Spank Spike 350 Vibrocore Wheelset

Vital Rating: (Excellent)
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Spank SPIKE 350 Vibrocore Wheelset
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Tested: Spank Spike 350 Vibrocore Wheels

Durability for multi-use categories, with a hidden secret.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Spank Spike 350 Vibrocore Wheels

As part of the Gravity Cartel, Spank have been sponsoring an eclectic collection of riding talent: World Cup descenders, Enduro World Series dominators and top-level freeriders all rest their confidence in the company with a name for the naughty. Spank seem to be able to think outside the box to try new elements in product design that they feel will offer a discernible ride quality and technical advantage for riders. Many of these riders are relying on Spank’s Vibrocore product line and its newest addition, the Spike 350 wheelset. With a slew of acronyms and bold claims of technological advances, we were all too happy to get a set and run them through the paces.

Strengths

  • Durability
  • Versatility, strength-to-weight is all-mountain or gravity applicable
  • Solid rim / tire interface

Weaknesses

As part of the Gravity Cartel, Spank have been sponsoring an eclectic collection of riding talent: World Cup descenders, Enduro World Series dominators and top-level freeriders all rest their confidence in the company with a name for the naughty. Spank seem to be able to think outside the box to try new elements in product design that they feel will offer a discernible ride quality and technical advantage for riders. Many of these riders are relying on Spank’s Vibrocore product line and its newest addition, the Spike 350 wheelset. With a slew of acronyms and bold claims of technological advances, we were all too happy to get a set and run them through the paces.

Strengths

  • Durability
  • Versatility, strength-to-weight is all-mountain or gravity applicable
  • Solid rim / tire interface

Weaknesses

  • Delayed / loud freehub engagement


Highlights

  • Available in all current hub configurations for both 27.5 and 29: Non-Boost (135/142); DH 150; Super Boost 157; Boost 148
  • All hubs available in either XD or standard driver
  • Tested: 27.5”, Boost 148, XD driver mated to Eagle drivetrain
  • Weight: 1990 grams
  • Price as tested: $699

What Is Vibrocore?

Spank first introduced the green, foam-like inner material in their handlebar lineup. Now, they've injected it into their rims as well. According to Spank, "the low-density, pressurized core performs a similar function to the soft tissue inside bones, increasing inner wall strength and absorbing vibrations." Much like if you filled a beer can with expanding foam, it no doubt strengthens it.

Combining just 40g of Vibrocore material per rim with a relatively shallow 17mm rim profile height and 35mm outer width, Spank claims to have reached a sweet spot between radial compliance, torsional strength and durability. The material is also claimed to "dampen certain vibration frequencies, ultimately meaning less vibration for the fork to deal with, and less to the rider."

Spank says Vibrocore's "application and intended benefit in rims has always been focused on the ride feel and performance that comes with the added lateral stiffness and torsional strength in a radially compliant wheel."

On The Trail

In the course of testing the Spike wheels, we stacked it up against a standard aluminum wheel with no claims or innovations, as well as, a set of carbon hoops. All three rim subjects have an internal width in the 30mm range, 27.5-inch diameter and Boost hubs with 6-bolt disc brakes. The wheels were also tested on two different bikes: one aluminum chassis, the other a carbon buildup.

The wheels were used on the trail, hitting all-day rides and dream-worthy descents. We also racked up numerous days at the bike park, mouthing monster truck noises as we lobbed the bike into rock gardens.

Over the course of our quarter of a year together, the Spikes saw no less than four different sets of tires and were subject to a permutation of tire changes. From full downhill rubber to svelte trail tread, the rims took them all. Tire widths were not as varied, all of them being either 2.3- or 2.5-inch. In every case, the tire seated up confidently with a declarative snap and pop of the bead. Once the tire was on, it was ON! At no point in our testing did we experience a rolled bead, leaking fluid or low air pressure suprise in the morning.

Let’s get down to the nitty of the gritty of the Spike 350 Vibrocore’s appeal: we spent significant time testing this wheelset because of the actual rims and their Vibrocore foam inside. The first merit is durability. Mile after mile, foot of elevation after foot of elevation, these damn things held their own. We only took a spoke wrench to them two times, merely to stay up on tension.

During back-to-back runs, our baseline set of alloy wheels became battered and dented and lost their ability to hold a bead. The Spikes never flinched, even with multiple rim strikes. The durability combined with a relatively light weight make the Spike 350 a viable wheelset for either heavy trail use or downhill without even considering the unique, foamy guts.

As for vibration damping or improvements in ride feel, well, that isn’t as easy to measure. Vital were big fans of Spank's Vibrocore bars, but would the wheels stack up the same? To put it succinctly: in back-to-back runs and various combinations of bike setup, there was no discernible difference in the trail feedback of the rim. Overall ride quality was solid, but our hands and body weren’t noticeably less fatigued through the rough stuff. In the various setups tested, the tires and related setup affected ride quality exponentially more than the presence or absence of the Vibrocore foam. Does this mean that the foam is just a bunch of green hooey? No, not at all. Rider feedback is only one element of Spank’s wheel technology. Overall durability, strength to weight, rim profile and tire interface are all improved through the total rim construction. Many riders will find plenty to be pleased about in those areas alone.

Things That Could Be Improved

The chief complaint we had with the wheels would be the freehub and its rather late engagement which is accompanied by a resonating bonging sound of the cassette — that kind of engagement and noise will detract from any wheel or rim’s performance. Find yourself on a rough and choppy trail and your inner grouch will start to rear its ugly head with every clang. It is a dang shame because even though this was the last thing we mentioned, it was the first to be noticed on trail. It took some time to get over the distraction of this imprecision.

What's The Bottom Line?

After pounding laps and logging miles for three months, we can say the Spike 350 wheels are well-built, reliable and ready to take a beating. They are a great option for the single-bike owner wanting a second set of wheels for their trail bike, so they can hit the slopes. Privateer racers and weekend DH warriors needing something relatively affordable, yet dependable week in and week out, would also be very satisfied with the Vibrocore wheels.

Those looking for something even more bombproof will be please to learn that Spank just completed the all-new 359 Vibrocore rims, which were developed over the past year with Amaury Pierron and the Commencal Riding Addiction Team. It comes in with a 19mm rim height (compared to 17mm on the 350), and has added inner wall strength for the heaviest hitters in downhill and freeride.

Visit www.spank-ind.com for more details.

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About The Reviewer

Brad Howell - Age: 38 // Years Riding: 25 // Height: 5’9” (1.75m) // Weight: 160-pounds (72.5kg)

Brad started mountain biking when a 2.25-inch tire was "large," and despite having threads, bottom brackets sucked. Riding in the woods with friends eventually lead way to racing, trying to send it at the local gravel pits, and working in bike shops as a wrench to help fix those bikes. Fortunate enough to have dug at the past six Rampages and become friends with some of the sport’s biggest talents, Brad has a broad perspective of what bikes can do and what it means to be a good rider. The past few years Brad worked in the bike industry and got to see the man behind the curtain. These days, though, he likes just riding his bike in the woods with friends.

Photos by Brad Howell

Specifications

Product Spank Spike 350 Vibrocore Wheelset
Riding Type Downhill, Enduro / All-Mountain, Freeride / Bike Park
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b), 29"
Rim Material Aluminum
Rim Spike 350 Vibrocore with internal vibration damping
Inner Rim Width
  • 30.5mm
  • 35.0mm
Hole Count 32, 3-cross lacing
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub Spank Spike
Rear Axle 12mm x 135mm, 12mm x 142mm, 12mm x 148mm (Boost), 12mm x 150mm, 12mm x 157mm
Front Hub Spank Spike
Front Axle 15mm x 100mm, 15mm x 110mm (Boost), 20mm x 110mm
Disc Mount Type 6 Bolt
Spokes J-Hook, tripple butted 2.2/1.8/2.0
Nipples Alloy DSN nipples
Colors Black, black/red, black/green, black/blue
Weight
  • 4 lb 6.8 oz (2,006 g)
  • 4 lb 9.9 oz (2,095 g)
Miscellaneous High performance wheelset with internal vibration damping, ideal for DH and Freeride / Bike Park.
Unique profile with low sectional profile height and wide width, which adds radial compliance, while keeping high lateral stiffness.
Improved radial compliance for better traction over bumps and chatter, while reducing negative feedback to the rider. Performance and comfort enhanced.
Vibrocore inner well, reduces the transmission of harmful vibration frequencies, meaning less vibration for the suspension and rider, also increasing the fatigue life of the rim.
30mm internal width extremely versatile, fitting tires from 2.0” to 2.6” perfectly, and even allowing + size tire use, without negative squaring off of tire profiles.

Technologies: Radial Compliance, Lateral Stiffness, BeadBite Anti-burp, OohBah Inverted Inner Wall

Rear Adapters Available Separately: 10x135, 12x135mm
Front Adapters Available Separately: QRx100, Boost 20x110mmm
Freehub: SRAM XD or Shimano available
Price $699
More Info

Spank website

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