One year ago I unboxed a set of super-light wheels from three Minnesota companies that are collaborating together to create the HED Made in MN Wheelset. At nineteen hundred and seventy-three grams, I declared them the lightest fat bike wheels in the universe and I’ve been riding them for a full year now. I shared a dirt review of the wheels after three months of testing last summer. You can check that out here, but here’s a quote from that article.
These wheels really made me feel like I could ride my fat bike in many situations where I’d usually ride a gravel bike or a mountain bike. The wheelset turned (my fat bike) into a true quiver killer or maybe a quiver limiter. A better way to state it would be to say that these wheels made my fat-bike a better overall bicycle.
At the end of that dirt review, I said that I’d follow up with a more comprehensive review that would include snow, slurm, ice, gnomes, etc. (I think that I’ve ridden all of those). After a year I can also report on the durability of these wheels. They’ve held up very well and are still running quiet and true. There hasn’t been a single mishap or repair required during the somewhat rigorous test period of the last year. These wheels got derbied at the festival formerly known as gnomefest and starred in all of the slow-motion videos that I take when it snows.
Because when it snows, I go out and ride. Last winter was a pretty great snow season in Wisconsin and I spent a lot of time riding 27.5×4.3 tires mounted tubeless. All of the 27.5 tire tests that I’ve written about for the last year have been on this wheelset. I don’t feel like I’ve babied these wheels in any way but I don’t do any big jumps. They’ve been ridden in everything mother nature has thrown at us over the last year and still work as well as the day they came out of the box.
The tubeless setup of the HED carbon rims is somewhat unique. The wheels don’t require any tape which simplifies things. HED calls their bead setting process Inflato-Blam and it works. The giant blue Inflato-bands are clutch. You can watch a video of inflato-Blam below.
I’ve mounted a variety of tires onto the HED Rims and Inflato-Blam Works and you don’t have to wear a lab coat to get it done. Eye and maybe ear protection is a really good idea, along with reading the instructions (duh!)
The Onyx Racing Hubs have remained smooth, silent, and deep space sparkly for the duration of the test period. This isn’t my first set of Onyx Racing Hubs. I’ve put thousands of miles on their hubs and they’ve been outstanding. These hubs are specially designed to work with perhaps the most exotic component of the Made in MN wheelset, the Berd fiber spokes.
The Berd Spokes have disappeared and acted like normal spokes. That’s probably the best thing that you can say about a bicycle component that pushes the weight envelope with cutting-edge technology. The spokes have had zero failures or need for adjustments. The ride-feel is indecernable compared to regular spokes. I would not ride my bike through a bonfire, but other than that…The Berd sokes are 100% in play.
The bottom line here is that this wheelset will make a big difference in how your fat bike will ride. When I ride a fat bike with standard alloy wheels, I miss these wheels. I think the quick acceleration and lower rotational mass have gotten me a little spoiled. I haven’t had the need (or want) for a non-fat mountain bike in the last year. My fat bike is also my mountain bike because it’s lighter than any other regular MTB in my bike shed. More times than not, the lightest components aren’t made to be the most durable, but in this case, we can report that they’ve lived through the first year with flying colors! I’ll definitely enjoy experiencing just how the second and third year of riding them works out. I’d recommend these wheels to friends. Light Strong and Fast – and Made in MN – Land of Ten Thousand Lakes
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