I’ve been riding and racing Stan’s Valor Pro wheels for almost a year, and in some tough conditions. No, they’re not cheap, but these wheels are designed for top racing competition, so as that old saying goes, “light, strong, cheap, pick two.”
Stan’s spec the Valor Pros with its top of the line Neo Pro Ultimate hub. What stands out are the six paws with a 72-point engagement, so there’s less of a dead spot and the pick-up is marginally faster. Whether or not it makes you any faster is up for debate, although I suspect not. I did however miss the feeling of the hub when I rode other wheels.
The Valors come with different end caps that pop out easily, so you can swap between quick release (QR) and thru-axle quickly. There are probably not many bikes that come with QR anymore, but it’s still nice to have.
The wheels are lightweight too, weighing in on our scales at 1,330g with tubeless rim tape, which is actually lighter than Stan’s claimed 1,342g.
The rims internal width is relatively wide, keeping in line with the current trend in MTB wheels, but there are wider available.
The Valor Pros are available in loads of different configurations: boost spacing, regular spacing, left hubs, 27.5 — just about every combination to suit most riders.
Stan’s wheels are tubeless-ready right out the box. Once you’ve set them up tubeless, which on Stan’s is nearly always a breeze, the first thing you’ll notice is the wheels are stiff, especially when you consider their weight. In fact, I didn’t notice any wheel rub on the chainstays of my BMC Teamelite at any point during the season.
Once climbing they feel great, accelerating well and holding their speed. But for such a light wheel you’d kind of expect all those things, so it doesn’t really come as a surprise. What I was surprised about was their performance descending and blasting through singletrack. Stan’s says the rim is designed to absorb radial vibrations, so up and down. When you combine this with a laterally stiff rim, you get a wheel that’s stable and holds its line well, but doesn’t feel harsh like carbon rims of old. The effect is only very minor, but when things get steep, fast and tough, the wheels don’t feel like they’re going to ping or wash out on you. Granted it’s not the same as riding a heavier all-mountain rim, but for racing, they’re bang on.
Did I have any problems with them? Well, there weren’t exactly problems, but I did break one spoke and had to have the freehub replaced in June. In a perfect world the freehub would have lasted longer, so it’s no ideal, but it’s a wearing part and was easy to replace, and considering I’ve put in around 270 hours on these wheels some maintenance is expected.
The Stan’s definitely have the performance, but they’re durable too. I tested these in some truly miserable and tough conditions, including the MB race in France — a 140km race with 7,000m of climbing. I’ve also used them on fun trail centre days, sending a few jumps here and there and generally giving them a hard time. Throughout all of that they’ve stayed true, with only the spoke and free hub replacement to deal with.
If I had the money I would definitely buy a set of these wheels. The Stan’s Valor Pro is a super high-end race wheel, so if you’re a serious racer or just a rider who’s keen to optimise every part of their performance you won’t be disappointed.