You could look at Gulo’s US-made carbon fiber spokes as a bit of a gimmick, but you’d be missing the point of their unique winding process and design. Yes, they’re lighter, which is awesome, but the real reason to consider these trail wheels is the overall ride quality.
The spokes, which come in a low 24 count per wheel, combine with their own carbon fiber rim to create a smooth riding set of hoops that’s easy on the scale. Here’s the details, actual weights, and our riding impressions…
Gulo Composites GME-30 details & actual weights
The standout feature, visually, is Gulo’s unique braided carbon fiber spokes, which are made in-house in North Carolina. Check out our full feature story on them here for the tech behind their design.
Any good wheel is the sum of its parts, so Gulo uses custom designed carbon rims with drillings aimed straight to the hub flanges for a perfectly straight spoke. The rims are made overseas, but are their own design and layup, and for a 30mm wide rim, they are nice and shallow.
The combination of a rounded profile and shallow depth seems to give them the right mix of lateral rigidity and compliance. And it’s that compliance at the rim paired with the flexible nature of the carbon spokes that creates a supple ride quality that’s totally shred-worthy.
The rim is a hookless design, with a nice bump to help lock the tire’s bead into place on the shelf. They come pretaped, with valve stems installed.
Ours measured right at 30mm wide inside, and about 36mm wide externally.
The spokes are threaded into the hub’s flanges, then fixed with Loctite. At the rim, the ends of the spokes have flat sections and slightly visible threads, however they’re installed and trued from inside the rim.
They mate with custom nipples, which thread onto the spoke through the rim bed using a standard hex wrench. So, unfortunately, you’ll have to remove the rim tape to true them, and please don’t try to true them by turning the spokes.
The end result is a set of all mountain-worthy wheels at an XC weight. Our 29er set, ready to ride with XD driver body, came in at just 1,479g.
Gulo GME-30 Ride Review
The nice thing about big mountains on the East Coast is they’re packed with rocks, and they typically involve long climbs and long, rowdy descents. And this is where Gulo’s wheels were born. Based in Brevard, the trails you’re seeing here are their backyard proving ground.
Rocks fly up all the time, or tires compress and rims get dinged. Our test set of wheels ended up with numerous scratches on the rims, but remained strong and true.
It’s worth noting a couple of things:
- Their rims and spokes come out of the molding process smooth and shiny, they’re not polished or sanded or coated after manufacturing.
- Their spokes are rated for multiple impacts, and Gulo says they can take quite a few hits.
The spoke above had a bit of a nick just below the alloy end cap, but it seemed superficial. I would say that yes, it does seem like they might be more susceptible to getting cut than a metal spoke, but they’re not going to break or snap like a metal spoke. So, trade offs.
But tradeoffs go both ways, and these spokes are literally half the weight of metal spokes. So, for a 24-spoke wheel, these are about 70+ grams lighter if you compare apples to apples. But, most “enduro” wheels are 28-32 spokes, so the real weight savings -per wheel, just from spokes- is more like 85-95 grams. That’s about 1/3 pound off your wheels…from spokes.
In Pisgah, I rode these with the latest Specialized Butcher & Eliminator tires in 29×2.3 size, and they inflated to a perfectly rounded profile. The tires themselves are awesome, but it takes a good rim to keep them in place with low-ish pressures, and Gulo’s wheels did just that.
We also took them through Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains (check out our Where To Ride…Roanoke feature to see those trails and terrain), where flatter, sharper rocks abound. And some impressively large, man-made rock gardens and drops. Here I tested with the Vee Rail Escape 2.4 tires, which measured spot on at 2.4″ on these rims.
As much as we rely on our suspension to tame the trails and maintain traction, our tires, then wheels, are the first line of defense. Even on a longer travel bike, high tire pressure or overly stiff wheels will ruin the ride quality. Gulo solves that with a solid set of mountain bike wheels that track well and seem to absorb sharp-edged, high-speed hits without giving up handling and stability.
That they’re also really, really light makes them a great climbing partner, too. If you’re looking for something that’s tough yet light, give Gulo’s GME-30 a look. Retail is $2,360 and you can choose between XD and Microspline, and black or gold spoke ferrules.