Funn's Fantom wheel set is wide, strong, and with lots of points of engagement.
Mountain bike titles like ours have been banging on about wide rims and how it is better for tyre support and traction for years. But the options for wider rims hasn't been available at lots of price points until quite recently. For a while there the way to get a really nice set of wheels with wider rims than come stock on most bikes, involved having some built up custom. And that's lovely, but it can also get a little bit expensive.
KWT Imports have sent a pair of 29" Funn Fantom AM35 wheels to test. These ones are Boost hub width and have a Shimano Microspline freehub fitted, but SRAM XD and even Shimano HG are also available. The Funn wheels are also available in non-Boost axle widths, and in 27.5" sizes as well. A set sells for $799.95.
Funn's Fantom wheels come in AM30 or AM35 models, which have rims with either a 25mm or 30mm internal width. The AM35 name comes from the external width, and the alloy rim has a 30mm inner width, and comes pre-taped with tubeless tape and valves fitted, which is a nice touch.
Similarly, the AM30 has a 25mm internal width with 30mm external. These would suit being used on tyres up to about 2.4" or 2.5" wide, and also with some older frames that don't have as much clearance. Depending how old your wheels are, you might have rims with a 21mm internal width, and going to 25mm is still quite a noticeable upgrade.
The Funn Fantom hubs use a 6 bolt rotor attachment, and the pawl system has 102 points of engagement. Held in the hand, they spin for days! It's a nice finish and replacement bearings should be easy to come by. I'll open these up during the review process to see how it looks inside.
On the scales, the front wheel with the fitted tape and valve weighed 896g, while the rear was a little heavier at 1073g. These aren't crazy light weights, but not far off the Shimano WH-M8120 TL wheels we tested, and lighter than the Hope Fortus 26 we currently have on review.
Why go wide?
I've ridden a bunch of wheels with 25 or 30mm (or 29mm) internal widths, and did a fairly direct comparison earlier this year, using two wheel sets that were the same save for rim width. There's a lot to be said for the ride improvements you can have when pairing a slightly wider rim with the right tyre. Done right, you can run a slightly lower pressure to get better traction, without too much of a risk in rim strike. It's a fine balance though, as too low might feel great until you need to corner hard, or hit a rock garden fast!
Maxxis have a range of tyres in Wide Trail or WT sizing. The casings are designed to work with rims with a 30-35mm inner width. You can find that on older tread designs the shoulder knobs move too far inboard with some tyres, leaving the sidewalls exposed for greater chances for a tear from rocks. It also means that when you're really tipping it into a corner, traction falls off a cliff when you go past where the tread knobs can work. So KWT sent out a pair of Rekon tyres in the snazzy Dark Tan sidewall, in a 29x2.4" WT sizing.
The Maxxis Rekon 29x2.4" WT tyres set up tubeless first go, with some sealant in there as a bit of an insurance policy for punctures.
I think the dark tan sidewalls look the business on the black rims - but that's a personal choice.
With only a couple of short rides on the Fantom AM35 wheels so far, there's not too much to go on. They roll really nicely, the freehub clicks along without being obnoxious, and it doesn't favour having lots of points of engagement over low resistance. The drivetrain moves really smoothly with no extra hang up when you start freewheeling. Some systems just aren't as smooth.
Funn Fantom AM35 wheels
27.5" and 29". Boost and non-Boost hub widths
Microspline, SRAM XD and HG spline available
If you're after more details, head to the Funn website, or contact KWT Imports about who stocks them in your area. We'll have a full review in Issue #186 of Australian Mountain Bike magazine. If you subscribe, you'll never miss an issue and you'll save some cash as well!