Evil The Following MB with a set of Spank OOZY 350 rims laced to Hope Pro 4 hubs
Reviewed by Eric Smith
It seems like carbon rims have been getting most of the attention lately, and oftentimes for good reason. Carbon rims can be built light and strong, and (when designed correctly) they can be laterally stiff yet radially compliant. The caveat with carbon rims is, of course, price. I was fortunate enough to run a set of Ibis’s ultra-wide 742 carbon rims on my previous all-mountain/enduro bike. They were spectacular. Through nearly 3 years of abuse, I never had to get out a spoke wrench once.* They were light, stiff, and bombproof. But times change, and with my most recent bike I moved from 27.5” wheels to 29” and it was time to build a new set of wheels. I weighed several options, but I really didn’t want to shell out for carbon. I was intent on finding a lower-priced option that would still meet my over-inflated expectations. Enter Spank’s new OOZY 350.
*Actually, that’s a lie, once I had my bike on the back of my car while I was merging onto the interstate at ~65mph. I was looking back over my shoulder when I clipped a rogue construction barrel that was in my lane with the back wheel of my bike, snapping the wheel strap and nearly ripping the bike off the rack. The wheel only had a slight wobble which I trued out in less than a minute once I got home.
My simple criteria for new rims:
- Aluminum (because I don’t want to pay carbon prices)
- 30mm+ internal width (because I want to run manly tires)
- As light as possible (because I’m weak)
- Strong (because I’m a human being riding a short travel bike who occasionally makes mistakes)
- Comfortable but won’t feel like a wet noodle when pushed hard (I’m on a short travel bike, remember)
We all know that with mountain bikes there are plenty of flashy products that don’t actually offer any additional benefits over some lower-priced counterparts. My goal was to build a set of wheels that eeks out maximum performance for the lowest possible price, striking right at the point of diminishing returns.
Fortunately for me, when I was in the process of building my new bike (Evil’s new Following MB) Spank was in the process of releasing their newest creation – the OOZY 350 rim. The specs seemed to tick all my boxes:
- Aluminum and only $99/rim MSRP
- 30.5mm internal width
- An extremely competitive 495g/rim in 29”
- Spank bills these as trail/AM/enduro-rated rims
- Feature a low profile height for radial compliance and Spank’s OohBah tech for lateral stiffness
A couple notes here. At $99/rim, these are about $400 less than the cheapest carbon hoops (from a reputable manufacturer). That means I’m saving about $800 on this wheelset. Also, at 495g for a 29” rim these are some of, if not the lightest 30mm+ aluminum enduro rims out there. For perspective, consider that most carbon rims in this width that are designed for enduro use are 430-450g+. So to save $400 per wheel you only give up ~50g. Not bad at all. And if you’re not in the mood for a custom build, Spank also offers the OOZY 350s in a complete wheelset with their house-branded hubs.
I had my OOZY 350s built up on a set of the esteemed workhorse Hope Pro 4 hubs with DT Swiss Comp Race spokes and brass nipples. An every-man build that, in my opinion, strikes a perfect balance of all-out performance with budget-consciousness. As with any custom build, the quality of the build will make all the difference when it comes to durability and ease of maintenance down the line.
So far I’ve run the 350s with a 2.5WT Minion DHF Exo up front, with the width of the rim lending itself perfectly to Maxxis’s WT tires. On the back I started out with a 2.4 Minion DHR Exo, then switched to a 2.3 Minion DHF Exo due to tire clearance issues with my frame. Both of those tires also performed well on the 350s. I typically run pressures around 24psi in the front and 25psi in the back for trail rides, with 1 to 2 psi more if I’m going to be riding bigger hits or extremely rocky trails.
Spank’s OohBah rim profile is an interesting thing, and whether or not this design is entirely necessary to gain the level of stiffness these rims offer is a question I can’t answer. What I do know is that the “w” shape of the rim bed can sometimes make it difficult to install a tubeless tire. My biggest qualm with these rims, though, is tubeless setup with Spank’s BeadBite texturing. With the 350s, Spank has applied the BeadBite “teeth” to the inside of the rim wall AND to the outer portions of the rim bed. I can attest that this does seem to help keep a tire from burping off the rim when railing hard at low tire pressures, but it also makes getting an airtight seal when taping them for a tubeless setup and seating a tubeless tire a real pain. Prepare yourself mentally and spiritually before you set out to tape these and seat up some tires for the first time.
And now on to the most important part – do the OOZY 350s meet my expectations? In short – yes. They’re lightweight, wide, strong, and comfortable. They have held up extremely well so far, even on the back of a 120mm bike that I’ve been trying to ride like an enduro bike. The finish seems to have held up against scratches and rock strikes well, with just a couple scratches exposing silver metal underneath. One particular rock strike left a very small ding in the top of the rim, but nothing concerning. They have held up to impacts much better than some softer aluminum rims I’ve ridden.
I have yet to flat in 4+ months of riding these, even with some cringe-worthy rim smashing due to uber-rocky trails and poor line choice. The rims themselves have also shrugged off those impacts, with no dents or flat spots to be found. There’s also the peace of mind that comes with knowing that even should the worst happen and you trash one of these rims, you’ll only be set back $99 for a replacement. That feels much better than the angst of destroying a carbon rim with one mistaken line.
While it’s true that these are not flyweight carbon hoops like you’d find on a light-duty trail bike, the are also not heavy by any stretch, and I’ve never once felt like I was being weighed down by them. In fact, even moving from carbon 27.5s to aluminum 29s I didn’t notice a significant decrease in acceleration or feeling of being weighed down on climbs. I’d call that a win.
Lastly, ride quality has been very good. They don’t feel flimsy or noodly like some other aluminum rims, nor do they feel “pingy” or harsh. They track well on Northwest Arkansas’s rocky trails, and have been a perfect complement to an aggressive short travel bike where “feel” is extremely important.
I have been very pleased so far with Spank’s newest offering, and until something better comes along these will be my first choice for any future builds. My only gripe is getting them set up tubeless with the BeadBite teeth, but after the initial fighting with rim tape I haven’t had a problem since. The price to performance ratio is hard to beat, and unless you simply must have the flashiest superbike at your weekly group ride, I don’t think there’s any legitimate argument to be made for spending $800+ more for carbon wheels.