I recently gave Andy the use of the Stan’s tubeless road wheels to compare to his existing Wheelworks wheels and the other wheelsets he’s owned and ridden. Andy is a Wellington-based rider who has competed at the top levels of NZ cycling including the Tour of Southland, Tour of Wellington and National Champs. He’s very fit, extremely strong, and averages 400-500km / week this time of year.
Tubeless road wheels review
It’s fair to say I was a bit sceptical on the road tubeless concept before I tried it. The benefits that tubeless offers to MTB riders, the ability to run tyres at low pressure without the risk of pinch flats, didn’t seem to be particularly applicable on the road. Even NZ’s roads aren’t rough enough to cause pinch flats on road tyres! Once I found out the tubeless tyre comes at a weight premium to a standard clincher (330g for the Hutchinson training tyres on the road tubeless versus apx. 280g for a light clincher/tube combo), thus mitigating any rotating weight advantage that removing a tube offered, I was even less convinced.
All of this changed pretty quickly though.
Even on my first ride on them, a 20 minute roll home, I could tell there was something about these wheels. Further riding confirmed my initial instincts.
First off, the wheels are super comfortable. Running the 25mm tyres at 90psi makes for an unbelievably comfortable riding experience. On the newly surfaced but unbelievably rough Miramar peninsular road I glided over the bumps smoothly. When using a more traditional wheel set I would find myself bumping and bouncing over the surface. When you’re doing a long ride this additional comfort is a big plus.
More impressively though, in addition to being comfortable, the lower pressure paradoxically makes the wheels easier to spin on rough surfaces. Rather than having to use energy to propel the bike forward after it lost momentum bouncing around, the bike smoothly rolls over any bumps. This energy saving was really noticeable on rough surfaces. At times I found myself deliberately riding on rough surfaces just because I could. I especially enjoyed this when riding with others who were on traditional wheels. Even on smooth tarmac the wheels rolled well, perhaps not as well as 120psi tyres but not dramatically worse. Regardless, in Wellington most of the time the road isn’t tarmac so the benefit heavily outweighs this.
The rims (and total weight) of the tubeless wheels are very light which helps these wheels spin and accelerate quickly. I was very impressed here, especially given the weight of the tyre being used. Running a softer and wider tyre also helps with grip. Something much appreciated during Wellington’s cold and wet winter. These tyres certainly felt stable in corners. Something that I can’t always say about others I use.
In addition to training, I used the wheels for a race down to the Wainui coast and back. This stretch of road is pretty rough so was a good opportunity to test the wheels. I raced with the tyres at 90psi, significantly lower than I would normally. I was a bit worried that the (lack of) pressure might be more noticeable in a race but the wheels performed admirably, rolling well and (as you would expect) smoothly on the rough surfaces. The wheels were plenty stiff enough for my 70(ish) kg frame under the accelerations, attacks and sprints that the race demanded.
Overall, despite my initial reservations I was well impressed by the wheels. So much so that I am reluctant to give them back. I would love to try them out with Hutchinson’s racing tubeless tyre which would shave another 60 grams per wheel of rotating weight off the package. Without doubt this would make them spin and accelerate better without compromising comfort.
You really should try these for yourself.