airfoil/AT or steel/Coker?

I plan on getting a nimbus 36” this spring and was wondering whether I should get it with the airfoil and wheel TA tire or the steel rim with coker tire. I like the idea of the airfoil for the strength and weight but I think that the coker tire will be a better choice for the kind of riding I am planning to do.

My biggest concern with the TA tire is riding in snow, snow is not uncommon in late September all the way to mid May. The majority of my riding in the summer would be on sandy, dirt and gravel roads.

Am I going to bend the steel rim doing light off-road? Has anyone done much off-road type riding with the TA tire? Anybody ride the TA in snow?

I really like the idea of a stronger lighter wheel but it looks to me like I would be better off with the cheaper setup. Any advice would be appreciated!


If you’re not a big guy, then the cheaper, steel rim should work fine.

You could groove the TA tyre with a tyre cutter (there’s a thread somewhere about somebody who used a motorcycle tyre groover - he built a 36" wheeled mountain bike: that might help the search). I was thinking about doing something similar but haven’t got round to it yet.

I’m hardly an experienced coker rider yet, but I’m surprised what you can get away with on an unmodified TA tyre. Don’t think I’d fancy snow though - although even the Coker tyre isn’t really that spiky.

Regarding the rim, obviously the airfoil rim is stronger and lighter, but I know lots of people using steel-rimmed cokers for xc racing, so they’re not that weak.


Don’t buy the standard steel coker rim, unless you only ride on the street, and never want a brake. It isn’t worth it.

The standard coker rim:

  • Doesn’t have a wide hub (this is too weak for a brake, and the overall tension of the wheel.
  • Won’t work well with a brake (it’ll rub when you are going uphill due to the torque on the wheel)

I recently faced the same dilemma when buying my girlfriend a new coker; we went with the airfoil and the slick tire, which will be fine for almost all riding. The only time the extra traction of the standard coker tire would be better would be for really muddy terrain or really heavy snow; other than that, your speed should carry you over most everything without much trouble.

Having said that, i’ve had a standard coker rim/tire and road it offroad quite a bit, but it felt like it was going to buckle at any time. My airfoil is solid – i’ve bent steel cranks with it without damaging the rim/wheel at all.


Is the Coker cycle the one you saw with narrow hub?

The standard Nimbus comes with the steel rim and does have the UDC wide hub. It’s currently on sale for $449 at UDC. The Radial 360 also has the steel rim and the UDC wide hub. Of course, these have the Radial TA tire and the rim too small for the knobby Coker tire.

So if the OP wants to stay on the cheaper steel rim, he can still get the wide hub, if he’ll accept the slighlty reduced traction. It’s only $339 at UDC.

That said, I have the Radial with steel rim/wide hub/TA tire setup and I noticed no loss of traction issue on XC trails. Like Corbin said, you roll over most stuff before you even worry about traction.

I believe what Corbin said about the brake not working on the steel rim due to flex, but I don’t have a brake.

This is true of the stock coker, but the description of the Nimbus says that it only works with wide hubs, so it’s laced with a wide hub.

My experience with the stock rim is that it will hold up OK when used with a wide hub. …but it is much heavier and weaker and harder to true.

I’d definitely recommend the airfoil (and stainless steel spokes), although its kind of annoying that it doesn’t work with the coker tire anymore.

My understanding of the current situation is that the rims were made slightly small and the tire slightly large. Its possible that when a new batch of coker tires is made that they’ll fit, but don’t hold me to it.

For snow, I can’t really tell you how much better the coker tire will be. My experience is that the Wheel TA is adequate off road, but I’ve never tried snow. You could always try to put studs in (as well as grooves).

I rode the TA on a steel rim, and recently swapped to an airofil. I have ridden the TA offroad and on snow and ice.

You’re not going to bend the steel rim unless you start doing drops, but it will flex like hell making it difficult to run a brake (and the braking surface is rubbish aswell). The main differences i noticed with the airfoil is the incresed ease in hillclimbing, and the truer running which works better with brakes. I swapped down form 150mm to 125 mm cranks at the same time but going up hills is still much easier with this new setup.

The TA held up well on snowy roads, you have to treat it a little gently but it runs just fine. Offroad snow I’m not so sure about, the TA doesn’t handle loose mud very well. Also you really need to burn the mold release compound off the tyre tread before you, a hundred miles of road riding will do it.

Thanks guys, i think i am going to go with the Airfoil/TA setup. I sent an e-mail to UDC and here is their response:

I will ride it for a summer then decide whether I should grove the tire or not.

Thanks again for the advice.

It seems few people are bothing with the steel rim, but I still feel like defending it. I had a steel rim and narrow hub for a year of road use before I got an airfoil and wide hub, and I used a brake on it fine. There was little improvement in the quality of braking with the new airfoil - it still has a welded join, and has imperfections in the tension of the brake pads around the circumference (shown up by non-uniform wear on the black painted surface). Maguras may have less tolerence, but even with my BMX style caliper set to only a mm or two of clearance I didn’t have rubbing problems due to wheel flex.

Basically, in my experience, you can still ride a steel rim hard and with a brake (on road at least). Plenty of people out there do.

That’s not to deny: the Airfoil is stronger, prettier, black, lighter and won’t rust. :slight_smile:


It all depends on how good you can ride

I have Airfoil rims but better riders can do just the same as me on steel. I love the good gear, but unless you are jumping it can be pose value only (which is what I like):slight_smile: for most or average riding dirt on or sealed.