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Hi folks

It's time to upgrade from clinchers, so I'm looking for recommendations for tubeless or tubular wheelsets. I'm getting a lot of peer pressure from friends to go with tubeless but I also see those same people having beads popping off during races, and needing to do lots of "experimentation". I just want wheels that work right the first time. Here are the parameters:

  • cost: $500 (without tires)
  • rim brakes
  • rider weightL 165 lbs on the high side. Will use it for cross racing, but still training on my clinchers
  • I don't want to do a tubeless conversion unless I can be convinced it will "just work" the first time, in keeping with my cross racing philosophy of always keeping it simple.

Opinions? Thanks in advance!

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I've been using tubeless on all of my bikes for years.  No problems whatsoever. Haven't flatted on the road for about three years!  My MTB setup has been equally solid, no more pinch flats!  I have burped a tire but mostly b/c I was using too low a pressure or crashed. For my CX set up, I'm using Velocity A23's with Vittoria XG TNT tires and Stan's, no problem with set up, never popped a bead in two seasons of racing.  I'm 175 lbs and running 24 and 26 psi.  I think the key is to get Tubeless compatible tires and rims.  You can use non tubeless tires but the side walls are a bit too flexible to run really low pressures.   Tubulars are great but I don't need more wheels and tires.......       

I've been running Stans Alpha 400's and Kenda Happy Mediums front and back with great success so far this season. I'm not using the Alpha rim strip some say you have to. I'm 150 pounds and usually run around 25 or so psi. 

For $500 you have options out the a$$.  I built a set of wheels for my CX bike with Stan's IC rims for $300.  With rim brakes you have tons of options - custom wheels are easy if you know somebody who will build them (or you do it yourself).  Stan's rims are great for X. 

After two "seasons" of cross, which for me was 2 races last year and 4 this year, I have had no issues with Kenda Slant Six SCT's mounted on Alpha 400 last year and Crests this year.  They have seen singletrack, dirt roads, and the racing.  No burps, no leaks, no flats.  Looking to get the WTB Cross Boss mounted up for next year and hopefully Kenda comes out with the Happy Medium in an SCT version wider than 32.

wait, this is super confusing to me (as someone possibly moving from clinchers to tubeless). Someone said:

"1) Use dedicated, engineered to tubeless dimensions, tires and rims. Stans are not.

2) Tubeless WILL burp. My experience was that you will bleed on some of the burps if the tire comes off rim. IF I was using real tubeless set up instead of Stan's rims maybe I would not have bled. maybe."

Aren't Stan's wheels like their Iron Cross line a "dedicated" rim? Stan's isn't a "real tubeless set up?" I figured that's sort of inherent in anything Stan's. It's made for it, no? 

Stan's is dedicated ... they are the gold standard by which others are measured.  The kicker is using their road tubeless rims for cross ... you have to make sure you are careful there.  If you use one of their cross specific rims (IC, Valor) you will have many fewer problems.

Tubeless requires some playing to find what works for you.  When you find it, it works very well.  If you don't then you will hate it.  My setup of IronCross rims with Kenda tires was bullet proof.  YMMV.  DuraAce C24 TL sucked ... some ghetto crap rims with strips were fine if I kept the pressure above 35 which kind of defeats the purpose for cross but were great for gravel.

Remember this - the big argument is tubeless vs tubulars and they both suck :)  Both will roll/burp if not set up right.  Both can run lower pressure than clinchers.  Neither is perfect.  I have seen more rolled tubulars than I have seen burped tubeless.  On the other hand, if you want cheap and easy - put latex tubes in your clinchers and go crazy ...80% of the performance, 0% of the hassle ...

good advice, thanks. And yes, i've thought about saving money and just doing latex for the clinchers. I think Challenge has that red tube - rather pricey at 18 bucks a pop. Still the cheap option.

Hey Marc

Well I’m a big fan of tubulars they just rock, if you go with something like the Neugent cycling A22tw alloy wheelset , 1320 grams and with sapim laser spokes their $395, put some Clement PDX tires on them and your set!!

I’ve been racing cross since 1991 and a good set of race wheels is your best use or your money!

I have a set of Neugent C50 wheels with Clement with MPX for dry to a bit wet races and a set of alloy tubular wheels with PDX’s on them for mud days and I’m set for everything that cross can send my way!

My two cents.

Dan…

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