When it comes to riding off-road, there is no other component that has a bigger impact on performance than mountain bike wheels. Your wheels are your connection to the trail and having the right set can give you more control, better efficiency, and rugged durability. We carry a large selection of mountain bike wheels—in all different diameters, widths, materials, and designs—so you can find the perfect set for whatever type of riding you do.
Navigating all the different wheel options can seem like a daunting task, so it’s best to narrow down your choices in a process of elimination. First, what’s your wheel size? We carry 29”, 27.5” and 26” wheelsets. Second, what type of brakes are you using? If you’re riding a newer mountain bike, chances are it has disc brakes rather than rim brakes. From there it’s time to think about rim types. Carbon rims are prized for their light weight and stiffness, which can dramatically improve the way your bike climbs, accelerates and corners on the trail—but of course, they cost more than wheels with aluminum rims. Width is important too, with the current trend moving toward wider rim diameters. The rim width affects the shape of an inflated tire, giving it more air volume for better traction and stability.
Some 29” mountain bikes can run either 29-inch wheels or a 650b wheelset. These 29er mountain bikes are known as plus-size compatible which means riders can also use wider 650b wheels rather than a taller wheel. The smaller wheel will handle better and with a wider tire, riders will have more traction. However, a larger wheel size with a narrower tire will have less rolling resistance. Newer gravel bikes also have the option to run 700c wheels or 650b wheels.
Another factor in mountain bike wheels is choosing tubeless or regular inner tube style. Using inner tubes makes tire changes more straightforward but going tubeless has some major performance advantages. Combined with sealant, tubeless tires are far less likely to puncture, and you can run lower pressure so they roll faster with more control.
You also have hubs and spokes to consider. Generally, the more you spend, the lighter you can get. There’s plenty of technology to look at with mountain bike wheels, but the most important thing to consider is what type of rider you are. If you like to push the limits on aggressive terrain, look for something sturdy with a higher spoke count. If you prefer XC riding and racing, you can probably get away with lighter weight options. Nicer spokes are usually made out of stainless steel but some premium racing wheelsets will have carbon fiber spokes. When it comes to hubs, the two main types of hubs will use either quick release skewers or thru-axles. Keep in mind that a front wheel will have a different size hub than a rear wheel.
Whether you’re looking for a wheelset for your full suspension mountain bike, resurrecting a classic, or getting a second wheelset for training, we have what you need. At Jenson USA we carry dozens of mountain bike wheel options from top brands like ENVE, DT Swiss, Industry Nine, Mavic, SRAM, and Stan’s NoTubes. Take a look at our selection and feel free to call one of our Gear Advisors at 888-880-3811 if you have any questions.