REVIEWED: Stans Arch Mk3 wheelset

review by Wideopen team mechanic James Farrow

Key features:

  • Stans Arch MK3 wheelset 2017 (650b 15×100 front 142×12 Shimano freehub)
  • Tubeless ready with rim tape and valves installed
  • 3rd generation Stans NoTubes rims
  • Stans Neo hubs
  • Available for Shimano and SRAM XD
  • Available with all current axle systems
  • For 2.25 to 2.5″ tires
  • 25% stiffer and stronger and 24% wider than old Stans EX
  • £520 a pair

The work horse

As the name would suggest these are the third incarnation of the popular Stans Arch wheelset.

The Arch is designed to be a real do-it-all trail rim and to sit in that tricky-to-bridge gap between XC and full-on gravity riding. With a 26mm internal width it’s not quite as downhill and Enduro World Series wide as the Stans Flow and not quite as whippety narrow as the Stans Crest. It’s your day to day, work horse rim for the trail bike in our opinion.

The new Arch shouldn’t be confused with the old Arch, which was a bit narrow and a bit ‘XC’ for aggro riding. The new version is a tough, fast, aggressive rim that – we think – will cope with everything you need short of big, gnarly, full gas downhill and enduro.

Setup

I got these wheels rolling in December and have thrashed them flat out ever since. They’ve been around various trail centres in south Wales, and at home in Cornwall on my local at Grogley, Bishops and Hustyns woods. They’ve been out in all weathers, and seen horrid wet mud and even a small amount of dust. They’ve enjoyed just about every possible condition that a rider is likely to see in a year riding in the UK.

Fitting was a breeze. The wheels come supplied with tubeless rim tape and valves, meaning no extra shopping required and were equally easy to set up. They seated first time and every time after that without any swearing or throwing things round the workshop. Stans use what they call ‘BST’ technology, meaning that the rims match the shape of your tires bead for a strong, air tight seal.

Spoke tensions felt good straight out the box, and the bearings felt silky smooth. The Neo hubs have no adjustment regards freeplay, so it was literally fit and ride.

On the trail

On the first ride the wheels felt great. Dropping in to the trails they felt really nice and stiff, and they really inspired me to push hard in the corners with no worries about flex in the wheel. I’ve been running Onza Ibex FRC 2.4 tyres on them from the start and haven’t managed to burp them yet and have been riding with loads of confidence.

A really strong feature for the new Stans wheels is their Wideright design. Many wider rims cause weird effects to tire shape, squashing them into odd profiles and making them ride like crap. Wideright aims to find the perfect balance of width and sidewall height and, from my experience, they’ve done good job and the tire is able to fill to full shape without doing anything weird.

The Arch rims have been faultless. Despite being Stan’s Middleweight rim they’ve handled months of abuse and despite hearing the occasional ‘ding!’ from the back wheel they’ve carried me over roots and through rock gardens without a dent or a wobble.

What’s not so good

After the first three or four rides the rear spoke tension did need a bit of attention, but that’s to be expected from any wheelset. Just keep an eye on them and give your local bike shop a shout to give them a quick tune up.

What I hadn’t expected was to be let down by the hubs after just a few rides – with the rear wheel turning graunchy by mid-January. I stripped, cleaned and regreased the bearing which brought it back to life but not quite to 100% performance. In future, I’ll strip the hubs from new and double check they’re properly greased and running smoothly out of the box. Since I’ve replaced the bearings, they’ve been running hassle free.

We mentioned the issue to Stans and they told us that they haven’t heard of any similar issues from their local bike shops.

Final thoughts

I’ve had a great time on the Stans Arch Mk3 wheelset.  They’re very light, reassuringly stiff (without being uncomfortable), roll beautifully (until they don’t that is) and aside from a bit of bearing trouble have been very reliable. They’re an excellent wheel set for trail centres, singletrack missions and for that bike you just ride day-in and day-out that needs to be light enough to pedal and tough enough to hammer.

Value for money is also good. There are similar offerings from other brands such as Hope for about the same money but generally these are bang-on price and a bit of shopping around will reveal some bargains.

Buy online: Stans Arch Mk3 Wheelset at CRC for £420.99 here.

You can learn more about Stans NoTubes online here.


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