Advanced Guide: Mountain Bike Wheels Trail vs. XC by Performance Bicycle

When it comes to mountain bike wheels, the type of riding you do is probably one of the most important factors to consider. Not all MTB wheels are right for all kinds of conditions, and choosing the wrong one can have a significant impact on your ride. So take a few minutes to really think about how you ride, the terrain around you, and your body type before choosing a new wheelset.

For riders who like to do more XC riding, a lightweight wheelset is probably the way to go. XC riding tends to be more fast and flowy than all-mountain riding, and the courses are usually less technical with fewer rocks, roots and drop offs. Carbon fiber or lightweight rims, low spoke counts and lightweight hubs will result in a wheel that will spin up faster, and help you climb quicker, but will compromise durability to a degree. Most XC wheels are meant to take the big, heavy hits you may encounter during AM or trail riding.

For those who prefer trail or all-mountain (AM) riding, you’ll probably want to look for a wheel designed with durability and strength in mind. To tackle more technical courses, you’ll want wheels that feature stronger rims and higher spoke counts, with hubs that are well sealed against the elements. These types of wheels do tend to be heavier than XC wheels, but their nearly bombproof construction makes them ideal for everyday riding or more technical terrain.

There are many other factors to consider, such as materials and tire types, so to learn more, check out our other videos on the Performance Bicycles Learning Center.

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