More than just the latest buzzword, components built for enduro racing have to be incredibly durable as well as capable of being pedaled uphill. Reynolds' Blacklabel Enduro 27.5 wheels are just that, and are some of the best and toughest enduro wheels I've ridden.
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Reynolds Blacklabel Enduro 27.5 wheelset spec
- 27.5in carbon rims
- 28mm internal width, 34mm external width
- Hookless bead
- 28 straight pull spokes
- Industry Nine hub internals, 3-degree engagement
- 790g (front) / 920g (rear) weight
Centerlock for the win
Rather than the more common six-bolt rotor attachment, the Industry Nine hubs feature the Centerlock rotor standard and include adaptors for use with six-bolt rotors.
The lockring tool for Centerlock is conveniently the same as a Shimano external bottom bracket cup tool.
In my experience, unscrewing one large lockring is much faster and easier than messing with six tiny, snug T25 bolts. Some people claim rotors can loosen with the adaptor system, but I have yet to experience any issues on these I9 hubs or any other similarly equipped hubs.
Reynolds touts the build quality of its wheels, as well as the asymmetric carbon rims, which allow for more even spoke tension. The claimed result is tougher, better riding wheels.
With that in mind, as well as an Enduro World Series-proven Norco Range under me, I launched the Reynolds wheels into some seriously ugly terrain. Hard landings, overshot transitions, cased jumps — the Blacklabel Enduro wheels endured some of my worst attempts and rolled away unfazed.
For some peace of mind, Reynolds offers its Assurance Program. For an additional $149 (one year), $229 (two years) or $299 (three years) the company will replace or repair two wheels, no questions asked.
Yep, it covers riding like an idiot, racing above your skill level, or simply running them over with your car — any damage is covered — which, when you're jackhammering a few grand worth of plastic and rubber into rocks and roots seems like a good deal.
It should be noted however that other carbon wheel companies include robust warranties in the standard wheel price. For example, Race Face covers any damage for two years and Santa Cruz claims lifetime replacement for damage done while riding. Other companies such as Enve and WTB offer warranties as well, but the details are less straight forward.
Stiff riding but not to detriment of line choice
They're tough, decently light and look the business, but none of that matters. What's most important is the ride. And they carve trail extremely well.
One of the biggest challenges for any wheel (especially carbon wheels) is balancing stiffness with handling. Wheels that are too stiff ride harshly and can ping you off your chosen line. Wheels that are too flexy lack response and can fail. Reynolds has found the balance.
Swapping a stock Race Face Arc 30 wheelset for the Blacklabel Enduros highlighted how a good wheelset can elevate a bike to the upper echelon. The decrease in weight was the least of the benefits, and the biggest improvement was the ride.
Cornering improved as the Blacklabel Enduro wheels locked onto the lines I chose. The bike's suspension felt more controlled as the stiff wheels transmitted impacts into the fork and shock instead of deflecting and twisting.
And of course the quickness of the Industry Nine hubs with their 3-degrees of engagement made the big Range feel snappier, even lighter and quicker out of corners. Although, the incessant buzz of the freebody gets on my nerves.
Durability was increased too. No matter how sideways I landed, or how fast I smashed into things, spoke tension remained consistent and the rims arrow true.
Bottom line: some of the best wheels for enduro
Reynolds has pulled off the tricky combination of stiff, precise wheels that don't rattle your teeth or pinball the bike around rocks. They're expensive, no doubt, but on par with other carbon hoops. More importantly, they have the strength and durability to be thrashed everyday.
For enduro racers, and/or those who are rough on equipment, the Reynolds Blacklabel Enduro 27.5 wheels are at the top of the carbon wheel list.