October 4, 2011

Crest ZTR Review

I've always got my eye out for a good deal, especially when it comes to race gear and bike parts.  I've bought parts and frames from Ebay, Craigslist and from individuals in bike forums.  I've met sellers in parking lots, movie theatres, trail heads and gas stations.

So when I seen the ad for a pair of Stan's ZTR Crest 29in wheels, I immediately set up a meet at a local gas station.  They were in such great shape, I could have been convinced that they had never even been ridden on.  We agreed on a price and I took my new treasure home.
A few days after the Berryman Adventure race I pulled the Bontrager wheels off of my Superfly 100 and started the swap.  The first thing to do was remove the disk brake rotors.  They are held on with six T-20 Torx head screws. 

The next thing up was to remove the 10 speed Shimano cassette.  Easy to do once you have the right tools.

A cassette removal socket with guide pin:

And a chain whip:

Then it was simple to transfer the removed parts to the new wheels.  The only things to watch on the brake rotors are to keep them clean and pay attention to the direction of rotation.  I torqued each screw in a star pattern with a new application of blue Loctite.

Be careful when moving the cassette, it is a stack of spacers and rings that could get confusing if you mix them up.  I lifted the stack off the old wheel and moved it to the new wheel without setting it down. I put a light coating of synthetic grease on the rear wheel hub to prevent it from seizing over time, and installed it with the same tools I used to removed it.

The Stan's yellow rim strip and tubeless valve looked great.  They were in perfect shape and had been installed perfectly. I got my hopes up that I wouldn't have to fight with getting the tires to seal in a tubeless set-up.  While I was doing this I noticed that the ZTR's have 32 butted (1.7 / 2.0) black stainless spokes per wheel, the Bonty's I was replacing only had 28.  This is cool.  I get a much lighter wheel set (1575 grams) with more 4 more spokes per wheel (more spokes = stronger and easier to straighten when I eventually bend one).
I pulled the Kenda Slant Six tire off of the Bonty old rim using a couple of Park Tool tire levers.
I got them fitted onto the new ZTR wheels without any hassle.  Remember these tires are directional, so check before you install them or you are going to make a mess with the sealant when you have to take them off.

I put two cups of Stan's sealant in each tire, after shaking the bottle good to make sure the rubber particles were well suspended. 

I should patent my invention for seating tubeless tires.  In the picture below you can see it.  The 1/4 diameter automotive vacuum hose and small hose clamp work great with the nozzle on my air compressor.  The tires popped onto their beads and sealed instantly.   The other two set of wheels I've set up tubeless before this leaked for up to two weeks before finally sealing.  (As I write this - a week after set-up- I still haven't had to add air)

Now with the work completed it was time to ride!  I took the bike to Indian Camp Creek.  It is a fairly easy local trail with a good mix of creek bottom flats and easy climbs.  It is a great trail to ride fast.  I took off through the winding tight turns in the creek bottoms and I could tell right away that the wheels were light and fast.  My confidence in the wheels grew fast and soon I was leaning through the dusty corners trying to feel any flex in the wheels.  There wasn't any.

While I was riding, I noticed that the tires looked fatter on these wheels.  They are the 29 x 2.0 size, but they looked fatter than some other 2.1 tires I have ridden.  I looked on Stans website and found out why:  ZTR wheels use Bead Socket Technology, which is a fancy name for a lower bead hook height combined with a wider rim (24.4mm).  The bead design allows the tire to stretch out to a more natural rounded shape and reduces sidewall flex.  No wonder I was feeling so fast in the corners!

I rode over to the smallish climbs these trails have and rode up them easily.  I was able to lift the front wheel over obstacles without a problem.  I can't wait to get these wheels out to some trails that have some real climbing (ie Matson Hill).

The tubeless Kenda Slant Six tires were hooking up incredible!  I had the tire pressure at 28 rear and 26 front.  It felt just right for my 170 lbs.  I didn't expect to feel increased traction from a wheel change, but it's there all the same.  It must be from the reduced rim height/increased width combination.

Both hubs are Stan's 3.30.  The rear has a different sound than any previous wheels I've ridden on.  When freewheeling it sounds like a rattlesnake.  Kinda funny, I guess I'll get used to it.  For now I'm going to take it to mean that I'm getting good multi-point pawl engagement.

The ZTR Crest wheel is really light weight so it is recommended for cross country and light trail use with a maximum rider weight of 190 lbs.  Sounds perfect for adventure racing where a lot of the riding is gravel/dirt roads.  I'll get a few long races on them this fall and find out what they will be like long term.  So far they look like winners!


  1. All those details are why I need friends who know what they're doing...or a good bike shop. Preferably both. Glad your new wheels are working out for you. :)

  2. Thanks a lot for sharing.Its really a good one.
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  3. Stuck on a fence but loved this review. I'm 186-187 pounds and wanting to loose 10 more pounds so I can ride Stans Race Gold...but reality is these Stans Crest for my body weight because my rides are bikecamping on rails-trails (700 miles since May)and my kit has to be accounted for.
    Please if you ever have the time guestimate how much weight I'll save over the Stans Arches I'm riding on now.
    Thanks for the excellent review (and tips on sealant)!

  4. I just read your review on MTB forums and have a few questions for you. I'm a 170 lb rider from CA. I ride a 2011 Stumpjumper Carbon Expert and I'm looking to up grade my stock & heavy DT Swiss wheelset @ 1990 grams. I've read several reviews on the Stan's Crest, a few "taco-ing" issues here and there and several post regarding difficulties keep the rims true. If you are still running these Rims what is your take on them since 2011? If you are not running them how come?

    Thanks for the extended post and I look forward to your reply

  5. I am still riding the same wheels two years later. I don't take it easy on them at all, and I have yet to damage one.

  6. Great write up- and I will try your 'patented inflation' idea-- all good. Thanks for taking the time to educate all of us!

  7. Great article ...Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next post.
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