American Classic Tubeless Wheelset – Inital Impressions

by Brian Mullin on January 5, 2010

I first saw the new American Classic Tubeless wheelset at Interbike 2009, and was immediately drawn in by the vivid red hubs, and the fact that they were tubeless. I had a wonderful technical and in depth walk through of the product, by the man himself, Bill Shook. I learned a lot of the minute details that go into the hubs, nipples and rims. It proved to be a thought provoking enlightenment, and a great learning experience.

The new wheelset is known as the ‘MTB Disc Tubeless’, and it comes in either a 26 inch or 29 inch size. The 32 hole red hubs, are spec’d with black 14/15 gauge spokes and aluminum nipples in a 3-Cross pattern on the aluminum tubeless rims, and come in either Alphatype White (shown) or Crest Black.
Front hub: Disc 130 100mm – either QR or 15mm Thru Axle
Rear hub: Disc 225 135mm – QR
Rim: 26mm wide x 22mm deep
All the hubs use the ubiquitous 6 bolt IS interface. I tested a set in Alphatype White with the front 15mm Thru Axle on my usual Ibis Mojo Steed.
Measured Specs
Front 725.3 grams
Rear 835.3 grams
Impressions
The wheelset arrived with normal rim tape/strip (albeit sticky), which try as I might would not allow a tubeless tire bead to pop up onto the rim. The rims are supposed to come tubeless ready, meaning 25mm tape and a valve? Fortunately, I had some NoTubes yellow rim tape in a 25mm width, and some extra valves sitting around the home shop. The yellow tape takes a bit of effort for installation, since it requires keeping the tape taunt and straight as you lay it down in short sections in the tight quarters of the rim. I installed a set of my Rubber Queen 2.2 UST tires initially, and they popped out without any issue. I have used NoTube rims quite a bit, and for some reason, these rims seem a tad easier to get tires to pop on? I do love that sound when a tire bead pops up into the hook of the rim. I also installed a set of normal tires, and had no issues getting them to work. Very nice indeed!
When I install any sort of tire, whether tubeless (UST) or normal, I always use sealant when I run them in a tubeless mode. It is pretty much required to get normal tires to seal up in a tubeless mode, and it also helps seal up leaks or punctures on either tire type.

Their first foray out onto some tough terrain the spokes pinged a bit as they sat themselves in, but after that they have been silent. Although they are not the lightest wheelset I have used, they do feel very light, and they roll and accelerate very nicely. That rolling ability is really immanent when rolling into berms, up and over rock rollers and descending. They swoop! The acceleration makes climbing easier, and they have enough stiffness to keep the traction on the tarmac. They offer a nice deft touch, and give good feedback during steering.

It is only when pushed hard in rocky All Mountain terrain, that they have a tad of flex. Bring them up to Mach 10 in a rock garden, and they belay their lightness and slight lack of width.
Conclusion
I have been very happy with the American Classic Tubeless Wheelset. It is the easiest rim I have used to set up tubeless tires, so it is a joy to use. Pop! They roll and accelerate like demons, and give nimble and precise steering. They look good (love the red hubs), and have so far proven to be durable.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

diamondback February 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I've been meaning to check these out. I need a new tubeless set.

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet February 14, 2010 at 6:38 pm

I have really have been enjoying the AC Tubeless wheels, and they are so easy to get tires to work tubeless, tires that with other rims can be problematic

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Anonymous March 4, 2010 at 4:16 am

>>>I have used NoTube rims quite a bit, and for some reason, these rims seem a tad easier to get tires to pop on?

Stans are slightly oversize specifically to run non-tubeless tires tubeless. You can build up the spoke bed with tape to get them to fit right. If they flip over too easy they usually will burp at some point. So use some Gorilla tape and build up bed till they are as difficult to flip as Stans.

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Ellen, American Classic March 5, 2010 at 8:15 pm

AC tubeless wheels come with tubeless tape installed. The set in this review was one of the first and it was shipped before the tape was available.

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johnnyutah97 March 15, 2010 at 6:05 pm

So how would you compare these to hope hubs laced to ZTR crest rims?

I just want to make sure either of these setups are strong 'enough'. I don't do any crazy drops but do things in the flow of the trail (2-3'), rock gardens, etc.

After a convo w/ the folks @ American Classic I get the vibe their customer service is pretty outstanding.

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet March 16, 2010 at 7:05 am

They are a bit beefier than the Crest's, but slightly heavier, they are fine for mild hucking like that, I wouldn't use the ZTR 355 nor Crest for anything but racing and light cross country, the AC Tubeless are for more rugged riding, short of full constant Freeride stuff

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johnnyutah97 March 16, 2010 at 7:26 pm

So would that make the American Classic wheels more comparable to a ZTR Arch + American Classic hub combo? The build for the latter comes out to 1,573g.

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Brian Mullin - Gram and Pastajet March 17, 2010 at 3:24 am

Yes, more along the lines of the Arch!

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