Stan's Notubes S1 wheels - Review - Dirt

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Wheels and Tyres

Stan’s Notubes S1 wheels – Review

Great value, dependable and with rim width options

The S1 series of wheels are the most affordable option from the Stan’s Notubes extensive range. With a no-nonsense lacing pattern, quality hubs and reliable tubeless sealing how do these stack up against the established benchmark wheels?

Words: Sean White  Images: Ieuan Williams

There seems to be a better choice of good quality wheelsets with aluminium rims now than ever before. As we start 2018 and look back at the hardware and bikes that we’ve ridden in the last twelve months there seems to be some great value options whether it’s a 1x transmission, decent brakes or as we see here, wheels.

With these Stan’s S1 wheels selling for £350 a pair they’re one of the cheapest options we’ve had through the Dirt office doors for some time so we were keen to assess their merits when compared against our favourite all-metal wheelsets. Hope Hoops, DTSwiss XM1501s, Stan’s pricier MK3 Flows and even the latest Crankbrothers Iodine 2 have all impressed us with a combination of ride quality, longevity, serviceability, and tubeless reliability. But these models are all more expensive than the Stan’s S1 wheels (if we compare full non-discounted prices) – the Hope’s being the cheapest and the DT Swiss the most costly. All have their merits and there is no question that any of these will be a significant upgrade over the majority of factory built wheels that come on most sub £2500 trail and enduro bikes.

So, do these cheaper wheels from Stan’s have any compromises?

RIM WIDTH OPTIONS

Globally, Stan’s Notubes supply the S1 wheels with six rim width options – the now well know Crest, Arch and Flow with wider Century, Baron and Major models for ‘Plus’ sized tyres.

Here in the UK, the distributors Paligap have focussed on the key models that they feel are the main players: Crest 29″, Arch 27.5″/29″, Flow 27.5″/29″ and the wider Baron in 27.5″ only. And yes, you’re right, there are no 26″ options, sorry. We picked the ever popular (and almost default choice) Flow rims for our test pair of wheels, in a 29″ size with a weight of 2134g and a rider weight limit of 114Kg. In hindsight, the Arch rims may have been a better choice for the mid travel trail bikes we ran them on during the test period. With the Flow rim’s internal width of 29mm, Stan’s suggest tyre widths of 2.35″-2.8″ tyres whereas the Arch’s narrower 26mm measurement leans towards a more trail bike friendly 2.25″-2.5″. Stan’s make a big thing of their ‘WideRight’ thinking and claim that if you choose the right rim for your tyre’s width then you will “strike the perfect balance between tire volume and sidewall function”.

On a 29″ S1 wheelset going for the Arch not Flow set-up would save 160g/pair and on 27.5″/650B you drop 152g/pair, keeping things around the 2Kg mark. This will mean more to some riders than others, depending on how weight conscious your bike build is. You could lose that weight on a different choice of tyre alone…

If you step up to the Stan’s MK3 Flow wheels, a 29″ pair weigh in at 1918g, with the 27.5″ option at 1807g.

RIM CONSTRUCTION

It would easy to say that the Flow rims on the S1 wheels are just a heavier duty version of those on the Stan’s Mk3 wheelset. While the name is the same there are in fact plenty of differences:

The Flow rims on the S1 wheels are constructed from a 6061 aluminium with stainless steel spoke hole eyelets – the lighter MK3 option loses the eyelets and goes for 6069 aluminium. The visual shapes of the two Flow rims are similar and the internal width of 29mm identical but the other dimensions differ slightly. The S1 Flow rim has a depth of 17.6mm and external width of 33.1mm whereas the MK3 Flow is 16mm and 32.3mm accordingly. So the S1 rim is wider, deeper, eyeleted and heavier – Stan’s list the S1 Flow rim at 584g for a 29″ size. There are no aftermarket S1 rims available separately so you’ll be going with a lighter MK3 at £80 a pop if you need a rebuild and want to stay on the Stan’s brand.

HUBS, SPOKES AND BUILD

The cartridge bearing hubs on the S1 wheels are the updated version of Stan’s Neo model – now with the DuraSync tech. The DuraSync freehub body engages 6 pawls simultaneously with a forged steel 36t ratchet ring for 36 points of contact and a 10° engagement. It’s a quiet system when compared to a Hope or Chris King rear hub and the pick up under power seemed fine with no random slippage or noises at any point. Boost (110/148mm) or standard (100/142mm) bolt through options are available with either a SRAM XD driver or Shimano freehub body fitted and it’s a 6-bolt rotor fitting only. Torque Caps to fit the Neo front hubs are available (£20 a pair) if you are running newer RockShox forks and want to benefit from easier wheel seating and the larger contact point of this system.

It’s a classic 32 hole build with both the S1 and Mk3 wheels. Stan’s use Sapim black spokes on both but the S1 wheels go with the double butted Race model with brass nipples while the Mk3s are built with the triple butted Sapim Force model and aluminium nipples. They are J bend spokes in each case and easy to source aftermarket – nothing hard to find here.

Stan’s evolved BST (Bead Socket technology) along with the fact that the rims are taped straight from the box meant that we had the tyres set up tubeless with no fuss and no leaks. Hard to fault here.

RIDE AND PERFORMANCE

With this pair of wheels weighing in at over the 2000g mark and many of our test tyres in the 750-1000g category we weren’t expecting to add a dose of verve and spirit to the bikes we bolted them to. It’s a case of an upgrade of quality to both the hubs and build along with the rim width options (and excellent tubeless sealing) when comparing them to the ‘original equipment’ wheels we removed.

At slower speeds on muddy, rooty winter trail rides the extra heft could be felt, especially compared to wheels at twice the price such as the DTSwiss XM 1501 – a wheel which has become a favourite with us for mid travel travel bikes. There is a reassuring solidity and stiffness to these wider-rimmed wheels though and this shines through on high speed and bermed trail centre descents or when pushing the bike’s limits in off-piste and off-camber terrain. The S1s don’t have the harsher feedback we sometime have experienced from carbon rimmed wheels yet stand their ground and keep the bike on track with authority in a similar manner.

VERDICT

We’ve had no issue with tyre sealing, bearings or wheel build. It would be fair to point out that we’ve run these wheels mostly on a trail bike rather than a longer travel 29er such as those in our Dirty Dozen test – so rim strength has not been tested to the levels that some riders would put these wheels through.

But when we’re talking £350 for a pair of wheels, with a good range of rim options, a quiet hub mechanism and a sensible (and easy to service) 32 spoke build it is very hard to find fault. So what could be improved on? Well, maybe the rims alone being available for rebuilds? Or with some riders running a narrower rear rim and tyre combo then the ability to buy front or rear wheels individually (as with Hope Hoops) could be good. Either way, as an affordable replacement wheelset the Stan’s Notubes S1 are without question a recommendation at this price point.

PRICE: £350/pr

notubes.com

paligap.cc

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