Our boy TJ gives us an in-depth look into his 29" Stan's NoTubes Arch S1 wheels that feature a 26mm internal width. TJ says he was impressed with the quality of the product, the build of the wheelset, the performance out on the trail, and all at a fair price. Check it out!
Stan’s, the company behind the NoTubes brand and the tubeless mountain bike tire revolution, has been making wheels for all mountain bike disciplines since the early 2000s at a near-premium price point. New in 2017, however, is the S1 line. Based around Stan’s patented Bead Socket Technology found on their upmarket MK3 rims, the S1 line of rims and wheels utilizes the same rim shape as their more expensive brethren, with a different aluminum alloy, pinned (instead of welded) construction, and adds stainless steel eyelets and a slick, matte black graphics package. Built to be bulletproof, the S1 line’s lower cost doesn’t translate into an inferior or weaker product.
The Arch S1 rim’s 26mm internal width is designed to accommodate tires 2.2-2.5” in width, pointing it toward the rowdy XC or trail bike crowd. If you’re in the market for a race wheel, the Crest S1 is meant for narrower tires, and the Flow S1 will handle your burlier trail and enduro rubber without a second glance. I mated my Arch S1 wheelset to a Kona Process 111, with 2.4” tires front and rear. Being a very large human (6’7”, 230 pounds) I find a lot of comfort in Stan’s choosing 32 hole, J-bend spokes, black brass nipples, and their bombproof Neo hubs. Rolling on sealed cartridge bearings, these hubs should spin smoothly for years to come, and when it’s time for maintenance, Stan’s eschews straight pull spokes, proprietary bearings, and any other such nonsense to avoid headaches in the shop or basement.
I was impressed by the build quality of the wheel as soon as I took it out of the box. I’ve had custom wheels built before by several boutique shops, and this wheel build was on par with the best! Spoke tension on this wheel is perfectly even, the nipples weren’t chewed up by the lacing machine, and the supplied Stan’s tubeless tape was applied perfectly down the center of the rim. After adding a Stan’s tubeless valve, my Continental Mountain King 2.4 tire mounted up easily with just a floor pump and the bead securely locked into place with a satisfying “pop!” If you’ve ever struggled to stretch a tight bead over a tubeless rim, Stan’s shallow rim wall height will have you dancing for joy. I’ve mounted up dozens of tubeless tires, and Stan’s rims are among the easiest and most secure mounting experiences I’ve had — no scraped knuckles or broken tire levers here!
On the bike, the Arch S1 is functionally indistinguishable from its more expensive cousins, and I expect it will give me good, dutiful service on the trails once we emerge from the winter gloom here in Wisconsin. Available for 27.5er and 29er bikes, the Arch S1 deserves a hard look for any rider looking to stretch their dollars on a new build, or as a fantastic way to upgrade an OEM wheelset without breaking the bank!
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