By Adam Newman
Tubeless. You’re either in or you’re out. Like the hardtail vs. full-squish, 26” vs. 29” or Shimano vs. SRAM debates, there is no right or wrong side to take; it all depends on your needs.
My needs being what they are, I’ve been a slow adopter of the tape-and-sealant movement, but the latest rim designs and tires designed specifically for tubeless setups led me to finally dip my toe into that pool.
And you know what? The water feels great. I was always intimidated by watching friends spew sealant all over the shop, but the initial setup is far simpler than it looks, with just a squirt of sealant and a strong pump to seat the tire’s bead. The tape and valves come pre-installed, too. The Maxxis CrossMarks I used aren’t designed for tubeless setups but went on without a hitch.
The Crest wheels are the lightest stock 29er offering from NoTubes, complimenting the beefier Arch model. The recent trend is toward wider rims and the Crests are no exception, with a 21mm internal width for better tire spread. The hubs are Stan’s own sealedbearing units, laced three-cross with 32 butted spokes. Both front and rear hubs ship as 9mm quick-release compatible, though the front is convertible to the 15mm thru-axle standard. The full wheelset weighs in an impressive 1,590 grams on our scale, though the 190lbs. recommended rider weight limit may bum a few folks out.
Lucky for me I’ve been cutting back on the brews and managed to slide in under that figure by a good 15lbs. Installing the Crests on my Airborne Goblin test bike really brought the little monster to life. In fact, the complete wheel and tire swap dropped an insane 1,200g from the the stock wheelset and tube/tire combo! All of it rotating weight as well—suh-weet!
The bike accelerates much faster and I’m able to run the tire pressure a little lower than I could with tubes. I’ve had zero issues with sealant leaking and not one flat—though I likely will now that I just typed that. I rode them through one of the rockiest courses in Pennsylvania and didn’t feel any unusual flexing. My guess is the weight limit is overly cautious. As a fairly non-aggressive rider, I don’t anticipate any long-term durability issues, but it’s nice to know the hubs and spokes are of traditional design and can easily be repaired or replaced if needed. The Crest rims are also sold separately and the wheelset is available with different hub options.
At $530, the Crest 29ers are a pretty remarkable bargain. A wheelset upgrade can completely change the feel of your bike and if you’re ready to switch to the tubeless team, this is a great way to start.
- Price: $530
- Weight: 1,590g (w/o skewers)
- Country of Origin: Assembled in New York from Asian parts
- Online: www.notubes.com