If you’re giving more than a cursory thought to the idea of spending this sort of money on a new mountain bike wheelset, you’re probably not someone who counts the pennies. But we’d guess that you’ll still expect to score more than just aesthetic and pride brownie points over and above the likes of Shimano’s XTR wheels. For example, you’re probably expecting some sort of weight advantage here. Well, the front wheel weighs 735g and the rear is 855g (plus 85g for the quick releases). Shimano XTR wheels weigh 700g and 845g, and cost £500 a pair. Mavic’s lightest weigh even less.
So is there anything that makes the Reynolds wheels worthwhile? On the trail, there’s an instantly noticeable difference in ride feel. We thought it might just have been the tyres, so we changed treads and tried the same tyres on our XTR wheels. But no, the all-carbon rims do have a different ride feel.
We like it. This will sound strange, but these wheels manage to feel both stiffer and softer at the same time: stiffer (read faster) in acceleration and sprinting, presumably due to the unidirectional carbon structure and tight spoking, but softer on rough ground, presumably due to the carbon structure’s much touted vibration damping character.
The aero advantages of the V-section rims won’t really make much difference at MTB speeds and the hidden spoke nipples (and smaller rim holes), although contributing to the clean looks and overall rim strength, mean the faff of tyre and rim tape removal if you do need to tweak them. The super tough design of the rims, the first full carbon rims we’ve tested, should mean less spoke tweaking and extra durability in the long term, and that goes some way to justifying the price, but not a long way. The DT Swiss hubs and spokes and build quality are excellent, but enough to justify a price over twice as much as XTR?
You’ll need to really, really love the distinctive ride feel to buy these. Actually, we did love it, but we still can’t see many people forking out £1,349.