Flow EX 650B Wheelset – First Look

by Brian Mullin on July 23, 2012

Stans’s has been rolling out some new rims and wheels this summer, including the road Alpha 400, cyclocross Iron Cross and the wider Flow EX, and the updated road Alpha 340. 

The
new Flow EX rims were created for All Mountain and light Freeride
usage, and their additional strength and width should be good for the
rigors of just about anything tossed at them. The design is a beefed-up
version of its Flow brethren, and it has gotten 14% thicker sidewalls
and 33% thicker spoke bed, and the bead socket has been altered for a
tighter and more dependable seal.

The inner width has been bumped
from 22.6mm to 25.5mm, while the outer went from 28mm to 29.1mm, which
should offer a wider footprint, and spread the tire’s girth and tread
out for a more stable platform. The weight is still respectable for a
wide rim, and the 26 inch comes in at 490 grams, the 650B at 530 grams,
and the 29er at 545 grams, and they’ll retail for $90 to $96 depending
on size.  They are also available as custom built wheelsets using
various hubs, including Stan’s 3.30, Hope Pro 2, Cannondale Lefty and DT
Swiss 240, and will range in price from $500 – $950.

NOTE: Due to demand the 650B are not available until August 1st!

Stan’s
sent along a set of their 650B wheels for us to test, and we’re looking
forward to some long term testing on these babies! The build uses the Stan’s 3.30HD
front hub with a 20mm thru axle, and has adapters for 15mm or 20mm
usage, and the rear was Stan’s 3.30 in a 12x142mm thru axle set up. The
weight was a bit on the heavy side compared to some other All Mountain
wheels, but it’s still respectable, and I think the 3.30HD front hub is
what adds the extra poundage, albeit, it’s a big meaty and robust
beast.

Flow EX Measured Specs:

  • Front 20mm TA (w/ tape & valve) –  898.1 grams
  • Rear 12×142 TA (w/tape & valve) – 981.7 grams
  • Total – 1879.8 grams

First Impressions
Installing the tires was a no brainer, and I didn’t have any issues
with getting either of my tires to pop on in a tubeless mode. The rear
wheel went on the bike just fine, without any issues, and the outer thru
axle adapters for the 142mm spacing stayed on as I wrestled the wheel
into the rear triangle of my Ibis Mojo HD. The front wheel, on the other
hand, caused me a few headaches, and the 20mm adapters seemed not stick
tightly to the hub bearings? Once I did get it installed there wasn’t
any play, and everything spun freely.

The wheels rolled nice and
smooth, without any stickiness, and although the 3.30 rear hub isn’t a
high POE type, its 3 pawl and 30 point engagement system worked
adequately. What I really noticed was how well the wheel steered, and it
offered excellent control and stability, and the additional width was
noticeable, especially when rolled over for cornering and when bashing
through a rock garden. I didn’t feel any sloppiness, looseness or flex
in the wheels, though I do need to crank them harder in some more
heinous terrain. The rear pulled fine when I cranked on it on uber steep
climbs, and it accelerated well, and gave good traction when required,
and the width offered a secure and stable platform.

These
are some pretty sweet rims, which have great width, strength, bead
socket technology (tubeless), and Stan’s 3.30 hub’s offer an excellent
price point. Two words sum up my first impressions of the new Flow EX
wheels, control and stability. We’ll have a full in-depth review of the wheels later in the summer.

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