Friday, December 17, 2010

NoTubes Alpha 340 Rim & Wheels

After several months of waiting, we were able to get a set of the new Stans NoTubes Alpha 340 road wheels, as well as some rims to build up some custom wheelsets.

These new rims are some of the lightest 700c aluminum clincher rims available and they offer the added benefit of the patented NoTubes BST (Bead Socket Technology) in a road/cyclocross rim. The idea behind the BST is that it increases the air volume of the tire and offers an different bead lock compared with a traditional rim. This lower bead area makes the tire have a wider profile.

Take the example of the Hutchinson Atom Tubeless road tire - on a standard 19mm wide clincher rim this tire measures only 19.5mm wide, which is pretty narrow and limits the use for anything but a front tire or for fly-wieght riders. However, on the Stans rim the same tire measure 22.9mm wide, and it feels very nice when riding it.

The star of this review has to be the ZTR Alpha 340 Pro Wheelset - these wheels weigh in at an incredible 1200g - our set weighed 1238g with rim tape and valve stems installed. This is one of the lightest production clincher wheelsets available. They do have a rider weight limit of 175 pounds, and I think for anyone close to that weight, or someone with incredible amounts of raw power, these wheels might be a little flexy. The 18 hole front and 24 hole triplet laced rear makes for very smooth, fast accelerating wheels. I noticed immediately that these wheels spun up quickly and were easier to follow accelerations in a pack or race situation. They have a decent aero profile but certainly are not to be confused as aero wheels. For someone who doesn't want to spend the money on carbon wheels or tubular tires (which have additional hassles), these wheels offer a great alternative that is light, support tubeless tires easily, and offer the increased air volume to make the ride amazing thanks to BST. All in all this a great set of wheels. If you need stronger or stiffer wheels the rims are available to be custom built for your needs - 32 hole, 28 hole, 24 hole etc...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interbike 2010

Interbike 2010 is a wrap - spent 2 days walking the Sands show floor in Las Vegas looking for new interesting items. A few things caught my eye - I will be updating this as I go through my notes.

The new KS Suspension height adjustable seatpost seems like a nice product. The best part is that it is available in a 27.2mm size which is perfect for the steel frames we build at Worthington Cycles. This will have 100mm of travel, optional remote release lever and will weigh a respectable 530g.

NoTubes showed their complete line of Alpha 340 Road Wheels - the 1200g Pro wheels are very nice and are a perfect, lightweight top of the line wheel-set. However, the star is probably the $615 retail ZTR Alpha 340 Comp wheel-set that weighs 1430g. NoTubes also showed their updated valve stems, hubs, and valve extenders.

Big news at Interbike once again is pedal based power meters - with two "new" systems marketed, but as of yet still unavailable! First is the all new Polar/Look system the seems promising, but is still pretty expensive at ~$2500.00. Second is there is last years Interbike show stopper, Metrigear, which has been bought by Garmin and is still in development...I this more Vaporware???

SRAM had new versions of their S30 AL road wheels on display. We had some trouble with the 2010 models due to faulty Sapim spokes, plus some problems with the bearing preload having to be set correctly each time a wheel was removed. Changes for 2011 look to remedy this by putting a set screw on the bearing preload setting, and hopefully better spokes (from Sapim still?) for next year. The S30 AL wheel is a great low end aero wheel-set for budget conscious buyers.

And in the completely crazy realm there was the much hyped Fairwheel Bikes 6lb road bike on display - with the worlds lightest wheelset (~500g) pretty impressive and only $45,000.00, though it wasn't for sale!

TRP was showing their updated CX-9 "mini v-brake" for cyclo-cross. We built custom V-Brakes like this for our Cyclo-Cross bikes many years ago so we think this is a good option. It is kind of nice to see a large company embrace this style of braking. Using a mini v-brake on a cross bike feels like using disc brakes on a mountain bike...very powerful, but with great modulation, and lever feedback, plus, the added advantage of no front fork shudder and no brake fade under heavy braking.

Maxxis was finally showing their road tubeless tire design.

Not really new, but still one of the best fitting tools I have seen is the SICI X/Y Fitting tool. This tool allows for easy transfer of bike fit from one bike to another and will make custom bike fitting even easier. .

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Shop Moving

We are in the process of moving our frame building and machine shop - our new shop space won't be ready until next year some time, so in the meantime we are in temporary space just around the corner. I will be building out the temporary shop over the next few weeks.

Our office address and contact information is still the same - just the shop is in limbo now...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Hutchinson Atom Tubeless Road Tires In Stock

The new Hutchinson Atom Tubeless Road Tires have arrived. They weigh in at a slightly disappointing 283 grams. This is only 13 grams more than the claimed weight, but I was looking forward to these being closer to, or even lower than, the 270 gram target weight. They do look nice in all black, and I hope they perform as well as the Fusion 2 Tubeless we have reviewed and still love to ride.

Update: The Atom tires when mounted on a 19mm wide rim only measure out at 20mm wide - while the Fusion 2 tires measure 22mm wide. This makes them very narrow, but suitable for lighter riders or even as a front tire.

During testing we had one front rim damaged by hitting a pot hole with the pressure at around 80psi. Of course if these wheels had normal tubes it probably would have caused a pinch flat!

Monday, May 17, 2010

NoTubes Alpha 340 Road Rims

NoTubes has an exciting new 700c aluminum clincher road rim that weighs only 340g. The ZTR Alpha 340 700c road rim also uses NoTubes exclusive shorter rim bead. We will build a pair up as soon as we can order some rims - it looks like 28h and 32h are the first options on the way. I hope a 24h is available for lightweight front wheels soon.

Update: Originally rumors on the interweb had these rims as wide as 22-24mm, which is wider than even the HED Ardennes or the Velocity A23 rims. However, according to final specs and report on it appears that they are 20mm wide rims, which while closer in width to the Shimano tubeless wheels, they are still slightly narrower. This means they should still be good for a lightweight build.