Stans NoTubes Alpha 340 Wheels  £580.00

9/10

An easy route into road tubeless. The rim profile makes set-up a doddle, and the fact they come ready to go is a nice touch.

Weight 1445g   Contact  www.paligap.cc

by David Arthur   October 6, 2013  

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Stan's NoTubes Alpha 340 Team 3.30R wheels are light, fast and strong, and allow easy tubeless setup if you want to ditch your inner tubes.

Tubeless technology is prevalent in the automotive industry and over the last ten years has become commonplace on mountain bikes. So far there has been very little adoption among road cyclists, but with increasingly more choice of wheels and tyres from the big manufacturers, that's slowly starting to change and road tubeless is seeping into the public consciousness.

Stan's NoTubes is a name familiar to any mountain biker. The US company has made tubeless technology its USP, with special rim strips, valves and tubeless sealant able to convert most wheels into a no-tubes setup. The company has also developed its own rim, with a special internal rim shape, that it sells in a range of mountain, cyclo-cross and road wheels.

These Alpha 340 Team 3.30R wheels, with their 1,445g weight and £580 price, are very competitive. For comparison purposes, they are about the same weight as Shimano's Dura-Ace 9000 C24 tubeless-ready wheels and lighter than Fulcrum's Racing 1 2-Way Fit wheels, but cheaper than both.

The wheels use Stan's unique rim profile, which incorporates its Bead Socket Technology. This is essentially a sidewall that is 2-4mm lower than a regular rim, and which secures the tyre bead firmly into place. Once it's locked in there it's not budging. I've had no problems at all inflating tubeless tyres with a hand or track pump onto these rims, and once the tyres are up they stay inflated.

The rim is 22.6mm deep with a 20mm external width and 17mm internal. They're laced to DT Supercomp Black spokes (24 radial front, 28 2-cross rear) to a pair of 3.30R hubs, with DT Silver Alloy nipples. They're diddy little hubs and nestled away inside are stainless steel cartridge bearings, which have dealt well with heavy and sustained rain and taken a pasting riding over mud and shit covered roads the past couple of months. The machined braking surface has offered decent braking and shows no sign of wear. The freehub is 11-speed compatible.

Going tubeless couldn't be easier

The rims are pre-fitted with 2-layers of Stan's yellow rim tape and a 44mm tubeless valve. Fit a pair of tyres and some sealant and away you go. It really is that easy. The wheels can be run with inner tubes if you prefer, that simply requires removing the valves.

One of the best selling points of tubeless is reduced punctures. Removing the inner tube obviously eliminates the risk of pinch flats - when the inner tube is sandwiched between the tyre and rim. You have to hit a pothole pretty hard to do that, but it's not impossible.

The most frequent punctures are those caused by glass, sharp stones, flint and thorns puncturing the tyre and popping the tube. They're more frequent at this time of year, with generally more crap on the roads, but also rain acts as an annoyingly good lubricant for sharp objects to slice into tyres.

Remove the inner tube then, and replace with a liquid latex solution that solidifies upon contact with oxygen, and you have the recipe for less time spent repairing flats. Who doesn't find that appealing?

I tested the wheels with a pair of Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres (you can read the review here http://road.cc/content/review/95313-schwalbe-ultremo-zx-tubeless-tyres). Installation couldn't have been easier, with the required solution poured into the tyre, they inflated first time and have remained trouble-free for the couple of months I've been riding the wheels and tyres so far. The tyres are secure on the rims, with no hint of the tyre bead trying to shift in the rim.

Ride: Quick and strong

The wheels offer a sprightly ride, as you would expect from their low overall weight. They zip up to speed quickly, with a good response during out of the saddle sprints. They're reasonably stiff: push the wheels hard in a flat-out sprint or through a high-speed corner, and there's no detectable lateral flex.

They're also comfortable, the alloy rim and double butted spokes a good advert for classic box-section clincher wheels such as these. There's enough spring in them that rough roads are handled with good composure, making them an ideal year-round well, but especially good as we head into winter.

They're strong wheels, with impressive durability. I've been hammering them purposely through holes and cracks in the broken Tarmac on my local roads, and they simply shrugged it all off. I've not even needed to take a spoke key to the nipples yet. The bearings are still lovely and smooth after a couple of months.

They can take the punishment. That makes them ideal wheels for anyone who hammers their bike over rough roads, whether in sportives or racing. Their weight and stiffness makes them ideal on a lightweight racing bike, though they might not have the outright stiffness of carbon wheels for crit races, but longer road races should see them shining. For long distance touring or sportives they're well suited, with the added peace of mind that the tubeless setup provides. And they're light enough to put carbon wheels three times their price to shame when it comes to climbing.

I've been really impressed with these wheels. The simple tubeless setup, their weight and decent price and staggering good strength and durability. They come with a rider weight limit of 230lb (16 stone/105kg) though.

Verdict

The Stan's rims have provided an easy route into road tubeless, with none of the complications often cited by tubeless detractors. The rim profile makes setting up tubeless tyres a doddle, and the fact they come ready to go is a nice touch.

road.cc test report

Make and model: Stans NoTubes Alpha 340 Wheelset

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Featuring Stan's brand new 3.30R front hub with improved threaded end caps and lighter weight. The 3.30R rear hub has also been redesigned to provide increased lateral wheel stiffness. At 1395 grams this best in class wheelset is tubeless ready goodness for road or cyclocross. All this while still providing the one of a kind ride quality of the Alpha 340 rim at an affordable price.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Featuring BSTTM (Bead Socket Technology)

Includes 2 road skewers.

Does not include cassette lock ring.

2 layers of 21mm yellow tape and 44 mm valves installed for tubeless use.

Can be run with tubes or tubeless.

1395 grams (Pair)

Rims: ZTR Alpha 340 Clincher (6061 Alloy)

Rim Depth 22.6mm

Front Hub: Stan's 3.30R

Rear Hub: Stan's 3.30R

Hub Bearings: Stainless Steel Cartridge

Spokes: DT Supercomp Black

Spoke Nipples: DT Silver Alloy

32/32 Hole

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Excellent construction, really solidly built and maintenance free riding.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Well they're nice and light, with a good balance of stiffness and weight, and are very strong and durable.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

In the few months and hundreds of miles I've been riding them, they've been faultless. I intend to keep riding them into the winter to really put them through their paces.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
8/10

They shine next to more expensive offerings.

Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:
 
8/10

They're a good advert for traditionally box-section clincher wheelsets. This is why the pros, given the chance, ride wheels like these in the spring Classics.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

They're less expensive than similar weight tubeless-ready wheels from Shimano and Campagnolo.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

This is my first experience of road tubeless and I've been nothing but absolutely impressed. The rim profile makes it a doddle to fit tubeless tyres, with first time inflation and no maintenance required several hundred miles down the line.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The simplicity of going tubeless, opening up a world of (hopefully) puncture free riding.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Some might say they don't look as posh as wheels from Shimano, Bontrager or Fulcrum, but I like the way they look.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.

Would you consider buying the product? Yes.

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.

Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?

If you're considering going road tubeless, these are a perfect pair of wheels.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67

I usually ride:   My best bike is:

I've been riding for: 10-20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,

 

19 user comments

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The picture shows 24/28 spokes but the text says 32/32 and there's a 50g discrepancy in the weights stated as well.

Good to read about these though: thinking of building up some wheels with these rims.

posted by Pauldmorgan [173 posts]
6th October 2013 - 9:11

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A question that's bugging me regarding tubeless....when you do get a puncture, is it just a case of removing the valve and inserting an inner tube? Or does the sealant etc complicate things?

posted by 02curtisb [59 posts]
6th October 2013 - 9:37

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If the puncture is big enough for the sealant not to do its job then putting in an inner tube won't help too much as you'll have a area of the tyre where the inner tube wants to poke through. Does work if you keep an old bit of tyre as a boot to cover the hole though (anyone tried a sticky patch on the tyre?), then it's a bit messy but it will get you home okay

posted by Scowel [27 posts]
6th October 2013 - 10:41

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It would be interesting to know if the rim is sealed or its just the 'yellow tape' that makes this a tubeless wheel setup. If the rim is sealed there is no need to use 'yellow tape', so i'm guessing that the rim isn't sealed so nothing really makes this a tubeless wheel setup, apart from some expensive magic 'yellow tape'.

SteveAustin's picture

posted by SteveAustin [34 posts]
6th October 2013 - 13:16

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SteveAustin wrote:
It would be interesting to know if the rim is sealed or its just the 'yellow tape' that makes this a tubeless wheel setup. If the rim is sealed there is no need to use 'yellow tape', so i'm guessing that the rim isn't sealed so nothing really makes this a tubeless wheel setup, apart from some expensive magic 'yellow tape'.

bead designs for tubeless rims are very different to non-tubeless. you can't run tubeless on the road on normal rims, or with normal tyres. the pressure will blow the tyre off the rim because there's no tube pressing it into place. that's what makes it a tubeless setup, 'yellow tape' or not. i for one prefer 'yellow tape' to sealed rims as it makes spoke replacing a lot less of a faff, and works just as well

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7317 posts]
6th October 2013 - 13:58

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Look very interesting, and as a larger rider it is nice to see a weight limit specified by the manufacturer.

posted by mikeprytherch [217 posts]
6th October 2013 - 14:58

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These aren't just any rims with 'magic yellow tape' the Stans rim profile is genuinely unique compared to others and works very well both for road and mountain bike applications. I'm waiting for the new breed of 25 and 28c tyres to come along before I dive in.

posted by mathewshotbolt [100 posts]
6th October 2013 - 16:35

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Dave... What you say is the official line, and often true for skinny or loose fitting tyres, but I've been running normal 33-35c CX and touring type tyres on normal rims with liquid latex instead of tubes for about seven years now and I've never had one blow off the rim... well, not in use, one loose fitting one popped off while using a compressor for inflation and sprayed the side of the building (and me) with liquid latex.
I seal the spoke holes with tough sticky tape and use Stans No Tubes or Joes No Flats rim tapes that fit the rim well perfectly so that the tyres are a tight fit as soon as inflated. Some inflate and seal instantly with a track pump, others require a compressor to pop the bead into place. The only time it doesn't work is when the tyres are a loose fit on the rim... different brands vary a lot.

SteveW

posted by Steve Worland [95 posts]
6th October 2013 - 16:48

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Steve Worland wrote:
Dave... What you say is the official line, and often true for skinny or loose fitting tyres, but I've been running normal 33-35c CX and touring type tyres on normal rims with liquid latex instead of tubes for about seven years now and I've never had one blow off the rim... well, not in use, one loose fitting one popped off while using a compressor for inflation and sprayed the side of the building (and me) with liquid latex.
I seal the spoke holes with tough sticky tape and use Stans No Tubes or Joes No Flats rim tapes that fit the rim well perfectly so that the tyres are a tight fit as soon as inflated. Some inflate and seal instantly with a track pump, others require a compressor to pop the bead into place. The only time it doesn't work is when the tyres are a loose fit on the rim... different brands vary a lot.

I run semi-ghetto tubeless (tubeless-compatible rim, standard tyre) on my mtb and might try ghetto tubeless with cx tyres and 50psi; not sure i'd trust it to a 50mph descent on a road bike with double that in the tyres Wink

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7317 posts]
6th October 2013 - 19:49

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Im not convinced at all at tubeless when you could buy tubes and very good winter tyres at less than half the cost of the £130 of the Schwalbe kit! if your really serious why not go tubular? Tube and T Thinking yres do good enough for me all year round

posted by CyclingDan [39 posts]
6th October 2013 - 20:00

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I have been been running the older Alpha 340 rims on Ambrosio hubs (32h front and rear) for around 4 months now. After sorting out a few teething troubles from a poor build they have been great. I am no climber but feel happier putting more effort in on the hills with them, they respond willingly. Have read of some issues with spokes pulling through on the old rims with too much spoke tension, apparently the rim beds are thicker now. There is also a more robust and heavier 400 rim available. Could be good for tubeless touring. Not sure I would trust a 340 rim to that application, as David was suggesting in the review. But definitely agree on the comfort.

I have just started trying a tubeless front with a Hutchinson Intensive 25mm, replacing a Gatorskin 28mm. 3 rides in and pleasantly surprised how much more comfortable it is and it does feel like there is less resistance. But that could be wishful thinking having shelled out. Not cheap at the moment, but prices will come down, surely?

I am no instant tubeless convert, but am coming round as there have been no real issues so far.

posted by Ad Hynkel [47 posts]
6th October 2013 - 21:00

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How do you seal a tubeless tyre at the side of the road with a hand pump.Car tyres take some fitting on the rim so without a compressor how would you get the tyre seated and airtight?

big mick

posted by big mick [176 posts]
6th October 2013 - 23:06

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big mick wrote:
How do you seal a tubeless tyre at the side of the road with a hand pump.Car tyres take some fitting on the rim so without a compressor how would you get the tyre seated and airtight?

Good question. Track pump mounted the beads on mine without issue but I don't ride round with one hanging out my back pocket. I was planning on putting a tube in should the worst happen i.e. big gash type p&^cture that the sealant doesn't fix. The tube will push the beads up onto the little shelf of the Stans rims as the whole thing inflates. That's what I've read works, but it will be a messy job with the sealant in there. I'll report back when it happens. Thinking I might have a trial run in the comfort of my home this week.

Maybe there are more experienced tubeless users here that can let us know?

posted by Ad Hynkel [47 posts]
7th October 2013 - 0:14

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Most riders who run tubeless still take a spare tube for ease of inflation in case of punctures. But punctures are incredibly rare. The liquid sealant seals almost everything except substantial splits, and pinch punctures are a thing of the past as there's no tube to split.

SteveW

posted by Steve Worland [95 posts]
7th October 2013 - 8:50

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I've been using the Alpha 340 rims, tubeless for over a year now without any problems. Any punctures I've had have been quickly sealed without me even having to stop!

I have been carrying a tiny CO2 inflator in case of a major problem that might have required re-seating the tyre but I've never had to use it. (always got a tube anyway so might stop taking the CO2)

I also take a tyre patch (though a bit of old inner tube would do just as well) and a spare inner tube in case of major problems. These are bits I take anyway, regardless of whether I'm running tubeless or not.

For me the benefits are never having to stop for a puncture and running lower pressures for added comfort/grip. Not sure about rolling resistance as I've never compared tubed/tubeless on the same bike with the same wheels.

Tubeless is my first choice from now on!

posted by Stefan M [8 posts]
7th October 2013 - 9:22

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Has anyone had any experiences of inflating tubeless at the side of the road with a CO2 inflator?
Getting the tyre on after a puncture away from home has always been my worry. If the CO2 works I'd seriously think about considering these for my next wheel purchase.
Thanks.

posted by cmyk [30 posts]
8th October 2013 - 14:39

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to cmyk I'd suggest just carry a spare tube and pump as usual and not bother with a CO2... I'm ditching mine for rides. I'm over 16 months running tubeless now and should I have a major flat that un-seats the tyre from the rim I'll just put a tube in till I get home... no problem.

As long as you've got a tubeless-certified setup you can just enjoy the ride!

posted by Stefan M [8 posts]
8th October 2013 - 18:37

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Here's my experience with Road Tubeless. 6 months and no flats. I've had 3 punctures, but they all sealed fast enough that I didn't even put any air in to get home. People get a lot of flats where I live and most of them run gatorskins or similar. There's usually at least one or two flats on my regular Saturday group ride, but none for me. I did our local MS 150 this weekend and saw a lot of people by the side of the road fixing flats.

I'm running DT Swiss Tricon RR1450 wheels with Specialized Roubaix Tubeless tyres and Hutchinson sealant. Very happy with them. They aired up immediately with a track pump, you just need to use soapy water and work the bead into the socket first. I run 85psi. I used to carry a spare tube, but don't bother any more. I have a CO2 and that's it.

I certainly wouldn't try a ghetto tubeless setup, I had a go at that with my Aksiums and Stans Raven tyres for my cx bike, couldn't get them to work at all. Just got some DT Swiss R1700s on ebay and aired them up last night.

I'm also running tubeless on my mountain bike. I have tubeless ready rims, but regular tyres on it. I think that's easier to do when you only need 30 lbs (or even less).

I think tubeless offers very real advantages. Less flats (none yet for me), better comfort from lower pressures The road tubeless tyres aren't cheap, but I'm not going back.

posted by mattkyte [2 posts]
9th October 2013 - 16:18

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2 years now and no flats, that's worth a lot of money!
I use a Shimano (tubeless specific)/Hutchinson combo which works well, there have been some poor Hutchinson tubeless tyres, if yours does not inflate properly or goes down unusually fast then there is a problem, consult the supplier.
Some absolute rules:
Don't mix tubeless/non tubeless wheels and tyres, that's not safe.
Use latex as specified.
If you have a puncture just bung in a tube as normal and then sort it properly at home.
Buy a set for your wife, she may not tell you but she really fears punctures.

posted by SRRC [2 posts]
16th October 2013 - 10:04

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