Another new high quality wheel brand. Again carbon rims that we have seen so many times. That was our first reaction when the Zeal wheels were announced. The brand is launched this year by Daniel Bley and Roland ten Brinke. The latter was one of the founders of the wheel brand FFWD. The business model of the brand is to sell wheels directly through the site to the consumer. The rim is very similar to other models which we have previously tested, except then that the sizes differ. There is therefore nothing more like a carbon rim than a carbon rim. Zeal offers two models for on the road and one for MTB, the Houffa 25. Houffa refers to Houffalize and 25 represents the inner width of the rim*. Zeal chose for this width because this is the ideal compromise is for tyres with a width of 2.25 with an acceptable weight. The rim weighs 370 gr, which is possible given the final weight of the wheel. The rim uses a resin which improves the resistance to an impact. The rim without hooks is only available in 29" version. The hub is a DT Swiss 240, the spokes are Sapim CX and CX Ray. There are 28 spokes in both front and rear wheel. Hubs are available in many standards, including Boost and with freehubs for SRAM XD or Shimano/Sram cassettes with 11 or 12 gears. The wheels are supplied with a wheel bag, a Schwalbe Rocket Ron and a Schwalbe Racing Ralph tire (Snake Skin) and two inner tubes, but no tubeless valves, although the rim tape is tubeless ready and the potential buyer might want to ride tubeless [ZEAL offers packages which are fully tubeless set-up already]. The maximum weight is 120 kg, rider, bike and equipment included. We have performed the test with other tires that were more suited for the terrain which we rode and with a slightly bigger width than the standard 2.25. The tubeless assembly went very smoothly with the Bontrager foot pump for tubeless tyres. The low weight is immediately noticeable when you resume climbing. Even during longer climbs you can notice this very well. The wheels are very dynamic when you increase speed and the transfer of your energy into forward speed is excellent, without the wheels being too stiff. On slightly more aggressive descents, the wheels follow the trail easily. Nothing but good, whether for marathon or for trail. The Zeal's surprise you both in terms of weight as of price.
Weight: 686 g (front) - 794 g (rear)
For whom?: The owner of a 29er looking for lighter wheels.
Strengths: Weight, price, dynamics
Weaknesses: No tubeless valves
* It is correct that the HOUFFA25 rims have an inner width of 25mm. However, the figures on our wheels always indicate the depth of the rims.