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A little bit of everything.
Multi-surface versatility is the undeniable over-arching theme in today's cycling industry. Typically, this is where we'd temper that statement with something like: "That is, multi-surface rules in every case but the Euro peloton." With teams now opting for disc brakes even in grand tours, wheels like Stan's NoTubes Grail Comp Disc Brake Wheel are fast becoming the only wheels a dedicated recreationalist needs for road, 'cross, and gravel.
The rims accommodate everything from the new road standard of 25mm through 'cross tires in the 33mm range up to gravel donuts topping out at 40mm. It also does so with 32 spokes front and rear, a blessing for those of us who are more interested in a durable, reliable platform than a set of superlight rims that look good on paper but fold like paper when confronted with a little bit of gravel.
As with all of Stan's rims, the Grail rims are tubeless-ready courtesy of the road-specific Bead Socket Technology (BST-R), which features low profile sidewalls that provide a better seat for the tire bead. When setup as tubeless, BST provides an exceptional seal while allowing the tire to hold a greater volume of air than standard rims. This interface lets the tire maintain its full shape for a wider, more stable rolling platform.
The increased air volume means tubeless tires can run 30% lower pressure than clinchers, which increases traction, boosts cushion, and actually reduces rolling resistance by letting the tire roll through lumps and bumps than bounce over them. If you prefer clinchers, these rims are still compatible with them, and the lower sidewall drastically reduces pinch flat risk by reducing the amount of material present for the tube to pinch against—however, the benefits of tubeless make a compelling case to give up the tube habit for good.
Stan's laces the Grail Comp rims to its Neo hub set, but with a new twist. The hubs now feature an additional pair of pawls—up from four to six—in a design called Durasync. The Speedsync feature on Stan's more expensive Neo Ultimate hubs reduce engagement to 5 degrees by offsetting pawl engagement; however—like the wheels' high spoke count—the Durasync model privileges durability. Duraync's six pawls engage simultaneously, dispursing the force of pedaling and reducing the risk of one of the little guys failing you during a punchy climb or while scrambling for position in a mass start.
The hubs are still made with the same oversized chrome bearings and stiff, strong, swaged axle. They also still hold the bearings at a wider stance for a claimed threefold increase in strength compared to standard hub designs. Each wheel ships complete with Stan's yellow rim tape and valves already installed for tubeless use—just add your favorite tubeless-ready tire, Stan's award-winning sealant, and air.
Finally, though the wheels are built for abuse, please note that each Grail Comp Wheel has a maximum recommended load of 250lb. This is an increase from previous generations, but it can still be tested by a steel gravel bike with well-laden panniers. The rims themselves have a maximum recommended tire pressure of 110psi with 25mm tires, 70psi with 32mm tires, and 40psi with 40mm tires—all of which values are for tubeless tires, of course.
- A 700c wheel that transcends gravel, road, and 'cross
- Multi-surface durability from freehub to spoke count to rim
- Disc brakes are gradually winning over the pro traditionalists
- Tubeless tires increase efficiency and comfort on gravel roads
- Thru-axles increase stiffness and wheel/frame system integrity
- Recommended tire range of 25mm to 40mm
- Max PSI ranges from 110 for 25mm tires to 40 for 40mm tires
- Item #SNT005G