If you’ve picked up a copy of the latest issue of Enduro Magazine, you’ll see that we loved testing the latest carbon mountain bike wheels from ENVE in both 26″ and 29″ formats. While they are stupidly expensive, they are without doubt one of the best upgrades you can make to your bike due to their huge boost in lateral stiffness, which is particularly noticeable on a big-wheeler.
Keen to prove their product, Aussie Distributor for Reynolds Wheels BikeSportz sent us a test set of their Carbon 29er wheels to put through the ringer on our Tallboy test sled.

Reynolds have arguably one of the longest histories of working with Carbon Fiber and producing carbon-rimmed wheelsets, so turning their expertise to the off road world was really only a matter of time. The set you see here are the 29er version, though they also do a 26″ All Mountain set and have recently revealed a 650B version and alloy models too.

We’ve been hammering the Reynolds wheels for the past 4 months and have an in-depth review coming out in Enduro Magazine at the end of this year. While everything’s covered there from their strengths, weaknesses and durability report, we couldn’t quite wait to show you a few shots of our test wheelset and give you a teaser as to what we thought.

Neatly machined Alloy hubsets are new for 2013, with a straight pull design and hub axle interchangeability.

Front hub can be swapped between 9/15/20mm end caps depending on your forks, with the rear being available in 142x12mm, 135mm quick release and 135mm bolt-thru. All end caps are included with the wheels, which future-proofs them should you swap the wheels to a different bike. The alloy freehub body was showing some signs of wear from the SLX cassette, though the marks you can see are exacerbated by the less-supported steel cogs on the M660 cassette. XT/XTR cassettes use a wider alloy carrier and better distribute the load of the cogs across a bigger surface area for less digging in.

A nice touch is the inclusion of tubeless valves and rim tape in the box, which allowed for easy setup to ditch the tubes. The carbon rims feature an oversized profile with a 29mm external width and substantial 21mm depth to give them a bulbous aesthetic compared to low-profile alloy rims. The profile actually mimics their All Mountain 26″ wheelset and as such means these rims are good for tyres up to 2.4″ wide. A deep bead hook means the tyres lock into the rim very securely, but we did find some non-tubeless tyres were a struggle to seal up.

On that note, we’ve been riding Maxxis rubber on the Reynolds wheels, which are one of the only UST-certified tubeless 29er tyre on the market. While they are quite a bit heavier than a regular tyre or tubeless ready tyre, their substantial casing makes them good for low pressures and means we could get them to seal up with a hand pump even without sealant. I wouldn’t recommend them for racing due to their extra weight, but the reliability and peace of mind you get with them is worth it for weekend warriors wanting a bombproof setup.

We’ve got both the Ardent and Crossmark tyres, which will also be reviewed in the upcoming issue. We ran Ardents front & rear for our recent trip to the South Island of New Zealand, as they’re a good, fat tread that’s predictable in a wide range of conditions.

It’s worth noting that the Reynolds wheelset comes in substantially cheaper than the equivalent ENVE All Mountain 29er wheelset, with a retail price of $2149 for the set. That’s actually darn impressive for a carbon-rimmed wheelset from a reputable brand that has one of the best reputations for carbon wheels going. If you like what you see, look out for Issue #23 where you can see what we really thought of the blingy big hoops.
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