The recession is now officially over in the UK (er, just). So we expect the news that Reynolds' ultra light and heinously expensive RZR 46[T] wheelset will be available on these shores from the end of February will be greeted with a large degree of enthusiasm.
Okay, we're perhaps being a little facetious because at £4,999.99 a pair (they're $6,000 in the US), this 900g wheelset doesn't fall within a normal bike buyer's budget, even one that has busted out of the recession by +0.1%. But they are pretty amazing to behold, and we're champing at the bit to test a pair to see how they ride.
As we reported at Eurobike, they're designed by carbon wheel specialist Paul Lew and have been developed by Reynolds Composites Studio, a branch of the company devoted to innovation and exploration of new technologies for wheel design.
The wheels we saw at Core Bike looked considerably more polished than the prototypes at Eurobike, and this alone will win over a few potential customers.
Their sub-900g weight is mindblowing. Pick up the front wheel and it feels as light as a piece of cardboard. And the rear isn't much heavier. The key is the carbon and boron fibre construction used almost throughout: the rim, spokes, hub and even the hollow hub axles.
The only concessions to metal are the aluminium plugs on the end of each axle, the cassette body and the bearings (two sets of steel, three of ceramic).
The third flange adds stiffness and strength to the rear
The front wheel features 16 spokes and the rear 20. The additional four spokes on the rear are joined to a third hub flange that sits in the centreline of the wheel. This is designed to add strength and stiffness, as well as keeping the rear wheel in true in the event of one or more spokes breaking.
The other interesting feature is a small lip that runs around the top of the rim. This is designed to improve airflow around the wheel. Reynolds' Andrew James told us that although the rim is only 46mm deep, it's as aero as a 100mm rim but doesn't suffer in crosswinds.
The RZR 46[T] is, for now, only available as a tubular wheelset, but Reynolds plan to introduce a clincher version at a later date.
Several professional teams will be riding the RZR 46[T] this season: Ag2r, Footon-Servetto and Fly V Australia. But each team will only have 12 pairs, so they'll be reserved for special occasions.
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