The Art of Building a Wheelset – 27.5 WTB KOM Tough

There’s something to be said about building your own wheelset. Accomplishment, truth in knowing exactly what you’re going to get by design, craft, and a perspective of learning a new skillset. It gives you the opportunity to appreciate biking at a different angle. However, It’s an arduous process and takes patience and not so sweaty hands.

I remember my first attempt at building a wheelset. It was in my earlier years when I rode BMX. It turned out to be a disaster. My second wheelset was when I decided to bikepack in Colombia. I bought the hubs, spokes, and rims that I wanted to build a bombproof bike touring wheelset. It was a Mavic A719 laced to Shimano M8000XT hubs wrapped with DT Swiss champion spokes that stays true to this very day.

My new wheelset is a bit different from anything I’ve built before. It’s a special wheelset and bikepacking specific. After contemplating on what rims and hubs I’d use for this new build, I was set on a 29er setup but then completely flipped the switch and decided to build a 27.5 Plus wheelset. Why? After testing out the 27.5-wheel format on a bike with 3inch tires I became hooked. The wheels shredded easily and stuck to the trail the way I wanted it to. Sure the tires play a major roll in this, but I’ve already decided after that ride that I was going 27.5 plus.

With my 2017 Surly Ogre, I have the option of running both 29er and 27.5 wheels with an array of tire size selections. The build I decided to go with is the WTB KOM Tough i45 rim, XT M8010 Boost 12×148 rear/ XT M8000 front hub laced with Wheelsmith spokes. I went with the i45 rim width because I wanted wide coverage for my tires. After riding Mavics and other wheels on trips in the past this size works well for my style of riding along with comfort on the bike and protection and traction for the tires. It’s a style that became highly popular in bikepacking. It forces you to take on challenging terrain, making you unstoppable against anything thrown at you.

I’ll be wrapping these wheels with WTB Ranger 3.0 tires for an upcoming trip and will give a full breakdown of the ride and set up post trip.

Note: This product was purchased, rider tested and reviewed based on personal experience.

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Ridden & Written by

Dwayne Burgess (Manual Pedal)



  1. Shawn

    How is the XT rear hub holding up on this wheel build? I’m looking to build my 1st set of mountain wheels and I’m considering the XT 8010 hubs as well vs the DT Swiss 350’s.

    • Dwayne Burgess

      The XT rear hub is holding up great so far. I haven’t had much play with the bike but I do plan on taking it on another ride next year for some bikepacking.

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