From a distance, Race Face's new Turbine R wheels don't do much to attract a second glance. Devoid of any flashy 'look how much money I spent' logos, the aluminum rims' stealthy flat black finish keeps them flying under the radar. Take a closer look, though, and more details emerge that make it clear these aren't a set of run-of-the-mill wheels. The hubs for instance – they're massive, with a flange diameter that's almost as wide as a beer can, and a quick, 3-degrees between engagement points. The rims aren't anything to scoff at either, with a 30mm internal width and a 4.5mm offset that allows for a zero dish front wheel and an almost-zero dish rear.
Race Face Turbine R Details
• Size: 27.5" (29" option available)
• Intended use: trail, all-mountain
• Internal width: 30mm
• Rim material: 6069 aluminum
• 28 spokes, 3x pattern
• Weight:1730 grams; Front: 810 grams, Rear: 920 grams
• MSRP: $1120 USD
Available in 27.5” and 29” sizes, the Turbine R wheelset retails for $1120 USD (front: $480, rear: $640). Both Boost and non-Boost options are available, along with a variety of front hub end cap options to accommodate different axle dimensions. Our 27.5” wheelset weighed in at 1730 grams, including the pre-installed rim stripes and valves. Vault Hubs
At the heart of the Turbine R wheelset are the new Vault hubs. Race Face chose to go with an oversized aluminum shell in order to increase the lateral stiffness of both wheels (in general, shorter spokes create a stiffer wheel). The increased driveside flange diameter is also said to increase torsional stiffness, a factor that's become even more important given the number of wide range cassettes on the market. This isn't the first time we've seen oversized hub shells used – Chubb / e*thirteen's design uses a carbon shell bonded to aluminum flanges – but the design does stand out among the other less girthy hubs on the market.
All of the bearings in the hub are the same size (6902), a little detail, but one that's always welcome to see when it does come time to install fresh bearings.
Removing the endcaps and pulling off the XD driver (a tool-free process) reveals guts of the Vault hubs: 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 when they engage with the 60-tooth driver body the hubs have a very quick 3-degrees between engagement points. Rims
Rims widths have grown wider over the last few seasons, and these days an internal width of 27-31mm seems to be the sweet spot for running 2.3” - 2.5” tires without adversely affecting the tire profile. The Turbine R rims hit the mark, with a 30mm internal dimension and a 20mm overall height. The rims are constructed from 6069 aluminum, a material that was chosen due to its increased impact resistance over the more commonly used 6061 aluminum.
28 straight pull spokes are laced to the Vault hubs with a three-cross pattern, and due to the offset rim design all of the spokes measure 284mm. That offset rim design puts the spokes 4.5mm closer to the non-drive side, which helps even out the tension difference that typically occurs with a non-offset rim. Five spare spokes are included with the wheels, and if for some reason you managed to wreck a rim, maybe while channeling your inner Josh Bender, Race Face offers replacements for $150. Performance
Getting the Turbine R wheels set up tubeless didn't pose any problems, and I was able to get a 2.5” Maxxis Minion DHF WT and a 2.35” e*thirteen TRSr mounted up without breaking a sweat. A few scoops of sealant and some time with a floor pump was all it took before they were ready to roll.
The wheels that I had on before switching them out for the Turbine R were nearly the same weight, so the swap didn't make it feel as if I was being carried up the trail on the wings of angels or anything quite that drastic. At 1730 grams they're not radically light, but that's still a very reasonable weight for a set of aluminum-rimmed wheels, especially ones aimed at aggressive riders.
While the weight may not have been instantly noticeable, the Vault hubs' quick engagement was. There's virtually no lag when starting from a standstill, and in slow speed technical sections it only takes the slightest amount of backpedaling before the pawls lock into the drive ring. I never experienced any skipping or slipping, and after months of use the area around the pawls is still free of any grit or grime.
Wheel stiffness can be difficult to gauge, especially when you add wide tires into the mix, but the Turbine R wheels certainly aren't flexy noodles. They felt reassuringly solid, and during hard cornering or landing healthy size drops and jumps there wasn't any unwanted flex or unnerving noises, and all the spokes have stayed well tensioned.
The Vault hub's engagement mechanism does seem to cause slightly more drag than other designs. I never noticed it on the trail, but if I gave the wheel a spin it would stop rotating a few seconds sooner than a DT Swiss 240 or a Chris King. I performed this experiment with the brake caliper removed and the same tire on both wheels in order to control the variables as much as possible. I wouldn't say it's a huge deal, but it is a trait worth mentioning.
What about hub noise? Despite having six pawls, the sound of the Vault hubs when freewheeling wasn't as loud as I'd expected. It still has the distinctive buzzing sound of a high engagement hub, but it's slightly muffled, as if the hub were spinning inside of a cardboard box. I'm personally not a huge fan of obnoxiously loud hubs, and for me, the Vault strikes a good middle ground – it's loud enough so that hikers or other riders will hear you, but not so loud that wearing earplugs seems like a good idea. Durability
The Turbine R wheels have seen plenty of hard use, including shuttle laps on trails better suited to a DH bike, and the rims are still true and dent-free. There were certainly a few landings that I was sure would have a least left a ding or a flat spot, but so far, so good. The rims' flat black finish seems to hide scratches well, and there aren't any glaring reminders of close encounters of the geologic kind to be seen.Pinkbike's Take
|It's a combination of features that makes the Turbine R wheelset a solid option for riders in the market for a new set of wheels. Wide, strong rims, a quick engaging hub, easily replaceable spokes, and a competitive weight all add up to a wheelset that should be capable of surviving even the hardest chargers out there. - Mike Kazimer|
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