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WTB Frequency i19 TCS Rims

Review: WTB Frequency i19 TCS Rims

Elaine Bothe's picture

We Liked

Mountain bike rims for cyclocross? Why? Well, WTB has a lot of experience building disc-ready, tubeless-ready, strong, reliable and stiff rims that are light and reasonably priced. That's why! And, conveniently, the 29er size rims fit cyclocross tires. Sure, you could put cx tires on your 29er, but many of those rims are a lot wider than the WTB i19. This is what makes this rim a great sleeper solution for cyclocross. Plus, it's as light as a lot of road rims!

We got a perfectly good set of these WTB i19 rims wrapped around a wonderful set of spokes and DT Swiss 240s hubs, in a custom wheel build courtesy of Portland-based Sugar Wheel Works. The wheels were especially built for our Colnago World Cup 2.0, the test mule we've been relentlessly flogging around our favorite test tracks and training rides. Our goal was a strong, light, reliable yet reasonably priced wheelset that we could race, train on, and generally abuse. We also wanted a wheelset that would complement the Colnago's strong points--its stiffness and quick handling--and yet tune the ride to be a lot less harsh and to be more responsive. Lightness was also a priority, since the stock World Cup 2.0 isn't so much, out of the box.

Jude Kirstein at Sugar Wheel Works hit the nail on the head with the wheelset. She balanced the expensive but extremely reliable and buttery smoothDT Swiss 240s hubs with the affordable WTB i19 rims. More than the sum of its parts, this handbuilt wheelset rolls so smoothly and accelerates nicely. The 32 spoke count is a great balance between the greater stiffness and weight of a 36 count, and adds strength where a smaller spoke count might be lacking. Jude laced in some compliance and flexibility with the 2-cross spoke pattern and some tensioning magic. This is the wheelset the Colnago should come witth stock! Well, at least, these are the rims.

So far, I love the fact the WTB i19 rims are still true and solid. No dents, flat spots or anything, despite my hours of railing down technical rocky switchbacks, bunny hopping stuff, railing gravel roads and generally having a blast in places most 'cross bike wheels would fear treading. In combination with the disc brakes, I think our trusty Colnago with these wheels might very well be my weapon of choice for the cyclocross Super D race held later this year in Bend, Oregon.

I also LOVE the price at $80 each. There are lighter rims out there, but they are a lot more expensive. There are even rims at the same weight for a lot more money, too! WTB's "I-beam" construction adds a tiny bit of weight but a lot of strength and stiffness. Not so much that you can't still feel the ground or deaden the ride, but plenty to respond to acceleration and not be afraid of big bumps or surprises. And yet, crazily enough, WTB offers a cheaper, heavier rim without the I-beam. So I'm not sure what makes the i19 hit a magic sweet spot of cheap, light and fun, but I'll take it and enjoy.

I also like the look of the WTB i19 rims. Most 'cross rims are a little more subdued, I like the sporty white graphics.

We Didn't Like

I wish WTB would offer an i19 version in a lower spoke count for a race-only option. That would probably be a cyclocross-specific version, and since WTB is all about mountain bikes, that might be a stretch. But, why not?

A rim brake option might be nice, too... that would be great for gravel road racing and race-light for cyclocross!

The Final Say

Tempting as it may be, you can't just slap on a disc mountain bike wheel onto your disc cyclocross bike, even if you have a whole fleet of 29ers and a bunch of spare wheels floating around in your basement or garage. But you can take a WTB i19 mountain bike rim and build up a wheel with the right spacing for your cyclocross bike. With CX rims getting wider and MTB rims getting lighter, the boundaries are dissappearing rapidly.

The WTB i19 rim is a great sneaky choice if you want to build a custom cyclocross wheelset, don't have a lot of money but want reliability and strength. It depends on what you are looking for, and you can build this same rim up light for racing or heavier for training. Or in between, for both, like what we did.

Kudos to WTB. I can't think of anything else I'd want in an all-purpose disc-only cyclocross rim, even if it does come from a mountain bike company like WTB! Except for maybe a rim brake version, too.

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