Review: MTN30 carbon wheels made in the USA by Chris King
If the name FusionFiber sounds familiar, that’s because Revel and Evil also use the material for their own rims. It’s still technically a carbon fiber rim, but a nylon polymer is used to hold it all together instead of epoxy. The rim fitting process is automated and the end product requires no sanding or deburring – there is no need for finishing work or varnishing. The rims are produced by CSS Composites in Utah and wheel assembly takes place at Chris King’s facility in Oregon.
• FusionFiber thermoplastic rims
• 28 Sapim D-Light spokes, 2 crossed spokes
• Inner rim width: 29mm
• Made in USA
• Lifetime warranty
• Weight: 907 grams (27.5 inches rear) / 808 grams (29 inches front), 1715 grams total.
• Price: $2,550
• More information: chrisking.com
Using a nylon polymer instead of epoxy allows rims to be recycled at end of life, although it should be noted that they will no longer end up as rims. Think tire levers, stems, or other items that can be compression molded from cut fibers. MTN 30 rims come with a lifetime warranty – in the event of a break, Chris King will send a shipping label, rebuild the wheel with a new rim and repair the hub if necessary while they’re at it.
MTN 30 wheels are available in 29″, 27.5″ or mixed wheel configurations, all with Boost spacing hubs and Centerlock rotor mounting. There is a wide range of hub color options, ranging from silver to gold. Speaking of gold, the MTN 30 wheels aren’t cheap – they cost US$2,550.
The MTN 30 rims have an internal width of 29mm and a depth of 23.5mm, numbers that perfectly match what has become the norm for rims designed for all-around use. Visually, nothing immediately distinguishes the rims from a “traditional” carbon rim – they are black, shiny and the fibers can be seen when the light hits them the right way. Both wheels use 28 interwoven spokes in a two-cross pattern.
Chris King’s machined aluminum hubs are renowned for their high quality and durability – they even make their own stainless steel bearings, which are supposed to polish up and get faster over time. “Sorry, I’m going to be a little late – I need to drive more to get my wheels to spin even smoother” seems like a great excuse to go out for a longer ride than usual. A T10 torx is used to adjust the preload ring on each hub which pushes against the angular contact bearings. This is something that usually needs to be done once or twice as hubs settle, and it rarely requires adjustment, at least in my experience.
At the heart of the rear hub is the RingDrive, which offers 72 simultaneous points of engagement. This equates to a fairly quick 5 degrees between engagement points. There are faster engaging hubs – the I9’s Hydra hub registers at an almost instantaneous 0.52 degrees between points of engagement – but 5 degrees is still plenty quick, and I’ve never found myself wishing less on the track.
A basic hub service is a fairly straightforward procedure, and Chris King has easy-to-find videos and documentation on his website. A special tool is needed to completely disassemble the hubs, but it’s not something that should be needed more than once a year or two.
Chris King’s Ring Drive has 72 points of simultaneous engagement.
Setting up MTN 30 wheels was a straightforward procedure, which is pretty much a given these days – wider rim profiles and the tubeless tires designed for them generally make it easier to fit and seal a bike. a tire without swear words. I will say that I have been spoiled by Reserve’s Fillmore valves this season. Yes, they are expensive, but the speed at which they fill a tire and the lack of clogging made me wish every wheel came with them. The valves on the MTN30 wheelset are nice, and the top cap even has a little flywheel hub engraved on it, but they don’t work as well as the reserves.
My only complaint with the setup of these wheels has to do with the fact that Chris King only produces Centerlock compatible mountain hubs – the 6-bolt option is no longer in their catalog. I get it, Centerlock is probably lighter and easier to install, but I have a stack of 6-bolt rotors and a non-existent stack of Centerlock rotors. This means I had to use an adapter to use a 6-bolt rotor, which takes away from the convenience of the design.
I used Continental’s Kryptotal DH tires for most of the testing period, without inserts and with pressures set at 21 psi for the front and 23 psi for the rear. The wheels began the testing period on a Santa Cruz Nomad V6 and more recently were installed on a Trek Fuel EX.
It’s getting harder and harder to tell carbon wheels apart, at least when it comes to ride feel. That’s a good thing, because it means you’re less likely to end up with a set of wheels that seem to try to shake your fills every time the trail gets rough. The days of brutally stiff wheels seem to be mostly behind us, as rim profiles and carbon layup have evolved.
The MTN30 wheels fall squarely into the “comfortable” category, and even while riding some of the craziest trails on the North Shore of Vancouver, I never felt any harshness. Can I notice the supposed 50% increase in damping compared to “traditional” carbon fiber rims? I wouldn’t go that far – MTN30 wheels swapped places with a Reserve 30 wheelset | HD and there was no dramatic difference in ride quality. If you press on it, I’d say the MTN30 wheels felt a little quieter at higher speeds in thicker sections of trail, but again, we’re not talking about a day and night difference here. . As far as tangible compliance differences go, SRAM’s ZeroMoto wheels are one of the only options I’ve tried where the extra flex is immediately noticeable.
As for cornering stiffness, the wheels offered plenty of support, and no matter how hard I squared a corner, the spokes never rattled their displeasure.
Hub engagement was quick and extremely solid, and the characteristic “angry bee” sound when freewheeling was actually less pronounced than I expected. Using another freewheel oil could probably change that, but I’m personally a big fan of hubs that don’t make a lot of noise, so the fact that these hubs aren’t too loud is a plus in my book .
MTN30 wheels are slightly lighter than their counterparts in this category – the 29″ set weighs 1746 grams. For comparison, Roval Traverse wheels and We Are Ones Union wheels weigh 1840 grams, Evil’s Loophole wheels weigh 1940 grams and the Santa Cruz’s Reserve 30 | HD wheels weigh 1880 grams, 100 grams isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but it all adds up, and for gram-conscious riders, it’s worth noting that the MTN 30 are not too heavy.
Other than a quick hub preload adjustment and a brief trip to the rear wheel adjuster bracket, the MTN 30 wheels required no maintenance, and these are typical adjustments for a set of new wheels. I’ve hit a decent number of rocks and roots hiding in piles of moondust, and so far they’ve taken all of those hits in stride. The bearings still spin incredibly smooth – there’s no grit or resistance. They keep moving forward and forward as the wheel spins.
Track conditions were very dry and dusty for most of the testing period – I’ll put in a few more miles now that the rains have returned and update this review if any issues arise.
+ On the lighter side for this category
+ Excellent hubs
+ Pleasantly neutral ride quality
– Centerlock rotor mounting only