Vittoria Deamion Wheelset, 29”
Inner Rim Width (measured): 23 mm
Rim Material: Aluminum
Blister’s Measured Weight:
- Rear: 974 g
- Front: 851 g
- Total: 1,825 g (with Shimano freehub and rim tape, without brake adaptors)
Mounted to: Evil The Following
Reviewer: 5’9” 155 lbs.
Test Duration: 5 rides
Test Locations: Whitefish, MT; Nelson, British Columbia
Vittoria makes wheels? Yeah, pretty decent ones, actually.
As I noted in my review of Evil’s The Following, the bike likes to be ridden hard, and it’s pretty good at highlighting the deficiencies of 29” wheels. Namely, it’s tough to make 29” wheels that are (a) light enough that they’ll come up to speed without herniating oneself while also (b) being stiff enough to go around a corner without feeling like you just dove into a bowl of pudding.
So with hopes of finding a relatively light wheelset with minimal pudding-like tendencies, I mounted up the Deamions.
Before I go on, it’s worth noting that the spread of wheelsets in recent years has gotten somewhat absurd. At the cheap end, a generic wheelset can be had for a couple hundred bucks (or less, if you find something on sale). And at the expensive end, some of the carbon options cost more than a reasonably-priced complete bike.
As with most things bike related, I’ve found that 29er wheels stick to the tried and true saying: cheap, light, or strong—pick two. The Deamions are priced somewhere in the middle; they’re not a “cheap” wheelset, but they’re a far cry from the most expensive, and they still come in at a more reasonable price than most of the higher-end aluminum options. So on that triple venn diagram of 29” wheels, I wasn’t exactly sure where the Deamions would land.
The Deamion is available in both 27.5” and 29” sizes, and it comes with an assortment of axle end caps so it’ll work with quick releases, as well as the 142 x 12 / 100 x 15 through axles that I ran
The wheels come standard with a Shimano freehub body, but an XD driver is also included if you’re looking to run SRAM 11-speed (which is how I had them configured).
The Deamions are available with both standard brake mounting options: centerlock (which also includes an adaptor to fit normal six bolt rotors), and a standard 6-bolt mount. My test wheels had centerlock hubs, but I used the adaptors to fit my Sram Guide Centerline rotors.
The Deamions aren’t breaking new ground with their design—they’re a relatively straightforward layout using 28 straight pull spokes.
The rims measure 23 mm internally, and 28 mm externally, so while they’re not on board with the trend toward super wide rims, they’re not skinny, either. The rims are sleeved at the joint, and they’re not eyeletted.
The bead area of the rim gets Vittoria’s “Speedlock” profile, which helps lock in the tire and, when set up tubeless, keep it from burping during cornering. I’ve spent a fair amount of time on various rims that have a similar profile (like WTB’s TCS rims) and a lot of time on rims that don’t have that sort of profile (like Stan’s Flow EX rims), and I can say with a high degree of certainty that the little nubbin in the bead area makes a pretty significant difference.
Rims that have a profile like the Deamions do a much better job of holding air when set up tubeless. And in practice, I found this to hold true: with some Vittoria Goma’s mounted up to the Deamions, I never had an issue with burping.
The rims are asymmetric, meaning that spokes are offset to one side. For a more in-depth discussion of asymmetric rims, check out the review of the WTB Asym 35, but in short, it allows for more even spoke tensions, which result in a stronger, more durable wheel.
The hubs are a simple, straight pull design, and they’re easily disassembled. Vittoria opted for a relatively low hub flange which potentially reduces wheel stiffness a little bit, but it does save some weight (and as I note below, stiffness is still pretty good). Here’s a picture of the rear hub pulled apart:
The rear hub gets four sets of sealed cartridge bearings, and the front gets two sets. The only downside here is that there isn’t any mechanism to adjust the preload on the bearings, although that’s not particularly uncommon for mid-level wheels. Higher end hubs like Chris Kings (for example) allow the pressure on the bearings to be adjusted; too loose and the hub has play, too tight and it can lead to binding and premature bearing failure. Non-adjustable hubs like those on the Deamions are far more common, but they don’t allow for that fine tuning.
The freehub gets 36 points of engagement, which is pretty average for wheelset in this price range, but it’s on the low end if you start comparing it to fancier options. For my purposes, 36 points is enough that I’m not frustrated with it, but I’d be happier if it engaged a bit more quickly.
The spokes are fairly standard, straight pull, double butted 2.0 / 1.8mm stainless steel, and they’re laced up with alloy nipples. Vittoria doesn’t specify whether the wheels are handbuilt or not, but they are well put together. Poorly built wheels often have low and uneven spoke tension, and the Deamions suffered from neither of these issues.
The Ride, Issues, Etc.