Reynolds debut $6,000 wheelset at Eurobike
By James Huang, technical editor | Friday, September 4, 2009 9.30am
The Reynolds RZR 46[T] is the first product to come out of the company's new Reynolds Composites Studio - a division wholly dedicated to ultra-high-performing boutique parts all built with carbon and boron fibre James Huang/BikeRadar
Reynolds Cycling recently added carbon wheel talent Paul Lew to their enviable roster and along with him came the ideas and concepts behind his stunning VT-1 road wheelset.
Those wheels have since undergone a number of refinements and reworks but Reynolds claim the resultant RZR 46[T] is still under 900g and is one of the stiffest and most responsive around.
Radical appearance aside, the RZR 46[T] is essentially built using a conventional separate hub, spoke, nipple and rim layout – albeit in this case everything is bonded together once the alignment is completed and there are no metallic joints.
The spokes boast a symmetric airfoil profile, the 46mm-deep carbon tubular rims incorporate a unique 'Swirl Lip Generator' at the spoke end to slightly reduce drag and the hubs feature double-walled carbon shells, precision ground carbon fibre axles and low-drag cartridge bearings – including three in the rear hub shell to squelch any axle flex.
The rear hub also features Lew's novel Torque Flange design, which is positioned at the centreline of the wheel and anchors just four spokes to transfer rider power to the rim (all of the other spokes both front and rear are laced radially).
According to Lew, each of those flanges is tested to 200ft-lbs – more than the output of many small cars – and drive force is transmitted through a proven Tune freehub body and drive ring.
The near-100 percent carbon and boron fibre construction is responsible for much of the weight savings but the unique build configuration also allows for a much lighter rim than usual.
Unlike on typical wheels, the RZR 46[T]'s spokes are under no tension whatsoever – in use, some of the spokes are thus loaded in tension but others are in compression. Lew says the rim spoke bed doesn't have to be built up as much as a result and the entire system can be made to handle a lighter load.
In addition, the ultra-expensive carbon and boron fibre content of the entire structure requires less material than carbon fibre alone and lets the system operate in both tension and compression throughout.
Even so, the RZR 46[T] does carry a maximum rider weight limit of 82kg (180lb). In case something were to happen, however, the wheel's bonded construction means that damaged components can be replaced relatively easily and Reynolds include the flagship model in their Assurance Program – an optional no-fault protection program that covers owners for three years.
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RZR 46[T] owners would be well served to shell out the extra money for the plan. At a stratospheric US$6,000 per pair, a little piece of mind will likely go a long way.
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