Stan's No Tubes Bravo carbon wheels - Dirt

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Wheels and Tyres

Stan’s No Tubes Bravo carbon wheels

Light, wide and stiff hoops from the tubeless pioneers

With carbon wheels getting more affordable they are becoming a popular performance upgrade on trail bikes through to DH machines. The latest Stan’s Bravo Team wheels have just rolled into Dirt HQ for long-term test – plenty of tech, but are they worth the asking price?

Stan’s pioneered their lightweight tubeless system many years ago, with a focus on reliable sealing, puncture prevention and an increase in grip and feel. It’s safe to say they got it right from the start, and their Flow EX rim quickly became one of our favourites here at Dirt. Their ‘No tubes’ range of products has since developed over time, with a choice of rim widths and prebuilt wheels catering for most riding types. With the arrival of recent new hub spacing standards and and a demand for wider rims, Stan’s have not stood still – and the result is the bang up to date Bravo wheels. Are these the new standard for trail wheels? How do they compare to the Easton and Roval wheelsets? – both picks in the 2016 Dirt 100. Let’s have a look at the details.

The Bravo wheels are ‘built for all-day trail rides and enduro racing’ say Stan’s, and they’re developed with plenty of input from the World Championship-winning Atherton DH Team – a very good indication that they are serious with their design. A rethinking of carbon fibre wheels from the ground up were Stan’s intentions with the Bravo, where not only a wide carbon rim is launched but also an all-new Neo and Neo Ultimate hub designed to team up perfectly with these composite rims.

‘Wide, supportive, yet stiff rims with smooth and long lasting hubs all rolled out into a lightweight wheelset’

These are the usual words spoken when it comes to premium priced rolling stock and so it is here with the Bravos. They promise a lot, and with weights of 1640g (for the 27.5” Pro level) and 1701g (Team level) they are competitive, sitting in just above the 1530g for a pair of the equivalent sized Roval Traverse carbon wheels.

carbon Rims

Stan’s tubeless history is in rims so let’s start here.

The Bravos use what Stan’s refer to as their ‘Radial Impact Absorbing Carbon Technology (RiACT)’, said to be three times stiffer than their current aluminum rims laterally, but absorbs radial impacts to withstand bigger hits and roll faster, potential reducing punctures and damage to lighter weight tyres.

Stan’s patented ‘Bead Socket Technology’ (BST) tubeless rims secure the bead of the tire, not the sidewall, creating an air tight seal while allowing the tire’s sidewall to expand to its true, rounder, more effective profile. The result is more traction and less rolling resistance. With lower-profile, less vulnerable sidewalls, these BST rims are also lighter and stronger by design, resulting in quicker acceleration. If you’ve added weight by choosing heavier tyres (to increase durability in challenging terrain) this can mmake a real difference to the feel of your bike.

The Bravo’s 32mm carbon rims are used on both the Team and the Pro version of these wheels. Using Stan’s WideRight profile, these rim widths are designed to strike the perfect balance between tire volume and sidewall height and function, allowing the tire to achieve its proper shape. Stan’s feel this is the foundation for a great handling, fast-rolling, and responsive trail bike.

It really is a case of getting the right blend of stiffness, comfort and control – and on a suitable bike. We often find certain carbon wheels work well on a particular size rims.

We’ve discussed the pros and cons of carbon v aluminium wheels before – read the feature and watch what was said in the video here.

NEO hubs

So, quality carbon rims are good and well but they need to be built onto hubs that reflect the price that Stan’s are asking for these wheels. Hubs need to easily serviceable, have the ability to switch axle standards and use bearings and a freehub that will last a good few British winters of water, grit and mud. Quick freehub engagement when you put the power down is welcome too. Many wheels we have in to test at Dirt are let down by the hubs – usually poor sealing and undersized bearings that are just not up to the job. We’d happily give up 100g in weight if it means longer lasting hubs.

Stan’s offer two hub options with the Bravo wheels – The Team version uses the standard Neo hub with 4 pawls giving a 10 degree engagement pick-up. The Pro wheels use the Neo Ultimate hub that uses 6 pawls and has a better 5 degree engagement along with futher CNC machining from the hub body to shave weight. The flanges on these Ultimate hubs are also angled to improve spoke alignment and tension. SealLock end caps on both hub models help keep the crap out of the bearings and internals – a good move, especially in the wet conditions we are often riding in.

Spokes

Wheel builders will be happy to see easy-to-source black Sapim J-bend spokes – double butted on the cheaper wheelset and triple butted on the Pro model. 28 spokes front and rear laced three cross with standard spoke nipples gives a reliable build and user-friendly servicing. No searching out unusual spokes to get you rolling again.

OPTIONS

Stan’s have a version of these wheels to fit most fork and frame standards that we currently have. Hubs are six bolt or Centre-Lock for the disc mounts and most axle standards are catered for apart from 20mm x 100mm up front. Boost options with a 15mm or 20mm fork axle standard are available as is 148mm, 150mm and indeed 157mm at the back. RockShox Predictive steering and Cannondale’s Lefty hubs are also an option if you need them. 29″ or 27.5″ rim sizes are both available. Stan’s Bravo wheels are bang up to date.

Will these Bravo wheels become our go to choice for premium wheels on a trail bike? Pictured here with one of our favourite all round tyres, the Hutchinson Toro, they look like a true contender…

We’ve got a pair of the Bravo Team wheels in for test – keep an eye out for a long term review.

PRICE: TEAM £1400, PRO £1650

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