Carbon fibre rims are usually a sign of long-travel pockets, but Superstar is busy democratising the world of composites with keenly priced alternatives. These 24mm wide trail/enduro rims pick up where its narrow cross-country offerings leave off.
Superstar says it’s done more than flick through a Far Eastern factory catalogue for these; it selected and then rig-tested a number of offerings at Bath University before settling on these 28mm-deep items. Superstar then bought the mould to ensure exclusivity.
Built onto a set of its own bombproof and axle-adaptable Tesla hubs with Sapim bladed spokes, our 26in test pair ran straight and true despite a thorough beating over six months.
At 1710g for the pair, weight is respectable for a hard-hitting setup, but you don’t have to look far to find comparable alloy models. The slightly narrower, lighter Mavic Crossmax WTS wheelset or SRAM’s 23mm-wide Rail 50s compare for weight and use, but if you factor in Superstar’s recent price drop from £750 to £600 the AM Carbons offer a very competitive balance of cost and weight.
They can be run tubeless with a rimstrip kit, but we found it was very hard to get tyres on and off due to the slightly raised inner, while the supplied standard rim tape didn’t sit that well and actually made matters worse.
While we’re picking bones, the deep section of the rim means you need to make sure you get long- stemmed valves whether you run with tubes or without.
If you fail to do this and consequently can’t fit a lockring on the too-short valve – which is something that happened to us – you may find, as we did, that the resulting movement splits a layer of composite around the valve hole.
It speaks well of the quality and durability of the rim that our foolishness and the resulting damage hasn’t altered their integrity in any way – they’ve remained utterly sound.
The ride is very impressive, and while they aren’t as brutally precise at ENVE’s significantly more expensive Twenty6 AM rims, they’re plenty stiff enough, and add noticeable line-locking accuracy through sections that would normally have us pinballing everywhere.
Our only disappointment at the moment is that, while most of their admittedly more expensive rivals are available in 650b and 29in versions, you can only take advantage of Superstar’s bargain wheels if you’re sticking with 26in.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.