Loaded Precision X-40 Hookless Carbon V.3.1 Complete Wheel

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Tested: Loaded Precision X-40 Carbon Wheels

Rating: Vital Review

Review by John Keep // Photos by Fred Robinson

Loaded Precision is a Southern California-based components brand that was started in 2006. Offering a wide variety of products ranging from handlebars, stems, pedals and wheels, Loaded has hopped into the market of ultra-wide, carbon wheels. With a whopping 40-mm external width (35-mm internal), the new X-40 wheelset is offered in a variety of colors, much like the rest of their line. Having first spotted these wheels at Eurobike last year, we were eager to give them a spin. Available in both 27.5" and 29", we've spent the better part of the past few months on the 27.5" offering to see where Loaded's newest wheelset, the X-40 wheelset, stacks up.

Loaded Precision X-40 Features

  • Sizes: 27.5” // 29"
  • Complete Weight: 1,580g +/- 15g (claimed, 27.5") // 1,830g (tested)
  • Rim Weight: 420g (claimed, 27.5")
  • Hole: 32h
  • Internal Width: 35mm
  • External Width: 40mm
  • Depth: 30.0mm
  • Bead: Hookless (Tubeless compatible)
  • Intended Use: Enduro // Gravity
  • Finish: UD Flat Carbon
  • ERD: 547mm (27.5")
  • MSRP: $1695
  • [UPDATE:] Standard Color Graphics Included
  • Custom Color-Matched Graphics: $59.99

Initial Impressions

From the get-go we noticed how girthy these wheels are, sitting at 40mm wide and 30mm tall. As if the massive rim size wasn't enough, to say Loaded was trying to be subtle with their optional graphics kit would be a flat-out lie. The huge decals on the side of the rim are truly quite loud. Oddly, we noticed Loaded didn't spec our X-40's with the advertised X-Lite quad-butted spokes or the 6-pawl engagement system in their X-Lite V.3.1.2 rear hub [UPDATE: The 4-pawl driver is now standard spec for the X-40 wheelset. Their website will soon be updated accordingly]. In their place were black DT Swiss Competition double-butted spokes and a 4-pawl driver. When we asked Loaded about the change in spec we were told that they've recently switched from the 6-pawl to 4-pawl design for the increased durability of the simpler system. While the trade-off is less engagement points, Loaded felt it was a compromise worth making. As for the DT Swiss spokes in place of Loaded's own X-Lite spokes, we were told that the wheels are hand-built at their facility in San Diego and they switch between the two spokes types depending on availability. While the DT Swiss spokes do add some additional weight to the set, you can't really argue with DT's quality.

As you may have noticed in the Features section, Loaded claims a weight of 1,580g, plus-or-minus around 15g to account for variation in the rim's carbon lay-up. Upon pulling the rear wheel out of the box, we noticed it was a bit heftier than we had expected. Throwing the wheels on a scale confirmed our suspicions with an actual weight of 1,830g, confirmed on multiple scales all within +/- 10g . While the DT spokes surely account for some of that extra weight, we're not really sure exactly where the rest came from? The difference is over a half-pound (250g) compared to what Loaded claims on their website.

Looks aside and spec aside, when it came to mounting our current tire setup, a 2.4" Maxxis High Roller II up front and 2.3" Specialized Slaughter GRID in the rear, we struggled to even get the first bead on the rim. Getting everything mounted on the wheels was a bit tedious due to rim's extremely tight bead. Given that both tires mounted fairly easily on our last wheelset from a different manufacturer, we find it hard to place the blame on a weird run of tires. Several plastic tire levers later and plenty of swearing, we were finally able to mount our tires on the rims.

Loaded states that the hookless bead is tubeless compatible, and we tested the wheels as such. While Loaded supplies no tubeless valves, we would recommend sourcing longer-than-average valve stems, as our standard 35mm Stan's valves left little real estate to attach a pump. Regardless, we were able to make them work but we'd still suggest opting for a 44mm long valve if available. Mounting struggles aside, the extremely tight bead proved easy to inflate, even with just a floor pump. The wheels were true right out of the box and look to be solidly built with proper spoke tension. Time to throw them on the bike and get on the trails.

On The Trail

We started off with our tester's normal 37lbs of pressure. Rolling down the trail we immediately noticed the difference of the larger contact patch of the tires. Our 2.4" front tire gained a substantially flatter profile. During our first technical climb, we the engagement of the rear hub was a bit slow, at only 24-points. When out of the saddle, though, we did enjoy the very solid engagement the 4-pawl offered while really laying down the power. The added tire contact patch, provided an increase in traction and the stiffness of the wheels made climbing a joy on the X-40's.

When things pointed down, after hitting a few tight, bermed-out trails we really started to notice how rigid the wheels actually were. The X-40's had little to no flex, even in hard corners and g-outs resulting in a very snappy-feeling bike. Combined with the fact that these wheels were lighter than our previous setup, we also noticed a bit of extra exit speed in corners, which is always a plus. While braking, the stiffness was celebrated as they tracked well and stayed on line. However, in really rough rocky terrain where we spent the majority of our testing the stiff wheels would ping and deflect off obstacles with less compliance than we were used to, sending us a bit off line. While not a deal breaker, the feeling was noticeable and required adjustments in our riding.

In the past we've had some issues burping our tires while running tubeless and it always felt like the tires were rolling around on the rim. Though we prefer higher pressures, we began experimenting with lower tire pressure to see if we could really reap the benefit of the X-40's wide, hookless design. Despite our testers tendency to regularly roll tires off the rim when pushing hard at low PSI, the X-40's kept the tires in place despite dropping our pressure far beyond our comfort zone. The tire even seemed to burp quite a bit less than we typically experience, which was quite refreshing.

When it came to climbing, the wider profile and therefore bigger contact patch, offered increased traction which was appreciated when we'd normally be spinning out on a steep climb. The benefit of that large contact patch was also very noticeable in long, high-speed flat corners where you're not leaning the bike super hard. The square tire profile the wide rim creates forced our tester to ride a little bit differently than he normally would when things got horizontal, however. The profile gives you a "point of no return" feeling, which causes traction loss a bit more dramatically while cornering sharply on the tire's side knobs. Keep in mind, for someone running a rounder profile tire, this may not be a problem. A larger contact patch also means increased rolling resistance, and we noticed the bike seemed a bit sluggish on the flats and descents, despite using the same tires we were on with our previous wheelset. This was the case both running our normal high PSI and the experimental low pressures.

Long Term Durability

During the course of our test we ended up having to true the wheels twice. This normally would be no issue for a new wheelset but Loaded Precision opted for short alloy nipples which don't have much purchase for a spoke wrench. While truing the wheel the normal way is still possible, we worry that the short nipples would easily be damaged because we could only get half of the spoke wrench on them. Combine the high tension of the spokes and the fact that the nipples are alloy, which can degrade and turn brittle over time, and we opted to true the wheels by removing the tire so we could turn the nipples from the back, which isn't all that fun. Given that the wheels are built in-house, we're a bit surprised to see this oversight on Loaded's part.

We took the hub apart after several weeks of use and noticed the steel 4-pawl driver looked to be hanging tough. They were still contaminant-free and the bearings were still smooth.

The rims held tough, too. While some may still be a bit skeptical about running carbon hoops, despite running low pressures and punishing these wheels as best we could, by the end of our test there were no weird blemishes or cracks at all.

Things That Could Be Improved

Although the tires were extremely hard to mount and unmount, they did manage to stay on the bead better than they usually do for us. While that's definitely a big plus in our book, trail-side repairs may be a bit of an issue should you flat on a ride. Because of the difficulty in mounting our tires, we did happen to mess up some of the rim decals, which are sold for an additional $60. Sure, it's a minor gripe, but those are some expensive stickers! It's also worth mentioning that for a premium wheelset like the Loaded X-40, it would be nice to receive some tubeless tape and proper tubeless valves [UPDATE: Loaded just informed us that they will be making changes immediately to include the proper length valve with every X-40 purchase] that fit the rim depth, as well as just including the decal kit at no charge. [UPDATE: Loaded let us know that standard colored decals come at no charge with the wheels. Custom colors can be made for an additional $60] Lastly, despite offering solid engagement, if you are looking for a super-fast-engaging hub, then opting for some different hubs might be a wise choice. But, if you want something that will likely last you a decent amount of time, Loaded's X-Lite hubs look to be in it for the long haul.

What's The Bottom Line?

If your goal is to run low tire pressures, keep your tire on the rim and have a stiff wheelset, look no further. While they still cost a pretty penny at $1,695, you're still getting a durable and handbuilt carbon wheelset that is priced a bit under some of the competition. We have to mention it, though, had we purchased these wheels with our hard earned money without getting the chance to inspect them first hand, we would have been rather disappointed. The unexpected heft and downgrade in engagement is something customers should be aware of before clicking the "Confirm Purchase" button. That said, despite the discrepancies in both the build spec and overall weight, Loaded has still brought to the table a durable all-mountain / enduro wheelset that has proven reliable. The X-40's held up extremely well to some very abusive riding, and they did so without cracking or requiring excessive maintenance, despite running some very low pressures. Carbon hoops may be a scary venture for some, but if you're willing to take the leap, the Loaded X-40's are a good place to land.

For more information, visit loadedusa.com.


About The Reviewer

John Keep has been an avid cyclist for many years, focusing his efforts in downhill, BMX and trail biking. Having spent several racing professionally on the U.S. National Circuit, he prefers fast, rough and raw downhill tracks. Besides spending plenty of time between the tape, John isn't afraid to turn a wrench and currently works as a bike mechanic in his home town of San Diego, with over 8 years of shop experience.


Great Value!

Rating:
The Good:

Strong, stiff, allows minimal burping compared to other wheels, hub sounds legit!, lightweight, and look flipping awesome!

The Bad:

Not as advertised weight, but lighter than most

Overall Review:

I got these because I couldn't afford ENVE or Reynolds. Wow! I was blown away day one and now a year later I'm still stoked on them. 

Specifications

Product Loaded Precision X-40 Hookless Carbon V.3.1 Complete Wheel
Riding Type Trail
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b)
Rim Material Carbon
Rim X-40 Hookless Carbon 27.5"
Inner Rim Width
Hole Count 32
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub X-Lite V.3.1.2 12x142mm or 12x148 (Boost)
Rear Axle 12mm x 142mm, 12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Front Hub X-Lite V.3.1 15mm
Front Axle
Disc Mount Type
Spokes X-Lite Quad Butted
Nipples Alloy
Colors Black, Baby Blue, DVO Green, Gold, Gray, Neon Blue, Neon Pink, Neon Yellow, Pink, Purple, Red, Blue (Santa Cruz), Turquoise (Yeti), White (Add $59.99 for graphics kits)
Weight 3 lb 6.7 oz (1,550 g)
Miscellaneous
Price $1,695
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