9 March 2012 - 9:06What’s the Frequency Kenneth?
I’m talking about the new WTB Frequency rims. It seems that component manufacturers are finally taking this whole tubeless thing more seriously. Only a few short years ago, Stan’s was running amok unchecked with their tubeless system. They certainly didn’t invent the concept, but they did develop the technology that makes it what it is today.
Way back when, there was UST, the tubeless system developed by Mavic, which was the first, and actually still present system. Back then, the tires were heavy, expensive, and the caveats too great to make them accessible to the mainstream market. Stan worked on a better, lighter system that played better with others.
The only problem (or so the “industry” seemed content to convey) is that Stan’s didn’t adhere to any “standard”. This is legal BS concocted to protect the manufacturers from Joey Armchair Mechanic mounting up his tires incorrectly. I’ve had several tire manufacturers tell me that their tires aren’t tubeless ready, yet I have used everything I sell tubeless with the Stan’s system with minimal problems. But then again, I’m a professional.
To cut to the chase, there are now multiple systems out there. Bontrager has their own system involving a big plastic rim strip, Stan’s is now licensing their Bead Socket Technology to Sun rims, and then there is the “new” UST along with it’s varients. WTB is pimping out their TCS or Tubeless Compatible System, which is designed to work with UST type tires.
WTB has been making rims forever, and have some good technologies that make them a viable choice for riders looking for a lightweight yet strong rim. Their tech page is jam packed with easy to understand info on their system. I’d just be regurgitating it.
Let’s talk about these wheels!
Out of the box, the quality was what I expected. I kinda like the graphic treatment on the rims, but for those that don’t it is a sticker that can easily be removed. I had a set of I9s that were mis-shipped to me, so I decided I’d build them right up. I went with a classy triple silver build. The rims were nice and straight, and had a nice flat profile. They tensioned up nicely as well, which I attribute to the 4D spoke hole drilling. Basically it angles the socket where the nipple rests against the rim, aligning it with the spoke itself, and I was able to wind these wheels up a little tighter in the stand than a set of Stan’s rims.
So here are the numbers. The rims weigh 530g, exactly the same as a Stan’s Flow. Why one over the other? Inner rim width is the reason. The Flow is 22mm, the Frequency is 23mm (hence the name i23). Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it allows the tire to have a wider footprint. 1mm can make a big difference depending on the tire. Wider is better. The front wheel built up to 930g with rim tape and valve stem, the rear 1020g. About what you’d expect for a wheelset built to take some abuse. They also make this rim in a lighter more XC 19mm inner width.
I used the new WTB Weirwolf, which I mounted up without using sealant. I wanted to see how good the TCS interface was. I was surprised to see that they held 35psi for a couple of days just sitting in the shop. I’ve been waiting for a while for the new WW tires to come out, but I was pretty bummed on the size. They come up a bit narrow, and are far from the 2.5 printed on the sidewalls. I’m hoping they grow a little with use.
So why would you get these over a Stan’s system? Well, the new TCS tires from WTB will not work on a Stan’s rim. I just about popped an eyeball, along with 4 tire levers trying to get one of these tires on a Flow. It didn’t even come close. It easily slipped on the Frequency rim though, and WTB does make some of the finest rubber out there. If you want maximum tire compatibility, I’d suggest giving these a try.