A solid, no-fuss wheelset.
A significant update over the original Arch EX, the Stans Arch MK3 uses a 24 per cent wider rim, taking the internal width from 21mm to 26mm to help maximise tyre volume.
The weight remains the same, however, thanks to the low-profile alloy rims that keep the 27.5in wheelset tested here at a fairly respectable 1,760g.
As you might expect from Stan’s, the wheels are easy to set up tubeless with pre-installed rim tape and tubeless valves supplied in the box.
Watch: How to get the most out of your tubeless setup
Stans Arch MK3 wheelset review
Optimised for tyres between 2.25 and 2.5in, Stan’s tubeless know-how also extends to ensuring the perfect seal between the bead and the rim through its proprietary BST (Bead Socket Technology) design. As well as creating a super-secure fit, it eliminates any chance of the bead sinking deeper into the rim which can create friction and restrict the sidewall from flexing properly under load.
On the trail this translates to a feeling of support that’s especially noticeable up front, even running low pressures. Six months in I’ve yet to burp a tyre too — despite several sideways landings off drops and jumps — so it’s fair to say it works.
The rims are laced to Stan’s own Neo hubs with Sapim spokes: 32 in the rear and 28 in the front. The sealed stainless steel bearings in the hubs have lasted well through a mix of winter mud, gravel and the occasional jet wash, with only the slightest sign of any roughness just starting to show in the front wheel bearings.
The forged steel 36-tooth freehub features five-degree engagement so acceleration is good with an almost instant pick-up. The soundtrack isn’t quite Hope Pro 4 when you’re chasing down your mates but it’s just the right side of loud.
The old Arch EX was occasionally cursed for dropping its freehub into a pile of bits, often in the muddiest part of the car park. While the end caps now have O-rings to help keep them on the spindle, they only work up to a point — the weight of the cassette can still pull the freehub and spindle out of the hub if you’re not careful. I’ve remedied this by cleaning the cap and spindle with alcohol and using a drop of Loctite 641 (medium strength) bearing fit to hold them in place. The plus side is it’s easy to switch between Shimano and SRAM XD freehubs should the need arise.
They ride well too, with enough lateral strength for sprinting out of corners but enough vertical give built into them for longer rides or multi-day enduros.
Review by Rob Hoyles
Overall I’m impressed with the Arch Mk3s. The test period was through the wettest six months of the year and they’ve come out the other side unscathed. Mistimed landings, rocky gulleys and more cases than a PPI clerk have all failed to leave a mark on them. If they do need a tidy up, or you’re into colour coding, importer Paligap stocks a range of replacement decal kits for just £7.50 per wheel. If you’re after a solid, no-fuss wheelset but don’t want to smash the plastic, then these are a very decent option.