29er race wheelsets - NoTubes ZTR Gold vs. American Classic NoTubes Crest 29er

We've been through this more time than I can remember this year, the lure of the Stan's NoTubes ZTR Gold 29er wheelset against the American Classic hubs custom built onto Crest 29ers.

NoTubes ZTR Race 29er Gold rims on NoTubes ZTR ti-hubs

I say lure as there is something about the Golds that people 'want', the ultimate weight saving, knowing they have the lightest 29er rim - ever. It seems to override the very standard NoTubes ZTR hubs at the centre and the compromises which come with the extreme weight saving and which may be too much for some people. When 29ers came into existence we were shocked by how flexible the wheels were compared to the 26 inch size and that was before the Golds arrived on the scene.

About the American Classic / Crest wheels

The American Classic wheelset is built around high quality hubs with a long list of features to set them apart from the competition. They are made by American Classic in their own factory, using the cam activated freewheel mechanism they developed. The freehub body has steel inserts to prevent cassettes digging in, durable stainless steel bearings, and the hubs weigh in at just 130g front and 225g on the rear - about as light as you can go without sacrificing durability, or spending a fortune.

American Classic / Crest 29er wheelset

The NoTubes Crest rims are plenty flexy enough in the 29er incarnation without shaving any more grams off their 375g. The large flanges of the American Classic hubs do go some way to improving the stiffness of the wheels.

We've listed the build weight in the table below with the DT Swiss Revolution spokes to compare them more directly with the Race 29er Golds, but we build our instock set with Super Comps for significant additional stiffness, this adds 56g and can be bought here > .

If you have an extra £100 burning a hole in your pocket then a Spaim CX-Ray bladed spoke upgrade will still come in cheaper than the 29er Golds, and don't forget you can spec exactly what you want in our front and rear custom wheel builders - even purple spoke nipples as in the picture above.

About the ZTR Race 29er Golds

The ZTR 3.30 Ti hubs are made in the far east by a large hub manufacturer. That's not to say they are low quality, as they use good materials, stainless steel bearings and come with a titanium drive ring to save weight. At 140g for the front and 233g for the rear they are among the lightest available but with a price tag £80 more RRP than the American Classic we question their value for money. The price does include some very nice looking carbon / titanium quick releases.

The light 325g Gold rims are noticeably a lot more flexible than the Crest 29ers and we have had riders report durability issues with the wheelsets; occasional spoke loosening has been the main concern. We feel that the rim is not stiff enough to support heavy loads, allowing the spokes to become momentarily detensioned and loosen off.

The Race 29er Gold wheelsets use spokes specially made for NoTubes, 1.8/1.5mm DT Swiss Revolution spokes which save a few grams over the standard 2.0/1.5mm Revolutions, and a mostly 2X lacing pattern which lops a couple more grams off the weight.

Race Gold 29er American Classic -  Crest 29er
 hub  NoTubes ZTR Ti - 373g  American Classic Disk 130 & 225 - 355g
 rim  NoTubes Gold 29er - 325g each  NoTubes Crest 29er - 375g each
 spokes  DT Swiss Revolution 1.8/1.5mm - 282g   DT Swiss Revolution - 296g
 nipples   DT Swiss aluminium - 20g   DT Swiss aluminium - 20g
weight 1325g 1421g
price £666 £490.50

Our conclusion

If you really need the lightest 29er wheels out there and are willing to look after them then the Race 29er Golds may be the way to go, as long as you can justify the £175 premium over the American Classic / Crest combination. We think though that they should be sold as a race day only wheelset to lighter riders, who accept that they may need some work with a spoke key from time to time. If you can bear another 96g the American Classics built with the Crests are the best choice for most riders wanting some lightweight wheels they can use more of the time. They probably also go in a straight line.

One thought on “29er race wheelsets - NoTubes ZTR Gold vs. American Classic NoTubes Crest 29er”

  • Stephen Roundhill
    Stephen Roundhill May 24, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Excellent - a properly useful comparison, and without the whiff of editorial bias most reviews have. Thanks.


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