In the Fall, WTB announced a very burly e-bike specific wheelset dubbed the HTZ i30. Of course, nothing is stopping you – or anyone for that matter – from running them on a fully human powered bike, but the added reinforcement, extra material and strength is all aimed at combatting the additional punishment that wheels on e-bikes see due to the added 20-30 pounds of chassis weight. In any case, I’ve had these wheels bolted up to my Trek Rail since September and wanted to pass on my thoughts on how they’ve been working out…
- 29″ and Mullet configurations
- 30mm inner diameter rim
- 2.3/2.0 spokes
- XD, HG and MicroSpline drivers available
- 42 points of contact (8.5º engagement)
- Heat treated steel freehub body
- 6-bolt rotor interface
- Pricing: Front – $329.95 / Rear – $439.95 / Set – $769.90 USD
- 2701 grams – our scale, 29″ front and rear with tape and valves
At the heart of WTB’s HTZ i30 wheelset are a pair of rather burly hubs with 42 points of engagement for a bite point every 8.5º. Interestingly, the freehub body is made from heat treated steel, with an obvious nod to extra strength and durability.
The rims are 30mm inner diameter – a seemingly broadly agreed upon width these days for modern e-bikes and MTBs. The wheels roll on 32 spokes front and rear which are butted 2.3 / 2.0mm, which is again a nod toward extra strength and durability.
One interesting feature of the hubs are their cooling fins between the main hub flange and the 6-bolt brake mount. These have a goal of helping brake rotors dissipate heat through the hub body.
Another standout aspect of this wheelset is just how dramatically offset the rim profile is, as illustrated in the photo below. This extra offset helps provide the built wheel with a much more even bracing angles from side to side, thus resulting in a stronger wheel.
On the trail
After a smooth install and a super easy tire seating via floor pump, it was off to the trails. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the added weight on trail. Tipping the scales at ~2,700 grams the HTZ i30s added roughly 1.75 pounds of rolling weight, which is something I noticed in a few ways – namely rolling weight, maneuverability – but did get used to fairly quickly. Essentially this felt roughly like the difference between tires with a trail rated casing and an Enduro/DH casing. On a positive note, the added material, strength and rigidity did add to the stability that e-bikes are already notorious for and increased my bike’s surefooted feel. I certainly had no hesitation about or issues with plowing straight into bad lines with reckless abandon, which was quite nice.
With the above in mind, the HTZ i30 wheelset didn’t strike me as having an on-trail feel that stood out in any particular manner. Rather, they just felt sturdy, unfazed and faded to the back of my mind while riding, which is a good thing. If there was to be a single standout attribute it’s that they truly are e-bike specific and thus feel like they’re built with materials and toughness that is in line with and appropriate for bikes that weigh 50+ pounds, unlike standard MTB wheels, which can sometimes feel a bit flimsy and mismatched on heavier chassis. In a market where we’re seeing “e-bike specific” products that border on the ridiculous – such as chain lube – I found this wheelset to be very much a logical offering and on-trail they encouraged an additional level of confidence.
As far as some technical attributes and durability are concerned, thus far the HTZ i30s are hanging tough despite the abusive treatment that’s been thrown their way – they still have no dents and remain dead true. The bearings are all still smooth despite many months of heavy riding in bad conditions and subsequent washings. Lastly, as far as the engagement is concerned, 42 points feels plenty fast on trail – especially given that it’s paired to an e-bike motor, which makes engagement speed less of a factor in general…
All told, I’ve been really impressed with WTB’s HTZ i30 wheelset. Personally, if I were in the market for a really tough pair of wheels for an e-bike, I wouldn’t have thought of the idea of taking a from the ground up approach to a complete e-bike wheelset, but it’s actually quite brilliant and economical. Rather, I likely would have sought out some downhill rated rims, brass nipples and straight gauge spokes and just built a custom wheelset with durable hubs. That leads me to my last topic, which is value…Taking that approach would have likely cost around $1,000 USD, whereas the HTZ i30s come in at ~$770, thus making them pretty tough to beat. At the end of the day, the HTZ i30s are a bit portly, to be sure, but they’re in it for the long haul and after all, you’re likely on an e-bike so it’s offset by a good bit of power. The combination of extra strength, smart design and high value is a great proposition, so if you’re in the market for some wheels that can take a beating they are certainly worth a look.