The Stan’s NoTubes Arch S1 wheelset is the value-oriented version of the acclaimed Arch MK3 series with identical features bar being constructed with a different alloy and having eyelets. Aimed at the trail rider, these 26mm internal width wheels are marketed as being “durable enough to handle the most technical trails, yet light enough to rip XC laps”. Like a red rag to a bull, I had a focus on which to base the test.
I hate faffing, so I was pleasantly surprised when I found they were already fully taped and fitted with tubeless valves straight out of the box. Next step, to fit tyres, and the S1 wheels got another big tick. I tested the wheels with Maxxis, WTB and Bontrager tyres, and they all went on and inflated easily with only the WTB needing a bit of an extra effort with an Airshot. So, within 15 minutes of unboxing I had tubeless wheels ready to go. Nice.
The Arch S1 wheelset is available in 27.5in and 29in variants, and you can get it with a Shimano or SRAM freehub body, boost or non-boost spacing, but only with 6-bolt disc rotor fixing. For the techy inclined readers, the S1 range is made of 6061 alloy rather than the 6069 alloy used for the MK3. They are also eyeleted making it a slightly heavier rim than the MK3. The test set here weighed in at a very respectable 1958g including tape and valves (910g front, 1048g rear), but comes in £170 cheaper than the Arch MK3 wheelset. 32 Sapim Race spokes are laced to Stan’s own Neo Durasync hubs, and wheels are built here in the UK. I had to change the freehub on receipt from SRAM to Shimano; this again is very easy and no mechanical prowess is required to do the deed.
Using Stan’s WideRight rim profile that employs very short sidewalls and a minimal bead hook, the 26mm internal width provided a nicely rounded profile for the 2.3in wide Maxxis High Roller II tyre. There was still a touch of tyre squirm when running lower pressures and pushing hard, but never to an extent that the tyre burped or it felt unnerving. However, while Stan’s recommends these rims for tyres from 2.25in – 2.5in wide, I personally wouldn’t fit anything wider than a 2.4in to the Arch S1 in an attempt to limit the bulbous shape. If you’re more of a 2.5in tyre person (or you’re likely to run high volume Continental tyres), consider stepping up to the 29mm wide Flow S1 instead.
The wheels were put to test riding some of the technical EWS trails of the Tweed Valley and performed admirably throughout. I then took them to a couple of the rockiest trails I could find, lowered the tyre pressure slightly and went at it. Despite clanging my way down, the wheels came away with no rim dings or torn tyres. I then got some (limited) air time taking on the sorts of drops/jumps that can be expected of a trail rider, with the aim of trying to put the wheels through as much punishment as I could give them. Again I failed, with both wheels standing firm and providing a sure and stable platform for the tyre.
I predominantly ride carbon wheels and it was actually nice to ride a set of alloy rims again as the reduction in trail chatter and direct feedback made for less fatigued hands and wrists over the period of a long ride. There was absolutely no apparent flex, even when loaded hard in sweeping berms, with the Arch S1 wheels delivering predictable and confident tracking thanks to the 32 spoke, 3-cross pattern build.
The latest Neo Durasync hub uses a simultaneous 6-pawl, 36-point engagement system that is quick to pick up but not so noisy that the person behind you has to listen to it all the way down a descent. The build quality is excellent and the stainless steel bearings are well sealed, though to be fair, I have not ridden it for long enough to conclusively comment on the durability. The new Neo freehub has three bearings so again should withstand the test of time better than previous iterations.
In three months of testing I have not had to tighten a single spoke, there are no significant dings and they are still true. Getting set up tubeless was easy. Compared to the MK3 versions, I am quite happy to sacrifice a few grams for a wheelset that seems to be as durable and also saves me £170; that money can book me a flight to the Alps to go riding instead. If you like colourful components however you may be disappointed as the Arch S1 (and all the S1 range) come in black, black and – you guessed it – black.
A great value and superbly performing wheelset that’s perfect for all-round trail riding. The BST profile provides foolproof tubeless setup, and the low profile rims ride smoothly. Thanks to the sensible build though, the Arch S1 wheels are solid as a rock in the directions you need them to be. My only hesitation is tyre sizing – if you prefer to run tyres 2.4in or wider, then I would recommend buying the Flow S1 instead. In fact, I was so impressed with these wheels’ build and performance I did just that!
|Product:||Arch S1 29er Wheelset|
|Tested:||by Tom Nash for 3 months|