The proliferation of tubeless ready tyre and rim designs has resulted in some significant compatibility issues where certain tyre and rim combinations don't work well together, or in some cases are dangerous. Actually these problems have existed since people started using tubeless tyres but it's got worse recently as different manufacturers come up with their own ideas for the perfect tubeless setup. This article is a brief summary of tubeless tyre/rim dos and don'ts.
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.
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.
WARNING - this page is for information only - don't worry if you don't know or don't care about your lacing pattern, we can help you out with a recommendation for the wheel build you have chosen!
Inherently related, spoke count and lacing pattern affect the ride, strength and looks of your wheel. Do bear in mind the rim you have chosen, as a strong, stiff rim can get away with less spokes than a particularly light rim where you may want to compensate for less strength with a higher spoke count.
Mountain bikes are more limited in the lacing patterns, with disk brakes placing more force through the hub, and usually 32 spokes per wheel. A three cross pattern is normally recommended, although others can sometimes be done.
Road wheels - two or three cross are still probably the best options for strength and durability of the components and the wheel as a whole, but lower spoke counts and larger flanges on the hub make other lacing patterns suitable. Not putting braking force through the wheels opens up the options for other lacing patterns as well. There is a small weight and aerodynamic advantage to be gained from using patterns which have shorter and fewer spokes.
There is a lot of accepted wisdom in the field of lacing patterns, some of it right and some wrong, while still more opinions are correct in theory but irrelevant in practice. These are our opinions based on our experience both riding and building wheels.
Three cross lacing - both sides
The classic lacing pattern, for maximum strength and durability on both road and off-road wheels (for spoke counts of 28, 32 or 36).
Not suitable for: wheels where three cross would cause the spokes to cross the heads of other spokes or where the angle of entry into the rim is too severe. This applies to 24h or less builds, very large hub flanges (including hub gears) or deep section rims.
Two cross both sides
Practically, there is little difference between 2x and 3x, and a 24 spoke wheel laced 2x is similar to a 32h laced 3x in that it has pairs of reasonably parallel spokes about 180 degrees apart to provide maximum torque transfer to the rim. At JRA we think 2x looks nicer than 3x on some road wheels. Other than that, there's not a lot of difference.
Radial lacing both sides
Radial lacing on both sides is for front rim brake wheels only. Radially laced spokes are incapable of transferring any braking or driving force from the hub to the rim.
Not suitable for: mountain bikes with disk rotors. Many hubs are not recommended for use with radial lacing as it puts extreme force on the flanges, which may break off. Royce Engineering also forbid radial lacing on their lightweight hubs because the stretching force affects how the bearings seat. This probably applies to all hubs in some way, but affects very light hubs more than chunkier ones.
The benefits: largely cosmetic, some people prefer the look of radial spoking. The spokes are also generally about 20mm shorter than for a 2- or 3-cross pattern, making them lighter and possibly more aerodynamic. The wheel should also be marginally stronger laterally (side-to-side) because of the shorter spoke and larger angle between hub and rim. These performance advantages are marginal at best.
The disadvantages: increased hub load over crossed patterns may cause failures or bearing problems (in practice we have not seen any bearing problems on the hubs we most commonly lace radially which are Chris King R45, American Classic Micro 58, and DT Swiss 240/190/180. All these hubs are approved for radial lacing). Radial lacing also produce a harsher ride over rough terrain - it's not recommended for cyclocross wheels.
Mixed radial / crossed lacing
Rear road wheels are often built with radial spokes on the non-drive side, and crossed (2 or 3) on the drive side. The drive side crossed spokes transfer power to the rim; the radial non-drive spokes don't. In theory it would probably be better to build a dished wheel (ie, almost any geared wheel as opposed to singlespeed) with radial drive side spokes and crossed non-drive. This would gain the lateral strength advantages of the radial spokes, but would require the drive torque to be transferred through the hub shell and we don't know if this is OK long-term. It will probably depend on the hub.
mixed lacing on wheelsets
This fixed wheelset uses some different lacing patterns front and rear.
Please note: this article is now mostly out of date as it refers to the old, pre-tubeless-ready A23 rims. The new A23 rims feature a modified, "tubeless ready" rim profile; the tyre sits up on a shelf around the edge of the rim. These should work better with proper tubeless tyres. See also the Pacenti SL23, another tubeless-ready rim, much stronger and better finished than the A23.
We fitted a Hutchinson Piranha (tubeless ready) with just the NoTubes yellow tape and a 44mm Universal valve stem. The tyre was pretty tight and needed careful use (not damaging the yellow tape) of tyre levers to get the tyre on. It inlated immediately using a standard track pump.
Then we tried a standard Maxxis Raze 700x33C. It went on very easily, too easily in fact with just the yellow tape, and burped easily. We fitted the Cyclocross rimstrip and it inflated a lot easier, either with some vigorous pumping from a normal track pump, or very easily with a compressor. In use it may need a layer of 17mm Velox tape under the rimstrip; we'll find out soon and add to this page.
To be confirmed, but since the Hutchinson cyclocross tyre inflated easily, the road tubeless tyres should too using just the yellow tape and 44mm valve stem. You'll need 2 layers of yellow tape to withstand the high pressure or it may pop through the spoke holes.
Tyre pressure warning
We've said this before but it's worth emphasising. Do not try and convert standard tyres to road tubeless; only use proper road tubeless tyres. If you want to run your cyclocross tyres over 40psi do not convert standard tyres. Normal tyres will be at risk of popping off the rim at over 40 psi. Over 50psi it's almost guaranteed to fail. The bead on road tubeless tyres is much stronger than on a standard kevlar tyre.
At Just Riding Along we build mountain bike wheels with rims from Stan’s NoTubes and Enve Composites.
The NoTubes range is comprehensive, from the lightweight race only Podiums to the all mountain Flows with most rims available in either 26” or 29er versions, as well as a 650b ZTR Flow. They are light and strong with enough options to suit most types of riding.
We love tubeless and all our wheels are tubeless-compatible. We have been riding with tubeless tyres since they were invented and were the first in the UK to import and build with the Stan’s NoTubes rims. Tubeless tyres will help you ride faster, they’ll grip better and puncture a lot less often.
Custom mountain bike wheels ensure you get the axle type and wheel size to fit your bike. We have a huge range of hubs to choose from and can advise on the best options for the riding you do.
12mm x 135 bolt thru
10mm x 135 bolt-in
10mm x 135 bolt thru
12mm x 150 bolt thru
Custom mountain bike wheelbuilds are available in our online wheelbuilder some popular builds are held instock for quick delivery or please call or email us if you want something and can't see it on our website.
prices from £227 with Shimano XT hubs / NoTubes Arch rims
Enve Composites have gone to great lengths to develop the perfect carbon fibre rims.
Aerodynamics are optimised in wind tunnels, spoke holes are moulded-in for strength and reliability, and they are tested to optimise brake heat dissipation and strength.
The XC and AM rims, both available in 26” and 29er versions, feature low weights with a strength and stiffness unmatched by aluminium rims. If you need any convincing about their toughness, the 400g AM rims have chalked up several wins on the World Cup downhill circuit under the Santa Cruz Syndicate team. All rims are now tubeless compatible with full UST-certification either granted or pending.
XC 26” tubular/clincher 260g/350g
XC 29er tubular/clincher 280g/385g
AM 26” clincher 405g
AM 29er clincher 450g
The 3 Enve road rims are some of the lightest available in their classes. The tubular-only “25” is ideal for racing over mountainous courses where its 250g weight is a major advantage. The “45” is a medium depth all rounder for road racing, time trials or cyclo-cross; it’s at home on any terrain. The “65” is a deep aero rim aimed at time triallists, but its light weight and aerodynamics will give you the edge in road races too.
25 tubular 250g
45 tubular/clincher 295g/440g
65 tubular/clincher 369g/495g
(25/45/65 refers to rim depth)
prices from £1700 with American Classic hubs.
Why buy a wheelbuild from Just Riding Along?
The best components chosen to last. We build on NoTubes, Enve and Ambrosio rims and a wide selection of hubs.
Every wheel is built to the highest standard and won’t let you down.
We’ll try and help at every stage and can service and rebuild wheels you buy from us.
Built to your specification with information and advice to help you choose exactly the wheels you want.
Good value wheels built with components from known brands.
Building & workshop
During the building process all components are bedded in, stretched, and tensioned repeatedly until they settle into their final state so the wheels won’t go out of true or lose tension.
We inspect, check and finish every wheel with equal care whatever the price.
all wheels are finished and checked by Jon
What do your wheels come with?
All wheels come prepared with yellow spoke tape installed, and if you order tyres (and rimstrip or valve) with your wheels, we can fit the tyres for you. You will need to fit cassettes and disk rotors. Always use loctite when fitting rotor bolts.
Will I need to re-true my wheels after a "bedding in" period?
This should not be necessary. All our wheels are hand-built to a high standard and should not need retruing if you look after them.
2 ways to buy our wheels
1. Instock wheels
These are some of the most popular builds.
We keep them in stock for people in a rush, or you can use them as a starting point for ideas to make your own custom wheel build. They are available for immediate delivery.
Exactly the wheelset you want
The best wheelset for the riding you do - with the parts which suit you and your budget.
Order online with our custom wheelbuilder.
Contact us by phone, if your choices aren’t yet online or you want some advice.
Delivery in 5 days where parts are instock.
If we do need to order parts in we still expect to have the wheels ready in 2 weeks and will inform you of any delays.
We reserve stock for wheelbuilds to ensure a fast turnaround.