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...

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