Race Face have had carbon bars and cranks in their lineup for years, but the Next R wheeleset is the Canadian company's first foray into the world of carbon rims. Of course, they weren't exactly starting from scratch – with access to sister-company Easton's technical know-how they had a strong base to work from. The result is a set of wheels that are built to rally (that's what the 'R' stands for), whether that's at an enduro race halfway around the world, or ripping around on your backyard trails.
Next R Details
• Intended use: trail / all-mountain / enduro
• Carbon rims / Race Face Vault hubs
• 29" and 27.5" options
• Boost and non-Boost spacing available
• Weight (29" Boost): 1750 grams; front: 820g, rear: 930g.
• MSRP: $1500 USD
The carbon rims measure 31mm wide internally, and have a depth of 24mm, with 28 spokes per wheel laced in a 3-cross pattern to Race Face's own Vault hubs. The rear hub uses 6 offset pawls in conjunction with a 60-tooth drive ring, creating a quick 3-degrees between engagement points. Our 29” wheelset weighed in at 1750 grams, and there's also a 27.5” option that's claimed to weigh 1680 grams. The price? $1,500 USD.
Race Face realizes that carbon wheels are an investment, which is why they're backing the Next R wheelset (including the bearings) with a two year, no-questions-asked guarantee. That means you're covered whether you were just riding along, cased a massive gap, or forgot that you left your front wheel sitting behind your car when you drove away from the trailhead.
The rims come pre-taped and with valve stems installed for no-fuss tubeless tire setup.
The shape of a carbon rim can have a dramatic impact on how if feels out on the trail, which is why Race Face experimented with several different rim profiles before settling on the Next R's final dimensions. They wanted to avoid having them feel wooden or overly harsh, while also maintaining enough impact resistance to keep them rolling strong through rough terrain.
The resulting rim measures 24mm deep, with an internal width of 31mm and an external width of 37mm. The spoke holes are offset by 4.5mm, which helps even out the tension between the drive- and non-driveside spokes.
The Vault hubs' oversized aluminum shell give them a distinctive look, and also allows for the use of shorter spokes.
The Next R wheelset uses the same Vault hubs found on the aluminum Turbine wheelset we reviewed last year
, with an oversized aluminum body that makes them stand out from the crowd. That large shell isn't just for show – it allows the wheel to be built with shorter spokes, which should help create a stiffer wheel. The increased driveside flange diameter is also said to increase torsional stiffness, a factor that's become even more important now that cassettes are approaching the size of dinner plates.
The hub's design also makes it possible to use the same size spoke on both sides, front and rear, increasing the chances that a shop will have a spare in stock. Five extra spokes are also included with the wheelset, just in case.
Inside the rear hub are six pawls, each resting on their own little leaf spring and housed in the hub body. Those pawls are offset into two groups of three, which means that engage with the 60-tooth driver body every 3-degrees. The rear wheel rolls on four sealed 6902 cartridge bearings, and the front wheel uses two 6805 bearins, which are both common sizes that shouldn't be hard to locate should they need to be replaced.
Six spring-loaded pawls sit in the hub shell, where they engage with the 60-tooth drive ring.
At this point, I've installed multiple sets of tires on the Next R wheels, and all of them have mounted up without any issues. I even installed a CushCore tire insert for a portion of the test period, a task that's much more time consuming than a regular tire install, but even that process went smoothly. The rim's center channel doesn't sink down that far, which helps encourage tire beads to move out to the sidewall and pop into place, rather than stubbornly sitting in the middle of the rim. The pressures I ran varied depending on the tire, but they were typically in the neighborhood of 20-23 psi up front, and 23-25 psi in the rear. Performance
When carbon wheels first came out, the hype was all about stiffness. At the time, that made sense – for a variety of reasons, bike frames weren't nearly as stiff as they are today, and a set of carbon wheels could help change a noodly ride into something that felt more precise. But those flexible flyers aren't as common anymore, which means that crazy stiff wheels aren't a requirement to get the most out of a bike. It's also why we're seeing more and more companies working to make their carbon wheels stiff, but not too stiff, as they search for that Goldilocks level of compliance.
Where do the Next R's fit in? They're certainly on the stiffer side of the spectrum, but I never found them to be too
stiff. More than anything, they feel reassuringly solid, and no matter what I hucked into they held strong, without any unwanted flexing (or cracking for that matter). Granted, I'm no Clydesdale, but these wheels have seen some serious use, including multiple days of lift served riding, where they took hits that I'm sure would have put a sizable dent in a set of aluminum wheels. Even after pummeling them through the roots and rocks at the Whistler stop of the Enduro World Series they were still properly tensioned and true; in fact, I haven't had to pick up a spoke wrench yet, which is surprising, and impressive. Of course, these wheels are designed to go uphill too, and I don't have any complaints about their climbing performance. The weight is very reasonable given their intended usage, and that quick engaging hub helped get them up to speed quickly and efficiently.
All of the hub bearings are still spinning smoothly, and there hasn't been any skipping or unwanted noises from the freehub body, no matter how much I mashed on the pedals. Speaking of noise, the Vault hub strikes a nice middle ground as far as the sound it emits during coasting – it's audible but not earsplitting, just enough to let hikers and other riders know you're there, but not enough to drive you nuts on a long ride. Pinkbike's Take