Reviews / Wheels
The trend for wider rims is clear, and the competition is hotting up as manufacturers respond and the choice expands. The 345 from Spank has an internal width of 30mm, whilst it's namesake number refers to the outer width of 34.5mm. They feature their OohBah rim profile, aiming to create a strong, light and stiff hoop, which means there's little weight penalty for the wider rims. Beadbite technology keeps tyres locked in at low pressures, allowing for plenty of traction with minimal risk. The hub is an OOZY Trail Hub and sees refinements over it's previous version. The hub now uses oversized single spoke length flanges to keep spoke lengths short and therefore stiffer, spoke count is up to 32 triple butted straight pull spokes which is up from 28 on the previous model. It's worth reiterating that the single spoke length applies to front and back wheel, regardless of which side, and with a couple of spares with the wheelset, you're set for any mishaps. The freehub features a 3 pawl design and 30t engagement and the hubs can be mounted on a variety of dropouts with swappable adaptors. Weight comes in at a neither featherweight or super heavy 2000g.
I ran these 27.5 wheels with a 20mm axle up front (non Boost) and a 12 by 142mm rear end on a 150mm trail/enduro bike and fitted Super Gravity tyres front and rear. The test would see the wheels ridden throughout my local trails, before a trip to the Megavalanche and a round of the EWS in La Thuile. So they've had a tough life.
Mounting tubeless was simple with the provided valves and being already rim taped. Inflation with a track pump was easy, though they require a serious amount of air to get the tyres to fully seat properly, before dropping down to a more reasonable pressure. Talking of pressures, we hovered around the 25-30psi mark given the very rocky nature of the trails and the general abuse they were given. The only initial issue was with the rim tape, which being very thin, managed to put a perfectly circular hole in itself as it was pressured against a spoke hole on the rim. Once this baffling release of air was solved, there have been no further issues with holding air. Once mounted, the rims give a great tyre profile and the rounded cross section shape of the rim gives a great look, confusing a few folks who thought they were much more pricey carbon rims.
Once up and running, the wheels have been stiff and true throughout their time with me, requiring a quick tighten of spokes after a few days of alpine riding, but other than that they have been exceptionally solid and dependable. The wider rim gives the tyre a more stable base and gives them no excuse to squirm around, allowing lower pressures to be run without wallowing. The only real damage I managed to inflict on these was a dent on the top side of the rim, which caused no problem, but perhaps indicates that as rims get wider, they also get thinner, and that extra width gives a bigger target for rocks.
Although not the lightest wheelset, they are certainly solid, and are stiff enough to provide a tonne of confidence when launching into a rock garden, or hammering a berm. Certainly noticeable is the confidence to push the front wheel hard into a corner with minimal flex or tyre roll. The hub engagement is positive, but there are fewer teeth than other hubs out there and this leads to a slightly lazy pick up. The rest of the hub is a lovely design, with the straight pull spokes sitting into cleanly machined flanges.
I loved the wider profile, and I would certainly look for rims of this width for trail riding and beyond. With little in the way of weight penalty, they offer a more stable platform, allowing tyres to perform at their best. Coming in at a competitive price (649.00 US$ / 649.90 €) they offer great performance, providing a modern, wide and stiff set of wheels that can certainly take some serious punishment and keep you rolling.
By Ewen TurnerEwen Turner is a self-confessed bike geek from Kendal in the Lake District of England. He runs a coaching and guiding business up there and has a plethora of knowledge about bikes with an analytical approach to testing. His passion for bicycles is infectious, and he’s a ripper on the trails who prefers to fit his working life around his time on the bike.
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