The Fantom AM35 are a popular model in the wide range of alloy wheels - and they could be an ideal upgrade for your trail bike.
With mountain bike wheel upgrade options skyrocketing in price, it's refreshing to see wheel sets available that not only give you a few options in hub standards, rim width and wheel size, but they don't cost the earth while doing so! The Funn Fantom wheels are available in 29”, 27.5”, Boost hub spacing and non-Boost through-axle width, and with 25mm, 30mm or even 35mm internal widths. They can also be setup with Shimano HG, SRAM XD or Shimano Microspline freehub bodies. There are even quick release adaptors available! So unless you're riding a 26” wheeled bike or super boost axle spacing, you'll be able to find a Funn Fantom wheel set that suits.
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We had a set of 29”, Boost width Funn Fantom AM35 wheels sent out to test, along with some Maxxis Rekon 2.4” WT dark tan tyres to fit up at the same time. The 35 in AM35 refers to the external width, so the AM35 wheels have a 30mm internal width, which is a universally agreed modern internal rim width for cross-country, trail, all-mountain and enduro bikes. There are a few caveats with that involving tyre width and frame clearance, but most trail wheel sets tested at AMB recently have had an internal rim width of around 30mm. The Maxxis WT tyre range are designed for rims with a 30-35mm internal rim width, as the casing does inflate a little differently, and the WT casing makes sure the edge knobs stay on the edge, and don't go too far inboard!
With the variety of sizes, widths and freehub standards on offer for the Funn Fantom wheels, they could be an ideal upgrade to your bike to get a modern rim width or just a fresh set of wheels. And when you consider they sell for about $800, they're a really attractive price for what's on offer.
Out of the box, the Funn Fantom AM35 wheels come pre-taped with tubeless tape, and there are tubeless valves supplied as well. In the hand, the hub bearings feel really smooth. The hubs are alloy as you'd expect, with a 6 pawl engagement system with 102 points, which means they engage after just over 3 degrees of rotation. That means you get better input when pedalling out of corners, and faster engagement on technical trails and climbs as well. Anecdotally, I believe greater points of engagement also assist with better chain retention as well, and better traction on technical climbs as you can apply power more smoothly when the engagement happens almost right away.
The hubs have a tall flange, and use 32 double-butted J-bend spokes with brass nipples, which will mean finding spares are never a problem. The disc rotors are attached using the 6-bolt standard, so you're compatible with just about everything!
The Funn rims are made from a welded 6066 alloy, with a sandblasted black finish which should stay looking pretty sharp for quite some time. The welded rim is a bonus as even if these rims get a really hard life, the seam is highly unlikely to crack, which can happen with rims which are pinned to join but not welded. The rims have a height of 23mm which is fairly standard for a lot of alloy rims. Taller tend to be really heavy and very unforgiving. Funn state that the Fantom wheels suit gravel, XC and trail use. With the scales showing 896g for the front wheel and 1073g for the rear, I'd put these in the trail category more than XC – although the AM30 wheels do weigh less and could be a nice and solid option as an XC wheel.
The Maxxis Rekon tyres fitted up with no issues at all, and with a cassette and rotors fitted, the rest came down to riding them.
On the trail
Fitted up to my 120mm travel dual suspension bike, these wheels were next in line after testing three other trail wheels over the past 6 months or so. With most of the year spent on 2.4” or 2.5” tyres and rims from 26-30mm wide, it was easy to pick what was different and what was similar. And for the most part, a lot was very much the same.
The sealed bearing hubs on the Funn Fantom wheels roll really nicely, and have zero signs of play. If you have a bearing press, then when the bearings do finally get old, fitting some new ones in is pretty simple. Similarly, the pawl-based freehub is easy to open for regular maintenance. A very light grease keeps it loud, but if that's what you choose then remember to open it up a little more frequently.
I tend to run pressures that mean I don't hit the rim, and so I had zero rim strikes to test impact strength on the Funn Fantom wheels. Instead, they just did duty as an everyday wheel set on my mountain bike. Compared to a lighter (ie carbon) wheel at this rim width they were a little more sluggish, with more weight at the rim. But with the Hunt XC wheels also reviewed in this issue on my hardtail, the difference in stiffness and support was huge – regardless of the bike the wheels were in. The Funn wheels are surefooted for trail riding, and I found them to be a great companion on the trails, especially with a pretty fast 2.4” tyre fitted. The 30mm internal rim and 2.4” tyre combination is no monster truck to drag along on easy trails, but allows a little more footprint in dry and loose terrain, while also giving a bit more confidence when coming into rockier lines – a full set of 32 spokes also helped in this department.
With both 25mm and 30mm internal width options available, I think the Funn Fantom wheel sets suit a wide range of riders. If you have a bike that has come stock with some wheels and tyres that just aren't cutting it for durability, then a wheel set like these are an ideal upgrade. Even on some higher spec eMTBs I do see some pretty basic wheels being specced, and picking a Fantom set of wheels to suit your bike might be an ideal upgrade. Whether the AM30, AM35 (as tested here) or AM40 are best for you is a decision you need to make. But for the two months I had these wheels in use, they offered no surprises. They didn't wow me by being made of fantastic plastic, or having a really loud freehub, but they rolled fast, sealed up well, and have a hub set that should be easy to service and adapt if you change drivetrains in the future. And there is a lot of value in that.
Lots of wheel size and rim width options
Freehubs to suit everyone!
Quality wheel build and reliable parts
Maybe not a performance upgrade for all riders if they're chasing something super light.