NoTubes knows it’s hard to please everyone, but has continued its quest to design a rim that has a chance to meet the tubeless needs of road, gravel and cyclocross racers.
NoTubes aims to provide a versatile wheel with their new NoTubes Grail gravel, road disc and cyclocross tubeless wheelset.
NoTubes launched the Alpha 340 (reviewed in Issue 12) and later the more burly Alpha 400 tubeless rim and wheelsets to meet the needs of Road Tubeless cyclists, and originally also promoted them as a great option for cyclocross. However, the Road Tubeless-compatible rim section, with its narrow shoulders and slightly taller hook bead, made the rim more prone to burps at low pressure, and the company eventually released a rim strip for the Alpha rim to improve burp resistance for cyclocross racers.
Later, the company launched the excellent and lightweight Iron Cross to meet the low pressure needs of cyclocrossers, and the 385g rim has proven to be highly capable to convert conventional tires and seal tubeless tires in our testing at pressures as low as 20 psi (for 170 lb riders). But the company faced the high pressure (pun intended) of mixed terrain riders and gravel racers who wanted to ride tires at pressures higher than the 45 psi maximum of the lightweight Iron Cross rim.
The company has also launched the lightweight carbon Valor wheels, which we gave you a close look at prior to Sea Otter. The $1900 wheelset is attractive for low pressure cyclocross and gravel racing, but is not road tubeless compatible and is cost-prohibitive for many.
Now NoTubes has combined some of the best aspects of the Iron Cross and the Alpha rims into a disc-specific Grail rim.
From left to right: NoTubes new Grail rim, the Alpha 340 rim, and the Iron Cross rim. © Cyclocross Magazine
The Grail rim features the Alpha’s deeper center channel to help with mounting the stiff beads of Road Tubeless tires, and like the Alpha is compatible with Road Tubeless tire beads and their higher pressure stresses. It also embraces the Iron Cross’ width, at 20.3mm internal (Iron Cross is 20mm), and the wider shoulders next to the channel that help prevent burps.
NoTubes Grail gravel, road disc and cyclocross tubeless rim profile.
Where the Grail strays from both the Alpha and the Iron Cross is in depth. At 24.5mm deep, the Grail is NoTubes’ tallest rim, and also its most aerodynamic as proven by wind tunnel testing. NoTubes says it’s faster than much taller rims.
NoTubes new Grail rim offers wide shoulder for less burping, and a deep channel for easier Road Tubeless tire mounting. © Cyclocross Magazine
All these benefits come with a bit of a weight penalty, at 460g per rim. Rims will be available at $105 each, and there will be two different complete wheel builds available in the form of a Team and Comp level wheelset. The Comp features 32 spokes front and rear, with Sapim Custom Force spokes, alloy nipples, and chrome steel bearings. Weight limit is 250 pounds. Retail is $645 per pair.
The Team saves you 150g, through less spokes (24/28) and upgraded Sapim Laser spokes, with a weight limit of 210 pounds. The Team also offers stainless bearings. Retails is $50 more than the Comp, at $695.
24.5mm deep, 24.1mm wide (external). NoTubes new Grail gravel, road disc and cyclocross tubeless wheelset. © Cyclocross Magazine
Stay tuned as we plan to put a set through its paces, and be sure to see our full reviews of the Valor and Iron Cross Pro wheelsets in Issue 25.
More info: notubes.com