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Dirt Components Rough Country Wheels — $1,250
By Brett Rothmeyer
Upon their arrival to Dirt Rag headquarters, I secretly hoped I’d be able to snag the new Dirt Components Rough Country wheels for my bike. I had just recently purchased a new hardtail frame, and winter was quickly approaching. Looking to take a bit of sting out of the rigid aluminum rear triangle, the Rough Country 27.5 carbon wheels were the ticket to some plush feelings out on the trail.
Dirt Components is a brand that was created out of the need to fill the void of functional performance off-road wheels for the plus- and fat-sized platforms. In 2013, Dirt Components president Patrick Reed was searching for a wheel system that would compliment his school-bus-yellow Surly Pugsley. He wanted something light and durable while having the ability to run tubeless tires. When his search turned up little to no options, Reed created Dirt Components in 2014. Fast forward five years and the Austin, Texas-based wheel company has a growing line of wheels and components to complement the various ways in which riders enjoy the trails.
The Rough Country 27.5 wheels are the perfect companions to plus-sized tires looking to attack the trail. The 32-hole carbon rims have a 42 mm external measurement and a 36 mm internal, allowing the 2.8 tires I mounted to take perfect shape. Tubeless set up on the rough country was also a breeze; pre-taped with Orange Seal’s rim tape, and valve stems already installed, the tires mounted with little struggle and inflated immediately with a floor pump. Dirt Components’ own hubs, offering 36 tooth, 10 degrees 4X leaf-spring engagement and DT Swiss double butted spokes, completed this wheelset. It should be noted that Dirt Components offers custom builds via their website. Customers have the option of both the 101 and Hydra hubs from Industry Nine as well as DT Swiss’ 350s if the stock Dirt hubs don’t fulfill their tech needs.
From the first bit of trail, I started to enjoy the Rough Country wheels. I had previous experience riding the 27plus platform, and I have to admit I wasn’t completely sold. While I enjoyed some of the benefits of the wider footprint, the overall ride felt sluggish when chasing friends down the trail and up and over steep climbs. With the Rough Country, however, I lost that pedaling-in-quicksand feeling. Perhaps it was the lighter carbon rims or a more precise engagement in the freehub. At any rate, it seemed to take less effort to get these hoops rolling.
As mentioned above, I slapped these wheels on my aluminum hardtail, and it went a long way in softening up the harshness of the trail. Both the carbon rims and the beefier tires did a great job absorbing chunky terrain, lessening the abuse to my body. The Dirt Components Rough Country wheels were responsive on the climbs and when barreling into corners, never feeling noodly or soft under load.
With a growing abundance of bikes having the versatility to run both 29-inch tires and 27plus, adding the Rough Country wheels to my lineup has been a pleasure. While these wheels excel in the winter season snow and mud, they feel just as good on the current hardpack hero dirt we have been experiencing. If you are looking to dabble in the plus-sized tire world or are looking to upgrade your current set up, the Rough Country from Dirt Components is an excellent set of wheels for any level of rider.