Bored of reading reviews of carbon wheelsets that cost more than six-months' disposable income? Well, one of the longest-standing names in tubeless, Stan's NoTubes, has a new and affordable complete wheelset that won't smash your bank balance to smithereens. The S1 wheels feature the latest evolution of the classic Flow rim and Neo hubs, laced together with Sapim Race double butted spokes.
At $479 USD / £350 GBP per pair, they are less than a price of many single carbon rims. 27.5" or 29" diameters are available, along with hub widths and drivers to meet the latest standards. Weighing in at 2134 grams they're not super-light, but have been specced to get the job done in the toughest conditions at a competitive price.
S1 Wheelset Details
• Intended use: enduro/downhill
• S1 Flow 6061 alloy rims
• 27.5" / 29" options
• Internal rim width: 29mm (33.1mm ext.)
• Rec. tire size: 2.35” - 2.80”
• Stans Neo hubs
• 32h Sapim Race DB spokes
• BST Bead Socket Technology
• Rim weight: 584 grams – 29" (claimed)
• Weight: 2134 grams – 29" (995g front, 1139g rear)
• MSRP: $479 USD / £350 (as shown)
The Flow rim has been around forever and the latest incarnation has been put through its paces by a number of brutal bike bashers like Sam Dale, Brook Macdonald, Wyn Masters and Martin Maes on the DH and EWS circuits. The S1 rim is essentially the same as the Flow MK3 but made from a slightly cheaper 6061 alloy over the 6069 of the latter. The S1 rims also come with steel eyelets and a sleeve joint instead of having no eyelets and being pinned and welded like the MK3. The S1 rim also has a slightly deeper rim section by 1.6mm, adding some extra bulk.
Because of this, the S1 wheelset carries an extra 214 grams over the pricier £520 MK3 wheelset, but that weight saving will cost you £1.25 per gram. Price isn't Stan's only focus with this wheelset, as reliability is prioritized over weight.
The budget S1 wheelset still uses the same tech as high-end Stan's products like Bead Socket Technology.
The internal width of the rim now sits at 29mm, which Stan's recommend for tires between 2.35" and 2.80" to slot into the BST–Bead Socket Technology. The BST is aiming to mirror the shape of standard tire beads, creating a seal around the bead rather than using pressure to force the bead and
tire sidewall against the rim wall. This is said to help with tubeless inflation, and reduce the risk of rolling the bead off the rim.
The Neo hubs don't try to sing or dance, using simple flanges and 32 J-bend spokes front and rear. The front hub uses push-in end caps that are held in place with rubber U-cup seals; the maximum front hub diameter is 15mm bolt-thru, so no conversions available for the DH crowd. The rear hub has the classic freewheel option as well as SRAM XD drivers made from alloy, that run on six leaf-sprung pawls and offers 10º engagement. There is also a slim plastic washer that clips on to the inside of the hub to hold the pawls in place when installing the freehub body.
The simple 6-pawl system has 36 points of engagement and an easily removable freehub body.
The S1 wheelset arrived taped and with tubeless valves installed as standard, so throwing a couple of Maxxis Minion tires in a DH casing was quick and easy. They both inflated easily with a normal track pump (even without sealant), although I did have an Airshot on standby. The tires popped nicely and accurately into the bead without having to over-inflate them to seat them straight. The 2.5" tires still maintained a good shape without getting squared off, which happens aggressively with the same tires on 35mm and 40mm rims.Feel:
The 10-degrees between engagement points worked well for my needs. I never yearn for an instantly or super-fast engaging hub, due to the fact that I rarely do trials on my big wheeler, and prefer the feel of a hub with a wider range of engagement when heading downhill, especially with some bikes that have a lot of chain growth.
The S1 had a great feel and tracked well in their 29" size. I have yet to find a pair of carbon wheels that I am overly excited about riding, as I prefer the feel of a compliant alloy wheel at my 73kg weight. I'm also typically riding the rough and choppy trails in Liguria, Italy, where grip is needed more than support; if I was riding hardpacked singletracks or bermed park, I might be looking for more stiffness. Durability:
For the riders looking at a wheelset in this price bracket, durability is going to be high on the wish list. Compared to some other wide alloy rims I have tested over the last twelve months that are simply stretched out, soft versions of their narrower predecessors, the Flow rim has stood up to the abuse well – I haven't found a rim yet that can handle ride after ride on Finale Ligure's limestone. The rims are not too hard, and I never suffered a pinch puncture on these rims, although I did get a few dings on the rear wheel. There is always a trade-off in this area, and despite a few dents, including one that impacted the rim-bed, the wheel stayed in one piece with zero air loss.
The rear wheel's spoke tension did need some attention; it survived numerous rides but then needed a tweak of the spoke key after most outings. It was typically only a spoke or two that had loosened, but it's something to keep an eye on - an additional dab of threadlocker would likely have helped here.
After plenty of abuse, the bearings were still spinning smoothly and there was little sign of dirt or water ingress into the hubs. Though, sometimes the front hubs caps could become a little loose when trying to install the front wheel which is a pure first world annoyance.Pinkbike's Take: