This post continues to receive plenty of views so I thought I’d post an update. Since this was published, I’ve tried some different hub and rim options and I’ll offer some thoughts.
Mavic XM719 (26″) and Rohloff/SP Dynamo PD8
Now fitted to my Surly Troll, these have offered sterling service over the last two years and maybe 12,000 miles. I’ll add to the extensive cannon on the Rohloff in a separate post at some point, but I am a fan of hub transmission for touring and the off road riding I do. The SP Dynamo has proven to be reliable and strong with the added benefit of charging my devices of course. There is resistance when the hub is applying juice, but I haven’t found it a great hassle in real world use.
Update: The bearings on the SP dynamo have now failed. This is, according to the manufacturer, all I might expect from one of its hubs. On this basis, I can’t recommend the SP8 for touring as there is no easy way to replace the bearings without invalidating the warranty (if under two years old).
The Mavix XM719 rims have been particularity impressive. These wheels are 32-spoke which initially challenged by grouchy devotion to 36- hole drilling for touring, but they have remained true over some tough terrain, including ill advised single track, Morrocan gravel roads with load and lumpy bridlepaths. They seem resistant to chips and scratches too from flying rocks and stones.
Update: Although initially impressed with the rigidity and finish of this rim, the rear has extensive and alarming cracking under the rim tape. This problem has been experienced by other tourers and you can shake the Internet to find out more. It’s a shame, I liked this rim.
Velocity Dually and Rohloff/Hope Evo
A specialist 29+ wheelset for my Surly ECR off road touring rig. The Duallys are a cheaper alternative to Surly’s Rabbit Hole rim and I prefer the aesthetic given they have no ‘windows’. They are a little narrower though.
I recently returned from a two week bikepacking trip to Scotland where these received some very harsh treatment. The rims are now chipped due to flying stones etc, but the wheelset has remained nicely true. The Hope Evo on the front grumbles a little but spins freely.
Mavic Open Pro/Royce Titan
These are fitted to my custom Woodrup and have proven to be a noticeable improvement on my existing Deore XT/DRC combo. This wheel set is noticeably stiffer and considerably faster. Although I was expecting the Royce Titans to have a bedding in period given the sealing on the cartridge bearings, they have proven to be extremely free running out of the box and whisper quiet. One characteristic of these hubs is the precision… there is no discernible play in the hand so the tolerances are fine. The freehub will get noisier over time, but I have the lubrication kit that will silence them again when this happens.
As mentioned below, the Royce are very expensive but beautifully finished. They are the crowning component on this superb bike and make riding it an even greater pleasure. Highly recommended…