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Thru-axles aren't just for downhillers anymore. With the advent of the 15mm thru-axle, a dedicated 15mm system is light enough to not scare off all the weight weenies. Gram counting aside, the greatest benefit is the huge amount of added stiffness over a standard quick release. The steering precision of the 15mm axle is paramount, and what you'll notice is more confidence when you're really pushing hard. Shimano has once again taken their top-shelf XTR hubs and paired them with a scandium alloy rim to create this XTR Race WH-M985 15mm Thru Wheelset. They're certainly durable enough to ride during the week, yet light enough to compete on race day. In fact, they're 180 grams lighter than the Trail Wheelset.

While there are quite a few chapters to this book, Shimano's dedication to UST rim certification sings the loudest. The testing and certification process is expensive and arduous, but when you're ready to install a tire, you'll appreciate their efforts. A true UST system allows the installation of tires by hand, and they'll seat and inflate using nothing more than a good floor pump. No joke. So ask yourself if you want to ride something into the backwoods that requires luck, black magic, and the dexterity of a surgeon to seat and inflate.

Inside the scandium UST rims, black stainless steel 14/16/14 butted spokes center the XTR hubs. Both front and rear hubs are specific to this wheelset due to their compatibility with the straight pull spokes, otherwise they use the same internals as the XTR hubs sold individually. They're comprised of a 7075 T6 aluminum hubshell and axle, rolling on Shimano's cup and cone angular contact bearings. The loose ball bearings and cup/cone race system allows you or your mechanic to set the bearing preload to absolute perfection. By carefully adjusting the locknut assembly, it's possible to remove all radial and axial play in the bearing system without creating drag. In fact, if you've never felt the smoothness of XTR Hubs, you should grab a wheel and let it spin in your fingers for a while. You might wonder why you don't have them on your bike.

The XTR Race WH-M985 15mm Thru Wheelset is compatible with centerlock rotors. Though it carries the UST designation, you're not limited to tubeless tires only. Tube-type tires will also work just fine, and you won't have to bother with rims strips either, as the outside wall of the rim is pierced only for the valve stem hole. Both the front and rear hubs are protected from the elements with rubber contact seals and dust caps. The titanium freehub body is compatible with 9- and 10-speed cassettes. The included XTR rear quick release skewer is steel for durability and strength. The front wheel accepts a 15mm thru-axle (included with fork). The rim width of 23.3mm on the outside makes them compatible with tires ranging from 1.5 to 2.25". Both front and rear wheels have 24 stainless spokes in a two-cross pattern and are affixed to the rim with aluminum nipples.

Note: The CenterLock lockring that comes with these wheels is oversized and should be used with a 15mm thru-axle setup. The regular CenterLock lockrings are packaged with the rotors.  

  • UST Rim certification makes takes the 'conversion' out of tubeless conversion
  • Compatible with Shimano centerlock rotors in case you feel like stopping
  • Includes steel XTR quick release skewers for added strength and durability
  • Titanium freehub body shaves grams without compromising strength
  • 9 & 10-speed compatible
  • 23.3mm rim width is compatible with tires ranging from 1.5 to 2.25 in

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XTR race wheels, 26"

  • Familiarity: I've put it through the wringer

These are race wheels and make no apologies for anything else. Light and responsive with top-level accelleration. These aren't heavy duty wheels by any stretch, and they do tend to flex when pushed through corners, so if you're looking for a wheel to thrash, look elsewhere.

The hubs are brilliant, with quick engagement; the rims are designed to work tubeless and mount up with stans with ease.

If you want a 26" wheel that is as light and quick as possible, these are a great option.