review

Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail Team Wheelset

9
£495.00

VERDICT:

9
10
Bombproof tubeless and disc brake wheels with 24mm-wide rims
Weight: 
1,612g
Contact: 

Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail Team wheelset is one of a new generation of disc brake-specific offerings with a wide (in this case 21mm internal width) rim, ensuring that it appeals to the growing number of disc brake-equipped road/gravel/adventure bikes designed for wider tyres than is the norm on race bikes.

It's an ideal wheelset for any of the latest disc brake-equipped road bikes, or the growing number of gravel and adventure bikes, designed to straddle the traditional barrier between road and dirt. In fact, the wheels were actually developed after GT approached Stan's NoTubes with a brief to develop a tubeless wheelset for its new Grade gravel bike.

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I was at that launch and got to ride the new wheels. I was impressed, and immediately got on the phone to UK importer Paligap to ask for a test set. So I've been riding these wheels a lot over the last six months, putting them through their paces in a wide range of situations. I've also ridden them on a number of different bikes, from a steel Genesis Croix de Fer to an aluminium Bowman Pilgrims, and a couple of carbon road bikes along the way.

I've been hugely impressed. With 25mm slicks at high pressures they're fast on the road, and bombproof when riding with knobbly tyres at low pressures off-road. They're a decent weight, the hubs are easily interchangeable to different axle standards, and the company's Bead Socket Technology (BST) means getting a tubeless tyre inflated is a cinch.

They're loosely based on Stan's NoTubes cyclo-cross-specific Iron Cross wheelset, but rated to 116psi rather than 45psi (when used with a 23mm tyre, reducing to 100psi max with a 28mm tyre). As more cyclo-cross bikes have been converted to predominantly road use, there was a need for a wheelset that was rated to a higher pressure, and the Grail is that wheelset.

The Grail rims are wide: 24mm on the outside, 21mm on the inside. The rims are also quite deep, 24.5mm, making them the company's deepest – and therefore more aero – rim to date. They're constructed from aluminium and weigh a claimed 460g apiece. The BST rim profile features a shallow seating area so the tyre bead locates right up against the side of the rim. Getting a Schwalbe One tubeless tyre to inflate was ridiculously easy – a slosh of sealant inside and a track pump to inflate the tyre.

When tubeless is this easy, you really won't go back to inner tubes. I've had zero punctures on this wheel and tyre combination, and I've tried – riding deliberately into potholes, riding off-road through rocky trails – but they stubbornly refuse to be beaten.

At the heart of the wheels are Stan's own 3.30 Disc front and 3.30 RD Disc rear hubs, with 24/28 Sapim Laser spokes lacing everything together. The name of the hubs is based on the 30-point ratchet and three pawl internals in the freehub, providing 12 degrees of engagement. These are the Team wheels, which save about 150g over the cheaper Comp wheels with their different spokes and hub bearings, making them slightly heavier and a bit less pricey.

The hubs have regular 6-bolt rotor mounts so no special tools required to fit the discs like with Shimano's CenterLock standard. You can buy the rims separately if you want to build them up on more exotic, or existing, hubs. The hubs can be adapted for different axle standards, as is the case with most modern disc brake wheelsets, so no problems if you upgrade your bike in a couple of years' time.

The hubs are superbly made. The cartridge bearings are still running as smoothly now as when the wheels first arrived for test, and despite riding through some pretty horrible weather and axle-deep puddles (yes, really), they show no sign of giving up their silky smoothness. The wheels have retained good spoke tension – I've not put them out of true or had to dig out the spoke tool to administer adjustments during this long-term test.

>> Check out our guide to 2015's hottest disc brake-equipped bikes here 

As I mentioned, I've been running the wheels mostly with 25mm Schwalbe One tyres, and they make a good partner. The wider rim provides a nice wide base for the tyres, allowing you to run quite low pressures without the tyre noticeably rolling from side to side. There's very little squirm even when you push the tyres hard on their edges. All we need now are more wide tubeless tyre options...

At 1,612g the wheels aren't fantastically light, but neither are they heavy – I've tested carbon fibre wheelsets that are heavier. For the intended use, though, they strike a good balance of low weight and toughness. They accelerate up to speed with pleasant ease and provide good momentum when cruising along. The wheels don't rate highly on the stiffness factor, but that does contribute a little to the smoothness they inject into any bike they're fitted to.

>> Check out our guide to the best adventure/gravel bikes here 

If you want a disc- and tubeless-ready wheelset with a wide rim profile to make the most of the growing number of wide tubeless tyres, the Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail Team wheels combine a competitive price, decent weight and impressive performance. Add in the easy tubeless compatibility and axle versatility, and they're seriously worth considering.

Verdict

Bombproof tubeless and disc brake wheels with 24mm-wide rims

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail Team

Size tested: 700C

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?

Stan's NoTubes says: "From our much copied wider rim design to our ground-breaking Bead Socket Technology rim profile, we've made a habit of thinking outside the box-section when it comes to rim design. Our new Grail continues the NoTubes tradition of function-first innovation.

"Countless hours spent working with our professional road racers and cyclocross team led us to create what just might be the ultimate disc-specific rim for road, 'cross and gravel.

"At just over 24mm wide and featuring our deepest profile (24.5mm), the Grail is the most aerodynamic rim we've ever made. Though it rivals much deeper designs in the wind tunnel, we designed the Grail to be much more than just fast in a straight line. Our variable wall thickness spoke bed maximizes durability and ensures consistent spoke tension while keeping weight low.

"The Grail's internal rim channel and true BST sidewalls combine to lend additional strength and create a tire profile that's simply faster. Put to the test in some of the harshest racing conditions, the Grail has proven it has what it takes to accelerate quicker and roll faster than the competition. The Grail redefines tubeless road and cyclocross performance."

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

Rim External Width 24.1mm

Rim Internal Width 20.3mm

Rim Depth 24.5mm

Hole # 24/28

Color Black

Material 6061

Brakes Disc

Wheel Weight 1612g

ETRTO 622x20.3

ISO 700cx24mm

Tape 21-25mm

Valve 44mm PV

Spokes Black 1.8/1.5/1.8mm

Spoke Nipples Silver Secure Lock Alloy

Front Hub Stan's 3.30 Disc

Rear Hub Stan's 3.30RD Disc

Hub Bearings Stainless Steel

Max. Suggested Spoke Tension 105KgF/1050N

Rider Weight Limit 210lbs

Max Pressure/

Recommended Tire 23mm/116psi

Max Pressure/

Recommended Tire 28mm/100psi

Max Pressure/

Recommended Tire 32mm/45psi

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

The rims make installing tubeless tyres a complete doddle.

Rate the product for performance:
 
9/10

Fast and plenty stiff enough for rapid road riding and off-road trail exploring.

Rate the product for durability:
 
9/10

Bombproof resilience to bangs and impacts.

Rate the product for weight, if applicable:
 
9/10

A low weight considering how durable they are and the wide rim, and you save the weight of an inner tube if you go tubeless, which you really must (though of course you don't have to).

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

The wheels definitely inject a bit more compliance to any bike they're fitted to.

Rate the product for value:
 
9/10

They compare well to similar offerings from other brands, including the Bontrager Affinity Elite Road Disc wheelset, but the Grail has a much wider rim.

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

Primarily for road usage they're fast and light, and they're strong enough to tackle off-road riding with a gravel or cyclo-cross tyre fitted.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Easy tubeless installation.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

If you want a disc- and tubeless-ready wheelset with a wide rim profile to make the most of the growing number of wide tubeless tyres, the Stan's NoTubes ZTR Grail Team wheels combine a competitive price, decent weight and impressive performance. Add in the easy tubeless compatibility and axle versatility, and they're seriously worth considering.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 31  Height: 180  Weight: 67kg

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, mountain biking

 

David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.

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