e*thirteen rolled out their new TRS Race SL wheels last summer, another addition to the constantly growing fleet of carbon wheelsets on the market. Aimed at the trail and all-mountain crowd, these are the evolution of e*thirteen's original TRS Race carbon wheels that we reviewed back in 2016
Compared to those wheels, the TRSr SLs are lighter, a little wider, less expensive, and, according to e*thirteen, twice as strong when it comes to impact resistance. I do wish e*thirteen had gone with a name that rolled off the tongue a little easier, instead of something that looks like I fell asleep with my head on the keyboard, but that's a different topic.
e*thirteen TRSr SL Wheelset
• Intended use: trail / all-mountain
• Carbon fiber rims
• Sizes: 29", 27.5"
• Internal width: 28mm
• SL aluminum hubs
• 28 spokes
• Weight: 1700 grams (actual, 29"); 27.5": 1650 grams
• Lifetime warranty
• MSRP: $1499 USD
The 29” version is tested here, but there's also a 27.5” option, along with hub choices for Boost and non-Boost frames. MSRP is $1,499 UDS, and includes a lifetime warranty for the rims.
The hookless rims have an internal width of 28mm
Matchy matchy... Well, almost. The dirt stains have turned the wheel decals a slightly different color than the tire's sidewall. Good thing e*thirteen have replacement decals in a range of colors for freshening things up.
The carbon rims used on the TRSr SL have an internal width of 28mm, a number that, according to e*thirteen, works best with tire widths between 2.1” – 2.4”. If anything, I'd say that's on the conservative side – I ran 2.5” tires for a portion of the test period without any issues. The rim sidewalls are hookless and measure 2.5mm thick, which is .5mm narrower than the previous version. It's that improved layup process that e*thirteen credit with improving the rim's impact resistance.
e*thirteen's valve cap doubles as a valve core wrench.
TRSr SL Hubs
The TRSr SL hubs are a departure from e*thirteen's previous design, which used a carbon tube bonded to tall aluminum flanges. With the new version, the hub flange is now constructed entirely from 7075 aluminum. The freehub mechanism design remains the same, with three double-toothed pawls that engage with the 60 teeth in the hub shell to create a quick 6-degrees between engagement points.
Each wheel has 28 j-bend spokes laced up in a three-cross pattern, and no proprietary spoke wrench or tire removal is needed to true a wheel.
After seven months of use the hub internals were still well greased and operating smoothly.
Three double-toothed pawls mesh with the 60 teeth of the drive ring to create 6-degrees between engagement points.
I've had a variety of tires installed on the TRSr SL wheels over the last seven months, including a Maxxis Griffin, Specialized Butcher, and e*thirteen's new LG1 tires, and haven't run into any issues getting them set up tubeless. That's become a fairly standard line when it comes to wheels these days, which is a good thing – the less time I need to spend shaking, spinning, and swearing at a wheel while it oozes sealant everywhere the better. The wheels come pre-taped, and include e*thirteen's own tubeless stems that have a clever valve cap that doubles as a valve core wrench.
Out on the trail, the TRSr SL wheels delivered a very smooth ride, free of any unwanted harshness. They're stiff and strong enough to handle rough trails and hard riding (a portion of my time on the was spent the Whistler Bike Park, and they still emerged unscathed), but they have a way of absorbing the small bumps that makes them extremely comfortable, especially on longer rides.
The rear wheel has been in the truing stand a few times to get rid of some minor wobbles, but in each case it only took a few minutes with the spoke wrench to get them spinning straight again. After all those months of mud and dust both hubs are spinning smoothly, and there isn't any side-to-side play on either wheel. e*thirteen did have some reports of unwanted rear hub drag in wet conditions, and have since updated a seal to address that issue, but that didn't occur on my test wheels.
How Do They Compare?
e*thirteen's TRSr SL wheels weight 1700 grams and retail for $1,499, while Race Face's Next R wheels weigh 1750 grams and go for $1,500.
Race Face's Next R wheels retail for $1,500 USD and weigh in at 1750 grams, which makes them a prime contender to go head to head against the TRS Race SL wheels. Both wheels have hookless carbon rims and hubs with over-sized flanges, but there are noticeable differences in how they feel out on the trail. Stiffness:
Stiffness isn't everything, but this point goes to Race Face. The Next R's feel more precise, with a crisper on-trail feel than the more muted sensation the TRSr SL's deliver. The Next R's will suit riders looking for a stiff, snappy feeling, the characteristics traditionally associated with carbon wheels, while riders looking for more comfort will likely prefer the way the TRSr SL wheels take the edge off small bumps and chattery sections of trail. It's worth mentioning that e*thirteen's TRSr wheels, which have an internal width of 31mm, are said to be stiffer than the Race SL, but they do weigh a little more, at 1810 grams. Hub engagement:
The Vault hub used on the Next R wheels has six pawls and 3-degrees between engagement points, while e*thirteen's hub has 3-pawls and 6-degrees between engagement points. I haven't had any durability issues with either hub, and that 3-degree engagement difference isn't drastic, but I'm going to say that this one goes to Race Face as well. Weight:
The TRSr SL wheels are lighter than the Next R wheels by 50 grams, although they're also a bit narrower, measuring 28mm internally versus 31mm internally, which I'd say makes this category a draw.Warranty:
With so many carbon wheels on the market, this factor is becoming more of a selling point. After all, if you're spending that much money on a set of wheels, it's nice to know that you're covered if shit hits the fan (or you hit a sharp, pointy rock). Race Face offers a two year, no-questions-asked guarantee that even covers non-riding damage; for instance, accidentally backing over your fancy new wheels in the trailhead parking lot.
e*thirteen's warranty goes a step further - they've had so few issues with their rims that they're now offering a lifetime warranty. If a rim breaks during the first year of use they'll send out a complete new wheel and call tag to return the wheel with the failed rim. After that, if a rim fails they'll send out a replacement rim with a call tag for the old one. Either way, it's nice to have that extra peace of mind when you're pinballing through a scree field. Pinkbike's Take