Totally re-engineered from the ground up, the WTB CZR Carbon is WTB’s latest carbon rim. £499 per rim (complete wheel price TBC).
The WTB CZR Carbon is packed with features and with over two years of prototyping and ride-testing behind it, the rounded yet lumpy rim profile uses a totally asymmetric design for more even tension across the 32 spokes at each end.
The 30mm-inside rim bed has significant square bulges around eyelets to reinforce against spokes being pulled out or cracking the rim at these high-stress areas, and the sidewalls are also much fatter to resist impacts hard enough to compress any tyre protection against the sidewall. Like many premium carbon wheel brands, WTB is offering a no-questions-asked warranty for free replacement if a rim does get damaged while riding.
We can’t comment on claims of 18 per cent more impact resistance than ‘a leading competitor’ in independent testing, but, considering the last set of WTB carbon wheels we tested a few years back cracked and failed on Yorkshire rocks, the CZR proved a much tougher beast entirely on the same terrain. While resisting any damage, with WTB’s own six-pawl hubs they still feel impressively solid and fast-rolling, and also much less spiky and harsh than their predecessors.
Rolling and turning aggressively, a direct-yet- dull stiffness ensures the bike stays calm without ever feeling edgy or uncomfortable, and being solid and tight means you can really drive and lean the wheels to use the terrain for speed. The CZRs don’t feel brittle though, and don’t bounce about in an undamped way, even straddling full-on root webs or heavy drops to man-made DH landings. The front spokes loosened a fraction after about five rides (including uplifting DH tracks), but not to the point it caused any issues.
The funky-looking CZRs perform just as well as some of the leading competitors, with a ride feel and similar solidity/compliance matrix to successful wheels like Santa Cruz’s Reserve or e*thirteen’s TRS – and 485g in 29er size for the rims and a £500 rim price isn’t bad either.
It’s getting to the point in carbon wheel technology, however, that being super-tough with a well-damped ride might not make a product stand out from the crowd or outperform cheaper alloy options. Some brands’ carbon hoops now outperform alloy (and the CZRs) in terms of grip, tracking and even rolling speed on rougher surfaces by deliberately engineering in extra ankle flex or radial compliance, which is a potential factor to consider. So, if it was our money, we’d be looking to upgrade to wheels offering this kind of extra performance – even if we had to spend more.