Ritchey Vantage II 29er Wheels, Unboxed, Weighed, and First Impressions
We recently got a hold of Ritchey’s new WCS Allow Vantage II 29er wheelset to match the ZMax Evolution tubeless tires they sent us a while back. The Vantages feature thru-axle and QR compatible hubs, but are only as centerlock compatible. The rims, Ritchey advertises, boast a tubeless ready 19mm deep, 20mm wide internal rim profile made of aerospace grade alloy. Their take on tubeless, however, is a little bit different. More on that plus pics and weights after the break.
The rear weighed in at 924 grams without a rim strip (not far from Ritchey’s reported 903) and the front at 777 grams (again really close to Ritchey’s 765) without rim strip or QR adapter. The QR adapter simply slips into the front hub for quick and easy conversion (and another 37 grams).
The Vantage IIs also come with proprietary rim tape and tubeless valves. To install the sticky cellophane-like tape, pull it tight over the rim starting just before the valve hole, smoothing and pressing the tape into the spoke bed with your other thumb. Go around the rim twice, then using a blade or soldering iron, make a small hole for the valve. It can be pretty tricky getting the tape smooth. Ritchey recommends that you then mount a tire and tube at pressure for 24 hours to get the tape to seat tightly. I tried setting it up without doing this at first with no luck. Setting up as Ritchey recommends, however, worked great.
The ZMax Evolution fit loosely on the Vantage IIs so I didn’t use a lot of pressure to seat them to avoid blowing off the rim. After the extended preparation required by the Vantage IIs and a bit of skepticism on my part, they set up nicely and held air remarkably well.
Old Testament-style rains kept me from riding for a few weeks after setting up the Vantage IIs, but I didn’t have to add any air before finally hitting the dirt. When I finally got out, the 28 traditional spokes held up well under my Clydesdale frame without feeling flexy.
The sealed bearing, 6 pawl, “12-point micro-clutch engagement system” rolled smooth and responded quickly. On my singlespeed over rolling terrain, I rarely found a dead spot when stomping on the pedals after freewheeling and the engagement didn’t fail to please. So, after a lengthier-than-expected set-up I find I can’t wait to get back on the Vantage IIs.