Mountain Bike Wheels
Keep on Rollin’ Down the Mountain

“They are All Round. But do you Know the Differences?
Choose the Right Wheels for your Bike”

Let us talk about wheels. It may look as a very simple topic, however, there are several key issues you need to know.

You have to evaluate wheel components – rims, tires, spokes – before you choose your right wheelset (wheelset is called a pair of mountain bike wheels).

However, let’s begin with non-technical issues – you and your habits...

Your body characteristics

Basically, here I’m talking about your size and your weight. Yes, it’s a very sensitive approach but you must be honest with yourself. Your weight matters.

Simple rule applies here. The bigger you are, the stiffer the wheelset should be.

What do I mean by “stiffer”?...

Well, wheel stiffness basically depends on rim (i.e. wheel component without spokes, tire and hub).

Usually, especially on mid-class mountain bikes, you will find metallic bicycle rims. They are normally made of aluminum alloy.


Mountain bike rims construction plays most important role. You may choose from single-wall, double-wall or even triple-wall rims.

Additional rim wall adds more stiffness (and weight…) and durability to your rim. Also wider rim and thicker spokes make wheels even more powerful.

No matter how “big” you may think you are.

“Where do you want to go today?”

Just like you don’t buy sandals for snow-skiing, so you need to select wheels designed for your most beloved trails.

Cross country (XC) and your happy-Sundays family riding, all-mountain (AM) cycling, downhill (DH), or freeride (FR). For your riding comfort and safety you would like to choose very different bike wheels for these different trails.

As XC most usually requires basic level rims, AM and especially DH or FR trails make your bike work much harder. So, the wheels need to be stronger.

Much stronger.

Rocks, stones, jumps and similar fun on your trail test your wheels to the maximum.


Even wider rims (compatible with tires between 2.35” – 3.0”), stronger spokes and… yes, bigger price. Aggressive riding requires more aggressive expenditures.

Most Important Technical Questions

Compatibility first. Please be aware that not all bike wheels will be useable with your...

Brakes - usually V-brakes are not compatible with rims designed only for disc brakes. So, if your bike is equipped with V-brakes, but you fell in love with that particular “disc-brakes” wheelset, you would like to change your brakes system as well.

This is because the rims for V-brakes system have a flat area around the sides of the wheel where the brakes contact the rim surface.

Mountain bike wheel designed for disc brakes usually do not offer this flat area around the rim.


You may use your disc brakes with rims designed for V-brakes. Anyway… I would suggest you to stick to the simple rule – wheelset designed for V-brakes goes with V-brakes. The same applies to disc brakes.

Tires – talking about compatibility with rims, please keep one thing in mind – tubeless tires (UST – Universal System Tubeless) do not fit for common rims.

Look for mountain bike rims compatible with tubeless tires if you don’t want to ride flat.

About Spokes

Spokes may influence your ride more than you think.

Usually, bike wheels have 28, 32 or 36 spokes. If you pick rims with fever spokes, you will have an aerodynamic advantage.

In other words – wind will blow freely through your wheels. However, I think this is noticeable only for professionals.

On the other hand, less spokes leave a larger part of the rim without support.

So the rim itself needs to be stronger. For you it means more weight.

Consider this issue if you are calculating every gram of your bike parts.

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