-30-millimeter internal width
-Smooth ride quality
-Just the right amount of stiff
-Competitive warranty and crash replacement policy
-Rim-only, for now
Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The carbon fiber wheel market has become extremely competitive in recent years, as brands pop up left and right looking to make a quick buck. With the market becoming saturated with so many new options, each similar to the next but with different decals and slightly lighter claimed weights, few actually offer something unique. But WTB has done exactly that with their latest CZR i30 carbon wheel aimed at Enduro and aggressive trail sectors.
The CZR i30 uses WTB’s TCS 2.0 (Tubeless Compatible System) that is similar to their legacy TCS technology but with some clever features. The center of the rim holds an extra, stiffer, non-adhesive strip that sits between the tubeless tape and the spoke holes. This helps make for a more instant seal during setup when the tire bead may be in the middle of the rim. Because the rim tape is not able to indent as air is forced into the tire, it makes a more consistent seal and the tire is easier to seat. It also happens to prevent the seal from being punctured if a spoke breaks. This does add some weight, but nothing is slower than a flat tire. WTB designed the CZR with an internal width of 30 millimeters suited for tires ranging in widths of 2.4 to 2.6 inches.
Warranties and crash replacement policies in the carbon rim market seem to be evolving faster than the rims themselves. So, WTB backs up the CZR with a no-questions-asked warranty for damage caused while riding. Essentially if you break a rim under any normal, on-trail circumstance, WTB will replace it. In the event the rim breaks off-trail, WTB offers a 50% discount for the replacement of the rim. Neither policy covers the entire wheel. The CZR is only available for 29ers in 28 and 32-hole options that use a 5mm offset to help keep the wheel strong and the spoke tension even. And in a feature similar to one seen on the Reserve carbon wheels, the spoke holes are also reinforced with extra carbon, on the outside, not the inside, where it’s simpler to manufacture. The CZR i30 retails for $570 per bare rim. WTB does not currently offer these as a wheelset but given that they just released complete alloy sets I could see them offering these as a complete set in the future.
Getting my hands on the CZR, I could feel how burly and intentional the design of the rim is. It has a nice rounded shape, and something about the square-shaped protruding reinforcements just look clean. My 28-hole rim came in at 475 grams, which is on par with what WTB claims. I laced up my rims in a 3-cross pattern, which is pretty standard for most of my mountain bike wheels. From beginning to end, building the CZRs was straight forward. I didn’t have to work the rim into true or exert any extra fuss to achieve even spoke tension. I ran a set of Maxxis Minions and Specialized Butcher tires during my testing, and I didn’t have any issues with either tire being too tight to install. The Minions ranged in width of 2.4-2.5 and the Butchers were 2.35 and 2.6 (though measured 2.5).
The CZRs are one of the more compliant carbon fiber rims I’ve ridden. Granted, there are a lot of factors that can play into ride quality. But overall, these rims were smooth. More so than you’d think given their relatively tall profile. On chattery sections of trail, I didn’t feel excessive fatigue in my hands or forearms. Pedaling hard out of the saddle the rims were supported and didn’t give me any unwanted flex. On the durability side, the CZRs proved ready to take a punch or ten. I intentionally ran lower tire pressures at times to see how the rim would hold up and was able to keep from experiencing any pinch flats. Several rock strikes later, the CZRs showed little to no sign of wear and stayed true for the majority of my riding.
On the cost scale, the CZR rim is not the priciest, but it’s definitely not the cheapest. You can get no-frills carbon rims from brands like Light Bicycle for as low as $260. You can get some-frills rims from We Are One, who is offering a Canadian-made carbon option for about $450. A Santa Cruz Reserve rim with similar technology to WTB’s is coming in around $600. Beyond this range, you rise steeply into boutique brands like ENVE and DT Swiss, but if you are looking for the absolutely most affordable this will not be the rim for you. If you’re looking for something strong that is well designed and doesn’t come at an absolute premium, the CZR will deliver in every sense.
Photos: Chris Wellhausen