WTB Proterra Wheels: Getting Rolling – by Guitar Ted
Recently we told our readers here about WTB’s new Proterra wheel line up. That wheel line has a few different choices. You can go Proterra Light, or Proterra Tough. The “Light” versions are aimed at the gravel cycling crowd and we have just received a set. The Proterra i23 to be exact. This post will help to get you acquainted with these particular wheels.
I case you missed the previous post on these wheels linked above, here is a short list of features for the 123 version of the Proterra Light wheel set we have. This from WTB’s webpage;
- 23mm inner rim width with 28 spokes laced in a 3-cross pattern.
- 6069 aluminum alloy rim. TCS 2.0 tubeless-ready.
- Sapim Secure Lock 14-gauge alloy nipples minimize rotational weight while double butted 2.0/1.8/2.0mm J-bend spokes make replacement a breeze.
- Tubeless tape, Solid Strip and black alloy valves are preinstalled, making the wheels ready for tubeless tires the moment they arrive on your doorstep. The TCS 2.0 Solid Strip is a durable strip that lies beneath the tape, prevents it from sagging at the spoke holes, makes it easier to mount a tire and protects from puncture in the case of a broken spoke.
- Centerlock rotor mounts.
- Rear wheels are available with Shimano HG 11spd or SRAM XDR driver bodies.
Our test set of Proterra wheels came with the alloy Shimano HG 11 speed free hub body. It should also be noted that WTB sent over a fresh set of Resolute SG2 700 X 42mm tires for us to mount onto the Proterra wheels. We reviewed the SG2 version of the Resolute here, by the way, so we won’t be saying anything more about them in particular in this review.
As stated in the bullet point list above, the wheels come out of the box all set up with taped rim wells and tubeless valve stems installed. All we had to do was to install our cassette, brake rotors, and the aforementioned Resolute tires and we would be good to go. But first, what about the weight? Well, these came out to be 1,730 grams for the pair with tubeless valve stems, tape, and reinforcing strip installed. Compared to a Shimano GRX wheel set, that’s very competitive since a GRX wheel set goes about 1,720 grams bare- no strip, no valves installed. I would consider the GRX wheels on par with these Proterra wheels. More on that comparison later.
First Impressions: These are sharp looking, very understated wheels. No ‘loud’ graphics or weird colors here. The standard “J” bend spokes with a 28 hole drilling on each rim are a welcome sight for those who have had issues with low spoke count wheels. It also bodes well for future serviceability. The free hub body has a six pawl design with a quick engaging, 3.7 degrees of free rotation. It feels better than that in the hand though. And by the way, the free hub is fairly loud bare, without any cassette or tire to damp the sound. We’ll see how it is once everything is mounted.
Speaking of mounting, the Resolutes went on the Proterra wheels with the expected amount of effort for a tubeless system. I did have to use a blast from the air compressor to seat the tires, but sometimes that is how it goes with a stiffer casing like the SG2 Resolutes have due to their puncture protection belt. Of note: You should double-check the tightness of the tubeless valve stems. One of the two on the test wheels was loose and leaking air. No biggie, but it may be a point of frustration for some folks if they don’t double-check that detail.
So Far… The WTB Proterra i23 wheels are a subtle looking, value priced wheel set at $649.00 for the pair. You get smooth EZO sealed bearings, easily serviced parts, and WTB’s proven tubeless rims. Nothing ‘shouty‘ going on here, just a workingman-like wheel set.
Compared to some other choices, the WTB Proterra line may seem not all that special, and it is true that the aforementioned Shimano GRX wheel set is cheaper. However, that GRX wheel set has more unconventional straight pull spokes. It also is only 21.5mm internal width, and weighs about the same, so it may not be quite the value it seems there. Maybe… The proof will be in the riding, and that’s where we will go next. I’ll have a good idea on where the GRX wheels stand in comparison to the Proterra wheels, having ridden the GRX’s a lot over the course of 2020. Stay tuned for the “Checkpoint” post in about a month where I will discuss this and more concerning the Proterra wheels.
For more on the WTB Proterra i23 wheels see the WTB webpage for them here: https://www.wtb.com/collections/gravel-wheels/products/proterra-light-i23-wheels
Note: WTB sent over the Proterra wheels and a set of SG2 Resolute tires for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.