Reynolds' carbon wheels have long been familiar to US road racing fans thanks to their sponsorship of the HealthNet p/b Maxxis bike. But the 2008 season brought a huge leap forward in visibility with the French Agritubel at the head of the Tour de France.
The SDV66 T wheels take Reynolds into a deeper territory than ever before with a 66mm-deep carbon tubular rim that Agritubel’s yellow jersey-clad Roman Feillu used to cut through the summer heat of France in July.
Though the 66s are tall, the complete wheelset still comes in at a remarkable 1370g for the set (630g front, 740g rear, without skewers). More help comes from the Reynolds-badged hubs made by DT Swiss - based on the trusted 240s model – and DT Swiss Aerolite spokes in a minimal 16/20 count (radial front, two-cross/radial rear).
Our test set also came with some 119g Reynolds skewers with titanium shafts, Reynolds carbon-specific brake pads, two valve extenders and a spoke wrench. Once the glue dried on a pair of Continental Sprinters, we hit the road.
Smooth, stiff and fast
Right out of the box, these wheels roll incredibly smoothly - the cartridge bearing hubs, the damping properties of the carbon rims and the suppleness of tubular tires all add up. But equally apparent in this mix is the stiffness thanks to the deep profiles, radial spoking patterns and high spoke tensions.
These wheels were designed to save you watts on the flats, and with their airfoil profile and hidden nipples they certainly feel fast in the wind, almost regardless of what direction it is hitting you from.
There is a lot of surface area on the front end of the bike for side winds to play around with but we found these wheels to be more stable in varying conditions than a few other carbon wheels we’ve sampled, some even with shallower rims. Despite the SDV66’s modest susceptibility to crosswinds, they still felt planted.
The SDV66 T may not qualify as a true climber’s wheel but at sub-1400g, these wheels definitely did not suffer when it was time to head uphill. The extra stiffness only added to their ability to accelerate, especially when out of the saddle. In this regard, the SDV66 would be a good choice for almost any ride/race with varying terrain and serious climbing, short of a straight vertical time trial.
Dry braking performance was also excellent and inspired high corner entry speeds (due to good weather during the test period, we were unable to test in the wet). With the supplied pads, braking was very responsive and linear, pulse-free, and provided enough power to lock either wheel at will. Reynolds’ latest pads offer a less grabby feel than the Swiss Stop Yellow King pads that were previously supplied with the company’s higher-end wheels.
We also have to give a nod to the strength of the Reynolds SDV66, as an unfortunate flat at the weekly criterium resulted in a five-mile ride home on a flat front wheel. Thankfully the wheel was still dead straight afterwards (we don’t recommend this treatment!), especially since the internal nipples would require stripping the glued-on tire for the repair.
Deep, strong, smooth, fast
Reynolds has produced a wheelset that genuinely shines - TdF yellow in this case - in the face of varied terrain, wind, hills and spirited competition. You may want something else for the MountVentoux time trial but for just about every other situation these wheels deliver. Adding to the confidence on the road are the fantastic braking, stiff and responsive ride, bulletproof hubs and a strong carbon rim that has no rider weight limit.
The price is high but still surprisingly reasonable compared with the competition and considering the performance you get in return. So, if you have the coin, definitely put these wheels on the ‘A’ list.