How wide is too wide? My wide tire journey for road cycling started on Compass Barlow Pass (700x38) tires back in 2016. WTB Horizon (650x47) followed in 2018. When I put 650B wheels on my Nordest Albarda, René Herse Switchback Hill (650x48) and Panaracer GravelKing (650x48, 52mm actual) tires took me a big step further on that journey. My Marin Gestalt X12 started rolling on René Herse Snoqualmie Pass (700x44) tubeless “shoes.” This bike has room for much more, so much, in fact, that 44mm looks skinny.
How wide is too wide? I wonder about this question and hope to find the answer on the next leg of my journey. Wide tires fit best on wide rims, so the new wheels use 30mm internal WG44 carbon rims by Light Bicycle. They will securely hook René Herse Antelope Hill (700x55) tires. Tubeless, of course. Light Bicycle used a hybrid hook design to improve tire fitment for the WG44 rims. Hookless rims combined with supple tires are an absolute no-go for me. You may be wondering why anyone would ride so much rubber on pavement. Because it’s fun and because it’s fast. Fast? You gotta be kidding. Granted, you may not be winning any KOMs going uphill. But you stand a good chance of grabbing every KOM going downhill. And you’ll do it with confidence and a huge smile on your face. But speed isn’t as much on my mind these days. I’m after grip, security, all-day comfort, and pure fun and pleasure. If 55mm turns out to be too much, I can go back to 44mm or pick a Hatcher Pass 48mm in between.
I generally pick the Rolls-Royce of bicycle hubs, Chris King, for the kernel of my wheels. I have two wheelsets with R45D Centerlock hubs. On the roadside of things, I also own two wheelsets with Industry 9 Torch hubs. Centerlock, as well. Much more important than the brand, though, is versatility. Bike hubs need to be adaptable and should best be somewhat future-proof. You should always be able to change them from QR to through-axle or vice versa with just a few parts. You should also be able to pick a Shimano HG, SRAM XD/R, or MicroSpline freehub body without needing a new wheel. If hubs don’t offer such flexibility, I don’t buy them.
For the MGX12, however, I didn’t want to shell out a big chunk of cash for Chris King. They're amazing hubs with an unmatched quality, but they leave a big hole in one's wallet. Instead, I opted for more affordable and extremely versatile Hope Pro 5 hubs. They’re available with all modern freehub bodies and end spacers to suit different frame and axle standards. They're also offered in six anodizations. So, exactly what I want from a pair of hubs. As always, the wheels were masterfully laced by Patrik at 47º Nord.