Superstar Component’s new Electro Alpine wheelset is aimed at the trail and Enduro rider who seeks ever wider rims to improve tyre profile and run lower pressures. Available in 27.5in and 29in diameters and Boost and non-Boost versions, the massive Alpine30 rim width comes in at 30mm internal and 36mm external and is built onto Superstar’s own Electro hub using Sapim spokes. Our 29er non-Boost set came with a Shimano freehub body and ready to fit 15mm front and 12x142mm rear axles.
The first thing you notice about these wheels is their pure presence. The rims are properly wide and their matt black finish with neat red and white decals give a great looking wheel. With tyres mounted, they make you want to ride your bike whilst parp’ing motorbike noises. The total wheelset comes in at 2046g on our scales (931g front, 1115g rear – with tape, no valves). This puts them within a few grams of a set of Stans Flow MK3s, which boast a similar rim width (29mm internal).
Despite their mass, the Electro Alpines don’t feel too heavy or slow to get up to speed. Testing them on a rigid steel hardtail for a while meant we got a good feel for what was going on with maximum trail feedback. The 30mm rim made the most of a large tyre providing both volume and grip that really gave the bike added stability and assuredness. They are stiff enough to be reactive and predictable through the rough stuff but with enough give when you need it. Add to that a massive tyre and low pressure befitting of the rim’s width, and you end up with a dependable wheelset that has performed well on a range of trails from local woodsy singletrack to Revolution Bike Park – on a hardtail.
To make the most of the rim you really need to run a tyre at least 2.4in wide – the width of the rim causes the profile of anything smaller to distort and bulge out, defeating the purpose of going wider. But, the trouble of a chunkier tyre on a non-Boost frame is that not all bikes will have enough space to accommodate it. For example, I found the chainstays were too tight to fit a 2.4in Maxxis Ardent into the rear on my Specialized Epic, though perhaps not that surprising given that XC bikes aren’t designed for tyres that fat. Even on a MK1 Cotic Solaris there isn’t much room for manoeuvre, and I found the tight fit caused the tyre to buzz on the chainstays when attacking out the saddle. It’s definitely worth checking you have space in your frame before upping the width of your rims.
The Electro hubs are the other standout feature on this wheelset. Both front and rear hubs are 32 hole and utilise sealed cartridge bearings. The rear has six pawls and 102 points of engagement. This gives excellent pick up and a great sounding Chris King-esque buzz that makes freewheeling addictive. Bearing and freehub longevity has been an issue on previous Superstar hubs we’ve used although they’ve been straightforward to service. So far the Electros have been issue-free but only time (and a filthy winter) will tell how well they fair over the longer term. That said, they’ve survived the stresses of being fitted to a fully rigid steel singlespeed, with the rear hub remaining tight, quiet and pop-free. On the subject of reliability, the rims have stood up well with no noticeable dings and spoke tension has remained even in the few months we’ve been riding them.
In these days of multiple standards it is a joy that adapters are available for the Superstars to change hubs from QR, 15mm or 20mm on the front and QR, 10mm, 135x12mm and 142x12mm on the rear. The wheels are shipped with your choice of hub adapters and additional ones are available for £15 a pair if you change your mind. We ran the wheels on various bikes using QR and 15mm on the front and QR and 142x12mm on the rear. The end-cap adapters mean that swapping is easy and doesn’t necessitate a full hub dismantle, unlike those where you need to switch the actual axle. A small downside is that the tubeless ready rims don’t come with tape or with valves fitted. We used wide Stans tape on ours and a set of valves of unknown genealogy. As the rim is wide, getting the valve to sit and seal was straightforward and we got various Maxxis and Schwalbe tyres seated without the need of a compressor. If only it was always this easy!
While Superstar Components lists the retail on these wheels at £449, they appear to be permanently reduced to £399 on the website, making them a more serious competitor to the likes of the latest Stans Flow wheels. If width, not weight, is your priority and the bee swarm noise from your rear hub does it for you, these should be on your shortlist. Though if 30mm is too wide there’s also the Trail24 rim with a, erm, 24mm internal width too.
A well performing, smart looking wheelset which is easily customisable to a variety of axle standards. Just make sure you’ve got enough space in your frame for a bigger tyre.
|Product:||Electro Alpine Trail|
|From:||Superstar Components, superstarcomponents.com|
|Tested:||by Rachel Sokal for 5 months|