The biggest of those excursions was an 83-mile mixed surface mega adventure that included pavement, smooth dirt road, and one of the most heinous stretches of steep, rocky hell you could ever encounter on a bike. I can’t say I cleaned everything. Actually I was off the bike and walking a fair bit. But so too was my riding companion, who did the entire ride on his cross-country mountain bike. Point being if there was ever a place to mess up a wheel, this was it.
Numerous sections of the long, slow climb from Marble of the summit of Schofield Pass were nothing more than a string of baby head-sized rocks. I bashed into to more sharp edges than I could count, impacting the rims at least a half dozen times while running about 50psi. Yet, not once did I flat, nor have to break out the wheel truing stand at ride’s end.
This road to perdition was also ideal testing ground for hub engagement, the slow rolling nature quickly turning any delay into a dab. But the American Classic Disc’s 225 rear hub with its six pawl cam actuated system snapped forward quickly, helping maintain what little momentum I could muster. Of course the relatively light 1590g wheelset weight helped, too.
And so it went for the next several months, each test ride starting with a quick spin on tarmac before deviating onto dirt. Up Kebler Pass. Up Cement Creek Road. Up to the summit of Reno Divide. Each unpaved ascent always followed by a rowdy ride down. I did my best to find the cleanest line. But inevitably impact occurred, with rim meeting rock. By the end, I managed to knock the rear wheel just slightly out of true, but the external nipples made for an easy true up. Other than that, these wheels proved decidedly stiff and bomb proof, without a hint of brake rub even during hard out-of-saddle accelerations.
Thoughts on Road/CX Tubeless
If you ride mountain bikes, you’ve long ago become a devotee of life without tubes. Tubeless wheel/tire set-ups simply make life better. Period. But things are not so cut and dry for road and cyclocross applications. They can be a hassle to set-up, may burp when run at low pressure (the kind required in ’cross racing for instance), and may have limited benefit for full time road riding. Honestly, how often do you flat on paved roads?
I don’t have a good rebuttal for that last point. My daily driver road bike has a tubed set-up and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. But these wheels are not a hassle to set up tubeless, and thanks to what American Classic calls its bead barb rim profile, I’ve yet to burp them, despite diligently trying. That barb runs along the edge of the bead shelf, so once the tire has popped into position, the bead barb centers and tightly grips the tire, creating a sealed environment that will hold sealant and air in.
That said, current tubeless set-ups are still not quite as good as tubulars for racing cyclocross. They just don’t have the same supple feel at low pressure. But for all but elite racers, the diminished hassle factor (does anyone enjoy gluing tires?) is likely worth this slight drop in performance. Not to mention it’s far easier to swap tires, if say you want to go from a fast rolling file tread to a traction-enhancing mud tire, but don’t want to stay up all night making the change.
As for road use, American Classic front man Bill Shook is convinced they’re better, specifically pointing to the friction and drag resulting from having a tube moving inside a tire, which in turn results in energy loss. Get rid of the tube and you get lower rolling resistance, or so the theory goes. But Shook also admits that there just aren’t a ton of high quality tubeless road tires on the market yet. As that changes, though, he sees road tubeless becoming more and more popular. We’ll see.
I cant say I’ve ever felt a monumental difference between tubed and tubeless road set-ups. But in the off chance that you do run over a thorn, tack, or worse, the idea of sealant and not a new tube fixing the situation is very attractive. And if mixed-surface rides are your thing (we love them), the ability to run lower pressure with less fear of pinch flats is definitely a good thing.
Even if you never intend to set these wheels up tubeless, race cyclocross, or go “adventure” riding, the American Classic Argent Disc Tubeless wheels are still a rock solid alloy option. Weight is low, hub engagement is snappy, profile is aero, and they’re exceptionally durable. And you’ll always have the option to ditch your tubes when/if you decide to make the leap to tubeless. And if you’re not into the whole disc thing, American Classic also sells a rim brake version of these wheels that are $50 cheaper.
For more info please visit amclassic.com.