Rated: Pro-Lite Antero XC wheels
We received these Prolite wheels back at the start of the season, and we’ve been putting them through a variety of paces on a multitude of rigs, so how did the re-purposed MTB 29er wheels get on?
As we mentioned in our first story on the wheels arrival, Prolite have manufactured these wheels as a 29er, MTB cross country wheelset rather than a cross or road disc offering. However, the reality is that – as cross bikes get more aggressive – the wheels need to be able to stand up to additional trail derived abuse.
Like all Prolite’s product, the Antero XC is 100% hand-built. There is a lot to be said for the process, and its one that Prolite are understandably proud of. Rather than being machine laced and hand finished, the wheels are assembled, from scratch by the nimble fingers of the experienced Prolite workforce.
Here’s a little video of the process.
What gives trail side
None of that matters if the wheels doesn’t perform out on the trails and tracks though, and that brings us onto the first findings. Normally when you first roll out on a new wheel set, there are a few pops and pings, and the spokes settle and any tension stored in the spokes is released. This can result in the need for a few tweaks with a spoke key after a first hard ride. With the Anteros – Nothing. Nada, not a peep. and after nearly 6 months, they have yet to need a trip to the wheel jig. That aside is almost enough to make for a fully Recommended test result, but there is way to much other stuff that needs to be mentioned to do the Antero XC’s justice.
Despite the MTB design and name, the 23mm wide rim has a 19mm internal width. This sets up a 33-35c cross tyre with a great profile for hard cornering, as it often brings the side knobs into a more usable position (higher up the profile curve and therefore offering more tread from which to extract increased grip the majority of the time). If the width wasn’t enough, the rim is actually an i beam internally which offers plenty of lateral stiffness without negating comfort in the way that a deep rim could. Add in the tubeless ready profile and there is not a lot left wanting.
The rims are tied to the hubs using Pillar’s stainless steel butted spokes, and its nice to see that should you ever need to replace a spoke, the access is super quick, thanks to the simple end cap removal process.
When it comes to the hubs, the front hub is a trick looking carbon centred tube, that simply holds the spokes in place very well. Solid EZO Japanese bearings have lasted well, and are large in size, so take the loads well.
Out back is where things get interesting. The XE hub uses Prolite’s Synergy Cantilever freehub body. A huge drive side bearing supports the FHB mechanism, and 84 engagement points mean that the engagement is almost instantaneous. Be aware though, you’ll not be sneaking up on many people with these. As we go to press, the Freehub is only available in a ten speed version, but products like Edco’s new 10 plus 11 lockring mean these wheels aren’t limited to your old bike. We even ran 11 speed cassettes without the smallest cog in a ten speed set up with little real world limitation.
There is also a road wheel due from Prolite using the XE hub, so a true 11 speed FHB isn’t a million miles away either.
One other major advantage of the MTB roots are the through axles adapters that come as standard. granted, there are not many bikes that need them just yet, but having a future proof wheel set from the gun is always a good idea. In use, the bolt through set up requires a 17mm spanner and allen keys to set up, but once done has proven ultra reliable, just like the rest of the wheels.
To finish up, its fair to say we were impressed. At under £500, the Antero XC’s are a lot of wheel for which to swap your hard earned money. Exceptionally well built and coming in within a couple of grams of quoted weight at 1656grams for the pair, you’ll need to spend a lot of money to get something a lot lighter or better performing. When you almost forget you’ve got test wheels in a bike, and just enjoy the riding, its always a good sign, and with the Antero XC’s this was the default setting. The fact they let us just crack on with some DirtyDropbarGoodness without needing a second though, there is no arguing with that: