Santa Cruz rolls out its own carbon rims

New Reserve wheelsets promise improved durability and comfort

Hot on the heels of the launch of the new Santa Cruz Nomad and Juliana Strega, Santa Cruz is also rolling out a new line of carbon rims. The company claims these in-house hoops offer better impact protection and comfort that other class-leading options.

Santa Cruz Reserve wheel highlights

  • Available in 27.5 and 29in versions
  • 27.5in wheels available in 27 and 30mm internal widths
  • 29in wheels available in 25, 27 and 30mm internal widths
  • Asymmetrical rim profile 
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Pricing set at $1,200 / £TBC / AU$TBC

Santa Cruz decided it was time to take control of how the wheels on its bikes felt so went right ahead and made its own. We make it sound rather simple, but of course it was far from that. In fact, the Reserve wheels took three years to come to fruition. 

But why step away from ENVE, a brand Santa Cruz and Juliana have been synonymous with for a number of years now? “We thought we could do something better,” said Santa Cruz product manager Josh Kissner. He continued: “There were two problems we saw with the existing products. One, they break too much and two, they have a harsh ride.” 

The goal was pretty straightforward: make stronger, more comfortable wheels that’ll help eke out as much traction as possible. Making them as light as possible wasn’t the highest ranking priority, though.

Santa Cruz offers the Reserve rims in 25, 27 and 30mm options for 29ers and 27 and 30mm versions for 27.5in wheels
Santa Cruz offers the Reserve rims in 25, 27 and 30mm options for 29ers and 27 and 30mm versions for 27.5in wheels

There are going to be five rims in total and three different widths. The Reserve 30s, which as you might have guessed, have an inner rim width of 30mm while they’ll also offer a 27mm and 25mm option.

Take a look at the rim and there are a couple of things that really stand out. “The main thing you’ll notice is the external reinforcements around the spokes. What we found testing competitors was that sometimes you’ll break a wheel by yanking a spoke through the rim," Kissner explained. 

Reinforcements around the spokes help to create a more durable rim. In fact, Santa Cruz is so confident it'll last it offers it with a lifetime warranty
Reinforcements around the spokes help to create a more durable rim. In fact, Santa Cruz is so confident it'll last it offers it with a lifetime warranty

Santa Cruz claims these external isolated reinforcements can be made in a more consistent manner compared those that are hidden within the rim cavity, which helps improve reliability and durability.

Being able to visibly see these bulges means when the rim gets drilled, it’s easier to drill them accurately. It also means they’re able to pick up on any misaligned holes more easily when they pass through quality control.

Another benefit is, according to Kissner, “They create a smooth inner wall. I’m not an engineer but what they tell me with carbon is that you want a super smooth and consistent shape”, something Santa Cruz claims you can’t always guarantee if the reinforcements are in the cavity of the rim. 

An asymmetrical rim profile and offset spoke holes help to keep spoke tension even and bracing angle equal for a stronger, more durable wheel build
An asymmetrical rim profile and offset spoke holes help to keep spoke tension even and bracing angle equal for a stronger, more durable wheel build

Take a look lengthways down the rim and you’ll spot that the spokes are offset. An asymmetrical rim profile and offset spoke holes help with getting an even tension throughout, plus better/even overall spoke triangulation/bracing.

“With the offset spoke holes we have perfectly even tension and angle which makes for an equal wheel, both in stiffness and tension," said Kissner. The ultimate goal of these features is better durability, which is part of the reason why Santa Cruz is offering a lifetime warranty on the wheels. 

Rim depth varies dependent upon rim width and Santa Cruz claims the carbon layup allows for more radial flex which makes them more comfortable when you do plow into trail chunder.

They’re also laced three-cross with 28 DT Race Comp butted spokes per wheel, which should help to bolster comfort further. Sapim Secure Lock alloy nipples anchor the spokes to the rim while at the center, dependent upon the model of bike, sits either an Industry9 Torch Classics or DT Swiss 350 hubs.

The Reserve 30 w DT350 Hubs weigh a claimed 1,860g, while the Reserve 30 w I9 Hubs weigh a claimed 1,700g.

Rob Weaver

Technical Editor-in-Chief, UK
Rob started riding mountain bikes seriously in 1993 racing cross-country, though he quickly moved to downhill where he competed all over the world. He now spends most of his time riding trail bikes up and down hills. Occasionally he'll jump into an enduro race.
  • Discipline: Mountain
  • Preferred Terrain: Natural trails where the loam fills my shoes on each and every turn
  • Beer of Choice: Guinness
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