"Affordable" boost 29er wheel questions for Salsa Cutthroat

So, I made the mistake of test riding a Salsa Cutthroat Apex 1 and now it’s in my garage. The stock wheels are heavy WTB i23 rims and WTB hubs. I have zero faith whatsoever that these will hold up for a bigger rider like me.

I’m looking for a set of durable, reasonably light wheels preferably under $1k US. I’m leaning towards either:

  1. Trek Kovee Elite 30 TLR wheels (no rider weight limit, 6 bolt hubs, 28 spokes, carbon)
  1. Custom built set with DT Swiss 350 hubs, Raceface ARC 25 rims, 32 spokes (prob CX Ray to save some weight and I had good luck with them on another build)

I’m open to to other suggestions and any tips are appreciated. Just a few questions…

  1. Is centerlock preferable? I’ve heard people complain about shearing off bolts on 6 bolt hubs but maybe that’s overblown?

  2. I think 25mm - 30mm would be fine for tires I plan to run, right? (2.2-2.4 inch)

  3. The Trek wheels have a great warranty, but 28 spokes even with no weight limit (I’m 6’5" and about 255 lbs right now). If they taco in the first 2 years, i can get a new wheel. On the other hand, the hand-built wheels don’t have a comparable warranty, but if well built I’d expect they’d be bombproof. Does one scenario seem preferable to another?

I’m also looking to upgrade the wheelset on a newly bought xc bike. And I’m also at the heavy end of the scale 96kg.
I came across these reviews by bike radar

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If you’re looking for a big improvement in performance for less than $1k, quality alloy is going to be the way to go. I actually think that high-quality alloy wheels are the way to go in general for most people off-road, but that’s another discussion. The key for you, being a bigger rider on less-than-smooth terrain is going to be build quality. For that reason I would stay away from Trek, Roval, etc. They have a good warranty, and based on the work I’ve done to those wheels out of the box you’ll likely need it.

Anyway, a retail recommendation:
Astral Outback - Astral does complete builds with a couple different hub specs, they’re all good but I would splurge for one of the White Industries versions. The rims are rock solid, and have some of the tighter tolerances I work with which makes for a more stable wheel over time. They’re also light, and in my experience take rock strikes quite well.

Ultimately my best recommendation is never to buy a wheel off the shelf, but to find a wheel builder near you and talk about options with them. When it comes to performance wheels, build quality is the ultimate determinant of longevity, and I do not trust major brands to do a sufficient job there. You also get more choices - any rim to any hub with any spokes, the solution is made for you and not a larger audience.


Super helpful…thank you!! I’m sure you’re right… a well built custom wheelset seems the way to go.

I’m going to look into the Astral ones too.

[quote=“FrankTuna, post:1, topic:65726”]
Is centerlock preferable? I’ve heard people complain about shearing off bolts on 6 bolt hubs but maybe that’s overblown?
[/quote]No preference between either. The only problem I have ever had on 6 bolt was when I
didn’t torque them properly and they came loose on me. That has happened only one time ever for me. And entirely user error.

My ONLY argument against Centerlock is you need a “special” tool to remove a rotor. Hypothetically, that means you can’t remove a bashed disc on a ride to try and straighten it. In practice I have yet to need to. One of my bikes has CL and I would never choose one over the other. Given identical scenarios, with EVERYTHING being equal, I would probably go CL.

[quote=“FrankTuna, post:1, topic:65726”]
I think 25mm - 30mm would be fine for tires I plan to run, right? (2.2-2.4 inch)
[/quote]I just went with wide wheels for the first time on my enduro bike and I am not 100% sure I can tell a difference. I still need to try a different tire to see (trying a Kenda Pinner, need to compare to an Assegai). I was running a 29/25 combo with 2.4 tires without issue.

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