Stan’s NoTubes have a unique take on mounting a tire to a rim without a tube. Their BST (Bead Socket Technology) is proven, accepted off-road and gaining steam on Tarmac. NoTubes use BST throughout their line, and continually push to make their products stiffer, lighter and stronger. The new 2013 models claim to be just that.
For 2013, Stan’s NoTubes have four new rims, with a variety of wheelset options – Flow EX for mountain, Iron Cross for bringing skinny tires to dirt in the fall, a new Alpha 400 for powerhouse crit racers and heavyweights and a new, disc-specific Alpha 340 for road use.
Flow EX: wider and stronger
Stan’s rarely make their products heavier, but they have done so for two of the coming season’s rims, in the name of strength and performance. The new ZTR Flow EX is one of those rims.
Mike Bush, Stan’s director of sales and engineering, explained that the Flow was increasingly being put into service as a downhill racing rim, under World Cup racers or weekend warriors. However, the original intention was for the Flow EX to be used for all-mountain and light freeride use.
In the redesign, then, NoTubes have beefed up the rim considerably, to handle the rigours of downhill use. The sidewalls are 14 percent thicker and the spoke bed is 33 percent thicker, for increased pull-through resistance and a slightly higher tension. The inner width of the rim has grown too, from 22.6mm to 25.5mm, and the bead socket has been reshaped for a tighter, more reliable lock and seal.
Bush said the more robust rim makes for a more stable wheel, while its added inner width further stabilizes the tire and, therefore, the entire system. Even with the extra width and thickness, the Flow EX remains reasonably light. NoTubes claim between 490g to 545g depending on diameter, as they offer the rim in 26in, 650b (27.5in) and 29in options.
Old (left) and new flow, the extra width is apparent here: Matt Pacocha
The old (left) and new Flow EX rim – the extra width is apparent here
The new Flow EX will cost between US$90 to US$96, again depending on diameter, with the 26in and 29in varieties available in June and the 650b size ready for sale in August. Wheelsets will be built with NoTubes’ 3.30 Disc hubs, with the option of a heavy-duty 12x150mm rear downhill option and DT SuperComp spokes. They’ll weigh between 1,800g to 1,960g depending on diameter. All three complete wheelsets cost just US$545.
Alpha 400: the sprinter’s choice
For road racers, the new Alpha 400 underwent a similar development process to the Flow EX. The new rim takes the profiling of the Alpha 340 and bolsters it with the triple channel, internal arch design NoTubes pioneered in the Flow EX. The spoke bed is also 33 percent thicker when compared to the 340.
The end product is a stiffer rim that can be built at higher tension for cycling’s most powerful roadies. The rim comes in at 420g, approximately 40g more than the 340.
The rim costs US$120 alone and comes in 18, 20, 24, 28 or 32 spoke holes. The three pre-built options – Pro, Team and Comp – range from US$1,100 to US$635. The Pro model sports a rear wheel with a 2:1 spoke lacing pattern (16 driveside spokes to eight non-driveside ones). According to Bush, this allows for even tension across all 24 spokes, making the wheel much more durable and lighter.
Alpha 340 (left) versus alpha 400: Matt Pacocha
The Alpha 340 rim (left) versus the new Alpha 400 model
Alpha 340 Disc: for early adopters
NoTubes will also offer a disc-specific road wheelset for 2013 – the Alpha 340 Disc, which uses a modified 340 rim. Stan’s have made a running change to all 340 rims to thicken up the spoke bed, which features an unmachined sidewall and no brake track.
The Alpha 340 Disc rim will be offered as part of a complete wheelset available in July. It will be built with 24 front and 28 rear DT SuperComp spokes, laced cross-two to 3.30 Disc hubs (135mm rear quick-release spacing). The wheelset has a claimed weight of 1,585g and will cost US$650.
Alpha 340 pro with the 2:1 lacing pattern: Matt Pacocha
The Alpha 340 Disc rim, minus a brake track
Iron Cross: cyclo-cross disc wheels
The NoTubes Iron Cross isn’t just a rebadged road or mountain wheelset. The rim extrusion is specifically intended for ’cross, with an internal rim dimension of 20mm. That’s wider than a normal road rim but narrower than Stan’s mountain options. The rim extrusion is loosely based on the Alpine 26in model’s profile, which is known in the pro cross-country/MTB ranks for its better-than-average mud-shedding ability.
NoTubes will offer a complete wheelset built on 3.30 hubs, with 24 front and 28 rear DT SuperComp spokes. They will also offer the 385g rim alone for US$88, but only in a 32-spoke hole drilling, as they can’t have full control over the lacing patterns and tensions of rim-only purchases, said Bush.
The iron cross extrusion is borrowed from the alpine model: Matt Pacocha
The Iron Cross extrusion is borrowed from the Alpine model
The wheelset has a claimed weight of 1,520g and will sell for US$550. While tempting for use on the road, Bush did say that because of the inner profile, which is optimized to seal non-tubeless ’cross tires, it will be very hard to get a tubeless road tire on the rim. NoTubes don’t recommend using non-tubeless road tires due to the higher pressures associated, which really require tubeless-specific road beads.