After almost a year jumping, riding, and—occasionally—bashing NOBL’s TR37 carbon mountain wheelset, Colt Fetters thinks he might just have found the one workhorse enduro wheel to rule them all. The TR37s tip in on the lighter side of the scales, and feature a 32-spoke construction and NOBL’s signature sinewave design. Read on for Colt’s full rundown on these wheels and thoughts on why carbon wheels should get more credit for their durability.
All I wanted was a wheelset that I could stop thinking about—the freedom of “set it and forget it” is underrated. In my search for a workhorse wheelset, I was looking for one that wouldn’t need frequent maintenance or that I’m constantly worried about imploding. Wheels that just plain work. I wanted a wheel I could ride on just about everything, from the trails around town and bikepacking trips to the occasional bike park day and maybe even a local XC race. Searching for a quiver killer is usually a fool’s errand. That’s why most of us spend the workday dreaming about the perfect five-bike quiver (I’ll happily drop mine into the comments here…). However, I wondered, with a healthy budget, could I find the one wheelset that ticked all my boxes so I could clear up some much-needed mental capacity to get back to getting work done at my office job?
Let me start by putting an asterisk on this review: I’m not the most technical person in the world when it comes to most things, including bike components. Sure, I understand the basics of wheel design, but I didn’t get an engineering degree for a reason. I suspect that I’m not too dissimilar from most readers here in that regard. I see new products, get psyched on the latest doodad, and wonder if I’m perceptive enough to really tell the difference in the diminishing returns that most new-fangled bike companies spin as “the next greatest innovation in cycling.” I’m here to strip away the marketing hype and tell you what actually makes a difference—now, on to the review.
A Workhorse Enduro Wheelset
NOBL is a humble little company based in Vancouver Island, British Columbia. But we all know in the bike world that saying that you’re based in BC is, by default, a bit of a humble brag, and for good reason. With a staff made up of past racers, mechanics, and coaches, NOBL has a wealth of experience amongst their staff. This was made obvious to me during the process of ordering my wheelset when a rep spent a good 30 minutes talking with me about which wheel was best suited for my style of riding. No buyer’s remorse here, I was left feeling like I ordered the perfect pair. To be clear, NOBL let me test and keep these wheels free of charge for the purpose of this review. But trust me when I say, I wouldn’t second guess pulling the trigger on these with my own plastic if I had to. And after reading reviews online, their customer service is highly praised even when their wheels aren’t going to The Radavist for review.
Targeted at the enduro market, these aren’t the lightest wheels out there, with the rims coming in at 450g for the front and 550g for the rear. The total build weight tips in at just over 1650 grams (sans tires). However, when comparing the weight of these wheels to other carbon enduro wheels, they’re lighter than most of the competition. Take Santa Cruz’s Reserve 30 HD wheelset that weighs in at 1,832g or Zipps 2011-gram 3Zero Moto. As I mentioned previously, weight isn’t all that important to me. If it is to you, you’re probably not looking at enduro wheels anyways. The name, TR37, might be a bit misleading as most rims are known for their internal width. These measure in at 31mm in the front and 30mm in the rear. I ran my test TR37s wrapped with Maxxis Minions (2.5 DHR/2.6 DHF) most of the time, and the tires measured pretty darn close to their advertised width. If a width of more than 2.4” isn’t a priority for you, take a look at NOBL’s i28mm TR32, lauded as the BC-rated XC wheelset.
It’s Time to Acknowledge the Durability of Carbon Wheels
Customizing these wheels is half the fun. I chose the classic Industry Nine Hydra Hubs because I’m an unashamed I9 fanboy who cut his teeth mountain biking in the southeast. Other hub options found on NOBL’s website include DT Swiss, Onyx, Chris King, and Hope. They’ve even got a weight calculator for those who care to know exactly what their rim/hub/spoke combo will weigh. With an array of colors, you can also choose vinyls, hubs, and valve covers that match your bike. Oh… and they offer mullet builds.
While many riders may look to a carbon wheelset for weight savings or stiffness, I’m more interested in the durability that a carbon wheel offers. Some of you may be surprised to read that: carbon hasn’t always had the greatest reputation for durability, especially in wheels, but carbon wheelsets have come a long way since their inception. We now see them being raced in world cups and, as such, being bashed and beaten by roots and rocks. Still, wheel manufacturers have faced an uphill battle getting the mountain bike community to trust their carbon wheels. So much so, in fact, that many manufacturers now offer lifetime warranties on their wheels. NOBL’s warranty is so good as to cover any riding circumstance.
Their policy for their premium series wheels reads:
“If you manage to break your rims while riding your bike, we will send you a replacement rim at no charge, and you will just have to pay the shipping cost. If you damage your rims because of non-riding circumstances like melting your rims because it was sitting too close to your vehicle’s exhaust on a road trip, we’ll give you 50% off a replacement. This coverage lasts indefinitely to the original purchaser.”
Additionally, purchasing direct from NOBL gains you a lifetime of service on hubs, wheel truing, and tune-ups, with no labor charges. Read that again. That’s a pretty stellar deal for folks looking to avoid the headache of wheel issues. If you haven’t been mountain biking for long, let me assure you, wheel issues are inevitable. There are no maybes. This makes NOBL’s commitment to their product and customer service all the more impressive: if you’re riding your bike and you break a rim, they’ve got you. Even if your wheel is 10 years old, even if you rode the entirety of Captain Ahab on a flat, even if you hucked into the mouth of an angry hippopotamus, they will replace your rim for no more than the cost of shipping.
Colt sending it at the 2022 Singlespeed Cyclocross World Championships in Durango (top photo: unknown; bottom photo: Brynne Mower)
My style of riding was developed in places like Pisgah and Moab, which tend to be tough on wheels in fairly disparate ways. My point-shoot-and-bash style of riding has resulted in plenty of destroyed wheels over the years – like the time I cracked a rim while attempting a backie at cyclocross singlespeed worlds (insert photo). When I went looking for new wheels, I was looking for ones that I could huck to flat, on sandstone, with less-than-ideal tire pressure. I’m happy to say I think I found the right pair. The number of rock ledges I’ve bashed into—without rim protection—and have finished out the ride to find the wheels still running perfectly true is absolutely astonishing. Not cracking with repeated abuse is the lowest bar for a carbon wheel to clear; staying true speaks to a higher caliber construction. Much of this likely speaks to the durable design: the rims are comprised of 32 holes, and the engineers at NOBL beefed up the walls and hookless bead lip on the rear rim specifically for bashing on rocks.
There’s a standout difference to how NOBL’s rims look and ride. The notorious sinewave shape of the rim isn’t just for a standout appearance, it helps aid lateral stiffness in the wheel. And, lateral stiffness is something most of us are looking for in a pair of carbon hoops so that when we stand up and deliver the last few watts we can muster, most of that energy is transferred into driving us forward instead of being absorbed by our wheels (and other components; looking at you suspension). But of course, we’re also looking for vertical compliance in our wheels because who wants to have a molar rattle out of their gums on the aforementioned Captain Ahab? NOBL makes the front wheel on the TR37 set 25% “less vertically stiff” than the rear; they achieve that by using a slightly wider rim profile, thinner rim walls, and slimmed-down hookless bead. The dampening characteristics being applied to the front wheel are where most of the effect will be felt by the rider. The rear wheel is built a bit beefier for more impact resistance, which is typically where most rock strikes happen.
Now, you’re probably wondering, being the self-proclaimed “everyman,” did I feel the compliance claimed by NOBL? Well, I didn’t NOT feel it. Meaning that, thankfully, they didn’t feel too stiff. Which is often the complaint of overbuilt carbon wheelsets. I rode these wheels on a variety of bikes, ranging from a rigid steel mtb, a titanium hardtail, and a carbon trail bike. Each time I expected to come home with sore wrists (like I have on other stiff carbon wheelsets), but I never did. These wheels felt just as vertically compliant as a nice aluminum wheel. However, they felt a bit stiffer laterally while standing and climbing. That lateral stiffness was magnified on the rigid steel mountain bike and all but disappeared on my squishy trail bike, which is to be expected.
My specific build with the I9 Hydras came in at $1550 before tax/shipping. Some folks may balk at the cost. However, these definitely aren’t the most expensive hoops of their kind on the internet, especially with the lifetime guarantee and proprietary design. I used to be the person who bought a Stans’ Flow wheelset almost every season. Instead, this TR37 wheelset only has to last me a few years to recoup the cost. And, seeing how they’ve held up this past season, I’m sure I’ll have them a good while longer.
As a carbon all-mountain/enduro rim, this wheelset is built for mountain bikers who want a sturdy workhorse, not the show pony. Backed by NOBL’s lifetime warranty, I don’t mind the occasional rock strike. And to be frank, that’s what I love about these wheels. They provide peace of mind with a pretty decent ride. They’re stiff but not too stiff, are customizable, hit a decent price point, and after a year of abuse, seem to be indestructible.
- Durable – Wheels are still true after almost a year of hard riding
- Comprehensive Lifetime Warranty
- Custom build options are available
- Compliant – Not too stiff.
- Not a light & stiff XC wheel (honestly, that’s a pro for me…)
- Not the cheapest wheels on the market