First Look – Spank Ind. Spike 350 Vibrocore Wheelset
I’ll be the first to admit that when Vibrocore was first mentioned as a concept I thought; gimmick – Another innovation that won’t make an iota of difference that us lot will flock to like the frenzied ‘must-have’ consumers that we are.
That point of view essentially was born from a seemingly endless stream of so-called innovative mountain bike products that promise to change the industry forever that end up consigned to the bargain bin at bike shows.
But it’s definitely fair to say that Spank industries are not a company to mess about with pointless gimmicky ideas. They are serious industry players, so when the chance to bolt on a set of their new foam filled Vibrocore Spike 350 wheels was offered, I definitely was not going to turn down the opportunity.
So, the concept – The Spike 350 Vibrocore wheels are an aluminium rim filled with a low density foam ( it’s injected in soft and hardens and expands once inside the rim ). The principle is that the foam, as well as adding structural support, will essentially remove the low frequency vibrations and smooth out a ride when we’re out on the trails. It’s those vibrations or ‘buzz’ which can really fatigue a rider, particularly when riding harsh Downhill or enduro.
The rim itself has an ultra low profile, which combined with the foam means it can return to its natural shape much more efficiently than a standard alloy rim when you hit the big stuff hard.
Aside from the profile and foam the rim itself functions fairly normally – you still need tubeless rim tape and the nipples can be replaced and tweaked as per any other rim so no head scratching when it comes to the basics.
Aesthetically they look lovely. The low profile combined with the matt black and bold graphics really stand out – understated but bold?
I’ll put my hands up here. I suffer with excruciating Carpel Tunnel Syndrome (Arm Pump). From over 25 years of motocross racing my forearms now pump up simply lifting a large cup of coffee and a slice of carrot cake. It really is bad and it often ruins my rides. So my hope above all was that the Vibrocore rims may just help alleviate the pain a little and make longer or rougher rides a little more bearable.
So, cynicism put to one side and heading to my local downhill trails I was indeed hopeful that I wouldn’t end my first few runs with the usual skipping around shaking my arms desperately trying to drain away the pain.
Incredibly and definitely to my surprise, there is no doubt whatsoever that the Spike wheelset changes how the bike feels. It was noticeable within the first 40 seconds of my first run of the day. The opening section of the run is littered with small ‘braking bumps’ where the dirt has essentially broken down and left the trail exposed to small roots and pebbles. It’s a painful start to the run whatever line you choose and you feel every small undulation no matter how hard you try desperately to make the bike skip through it.
This time however, that minor but excruciating and constant vibration had softened. Indeed my first check after run one was to take a closer look at the section to see if the dirt was damp ( a bit of water can make a big difference to the trails overall feel ). But no, baked to a crisp. I was still unsure as to whether that ‘softening’ could have been down to the wheels alone. It seemed too immediate and drastic a change. Next stop – suspension settings. Could I have inadvertently changed my rebound or compression settings (sleep suspension tuning?) from my preferred options for these trails? Tyre pressures? Something, surely something else must be at play?!
But no, just the wheels or more accurately; the rims. The only difference that day from any other recent day on that trail. With that bike. In that sort of weather – the rims.
As a good wheelset goes they tracked, skipped and rolled effortlessly. They are a bloody good wheelset. They are lively and precise and much like other spank wheelsets we have used in the past they feel better than their price-point would suggest. Likewise we have no reason to expect them to be anything other than bomproof. A previous set of Spank Oozy wheels took the hammering of all hammerings and still survive now to fight another day. We have no concerns with Spanks build quality but obviously time will tell.
That combo makes them a good buy but the addition of Vibrocore makes them way beyond that. It’s hard to measure on an initial days testing their effectiveness in regards to arm pump and I’ll continue to hammer out runs on them this year to find out if there is a notable improvement on that front. But on the basis of a dozen or so downhill runs on a bunch of tracks I know like the proverbial back of my hand, that Vibrocore absolutely bloody works. It does what Spank says it will do. It removes that low frequency buzz, softens out those vibrations and makes riding high-speed rough stuff particularly, so much more bearable and easier to attack.
I’ll be smashing out as much time on these on as many different trails as I possibly can but I like these wheels. I like them a lot!
Material: Spank Aluminium
Hub Spacing: Front: 20x110mm; Rear: 12x142mm
Freehub: Shimano 9/10/11 Speed
Rim Internal Diameter: 30.5mm
Rim External Diameter: 35mm
Spokes: J-Hook, Triple Butted
Spoke Lacing: 3-Cross
Tubeless: Tubeless Ready
Included Hub Adaptors: Front: 15x100mm; Rear: 12x135mm