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.
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
Excellent construction, really solidly built and maintenance free riding.
Well they're nice and light, with a good balance of stiffness and weight, and are very strong and durable.
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.
They shine next to more expensive offerings.
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.
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.
About the tester
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,