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Production halts on Stan's rim strips, as the end of an era nears

Published September 2, 2019

FRIEDRICHSHAFEN, Germany (BRAIN) — The end of an era is near at Stan's No Tubes. 

The innovators of the "no tubes" design for mountain bikes nearly 20 years ago stopped production of its rim strips and tubeless-conversion kits a couple months ago. Product manager Drew Hanna said he expects the company will sell its last rim strip and kit by the end of the year.

"It's just a simple lack of demand," Hanna said Wednesday at the Stan's booth at Eurobike. "The world moved on, but we left our mark."

Rim-strip sales data is difficult to obtain before 2011, when a new sales system was implemented, said Mike Bush, Stan's president. In the past eight years, Stan's sold in excess of 300,000 strips across 17 rim-strip SKUs and nine Tubeless Kit SKUs.

"In total, my best guess from the launch of the rim strip and kit, items would likely exceed 750-800k," Bush said.

Because a typical rim strip is 56 inches long, Stan's Big Flats, New York, facility produced roughly 700 miles of rim strips.

Stan's offered between 15-20 variations to fit different width rims.

Founder Stan Koziatek developed the rubber strip with valve stem, liquid sealant and tape to make a tubed wheel tubeless. The ability to run lower pressures enhanced traction and could self-seal a lot of punctures, thanks to the sealant.

Chris Currie, Stan's creative director, said rim-strip sales declined the past five years, so the company decided this year to halt production. Currie said most of the demand came from customers still riding 26-inch mountain bikes. "With those tires becoming harder to get, the market is shrinking further," he said.

Factory tubeless-ready wheelsets have been the standard for a while now, and that was helped by Koziatek, too. He developed the patented Bead Socket Technology rim to eliminate the need for strips and create an improved interface between tire and rim sidewall that led to easier inflation and less air loss. Other wheel manufacturers followed suit.

Time was officially running out on the old rim-strip technology.

Some of Stan's early customers perhaps have a few tales of messy early attempts. But watching Stan himself on his website instruction videos in the early 2000's made it all look so easy and the benefits easy to see.

"The thing that gets lost is how much work went into it," Hanna said of the development of the original rim strip.

Stan's Alpha rim strip
Topics associated with this article: Eurobike

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