Amongst the best 29er wheels we’ve used. Highly recommended.
Stan’s NoTubes is a big player in the alloy rim market, but relatively new to the carbon party. It launched a carbon Valour XC wheelset last year and it now also offers a wider, tougher enduro wheel called the Bravo.
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The rims spin on brand new Neo hubs, with larger bearings that are better sealed and further apart than the old Stan’s hub, to maximise durability. There’s a forged steel ratchet freehub design with 36 teeth and 10-degrees of engagement.
The Bravo philosophy extends beyond simply making a tough carbon rim, since Stan’s felt the material could do much more. A key design criterion was vertical absorption — to ensure a smooth ride and reduce energy loss without impacting on any lateral rigidity gains made from the carbon construction.
The way the fibre is laid up in the Bravo rim sees a claimed three-fold increase in sideways stiffness over Stan’s equivalent aluminium rims, with huge gains in radial compliance too — the carbon rim can deflect a massive 10mm vertically without damage or pinch flatting.
I’ve been underwhelmed by the reality of a lot of expensive carbon wheels — on the trail they’re often harsh and brittle, and not particularly light either. These new Stan’s Bravos, however, are superb.
They’re as quick to accelerate as you’d expect from a light carbon wheel, cornering stiffness — when slamming berms or pushing across off-camber turns — feels rock solid, and they’re comfortable, damped and fast over rough ground.
Whether the perception of reduced trail buzz and rattle equates to any extra measurable rolling speed gain is hard to judge, but what’s clear is that both bikes I’ve fitted the wheels to felt smoother and faster.
High-end carbon wheels remain a costly upgrade, and it’s debatable whether the extra cost of the Bravos is worth the investment over top-tier aluminium wheels, even considering the 200g weight saving. But, if you’re spending that kind of money, Stan’s new carbon enduro wheels have proven flawless.
After absolutely hammering them for months, and not touching a spoke, I won’t hesitate to say they’re the best 29er wheels I’ve used and come highly recommended.