An immediate difference… that’s what I noticed after installing the Cantu Rumble wheelset on my Salsa Cycles Beargease. The question was: what was I noticing? In my initial Cantu review, I touched on the fact that double-wall carbon rims aren’t much, if any, lighter than single wall alloy rims that are available and quite popular with fat-bikers. Immediately though, my bike felt more lively and responsive after making the switch from the stock Sun Ringle Mulefut rims on DT Swiss Big Ride hubs. After spending a bunch of time on varying terrains; from snow to sand, to buff singletrack, to full-on bushwhacking I think I’ve really figured out what I’m interpreting.
So, to preface, I’ve ridden carbon mtb, road, and gravel wheels for years. As a bigger guy (230 lbs) I really notice a flexy wheel- rim specifically. I think that is even more pronounced as frames and forks have significantly stiffened up with the implementation of thru axle designs, and light duty alloy rims tend to be the place where I feel the most “give”. To combat that I implemented carbon rims in many situations to maintain a reasonable overall weight, as well as get that extra little bit of lateral stiffness when cornering. What I didn’t really anticipate was how much the difference in riding style between bikes would show different values in the carbon rims.
What I expected going in from Cantu’s offering in fat wheels was: high-quality wheel build, good tubeless capability, and lots of logo colors! Upon unboxing the wheels and throwing them in the truing stand my first speculation was confirmed. I’ve sold Cantu wheels as a retailer, and one thing I appreciated was John Wilmeth’s (owner/wheel builder) attention to tension balance, true, and generally what it takes to build a long-lasting, reliable wheel. I usually prefer to build my own wheels, but really I can’t ask for better than John delivers. Still now, 6 months after receiving them, and tons of rough hours on them, the wheels run true as day one. I think an intelligent spec that Cantu uses to aid in long term true and tension is the spec’ing of the Sapim CX-Ray spokes. It is considered by many to be a top tier spoke option, and has an elliptical shape. That does two things for the overall wheel quality: it allows the spoke to hold a little higher tension, and in my experience it really allows the builder to minimize the amount of “wind up” of the spokes. This translates into a wheel that sees much less “break-in”, so it stays truer longer.
The tubeless set up on these wheels was a snap. I set one up in a field an hour before an event. What we found was that 35mm tape (we used Whisky tape) was the perfect size to allow the tire to be taken on and off easily, but the rim is very deep, and when we installed wider tape, unless we were very diligent about sinking it into the center, the ends could pull up and lose the seal. The beads of both sets of 45NRTH tires I mounted snapped loudly into place- definitely just gently ease up the pressure- you do not have to give a lot of force with these rims. The tubeless bead held great in my 27.5×4 set up as low as about 4psi, but I don’t go much lower than that. Also, whether a component of the rim or the tires, or combination, but both sets held air tremendously. I would say I needed to put air in maybe once every 2-3 weeks using Orange Seal Sub-zero sealant.
Color options are plentiful. For sure you know they are Cantu wheels, the logos are not small, but they are also applied by hand by John, so I look at them like stamps of approval. If you’re into toning down your aesthetics, the black decals are super stealthy, and the metallic grey is also a pretty classy look.
All that (besides color) gets me back to what did the wheels do for me? Well, it really seems like the implementation of the Cantu Rumble wheelset on my Beargrease was that it enhanced so many aspects of the bike. I feel like the carbon being somewhat flexible vertically, but super stiff laterally really provides better traction and the ability to climb nasty punchy climbs. The wheels make the bike move FORWARD and really aid in snapping the bike back straight when the trail gets off-chamber or really loose. I also think that when I’m riding in deep grass or heavily wooded terrain- twisting and turning through trees the carbon wheels respond in a different way than aluminum. The best way I can describe it is: they take the delay out of things like cornering and acceleration that you didn’t even know existed until it was gone. I almost had to adjust how I cornered on the bike because it just performed more quickly. On trails, the wheels add confidence as you dip and duck through trees- almost going where I wanted them to go before I even knew I wanted it. Once I adjusted to the new setup, I think another way to say what I felt was that moving the bike became more intuitive and I didn’t fight the bike as much or have to heave it around corners.
I’ve really come to appreciate having the Cantu Rumble wheels on my bike. The inherent nimbleness was bolstered, along with providing reliable tubeless setup and air retention day in and day out. The new carbon wheels allowed me to push all types of terrain in a new way. The only aspect that I wasn’t 100% sold on was the hub engagement. This hub has 30 points of engagement, and while that is probably adequate for most riders, I have come to appreciate the almost instant engagement of brands like Industry Nine’s Hydra freehubs. Ultimately if I got to just build the wheels for myself, I’d use the same rims, nipples, spokes, and put them on purple I9’s, but that would increase the price as well. I think that in the sub $2000 arena for complete fat wheels the Cantu Rumble has to be considered. Its quality of individual components- rims, nipples, spokes, and hubs overall shines through as a complete wheel capable of handling all terrains. The rim’s shape does shed snow well, and on dirt…well dang!
Cantu sells directly via its website and through select dealers around the country. World of Bikes in Iowa City…where I work is one of those dealers. Contact us if you’re interested in upping the enjoyment of your fat-bike. I’m pretty confident now that these carbon fiber Cantu Rumble wheels will make that a reality.
For more information about Cantu visit – http://www.cantuwheels.com/