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Miche K4 wheelset review

Miche has updated its K4 XC/Marathon wheel to work better with bigger tires while making it lighter too, but how does it feel on the trail?

Miche K4 Wheelset
(Image: © Guy Kesteven)

Our Verdict

A light and lively wide-tire-friendly wheel for racers and fast trail riders, but twangy rather than controlled, and needs TLC

For

  • - Light with a tight and poppy feel
  • - Very easy tubeless setup
  • - Almost silent, superlight freehub in all flavors
  • - SKF bearings

Against

  • - Twang rather than ground tracking
  • - Very slow freehub reaction
  • - Super tight Centerlock splines
  • - Soft HG freehub body
  • - Alloy nipples
  • - Low weight limits and limited warranties

Italian manufacturer Miche does a full range of components across MTB, gravel, road and track, and we’ve always got on well with its wheels. In line with the best mountain bike wheels trends, the new K4 specs are right on the money for increasingly tough and technical XCO courses as well as faster trail use, and they’ve got a naturally bright and poppy feel that flatters on climbs. Tire pressures are crucial on technical terrain though, and TLC is advised for a long and happy life.

Miche K4 Wheelset

The carbon rims have a 27mm inner rim diameter (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Wheel construction and build

Miche wins ‘race day’ points straight out of the box with a pair of rim covers that’ll also stretch enough to cover your tires. The asymmetric, hookless sidewall carbon rims under the covers have a measured inner width of 27mm and while their weight on our scales is 60g heavier than Miche claims, it’s still relatively light for a wheel in this category. They’re taped and valved for tubeless running as standard and our default Specialized test tires flipped on, tool- and trauma-free. With the valve core removed they still blew up instantly with no overpressure needed to pop them audibly into place in the rim gutter.

Miche has gone light on the build too and while you don’t get the semi carbon hubs of the K1 wheelset, you do get titanium parts in the drive mechanism, so the rear wheel is only 60g heavier than the front. The double-butted straight-pull spokes in either wheel are conspicuously skinny in the center, and hyper-tightened into Ergal alloy nipples to minimize rotating weight and inertia. However, compared to brass nipples, the alloy counterparts are more likely to get mangled, so go steady if you need to tighten them. The Centerlock splines are so tightly machined that we had to use a plastic mallet to tap the adaptors into place, and we’re not sure how we’d get them off kindly if we had to. 

SKF bearings with adjustable preload on the rear should be as happy with the epic cross-country mileages as the overall performance encourages. HG, XD and Microspline freehubs are available too, but the 12mm hex key needed to switch them is not something most riders will have and the 12-degree engagement lag is very slow. It also didn’t take long for the alloy HG freehub to start scoring up when used with a cheaper all-steel cassette. Most carbon cross-country wheel users will probably be teaming it with a more expensive carrier-supported block though, so as long as you tighten things up securely it should be fine. 

Miche does suggest a two-month/500km service check for riders over 78kg, and the safe system weight limit is lower than most at 105kg. Unlike an increasing number of carbon wheel producers, Miche doesn't offer a lifetime warranty or crash replacement deals on the carbon rims either.

Miche K4 Wheelset

Switching freehub requires a 12mm allen key (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Performance and riding experience

Low rim and nipple weight, plus hyper-tight spokes mean that once the freehub has clunked into place, the K4s are an obvious acceleration and agility boost compared to most stock wheelsets. The tight feel gives them sharp tracking on smoother trails too, and as long as you keep the rear hub engaged they’re great for putting the hurt on other riders during twisting trail center climbs. The freehub is super quiet too, so they’re equally suitable for stealth hunting or just letting you enjoy the peace of your surroundings. While the engagement lag of the hub can be frustrating on the otherwise very responsive wheels, it also means less chance of crank pull-back on suspension bikes with high anti-squat figures. That translates to a smoother ride over big blocky terrain, and despite several rim-outs, the K4s haven’t chipped or cracked.

They’re relatively harsh in overall feel though, and certainly not damped or ground-hugging in any way. That meant we had to drop pressures right down to Miche’s 19psi bottom line to not pinball everywhere on root and rock spreads. At this point, the relaxed tire fit meant regular sealant seeps (though no big pressure burps) when we started pushing through turns, so you’ll need to put some work into finding the right balance for your particular tire choice. 

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Miche K4 Wheelset

The hubs spin on quality SKF bearings (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)
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Miche K4 Wheelset

The freehub has quite slow engagement although on the flipside it plays well with high anti-squat suspension systems (Image credit: Guy Kesteven)

Verdict

Miche’s K4 is a good choice if you want a light and bright feeling wheel for smoother trail speed with wider tires. Tubeless tire fit is easy and quality bearings should boost longevity too. The freehub is very slow to engage, and alloy nipples and Centerlock tolerances could potentially cause issues further down the line. The tight build twangs around on irregular surfaces or off big slaps too, and the weight limits and lack of extended warranty make it less suitable for downcountry use than the stats would suggest.

Tech Specs: Miche K4 wheelset

  • Price: $TBC / £1,325 / €1,620
  • Weight: 1,540g (740g front, 800g rear with valves and HG freehub but no disc hardware)
  • Sizes: 29er, Boost 
  • Freehubs: XD, HG, Shimano MicroSpline
  • Rotors: Centerlock
Guy Kesteven

Guy Kesteven is Bike Perfect and Cyclingnews’ contributing tech editor. Hatched in Yorkshire he's been hardened by riding round it in all weathers since he was a kid. He got an archaeology degree out of Exeter University, spent a few years digging about in medieval cattle markets, working in bike shops and warehouses before starting writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit he’s also coughed out a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too. We trust Guy's opinion and think you should, too.


Rides: Pace RC295, Cotic FlareMax, Specialized Chisel Ltd MTBs, Vielo V+1 gravel bike, Cannondale Supersix Evo Dura-Ace Di2 Disc road bike, Nicolai FS Enduro, Landescape custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg