My garage is a graveyard. Shattered, mangled and cob-web-covered carbon hoops outnumber functional wheelsets three to one. Many of the ruined rims spun incredible riding adventures or potentially memorable race runs into expensive and quickly forgettable weekends. At 5 feet 9 inches tall and 160 pounds, I'm much closer in physique to Sam Hill than André the Giant–well under the manufacturers' maximum weight limits–so I can't blame the high-modulus landfill on my size. Eventually, my short-term solution was to run an aluminum rear wheel so it would dent instead of crack. However, recent technological advancements have resurrected my faith in carbon. Hookless bead designs not only make rims more affordable to produce, they're also more impact-resistant (creating a bead on a carbon rim requires machining, a process that cuts through carbon layers and thins the sidewall). Rims have also seen a boost in internal width, which can result in improved stability and traction.
Praxis entered the trail/all-mountain carbon wheel category with its versatile C32 wheelset, which is available tubeless-ready in 27.5- and 29-inch versions. I've spent months hammering my set underneath a 140-millimeter-travel 29er. From step-downs to high-speed corners to steep, root-filled chutes, the wheels felt like they were truly in their element.
Before mounting the C32s, I had been riding wheels with a 30-millimeter internal width. Remarkably, the additional 2 millimeters of width delivered a noticeably enhanced connection with the trail. Wide rims can alter a tire's shape to the point where the sideknobs lose their effectiveness. These are the widest 29-inch trail rims I've ridden, and the Specialized Butcher Control (front) and Purgatory tires still hooked up very well when cornering at speed. The rim-and-tire combo allowed me to set an edge and corner hard without excessive sidewall-squirm. The C32s repeatedly took a beating, yet showed very little wear or cosmetic blemishes.
The C32 hubs are Praxis-branded, although they're equipped with proven DT Swiss 350 internals. The relatively quiet DT Swiss 36 Star Ratchet mechanism delivers quick and reliable engagement when putting down the power and, when coasting, it doesn't sound like I'm dragging a maraca in tow. Often, carbon hoops have playful and compliant ride qualities. The tough Praxis rim and its 32-spoke construction feel stiffer, more precise and stable than 'agile' or 'snappy.' At 1,700 grams for the set, these wheels won't likely be on the wish list of many Lycra-clad gram counters. Rather, Praxis designed these $1,800 wheels for the rider seeking a well-rounded, reliable, all-purpose carbon wheelset, and it has delivered. To boot, Praxis offers a two-year warranty on the C32s, for those riders who can be mistaken for André the Giant.