For 2014, Reynolds Cycling has redesigned its Assault wheelset around the wider rim profile that is currently en vogue. The updated 24.5mm-wide wheelset has a claimed weight of 1,315g (tubular version) and a retail price of US$2,000/UK£TBC. Reynolds also went wider on the brakes pads, too, with new CTS pads nearly 50 percent bigger than last year’s models.
Reynolds has two categories of road wheels: the relatively lower-cost Performance series that includes the Assault, and the money-is-no-object Aero group.
As many wheel companies are moving to fat rims for their aero wheels, Reynolds’s Aero series is a notable outlier, holding the line on fine-tipped rims. The difference, says veteran aerodynamic designer Paul Lew, is a high-drag/high-lift design for blunt-nosed rims versus a low-drag/low-lift design for the Aero pointed-edge rims.
“We’ve all seen those charts with drag illustrated at various yaw angles,” Lew said. “A lot of times with wheels, where the drag drops, what we’re really saying is the lift-over-drag ratio is improving. When you turn the wheel into the wind, you can feel the increased pressure — the increased drag — but there is also lift. The greater the side force, the greater the thrust; think about a sailboat. Our Aero design is a low-lift design. If it were a sailboat, it wouldn’t lean over as far as say the [Zipp] Firecrest, which has the highest lift. For bikes, the new Felt tri bike is an example of a high lift/high drag frame. A low lift/low drag bike is a Cervélo.”
The new Assualt falls in the Performance family, with the snub-nose design at left. Reynolds also sells the Aero at right wheels at a premium. Please note these are clincher cross-sections, not the new tubular
Lew says that windier days favor high lift/high drag designs. “We went with low/low because most days you don’t have 20-25mph winds,” he said.
Back to the Performance line, which is more of a high lift/high drag design, Reynolds marketing manager Rob Aguero says the objective is to give riders good overall performance at a great price.
“They have always been value-packed wheels, but we wanted to go down the checklist as to what we were being asked for from distributors and customers: wide rims, weight targets, external nipples, and of course a price under $2,000,” Aguero said.
The Assault tubular comes in a 1,315g rim-brake version with 20/24 spokes, and a 1,340g road disc-brake version with 24/24 spokes.
New CTG pads
Reynolds beefed up the stopping power with the new Cyro-Blue Power pad, which is a whopping 44 percent larger than the existing Cyro-Blue pad. Reynolds claims power has increased 33 percent in the dry and 42 percent in the wet, but more importantly modulation has dramatically improved, the company says. There are six angled slots to disperse heat and water.
“With our carbon rims and these pads, you actually have more braking power than you do with alloy rims,” Lew said.
While you certainly could use these pads on other carbon rims, Reynolds does not recommend it. “Each rim manufacturer has a different fabric, a different resin and not all pads will perform the same,” said Reynolds product manager and former pro downhiller Todd Tanner. “Braking on carbon is not like braking on alloy rims. I’m pretty certain that they would perform better on competitors’ wheels, but I would never recommend that you do that.”
BikeRadar recently received a test set of Aero 46 wheels, which we will review in the near future.