Refreshingly reliable: WTB Frequency i23 rims
WTB has been in the mountain bike business since the get-go and at this point has forged a reputation for producing straightforward and practical designs that work. The Frequency i23 rims are no exception.
At 530 grams the i23 Frequency rim isn’t going to float away if left unattended but the rims compare favorably to DT’s M520 at 520 grams or the NoTubes ZTR Flow 29 at 525 grams.
As built the wheelset I tested had WTB Laserdisc lite hubs and 32 good old 1.8/2.0 double butted spokes laced 3 cross front and rear. With valve stems, tubeless tape and no skewers the wheels weighed in at a portly 1940 grams. With a slightly tricker hub/spoke selection and build you might be able to shave that down a little, but no matter how you slice it that’s a pretty heavy wheelset.
Also in the nothing fancy department is WTB’s CID, which stands fro Compatible Integrated Design. Sounds techie but really is a simplified way of saying all the parts are commonly available and easily serviceable.
These rims are meant to be built up with standard sized j-bend spokes in widely available lengths with standard nipples and proven and reliable lacing patterns. Sounds boring but with so many wheels tending towards proprietary hubs and rims and spokes that are all but impossible to get I think its refreshing to point out simple reliability.
But there’s more
One look at the i23 rim and you’ll see a slew of little icons that denote a veritable raft of simple innovations and technologies. I already explained CID, Let’s have a quick look at the others.
Directional drilling optimizes the interface between the rim and spoke nipples to reduce stress on the components. This process makes for stiffer, more durable and longer lasting wheels.
Unbendium Bulge, I-beam and 7000 series aluminum all conspire to add to the strength of what is already quite an overbuilt rim. You could say they aren’t all necessary but man, the rims are tough.
Now we get to the good part. WTB has already completed the lengthy and arduous process of UST certification for their 26″ rims, the 29er rims are built to the same specifications and UST certification is under way. The TCS tubeless system works flawlessly and is specifically sized and designed for use with WTB’s TCS tires, UST and tubeless ready tires. The On-Ramp rim profile makes mounting tires and inflating them fast and easy. For purposes of illustration I was issued with WTB’s TCS Moto 1.9 tires that mounted comfortably by hand, inflated easily and sealed up well.
The i23’s weight places it at the slightly heavy end of the XC range for 29er rims, and with an MSRP of $80 the price is right in there too. The Frequency i23 rim is not offered as part of a pre-built wheelset but rather is intended to be a platform for custom wheel builds.
While not setting the world on fire I see this rim as a solid workhorse hoop that can be built with the hub and spoke configuration of your choice, will pound the trails faithfully and might still be going strong when the rest of your bike is worn out.