New XC MTB Wheelset & Tire Strategy

Purchase one wheelset and one pair of tires to have three wheelsets w/ tires on, ready to roll.

Need your help here!

My wife and I have 2 bikes for all gravel, XC, trail, and enduro. They are both 2020 Scott Spark RC 900 WC w/ AXS.

Goal wheelsets’ use cases:

  1. Gravel oriented, used exclusively by 63kg wife on gravel rides with a fast group.
  2. XC MTB race oriented, used by her for single track, and me for gravel rides.
  3. Enduro/Trail-capable, used for any single track by me @ 94k with poor line choices. :slight_smile:

Wheelsets we have now:

  1. XC MTB w/ XC MTB tires.
  2. XC MTB w/ enduro tires.

Seeking recommendations for:

  1. Fast-rolling tires for the gravel-oriented wheelset.
  2. Which wheels to purchase and…
  3. How you would use the current wheelsets and new wheels in the scenarios above

No need for me to pull trigger now, so product availability is moot.

Could use some help on strategy! If you can provide even one recommendation, that’s very helpful!

Grateful for your time as always.

More FYI:

Current wheel/tire setups:

  • Syncros Silverton SL 26 carbon wheels
    • Rekon Race 2.25 rear & Ikon 2.35 front.
    • She’ll XC-race on Aspen WT 2.4 or some other brand of lower rolling resistance XC MTB tire.
  • DT Swiss XMC 1200 wheels
    • Maxxis Aggressor 2.35" DD rear & Bontrager SE4 2.4" front. I use these for everything.

Strategies I’ve been considering:

  • Strategy option 1:
    • Get a 30mm internal width race XC wheelset and make these Michelle’s go-to XC race wheels.
    • Use her carbon-spoked Syncros Silverton wheels for the gravel-oriented wheelset because they’re light, stiff, and narrow by today’s XC MTB wheel standards.
    • Keep the DT Swiss XMC 1200 as my Enduro wheels with same tires on? (it’s been working so far)
  • Strategy option 2:
    • Buy a stronger enduro wheelset.
    • Move my enduro tires to the stronger wheelset.
    • Mount some new gravel-oriented tires to one of the XC wheelsets we currently have.
  • Strategy option 3, 4, 5…
    • Anything you recommend!!
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Option 2 for sure. Your current wheelsets are both perfect for gravel and XC. 30mm IW is nice and all but definitely not enough of a difference to make it worth running XC wheels for enduro at your weight and use case.

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Interesting. Glad to have your insight there because I was leaning towards option 1. I’ll definitely consider option 2 more seriously.

I wouldn’t say 26mm IW is narrow by today’s standards. Especially for the gravel oriented wheelset, that’s wider than anything on the market right now. It will make typical 38-42mm gravel tires a couple mm wider than their labeled widths. But even in XC I’d say 25mm is still what the majority of racers are running, with 30mm and WT tires being the new hot marketing product (with benefits for sure but not some massive game changer).

For your enduro wheelset, I’d do inserts too. Tannus makes a nice middle-ground option if you don’t want the weight and damping of full Cush Core.


I race XC on 24mm wheels. I currently ride aggressive enduro/DH on a 25mm rear wheel.

Just because wide is trendy doesn’t make “narrow” bad.


Option 2.

Narrow for XCO rims are 22mm id. I personally am not on board for 30mm id for XCO. I think the sweet spot for XCO are rims with 24-26mm and tires 2.25-2.35. I would assume the mass majority of XCO/XCM racers are 25mm +/- 2mm. 30mm id rims are a new concept, offer little more than 25 mm id and have yet to be proven.


I’m interested if anyone knows what kind of RR improvement there is. I could care less for myself. Wife is fast and will probably climb XC MTB ranks quickly, so I could see a couple watts mattering to us within a year or two.


I’d like to hear why. Weight?

I think we probably agree here. Do you think there is primarily benefit at the pointy end of high-level racing or that there may not be any benefit at all. Totally asking for opinions here as my only context is: marketing; and the fact that wider tires & wheels on the road offer meaningful benefit in higher level racing.

I don’t think it is marketing, but I do think it is use case. For me personally, the benefits of wider wheels on MTB are being able to have a wider footprint and lower pressures. But from my experience…so far*…I can’t do that. I can’t run low pressures in my rear tire especially (but even still in the front too) because I will not only rim strike, but I will also roll the tire on the rim. Horrible, vague feeling when corning when the tire starts to roll from too little pressure. I do experience this in XC racing too, but mostly on my big bike. I run double down tires on my big bike and even those I will occasionally bottom out against the rim.

*I say so far because I took a bit of a risk and built a set of wider wheels for my big bike. At worst they will become and expensive trail wheel that I can swap out for my backup aluminum set when I plan to get aggressive. I mostly ride trails on that bike, but sometimes I get carried away when I see a new feature. Hopefully I will have those wheels on sometimes next week, was hoping to finish them for tomorrow…oh well. Rear wheel is 31 IW and 1000 grams, rear tire is a 1300g Pinner 2.4 :rofl:

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Know that feeling well. :disappointed: Same for rim striking…

Are you saying that you can’t run even 1 psi lower with wider wheels? Good info to have, if so.

At least according to the concepts of the marketing there may be slightly increased traction even without running lower PSI, but I guess the only way to know is to do direct comparisons… which is a time and cost-intensive process. Maybe it’s best to wait on feeling the need to jump to 30mm IW rims until they’re more tested.

If I go with Option 2…

Anyone have recommendations for enduro or trail oriented wheels? (I know nothing here)

Or for gravel tires to mount on MTB 29er wheels? (also know nothing here)

When you are at 25mm internal width and 2.3” tires, a little bit extra width has marginal impact on pressures. Your limiting factors become rim strikes and tire burping. Good tire inserts help with locking in the beads (reduced or eliminated burping) and they make the tire pressure ramp much faster as the tire squishes (exactly like adding tokens to suspension). So they let you drop pressure more than extra width will.

So just try adding inserts to your 25 mm wheels and check out the difference. It’s a cheap investment by comparison to buying another wheelset.


I will likely do that. Good points all around.

I still need an extra wheelset and am looking for recommendations on the best enduro or trail wheels or recommendations on where I could find reliable info on what makes good enduro wheels and what factors I should be considering in my purchase. (see OP for more info as to why 3rd wheelset)

Same request for info re: gravel tires on XC MTB wheels stands too! Don’t even know what’s possible here. Just slap any gravel tire I want on 29er wheels? Wider is better? 45mm enough? Or should I look for ≥50mm?

Regarding rolling resistance with wider rims, I think it’s less about that for off-road riding and more about traction due to increased tire patch and lower pressures, with traction being paramount on today’s World Cup XCO courses. Likely less important on most domestic XC courses that tend to be pretty tame.

For enduro wheelsets, first choose between aluminum and carbon. With your size and smash-y riding style you’ll probably be best off with carbon (less likely to need trueing and can take a hit without bending), and several companies offer truly excellent warranties in case you hit hard enough to break a rim. We Are One & Reserve are the two that come to mind first, with Reserve having the benefit of being in the US so likely quicker turnaround (they say if you break a wheel they’ll have a new one out to you in 24hrs). I think Enve is good on this too. No real reason to spend for the super high end IMO, the wheelsets in the $1500 race are excellent. If it were me I’d be looking for some Reserve 30s with DT350 hubs.

We Are One: Revolution Wheelset - 2021 | We Are One Composites

Reserve: Reserve 30 - Carbon Mountain Bike Wheel | Reserve Wheels

Enve: AM30 - ENVE

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Definitely looking to avoid truing and because I don’t want to wish I’d upgrade to carbon in the future, I think carbon is the way to go, for sure.

Fantastic recommendations. Thank you. Super helpful.

Put on some 2.2 Continental Race King Protection tires for your gravel rides. They roll faster than most gravel tires on the steel drum test (not really sure how that translates to gravel but at least they should roll fast on the pavement sections you encounter).

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That and you’re limited to buying larger tires. I’d be curious how many XCO women ride 30mm id rims, I bet it’s a handful at most. With women weighing generally less than men they can get away with having low enough pressures using 25mm id rims and still see all the benefits. Also, I’m not convinced that 2.4 tires and lower tire pressures are always faster, they certainly aren’t for all trail conditions. I wouldn’t want a 2.4 to be my every day race tire.

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Many people like 40-44 mm for gravel. If you go to 50 mm that is 2” and at that point there’s not much difference than using an XC race tire. If you are going to have dedicated gravel tires and you won’t be mixing in a significant percentage of trails in those rides, then I would go 42-44 mm.

The main thing that makes a tire roll well is the casing. Second is the knob pattern. Tire pressure and width definitely matter, but less than those. I love my Rene Herse knobby tires for gravel and pavement. They roll so well that I don’t notice any added drag compared to my road tires, unlike when I ride my XC tires (Rekons). (If I A/B tested I am sure the road tires are faster, but not by much).

Food for thought:

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Strat 2 sound smart. It would be a shame to ruin those expensive wheels.

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Sweet. I’ve decided to go with strategy 2 and am in the process of getting some Union 29ers built up. Thanks all!

Now for some gravel tires. Confirming… I can just pick the best gravel tires for their characteristics in relation to the gravel we ride, and slap them on my current XC 29er wheels?

I was wrong. The DT Swiss XMC wheels I have are not XC wheels. They’re all-mountain. I just assumed they were based on the lettering.

XRC = XC race series from DT.
XMC = all-mountain.
EXC = Enduro.

Which probably explains why my XMC have been putting up with the pounding I’ve been giving them.

So… does it still make any sense to get something like an AM30 or Union? Could/should I get another set of XMC as an equivalent to the AM30 et al?

(The Union builder is swamped anyway so I have some leeway to cancel order at no cost to either of us.)

If the AM30, or Reserve 30, or Union is substantially stronger than my current XMC, then I think it makes sense to go that route. But are they? Totally guessing… I think the answer is no, probably roughly equivalent.

If the XMC are in the same strength/durability range as AM30, Reserve 30, or Union, does that mean DT EXC substantially stronger than AM30 etc?

Is there a website that has a data mine of all this information so I can stop asking so many questions??

I don’t know of another resource but that’s why this forum is so great!

Funny, I even looked at your wheels on DTs site and still didn’t notice they’re marketed as “all-mountain.” Based on the weight of the wheelsets, I’d wager the WAO or Enve wheels are stronger than your DTs (probably more comparable to the EXCs), but more importantly the warranty is significantly better. Given the option to buy them at a similar cost I’d stick with your Union plan for the bruiser wheels.

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