Rewind to Issue #107 of Singletrack Magazine, for James’ review of the Stans Bravo Carbon Wheelset.
This lightweight carbon-rimmed 27.5in wheelset from Stan’s has been designed to take a beating – it’s for trail, all-mountain and enduro and built to perform in a different manner to some of the other carbon wheels and rims on the market.
In comparison to other carbon rims there’s an obvious visual difference in depth to the Bravos – the profile is lower than most. They measure 19.5mm deep with an internal width of 26mm and an external width of 32mm. They are designed for 2.25in–2.5in width tyres.
The shallow rim is said to be three times stiffer laterally with a higher degree of designed-in vertical deflection compared to Stan’s similar aluminium rims – the layup of the carbon has been arranged to offer increased vertical compliance while being more resistant to side loads. In practice, this results in wheels that ‘give’ more readily, absorbing more of the blow from impacts, and are accurate, deflecting less when loaded in corners.
I ran repeated runs of the same section of trail to test this. The trail starts off with some high-speed twists and turns before becoming rough ’n’ rocky. On the same bike with the same tyres there was noticeably less trail fatigue/transmission of feedback… and my hands didn’t buzz nearly as much.
As well as this all this (laterally stiff and vertically compliant) rim tech they are, of course, tubeless. Set-up of tyres has been hassle free with Stan’s Bead Socket Technology and ‘Wide Right’ (wide, but not too wide rim width) adding to the smooth and confident ride with a well-supported tyre with maximised air volume.
Some carbon wheels are overly stiff and can feel harsh, but this is not the case here. The feeling is that the Bravo wheels offer both increased comfort and control. 28 Sapim J-bend race spokes front and rear attach the hubs to the rims with Sapim secure lock aluminium nipples. Weight is 1640g a pair.
The Neo team hubs feature large cartridge bearings, are compatible with many (if not all) current axle standards and engagement is quick and positive every 10° with a busy, but not overly noisy, 36 point freehub featuring four pawls. A higher spec level Bravo Pro wheelset is available with Neo Ultimate hubs that have even faster pickup and lighter spokes.
The wheels are light for intended use and there’s that lovely sensation that you get from lightweight wheels of rotating less mass when pedalling. It’s a tangible benefit: the wheels feel quick and easy to move.
And they are proving to be strong and durable too. I haven’t had to pick up a spoke key in the time that I’ve been riding these wheels and they’ve been thrashed plenty locally and further afield, most notably on the sometimes fast and sometimes rough TweedLove International Enduro tracks. Rock gardens galore, the occasional impact and awkward landing, plenty of corners and general hooning has caused no issues.
There are a few superficial scratches, scuffs and scrapes but nothing that has compromised the rim – no flat spots, no deformation or shape changing. If there are any issues, the backup offered from Stan’s is good with a two-year warranty and three-year crash replacement. Max rider weight is a generous 250lbs.
Yes, they cost over £1,000, but you do get a different feel to a standard wheel or indeed some other carbon rimmed wheels and you do have a level of vibration damping.
If you ride hard or race enduro, the Bravos have some useful qualities – they’re light and strong wheels with inbuilt ‘give’ that contributes to a smoother ride and less fatigue by taking the edge off some of the hits. While the Stans Bravo wheelset is ideal for longer travel trail bikes, the carbon rim’s strength, ease of tubeless setup and broad internal width makes this wheelset an excellent choice for any mountain biker that values durability and strength over ultimate lightweight.
|Brand:||Stans No tubes|
|Tested:||by James Love for 5 months|