Mounting these up on the bike went as smoothly as one could expect. Because the rims are already taped for tubeless and both the valves and two bottles of Stan’s are included, setting the tires up tubeless is a snap. My tires of choice on these were Maxxis Minion DHF 2.35’s, which sit nicely on these rims. While it’s not an issue that I blame on the wheels, I ultimately switched back to tubes on these wheels because of recurring issues with burping the tires.
My main point of comparison for these wheels is a pair of Easton Havocs from 2009. The Eastons are roughly comparable to the Charger Pros in all respects (though a little heavier, weighing in at 1,920 grams), and I spent a couple of years on the Eastons without ever touching them with a spoke wrench. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the Charger Pros. After a month or so of riding on the Charger Pros, I had some spokes loosen up a bit, and the wheel was slightly out of true. I did a quicky true job and didn’t think much of it.
Fast forward another month, and I’m in the middle of a local enduro race. At the bottom of a lengthy descent, I hear some noises coming from the back wheel. As it turns out, two spokes had completely unthreaded themselves and were flopping around in the wheel. Three other spokes were loosened to the point that they were threatening to fall out as well. In a wheel with only 24 spokes, and the discovery coming mid race, I was a bit annoyed.
I, being the sort of irrational person that will continue to ride on malfunctioning equipment purely in the name of finishing the race, yanked out the two flopping spokes and kept riding. That race finished with a fast and rocky trail that I’d never ridden before (which in turn led to lots of poor line choices). I came across the finish thinking that the wheel was going to be destroyed, but, to my surprise, it wasn’t much worse for the wear. In fact, it was still surprisingly true (considering that it was missing two spokes and had three others with minimal tension).
In my quest to find replacement spokes for the wheel, the down side of straight-pull spokes was frustratingly apparent—finding replacements on short notice can be tricky. I eventually scrounged up some straight-pull replacements to hold me over until SUNringlé could send me the proper spokes (which they did free of charge, and included some extras just in case). After replacing those spokes and a round of tension balancing, the wheel was back to form and didn’t show any signs of the prior abuses.
Since then, the wheels have performed without a hitch. They haven’t gone significantly out of true again, and the spokes seem to be maintaining their tension. In my five months on these wheels, I never had to do anything to the hubs. The freehub ran smoothly from day one, and I don’t recall it ever slipping. The bearings are all still smooth and free of play, despite plenty of stream crossings, muddy rides, and careless spraying with a garden hose.
As long as the wheels are properly tensioned, they’re acceptably stiff but not exceptionally so. There’s no mistaking that these wheels sport a relatively low number of double-butted spokes laced to fairly light weight (for their width) rims. The Charger Pros certainly don’t feel noodley, but they’re a far cry from a stout rim laced with straight-gauge spokes. All in all, given the weight of these wheels, their stiffness is entirely acceptable, even if it’s not awe-inspiring.
These wheels have migrated onto my wife’s bike, which means they still get ridden a lot, but they’re maybe not taking quite as much abuse (she’s less inclined to huck to flat). With that in mind, the rims and spokes are still holding up pretty well about a year after I wrote the initial review. No major wobbles or dents, and the detensioning issue that I experienced previously hasn’t resurfaced.
I will note that the rear hub is starting to develop some slop in it, and as far as I can tell, it’s going to require a bearing replacement to fix. This isn’t the end of the world, but I feel like the bearings should have lasted a little longer.
Overall, if cost is no option, better wheelsets than the Charger Pros exist, but I haven’t ridden a better wheelset at this price point. The spoke tension requires a bit of monitoring during the break-in period, but I don’t see that as a deal breaker. They’re also a great option if you’re looking for a wheelset that will fit virtually any bike / fork combination, which is a big bonus for habitual upgraders. If you’re looking for a solid all-mountain wheelset and you don’t want to drop the big bucks for something fancy, the Charger Pros are an excellent choice.
The Mavic Crossmax SX wheels offer excellent stiffness, durability, and performance for all-mountain XC and freeriders, especially if you can tolerate a little maintenance.
Time to go tubeless? Marshal Olson thinks so.