The guys at Stans kindly sent over one of their ever popular 650b alloy rimmed Stans FLOW EX 650b wheel-sets for us to give a good pasting in and around the Shropshire Hills. I personally was running the Hope hubs, clad with the fantastic FLOW EX rims upon the Carbine 29 before the switch to carbon bling (it’s tough being a tester!) But the time I had the very popular alloy rims they never let me down once. So these went over to one of our trusty 650b test pilots Andy Cooper.
Coop, being a top Senior Enduro racer, known for his very aggressive riding style and fearless approach to hitting the roughest of terrain was just the perfect candidate to put these wheels through their paces upon his new Tracer. Coop’s regular training haunt is Eastridge, with it’s loose rocks not known for being too kind on wheels and tyres. He has now been running the wheelset for around 2 months and this is what he thought
This wheel-set weighs in at an impressive 1850 grams, so considering their strength and stiffness that isn’t exactly up there with the heavy-weights. I have used the Flow ex rim for a few years now on a number of different bikes, and quite simply put, the Flow ex rims are the best all round rim available. Strong enough to take some serious hits, stiff enough to keep on line, yet light enough for all day XC missions, whilst still not breaking the bank.
The hubs are interchangeable from QR, 142×15, 15 and 20, so they can run on most bikes. I had to change the rear hub configuration from qr to 142×12, which was very easy to do and only took about 5 minutes. The hubs design is simple and well thought out, hopefully making replacing bearings a breeze. They are made to be tubeless ready with the help of tubeless tape, which is really easy to fit.
I normally run Maxxis tyres and never had a problem seating the tyres with a track pump, this is always a bonus, as the need of a compressor can be a real pain. J-spokes means getting replacement spokes at a race in the middle of nowhere is a lot easier than straight pull spokes, which are becoming more common on other high end wheel sets. Summing it up, as a pretty flat out racer, who can tend to hammer through stuff, I personally am not a fan of the high-end, high priced carbon rims, and would always choose these affordable, trusty wheels, a real racers choice
The RRP price of the wheel-set seen here is £435, that includes No Tubes rim tape, tubeless valve and skewers. The Flow EX is the heaviest duty rim in the range and sold as suitable for pretty much most occasions. One important thing to mention, which is unique to No Tubes, is the rim profile. They call it BST, Bead Socket Technology. The internal sidewalls of each model of rim are noticeably less deep than any other make, this is the reason the tyres seat so quickly and easily, suffer fewer pinch flats, and allow a wider profile of the tire for the given rim width. It also allows the rim to be lighter without sacrificing strength and lets you run lower tyre pressures without any problems.
Words Jim Buchanan, Andy Cooper Pics Doc Ward