide exceptional protection for the rim on rocky parts. The side walls seem huge, and the trail helps you get away with anything when it’s fun.
I have now taken these wheels and bikes abroad to do some rides in the UAE. A complete transition from the forest of Wales! And provided a new test for this setup which I have to say is great in terms of once adjusting to a loose dusty trail and dialing in tire pressure. One thing is for sure, the land of Duabir has tested the strength of these rims and is happy that there are no cracks!
I don’t think you can go wrong with these rims. It’s hard to lose the value of the ride and the value for money. They look awesome! With a minimalist design and giving you that little extra confidence to go for something new, you will clean it up.