Review: Reserve 30|HD AL vs Race Face Turbine Wheels

Aug 18, 2023
by Mike Kazimer  
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Reserve 30|HD AL wheels.
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Race Face Turbine wheels.

Reserve 30|HD AL HD Details

• Internal rim width: 30mm
• Rim material: 6069 aluminum
• 32 Sapim spokes, DT Swiss 350 hubs
• Weight (mixed wheel 30|HD): 2036 grams (989 g front / 1047 g rear w/ valves)
• Price: $699 USD / Rim only: $150 USD
• Lifetime warranty
reservewheels.com

Turbine Details

• Internal rim width: 30mm
• Rim material: 6069 aluminum
• 28 spokes, Race Face Vault hubs
• Weight (mixed wheel): 1847 grams ( 850 g front / 997 g rear w/ valves)
• Price: $789 USD
• Lifetime warranty
raceface.com


Lifetime warranties used to be the domain of carbon wheelsets, a perk offered as a way to give prospective buyers incentive to pony up the extra cash that going the carbon route requires. Now, that same benefit is starting to trickle down to aluminum wheels. This season, we saw Reserve kick things off with their new 30|HD AL wheelset, and Race Face followed suit two months later with the new Turbine wheels.

Both wheelsets are in a similar price bracket, and they're both aimed at the trail / enduro crowd, so a proper head-to-head comparison seemed appropriate. We'll start with the basic stats, and then dig into the performance out on the trail in order to see which option rises to the top.


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The Reserve rims have a 30mm inner width...
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The Turbine rims also have a 30mm inner width, although a different profile is used for the front and rear wheels.

Rim Design

The Turbine and Reserve 30 AL wheelsets both have a 30mm internal width, a number that's become the norm over the last five years, and it allows them to play well with tires between 2.3 – 2.6” wide. I didn't experience any issues getting tires seated and sealed on either wheelset, and the fact that the rims aren’t carbon makes me feel a little less guilty if I do end up needing to go hard with a tire lever.

The Fillmore tubeless valves on the Reserve wheels work especially well, moving a ton of air quickly, and it's great to see them included considering they retail for $50 a set on their own.

Both wheelsets have an asymmetric rim profile, a feature that allows for a better spoke bracing angle and more even spoke tension, although Race Face goes a step further and uses a different rim shape for the front and rear wheel. The same rim is used for both Reserve wheels, it's just that the orientation is flipped from front to back.

The front Turbine rim has profile that's 18 millimeters high, a design that's intended to give it more compliance than the 20 millimeter tall rear rim. Both of those numbers are lower than the Reserves, which measure 22 millimeters tall.

The Reserve wheels use 32 J-bend Sapim spokes, while the Turbines use 28 straight pull spokes. Straight pull spokes can be a little trickier to source in a pinch, but Race Face does include 5 spares with each wheelset.

Based on the stats alone there's not a clear winner in this category. Personally, I prefer J-bend spokes to straight pull, but those spares that Race Face includes make that even less of a quibble.

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On the Reserve 30 wheels the DT Swiss 350 hubs come with the 36-tooth star ratchet rings.
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The Vault hub found on the Turbine wheels uses a 60-tooth ratchet ring that rotates against 6 pawls housed in the hub shell.

Hub Design / Engagement

The Reserve 30 HD AL wheels I tested are laced to DT Swiss 350 hubs that use a 36-tooth ratchet ring to achieve 10-degrees between engagement points.

Race Face manufactures their own Vault hubs, which have a quicker engagement of 3-degrees thanks to a 6-pawl design and a 60-tooth ratchet ring on the freehub body.

I'm not one to get hung up on having the absolute fastest engaging hub possible, especially since I've found it's not something I think about once I'm a few hundred yards down the trail. Still, for riders with that higher up their priority list the Vault hubs take the point here.


Weight & Price:

Reserve: 2036 grams (989 g front / 1047 rear) / $699 USD
Turbine: 1847 grams (850 g front / 997 rear) / Price: $789 USD

I tested the mixed-wheel version of both wheels, and on my scale the Turbine wheelset was 189 grams (.4 lb) lighter than the Reserve wheels. The Turbines are also $90 more, which is typically the way it goes – the less something weighs the more it costs, at least when it comes to items like wheels and frames.

Overall, the weight of both wheelsets is very reasonable, especially for aluminum enduro wheels. On the trail, I didn't notice the weight difference when going from one wheelset to the other. It's not that .4 lb isn't worth keeping in mind, it just that it's not a significant enough number to noticeably affect the handling.

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Ding. There are a couple of smaller dents on the Reserve wheels, likely delivered by the Whistler Bike Park.

Durability

Both wheels saw their fair share of wet rides earlier in the season, and lately they've been subjected to dust, dust, and more dust. All of the bearings are spinning smoothly, and doing a quick clean and re-grease is very simple for both wheelsets – no tools are required to pull off the freehub body to access the racheting mechanisms.

As for the rims themselves, the Reserve rear rim has picked up a few dents, although none of them are large enough to really worry about, and the tire is still securely seated. The Whistler Bike Park is hard on equipment, especially when the trails are running at full speed.

The Turbine rims are unscathed so far, and are still looking fresh aside from some scuffs here and there. While the dents on the Reserves are worth noting, I wouldn't necessarily take this to mean that the Turbine rims are more durable – my ride time on the wheels is similar, but the rides themselves haven't been exactly identical.


Warranties

Both wheels have very generous warranties that go beyond the typical coverage against manufacturing defects.

Turbine:
• If you crash and destroy a wheel, the warranty applies
• If you dent or flat spot your Turbine rim and your tire no longer holds air, the warranty applies
• If you dent or flat spot your Turbine rim and your tire still holds air, the warranty does not apply. Keep riding!
• Seam separation and/or cracks at the spoke hole, the warranty applies
• Hub wear such as bearings or freewheels are covered by Race Face's 2-year Limited Warranty

Reserve:
• Lifetime warranty for original owner
• Crash replacement rim or wheel cost at 50% of retail cost
• Ship out complete wheels as first option, rims and service credit as second option

Detail on Issues
• Dented rim, no paint chipping, holding air: crash replacement
• Dented rim, paint chipping, holding or not holding air: warranty
• Dented rim, not holding air: warranty
• Seam separation: warranty
• Crack at spoke hole: warranty

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photo

Ride Performance

That's enough comparing points of engagement and spokes sizes – how do the damn things compare on the trail? To find out, I mounted both wheelsets with Continental Kryptotal tires, inflated the front to 21 psi and the rear to 23 psi and headed to the Whistler Bike Park for a round of back-to-back testing.

I consider myself fairly well in tune with what a bike and its associated components are doing underneath me, but I wouldn't claim to be able to tell the difference between an extra scoop of tire sealant in one wheel, or a quarter turn less spoke tension on another – it takes something more substantial for me to pick up on it, and that turned out to be the case with these two wheelsets.

After switching from the Reserve wheels to the Turbines and heading out to do the same lap, a mix of tighter turns with some chunkier sections followed by a higher speed berm and jump filled trail, the Turbines clearly felt more forgiving. They were also noisier too, but I'll explain that more in a minute.

The most compliant wheels I've tried in recent memory are the 3Zero Moto carbon wheels. Those wheels had enough give to them that they could feel vague at times, especially in a bike park setting. The Turbine wheels aren't that dramatically compliant, and they held up well to multiple berm blasting runs on A-line without any unnerving squirminess. That said, the Reserve wheels felt more solid, especially when hitting corners at high speeds, or landing into a chunky section of trail.

I was able to get used to the handling of both wheelsets quickly, and didn't experience any undue harshness from either set, but the Reserves are noticeably stiffer, and I didn't find myself thinking about them as much as the Turbines. They just roll along and do their job like good aluminum wheels should.

The Turbines rolled well and tracked well, but they also had a tendency to make noise, a resonant 'twang' when loaded up into steep turns, or if an errant trailside branch happened to contact them. The oversized hub shell and shorter spokes seem like the likely culprit here, creating an echo chamber of sorts. I'd put myself on the more sensitive side of the spectrum when it comes to noise (my big ears hear a lot), so some riders might not be as fussed by this trait, but its worth a mention.



Pinkbike's Take

bigquotesIf I'd narrowed my list of options down to these two wheelsets which one would I choose? Personally, I'd go with the Reserves. They were quieter and had a reassuringly solid feel without being harsh; those traits combined with the reliability of the DT Swiss 350 hub, the added bonus of the Fillmore valve stems, and the lower price makes them my pick.

At the end of the day, both wheels are great options in this category, especially considering the lifetime warranties. If quicker engagement and a lighter weight were higher on my priority list I would have gone with the Turbines, but as it is the overall ride feel of the Reserve HD AL wheels won me over.
Mike Kazimer


Author Info:
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Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,743 articles

170 Comments
  • 343 2
 Really like the comparative reviews. Hope to see more of them
  • 31 6
 ^100% Pinkers click upvote here! One thing Kaz missed mentioning in this comparison tho: the source of the loud "pings" when he loads those RF wheels in corners is not spoke length, it is the straight-pull spoke heads unloading, rocking, & creaking in those large, resonant straight-pull hubshells! For those who don't want constant noise from their wheels, this is a bigger "Con" against straight-pull wheelsets than sourcing replacement spokes!
  • 13 0
 @powturn: the biggest con I've found with straight pull (with non-bladed spokes) is truing/tensioning wheel. Very frustrating to have to use locking pliers for what should be a simple quick maintenance thing.
As far as testing your theory about the noise, put a small drop of light lube on the spoke head to see if it removes or reduces noise, that seemed to be the trick with some Mavic's I had ran in the past
  • 9 7
 @artistformlyknowasdan: Not only do straight-pull spokes spin when truing, but the "twang" sound Kaz reports is the sound of your spoke tension changing so you get to true them more often! Ultralight straightpull hubs make sense in the world of XC World Cup where every single gram saved boosts PTW, and there is a factory mechanic waiting to retrue wheels and take absurd measures like oiling spokeheads after every race. For those who do not have a factory ride that includes a full-time personal mechanic, run, do not walk, away from straightpull, low-spoke-count wheels & vote with your dollars for companies sensibly producing 32-spoke J-Bend designs that will quietly go the distance.
  • 7 1
 @artistformlyknowasdan: I'm a big fan of straight pull spokes, as it's easy easier to replace a broken one, without having to remove the cassette or disc (especially CL). And just seconds to remove a broken one on a ride rather than hoping you can hold it in place round another one or relying on zip ties. However, I'm only a fan if the spokes are bladed, so they're easy to hold straight. Round straight pull, no thanks.
  • 3 1
 The reserve rims are due for warranty under the terms in this instance. I have a reserve alloy on a Chris King hub on the rear and a Zipp Moto 3 on a Hope front. Its a great wheelset. For me the best hub sound, crazy front end grip and the warranty on both is great. £120 for the rear rim with lifetime warranty, considering I trash a rear rim on average every 6-12 months is great. Last rim I ever need to buy Smile
  • 6 2
 @powturn: "it is the straight-pull spoke heads unloading, rocking, & creaking in those large, resonant straight-pull hubshells”

Concerning the alleged resonance, the hubs containing only a very small volume of air vs rim / tire, if there is resonance it will be at this level. Hubs have nothing to do with it.
The twang perceived by kaz is due to the movement of the spokes against each other at their crossings. it has nothing to do with the potential unloading of spoke heads on straight pull hubs which is an urban legend.
A pullout of the heads could happen in the case of very unbalanced spoke tensions or untensioned spokes, which would instantly result in a donut wheel...
Which could happen to any wheel in this case since the spoke nipples are not fixed to the rim either and only the tension of the spokes keeps them in place… Moreover, even if jbend spokes cannot turn on themselves at the hubs, their head is not fixed to the hubs and can also move slightly. Anyone who has ever dismantled an “industrial” wheelset with j-bend hubs will have noticed the slight wear area at the eyelet and at the spoke/hub contact on the flange, which shows the slight movement of the j-bend spokes relative to the hub.
The only two things that can actually be criticized about straightpull wheels are:
1. difficulty in re-truing them in the case of very loose wheels or at the start of assembly. As soon as tension is sufficient, friction at the spoke head/hub contact becomes such that you can true them without a clamp.
2. spokes length taller than j-bend wheels and the more open angle between hubs/spokes making them potentially more flexible
Straight pull assemblies have a mechanical advantage over the j-pull because the spoke tension is perfectly distributed and exerted at the hub, not partially distributed on the hub flange, which reduces the risk of the spoke head breaking and improves the tension distribution across the entire wheel. This also allows you to build wheels with greater tension if you choose the right spokes and rims (tensile strenght vs. elasticity, c.f. use of alloy spokes in high-end straightpull wheels).
It is true that straightpull wheels do not tolerate mediocrity and even less an industrial assembly with unequal tensions, poor quality spokes (high elasticity steel), etc…
In the case of Kaz, this phenomenon is aggravated by the fact that the wheels are 28 spokes vs 32, (which explains about 50 g of the weight gain vs the reserves). Low spoke tension or bad tension balance explains the more "compliant" feel of the wheel and the noises heard.
In general – and even more so with a straight-pull wheel – you have to check spokes tensions from the first serious ride, tighten and balance if necessary. The more tensioned and balanced a wheel is, the more rigid and responsive it will be.
A quality straightpull WS, even with 28 spokes, is at least as durable as a j-pull WS. There's a reason I9 offers this setup on their high end wheels, and j-pull setups on their low end/industrial wheels...
As of durability, Sam Hill achieved all his EWS successes on straight pull mavic wheelset, which is a testament to them given the beating the same pair of wheel takes on 2 days.
SP Mavic’s Deemax is the most titred wheelset ever on the whole WC DH.
  • 2 1
 @powturn: yes. source: built a 28h SP wheelset as a big boy rider and f*cking hate my life
  • 61 17
 Still just gonna get WAO's...
  • 9 1
 Unless you live outside North America. I'd love them as an option, but not possible here.
  • 19 1
 Country flag checks out.
  • 34 0
 @slumgullion: Could be an imposter... Only one way to find out.

@gabrielastin: Decipher this sentence. Pass me a serviette, I spilled my poutine on the chesterfield....
  • 1 0
 Exactly.
  • 1 0
 @jomacba:

LOLLLLL... I was like, I don't get it... why wouldn't he be eating his poutine at the table... then I realized I might be transplanted, but I'm still Canadian!
  • 5 0
 @bhuckley: This is definitely a regional thing. Only Prarie folk and newfies eat at the table. But usually only supper...
The real question is where do you eat if coronation Street is on?
  • 3 0
 You'll still need a spare wheelset for when they crack.
  • 6 1
 I’m sure this opinion won’t land well here, but my experience with my WAO wheelset and my Reynolds wheelset (WAO rim broke on a rock strike, ratchet ring on Reynolds hub stripped), it would be Reynolds I will buy the second time.

Both have a great warranty, but with WAO I was charged outgoing shipping (makes sense), for new spokes, labor, and return shipping. It cost hundreds of dollars to replace a rim. With Reynolds, I paid outgoing shipping and had a new wheel 7 days later. It cost less than $40.
  • 5 3
 @Hayek: I think your opinion based off your experience is subjective and should ultimately suit yourself and your needs. I for one am a huge fan of Reserve. You buy a set of wheels, and uou never spend a dime again. I had a set of reserve DH. (My dumbest sold them). I cracked a rim. Not only did SC start with am apology, I had a brand new wheel in the mail the same day, and it cost me absolutely nothing. Add in the fact the ride quality of the wheels in my opinion is a perfect balance of stiffness, compliance, and stability. Raced on those wheels for 3 seasons, had one minor hairline Crack on the outside layer of carbon, and the whole experience was 100% hassle free.
  • 4 1
 @Hayek: I really like WAO wheels and the built in North America thing but after breaking a few wheels, it does still cost a fair bit of money when you break a wheel. The warranty on the Reserve wheels is much better.
  • 13 0
 DT Swiss 350 hubs, 32 spokes, and aluminum rims are a win in my book. Why manufacturer's go with 28 spokes is beyond me as the smallest percentage of riders "need" the weight savings of four less spokes over the durability of four more.
  • 4 0
 I thought fewer spokes in the front (and the lower front rim) was to allow for more front wheel deformation hence better front wheel traction. At least, according to the explanation of other brands which do the same (Crankbrothers Synthesis wheels come to mind). I was actually curious whether the reviewer noticed any of this, but so far it was merely that the Reserve wheels were a little harsher. But more front wheel traction would be a selling point for me. More so than the weight saving of fewer spokes.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: I have a set of Dt 541s laced to 350 hubs, 28h front and 32h rear. The front wheel feels good, but I'd have to ride it back to back against the same rim-hub in a 32h configuration to see if I'd even notice a difference. Sometimes the front wheel gets out of true though, and I have to check the tension because some of the spokes got loose (I weigh about 75 kgs with my riding gear)
  • 12 0
 My only issue with these warranties is the holding air vs not holding air thing. I run heavy inserts, so when I bend a rim, the entire cross-section bends. It still holds air, but it has a good hop and you'll never get it evenly tensioned unless you allow 3+mm of radial runout. I know it's hard to define what qualifies vs what doesn't, though. I suppose that's one perk to carbon wheels; if it's broken, it's broken.
  • 7 0
 Yeah the holding air thing is funny. I've ruined plenty of rims that will still hold air
  • 1 0
 Exactly. I just binned a dt541 coz tge exact same isse you described here. The rimbed got dented, the rim body "burped", but the flange was kinda okay.
  • 4 1
 The Reserves are painted, not anodized, so the paint will crack/chip (=warranty) with any significant bend.
  • 1 2
 Turbine:
• If you crash and destroy a wheel, the warranty applies
• If you dent or flat spot your Turbine rim and your tire no longer holds air, the warranty applies
• If you dent or flat spot your Turbine rim and your tire still holds air, the warranty does not apply. Keep riding and crash and destroy a wheel, the warranty applies!
• Seam separation and/or cracks at the spoke hole, the warranty applies
• Hub wear such as bearings or freewheels are covered by Race Face's 2-year Limited Warranty
  • 4 0
 @Bro-LanDog: I cracked a Nobl rim all the way through, huge kink, and the sealant was like, nope I got you.
  • 2 0
 @spankthewan: @ReserveWheels are your AL rims painted? I would think they'd be anodized, but hey what do it know
  • 10 1
 take it out back and finish the job
  • 8 0
 I like the way Neko Mulally describes his choice to run carbon wheels for the first few years of the frameworks project- carbon is either broken or not, alu rims live the majority of their lives somewhere in between
  • 4 1
 So, stop running an insert.
  • 1 1
 its also unclear if the send you out a complete, fully built wheel vs just the rim and you still gonna have to get it relaced and trued
  • 6 0
 If it holds air but is unridable, I'd probably just artiicially help it along so that it stops holding air.
  • 2 0
 @blcpdx: My Reserve HD AL rims are painted.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer - maybe you could clarify this question? Are the Reserve wheels really painted? If not and they are anodized like most alloy wheels; what's up with that warranty wording??
  • 4 0
 @ckcost: the rims are painted. The wording is like that to avoid having to warranty a simple flat spot/dent, but still support you if you majorly dent it but it still holds air. Basically if you dent them really bad, the paint will chip and you can get covered for warranty.
  • 1 0
 @gearbo-x: Earlier this summer my turbine from 2020 (predated this warranty) cracked at a spoke, I sent some pictures and RF sent me a full wheel in about a week. I'm still amazed by the whole experience.
  • 1 0
 @az-shredder3: did they warranty it?
  • 13 0
 Did you check spoke tensions before / after?

I had set of wheels that were noisy... low and behold, spoke tension was low. Tighten them up to typical (100-120 kgf) and they're silent again.
  • 1 0
 Race face does not interlace spokes. Easton used to tune the spoke tension by it's sound, so probably race face do the same.
  • 14 3
 How can they afford to do this? Either these are incredibly overpriced so they can afford multiple wheel replacements or they're going to be denying claims left and right.
  • 4 49
flag gabrielastin (Aug 18, 2023 at 8:10) (Below Threshold)
 They're warrantied against manufacturing defects. They wont replace your rim for casing harder than Robert Kardashian...
  • 20 1
 @gabrielastin: Actually, they're both warrantied if the rim is destroyed while riding.
  • 3 0
 @gabrielastin: they will replace if you case. See the warranty details. Pretty much if it isn’t t holding air, it’s covered.
  • 4 0
 This is specifically for aluminum rims from SC:

The lifetime warranty is for the original owner. We ship out complete wheels as a first option, with rims and a service credit provided as a second options. Crash replacements for either a rim or wheel are provided at a reduced price from retail costs.

Dented rim, no paint chipping, holding air: crash replacement
Dented rim, paint chipping, holding or not holding air: warranty
Dented rim, not holding air: warranty
Seam separation: warranty
Crack at spoke hole: warranty
  • 12 0
 Because rims are probably running them like $35 plus shipping from overseas, and the hubs they'll be able to service and re-sell or build a new wheelset with.
  • 57 6
 Warranties are marketing tools designed to not be used because a majority of clientele ride their bikes to the local craft brewery more than any significant terrain
  • 3 17
flag tomo12377 FL (Aug 18, 2023 at 9:06) (Below Threshold)
 @Bro-LanDog: so true, all warranties pretty much for original owner - most riders are on a new bike every 12months or less
  • 6 0
 my guess after reading this is they are banking on rims lasting fairly long in the purgatory of "dented enough to not be good, but somehow still holds air", where they'll deny your claim until it doesn't hold air. In my experience, this damn-near-dead state of an alu rim can actually last pretty long
  • 4 0
 @IsaacWislon82: I think you're probably right. I have had some incredibly messed up aluminum rims still hold air. Massive flat spots, dozens of dents, etc.
  • 9 0
 @eight-n-burly: actually, rims are a lot cheaper. I'm sure the price has gone up due to manufacturing inflation, but back in 2009 Trek had just come out with a new bontrager rim for their DH bikes. They needed to close out their old ones, so I ended up buying 6-7 430g rims with a wide ID for $6 a pop, which I imagine was pretty close to Trek's cost on it. They were soft as cheese and I went through all of them in the space of a summer, but I was riding pretty hard at the time and at 6 bucks a pop, it was well worth it. To this day I consider it the best bike / bike related purchase I've ever made. Either way, aluminum rims cost very little to make and are sold with a fair amount of markup.

@CobyCobie: This applies to basically every warranty in the bike industry, but... Make a warranty that only apply to the original owner. Calculate average length of time people own the wheelset/product (generally by tying it to length of time they'll own the bike). Calculate the average number of repairs (that would fall under whatever you define the warranty as) that a wheelset will undergo in that time frame. Calculate the net cost of those repairs. Incorporate that cost across the number of wheelsets you expect to sell. Add a little bit extra to give yourself some wiggle room in case something goes sideways. From there, you land on a wheelset that retails for around $700, that costs you (over the course of its lifespan) somewhere between $230-280 depending on what your margins are and what margins you're giving intermediaries like distributors/OEMS/shops to work with.

And generally, you want to pick high quality products to do this with (obviously). A cheap 200-300 wheelset that's gonna explode multiple times a year for some riders is gonna cost way more to have a lifetime warranty for. But if you pick something to do this with that has a 3-4% failure rate, its not so difficult.
  • 2 1
 @William42: Yeah, I guess that makes some sense. $700 is a lot of money for a wheelset.

I tend to hold onto stuff for a pretty long time and I can easily see myself needing to make at least 1 claim a season.
  • 5 0
 @tomo12377: what fantasy world are you living in
  • 1 9
flag tomo12377 FL (Aug 18, 2023 at 12:01) (Below Threshold)
 @BeerGuzlinFool: I avg 4 bikes a year and just look at the buy/sell section on here and ebay. I think loads chase the magic equipment pill
  • 10 0
 @tomo12377: 4 bikes a year.. wtf is wrong with you. Sounds like you have a real problem or are full of sh!t.
  • 5 2
 @BeerGuzlinFool: I think my wife would agree a serious problem haha
  • 3 0
 @gabrielastin: tell us you didn't read the article and skipped right to the comment section, without telling us you didn't read the article and skipped right to the comment section.
  • 1 1
 @Rmcfarland: SC is for Shore-Carbon wheels or Santa-Cruz ?
  • 1 4
 @tomo12377: why does everyone have itchy downvote fingers?
  • 7 1
 People talk about aluminum rims being compliant but has any manufacturer or others actually measured how much a rim actually moves? I would think any measurable compliance would mean spokes losing enough tension that you’d need threadlock on the nipples or you’ll be truing wheels often. How much confirmation bias comes into play here?
  • 7 1
 This.

I was just discussing how little science is applied to mountain biking compared to my other sport of sailboat racing. That is pure fact and science (at least if you're actually fast) and in the mtb world it's all 'feeling'.
Are there any significant differences a rider would feel regarding compliance that are empirically measurable?
  • 11 0
 @BarryWalstead: back when there were no mountain bikes road riders were convinced certain spoke patterns or tied and soldered crossings led to a laterally stiffer wheel. I think it was Jobst Brandt (I may be wrong) who actually built a jig and tested the lateral compliance. His results showed a very tiny difference that he thought was undetectable by a rider. Radial smoking was said to give a harsh ride but Jobst calculated that at .003 mm.

I can see how an aluminum rim might be more compliant but having ridden very light aluminum rims as well as early ENVE rims that were said to be harsh, I couldn’t tell the difference. I could feel the added width being better for better cushion, and the tighter spokes allowed by the stronger rim sprinted different. I could definitely tell that my spoke wrenches were getting dusty from not needing them much.

Being 65 years old and having ridden mountainbikes since 1983, I’ve seen all kinds of unbacked claims so I’m a bit cynical in my old age.
  • 4 0
 @Someoldfart: exactly.

I'm alwjust curious if after the big old hunks of rubber holding pressurized air if these things can be felt except at the extremes.
Really just a simple force jig with a runout gauge would suffice.
Come on technical editors!
@mattbeer @seb-stott @mikekazimer
  • 4 0
 Yes definitely, probably most top end brands do too these days. If its not in house they have all the machines in Taiwan to run tests. I've used a laser system that reads out deflection during a test cycle, its really accurate and will give you a nice graph at the end. If the rim flexes too much the system will shut down, which can all be set before you start. You can also mount the wheel and hang weights if you want to measure while the wheel is static. A good wheel build with secure lock nipples and balanced tension can flex a lot and go through some good speed bump tests, then still measure perfectly. Its pretty awesome actually! Some bicycle brands even do drop tests on rims before spec'ing OE wheels.
  • 1 0
 I have no hard data, but one thing I can say for sure is that my carbon wheels don’t come out of true nearly as often as any aluminum wheels I’ve used before. My experience in the shop has also been that carbon seatposts are more likely to slip than an aluminum post, which I think rules out friction at the nipple/rim interface as an explanation. I have to assume rim compliance is the reason.

I don’t think it’s a stretch that some really tuned in riders could tell the difference ( though I’m not one of them). Assuming only the most perceptive 2% of riders can actually tell, that’s still about 800,000 riders in the US alone (40mil estimated on the IMBA site). Good reviewers should be in this cohort, and it’s more than enough to fill up the pinkbike comments.

I think there’s probably also a much larger number of people who are also gonna spout whatever marketing stuff they hear, because placebo effect x confirmation bias.
  • 1 1
 @kevinjordans: it’s to do with fabrication. Carbon hoops are made as hoops and want to stay as hoops. Alu hoops are made as straight sections and then bent in to shape, and spend their entire lives trying to get back to straight again.
  • 1 0
 @kevinjordans: and that seems to be the only factually true party of the carbon wheel storyline. And in my understanding the only valid reason to choose them over alloy.
  • 1 0
 A spank 350 is a noticably soft wheel that I cannot keep spokes in for that reason. There are differences, but a lot of feeling is subjective without a doubt.
  • 6 0
 My Reserve 30 HD ALs are only ~100g more than my WAO Unions with Hydras. I love both wheelsets, and the stiffness of the Reserves isn't far off the Unions. They're incredible value for what you get.
  • 10 1
 The raceface wheels are definitely the play here if you're going for weight savings. $90 for 200g of savings is legit
  • 9 0
 @bonafidebikes: Also, us smaller, lightweight riders do not need stiff wheels. We need compliant wheels.
  • 7 0
 @Offrhodes: Great point. The range of load cases (rider weight, strength, riding style, etc.) is enormous, relative to the range of components readily available. Int the context of this wheel review, the choices for a given internal rim width might vary from the median value by ±8% in weight, strength, and stiffness, while the loads might be +200% to -65%, or something along those lines.

Riders at the high end of the load range notice this as their equipment flexes and fails, but riders at the low end typically have little awareness of how overbuilt and overweight their equipment is for their needs.
  • 4 0
 I have 3 sets of Turbines. 2 alloy 1 carbon. When on sale, can get them pretty reasonably. The carbons has to have over 1K miles on them by now, with trips to Moab and Sedona under them. Gotta say, I am pretty impressed with them. While I am not heavy, nor launch huge gaps, but plenty of rock gardens and poor line choices. Rims have held up very well. And for a machine built wheel, only 1 of the alloys required some truing and the rest has held up pretty straight and true. Hubs have been pretty good as well and not too loud. I like the quick engagement, helps with tech climbs. One of the rears, I had to replace the bearings due to too much water exposure. I would Turbines again.
  • 2 0
 Love to hear it!
  • 4 0
 Would like to see a comparison with the reserve sl al wheels. Lighter and with the same warranty. Don’t see a reason not to go with them - certainly for the mud and loam where I usually ride.
  • 1 0
 Exactly my thoughts with the SL's paired with kryptotals on my Smuggler. It's a win so far.
  • 7 3
 Great to see lifetime warranties. 28 hole, being up against a DT hub, AND being more expensive, the Racefaces are a non starter for me.
  • 3 1
 Lets just say theoretically you snapped your hunt hub axle in half. does that count against the warranty for a new wheel? In the eyes of hunt they just send you a new axle and hope you have the bearing press or spend money at a shop. Looking for the best aluminum wheel warranty for a new wheel this winter.
  • 1 0
 Wouldn't you need those tools anyway for your regular hub service? That said, my hubs don't need any special tools. Just a 10mm wooden stick to get the bearings out.
  • 2 0
 Just replaced the rear axle on my Hunt Trailwides...it didn't require any tools.
  • 12 8
 Enjoy your Raceface lifetime warranty because you're going to be using it... a lot.
  • 4 6
 I agree. Any bike which enters our house speced with RF 28 spoke wheels lasts 2-3 rides max. These are usually ARC 30s so I'm not sure how these other ones stack up but I always wonder why a company would put their name on any product which is weak.
  • 5 1
 @Super7: the ARC are tough. The AR are tinfoil. If you’re bending ARC after 2 rides you may want to try beefier tires, more air pressure, or inserts.
  • 1 0
 @Super7: Ive had both and the turbine rims are noticeably tougher than the arc 30s. I expected to go through my turbines pretty quick, too, especially because the flex is noticeable (they came OEM on my e-bike and they're definitely too light for that application, even for me @ 150lbs) but here I am 18 months later and they're fine. Just a couple of dents, and somehow I kinda like the flex. I wouldn't buy them aftermarket, though.
  • 3 0
 That funny... considering I've been running RF wheels on my bikes for YEARS with ZERO problems. And I mean zero.

I've got the NextR wheel set on my chameleon... mullet and 29 set. Stiff. Light. Strong as hell. I had them on my Remedy. Had a few slaps with audible rim to rock contact. No cracks. No spoke issues. No air issues. Stayed true. Easy to bead tires. Hubs were flawless. Etc.

Same goes with my Turbine wheels... they run the same hubs. Literally had zero issues with my wheels. Hell, I've had zero issues with ANY RF product I've owned for quite some time. And I am not light.

Pedals tend to blow out faster than I'd like, but I use them as spares these days anyways. T-Mac's are all I run now.

I've had plenty of experience with the Reserve wheels as well. Great wheel set.

For me it comes down to this...

Weight vs stiffness. I've had no complaints with the stiffness of my RF wheel sets so I'd go that way. But if the Reserve wheels came on a bike I was buying... I wouldn't take them off.

The valves.... those valves are awesome... but you can buy them and put them in the RF wheels... hell I've got some sitting on my desk right now...

I'm always curious what people's experience is when they make comments like this... have they actually had a product fail or are they just regurgitating bs they've heard? When did they have something fail, what was it, how was it handled by RF? ETc.

Just because one of their lower end part failed 10 years ago on you doesn't mean a high end part from today will do the same.

Oh man my VW 2012 Bug was a POS. I had x-y-z warranty issues. Burned through bulbs constantly. Thing had no power.
So that 2025 Audi RS4 must be a POS too....
  • 1 0
 @onemanarmy: 2x yes on NextR w Vault hubs, plus they go beyond warranty support should u break a rim (they sent me a whole new wheel 2yrs into them) and 2yrs later after that i stripped the rotor bolt receivers and they sold me a new wheel at steep discount.
  • 3 2
 @BermJunky: We live in Whistler and everyone we know has the same experience. I understand air pressure, inserts etc... and usually build a dozen wheels per season. Sorry but 28 spoke ARC30s are pretty weak.
  • 4 2
 @Super7: haha nobody cares if you live in Whistler. I know lots of people who ride ARC. I’ve had a few sets and they’re tough.
A dozen wheels per season? Maybe it’s you?
  • 2 2
 @BermJunky: There's no place on earth that consumes bike parts like the Whistler bike park. Add in kids that race Enduro and DH and it's a constant battle to keep bikes going. It's not me. It's our whole community.
  • 1 0
 @BermJunky: Somewhat related apparently some world cup DH teams are using wheels once binning the rims and rebuilding. Seems insane but it's like they've given up trying to find rims that last. Anyway have a good one!
  • 1 0
 @Super7: you too!
  • 6 0
 Oh, wheely?
  • 2 0
 I reserve the right to call out your comment.
  • 1 0
 For warranty what about when the wheels get severely dented and bent, still holds air, but basically impossible to true without crazy uneven spoke tensions and is popping spokes all the time?

That seems to be the failure mode I've experienced with aluminum wheels. My WAO Union/Strife wheelset has been 100% reliable.
  • 1 0
 For me the thing that shouts out id that the reserve doesn't mention anything about hub warranty. The bit I'd consider most important. I know the 350 hubs are really durable but i would like to know more about the hub wardanty. Also the fill more valves I would swap out for the 54t upgrade over the 36t.....
  • 2 0
 So look up the DT Swiss warranty, it's right on their website...
  • 1 0
 Regarding the sound, if those Turbines are like an old set I had, the spokes ring like a bell. It makes for very musical tension checks by ear, but will sound like crazy wind chimes if you insinuate your line through some shrubbery.

I think it’s because they don’t weave the third cross under, so the spokes don’t touch each other.
  • 1 0
 You found a path? Between some shrubbery?
  • 1 0
 @vinay: one was slightly higher
  • 1 0
 The new DT350 hub is missing a radius on both sides of each flange. I could see it in the pic. My new hub looks the same. I have a 2018 hub and it has a full radius. The sharper edge seems to dig into the spoke. No broken spokes yet. Worries me a bit.
I’ll still get the reserves for my next set.
  • 1 0
 I was about to buy reserve al wheelset but those are not available and there is no info about when they are in stock again. So I decided to order Dt swiss fr541 wheel instead. Rear wheel built with 350 /18t/ 32 hubs, sapim race spokes and brass nipples was 312 euros including postage. Reserves warranty is missing though. But I wonder how warranty works if there is no rims/wheels available.
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer Any word on what amount of time "lifetime" actually means on either of these wheelsets? 2 years? 5 years? open to interpretation? I looked at Reserve's website and not able to find that particular piece of info. Thanks
  • 1 0
 I have now been through two of these reserve wheelsets as they have both dented in the rear, resulting in me utilizing that lifetime warranty twice. I’ve never had a rim dent so easy as the reserves. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t recommend them.
  • 1 0
 What im confused about with lifetime warranty..
Does it only cover the first rim/wheel that you break and then not the rim/wheel you receive from warranty, or do you basically get rims/wheels for life ever time you break one?
  • 2 0
 I’ve now done two claims on the reserve wheelset and they have offered me a brand new wheel both times.
  • 5 1
 My lifetime warranty is my truing stand and nipple wrench.
  • 4 1
 I just got a set of reserve wheels AL and they are great.
  • 6 6
 "the fact that the rims *are* carbon makes me feel a little less guilty if I do end up needing to go hard with a tire lever"

Think that's a typo here, do you mean 'aren't' carbon?
  • 2 0
 Correct. That’s been fixed.
  • 3 0
 I am a heavy man and run 35psi.
  • 4 0
 „…I don‘t care about your opinions…“
  • 2 1
 Buy the correct thickness casing for your riding style bud
  • 2 0
 I'm a pretty big dude and I usually run around 27.... What is your question?

Either of these wheel sets would be just fine for most people. Neither of them sucks.
  • 3 0
 i just got my reserve hd al's. thx for validating my choice!!!
  • 2 1
 lifetime warranty is literally the first thing I check in wheel reviews, but since they both have it, I guess I have to read the rest of the article now.
  • 3 0
 great comparison review! more of this PB
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer Great Review! Thanx!
But I‘m missing one point that is important to me … comparing freehub noise.
At least to me, the quieter a freehub is, the better.
  • 4 0
 Both hubs are fairly quiet - the DT 350 hub is a little quieter, but neither one is distracting or obnoxious.
  • 5 0
 Juts use dumendetech freehub grease and all hubs are quiet, but if u want keep them quiet, need reapply pretty often
  • 2 0
 As someone who's about 140lbs with gear, I'd definitely be going with the Turbines if I needed new rims.
  • 3 1
 Any other shop mechanics out there having repeated issues with the Vault rear hubs? Or is just me?
  • 1 0
 No wonder sc can warranty the rims they are super heavy. My dts with the same hub and an ex471 rim is 100g lighter per end. That’s allot of extra weight in the rim
  • 2 0
 Funny that everyone here is bashing the raceface product but in the test it was the reserves that showed the most damage
  • 2 2
 I just bought a pair of DT Swiss EX1700s and I’m experiencing some buyer’s remorse… should have gone with the Reserve wheels.
  • 3 0
 Those EX 1700s are damn nice wheels. I wouldn't worry about it.
  • 3 0
 I reckon those EX1700’s are a better wheelset tbh. Only thing better here is the warranty conditions.
  • 9 0
 The best warranty is the one you don't need.
  • 6 4
 dont buy raceface, plagued by manufacture defects. never again.
  • 2 1
 I'm still buying DT Swiss over either of these options. With brass nipples I might add.
  • 1 0
 I'd pounce on that reserve wheel if it came with a higher engagement hub
  • 10 0
 You can get a 54t ratchet for the dt350
  • 4 1
 @Bro-LanDog: Amen, brother. The ratchet is the killer feature of the 350. Yes, they wear down after a while, but swapping them takes about three minutes. I went through a bunch of pawl based rear hubs - including Hope 4s, which were supposed to be bullet proof (they're not...). My 350 has been holding up great. Yes, the stock ratchet is a little low engagement - when it started to wear down a bit, I replaced it with the 54T version, so now I have a little under 7 degrees. Not quite the same instantaneous response as you'd get from those high end I9 hubs, but man, the peace of mind of knowing that (a) I can keep them nicely maintained (three minutes to pop off the dust cap, pull out the ratchet and springs, clean, grease, reassemble) without little pawls and tiny springs flying all over the place if I goof a little and (b) that as long as I replace the ratchet when it starts to wear, it won't crack the whole hub (like the Hope did when the pawl broke) - that's freaking priceless.
  • 1 2
 I'm with you... engagement matters A LOT to me on my favorite, chunky, almost trials-like trails. Plenty of features require a quick back-peddle reset and nearly all require "pause-pop-it" techniques to get the front wheel from one rock to the next without suspension dive.

But Bro-LanDog is right... for $100 you can upgrade your ratchet... I needed to get it done at the shop though, the Amazon/no-nameChinese removal tools didn't give me enough confidence
  • 5 0
 @bhuckley, you shouldn't need any special tools at all to switch the ratchet rings - you can pull the freehub body off by hand and just swap them.
  • 2 0
 I'd pounce on the reserves if they were available with the HG freehub. Yes, I know that I could change that up myself, at an extra cost.
  • 4 0
 @bhuckley: we're talking DT hubs here... Do you have no name Amazon hands or something?
  • 1 0
 @sspiff: : Probably has the 370 hubs and has to install the LN ratchet kit to replace the pawls.

Funny comment, though.
  • 1 0
 @Stihlgoin: the new 370s are equipped with 18t ratchet
  • 1 0
 @moferenc: My son’s new bike has that newer version. 56 tooth ratchet will be the next purchase for it. Figured it was the older model they were referring to. That 3 pawl would have been a no go for us.
  • 2 4
 nobody mentioned the fact that with Raceface's warranty, you'll have to pay to get the hoop re-laced. With the reserves you just get sent a whole new wheel. Significantly cheaper in the long run
  • 13 0
 If you have a Race Face complete wheel, we will send you a replacement, or rebuild your wheel, no cost to you for the build if it's the fastest way to help you out. If you have a Race Face rim built to someone else's hub, we will get you a rim.
  • 1 5
flag BarryWalstead (Aug 18, 2023 at 13:33) (Below Threshold)
 @raceface: is that stated clearly in your warranty documents?
I like that fact you responded here, but whatever you say in a forum discussion isn't worth much if the legal documents don't bear that out.
  • 2 0
 @raceface: oh sweet, that's good to know. thanks for responding
  • 1 3
 I'm really curious why anyone would downvote a comment asking if what a brand account stated on here was true to the legal terms of their warranty.
Seems like a perfectly reasonable question to ask.
We'll @raceface?
  • 3 2
 DT star ratchet is far superior to any pawl design
  • 1 2
 Race Face needs to step up their game all around, and this is coming from a Race Face fanboi
  • 3 0
 Seems like they have been.

They're addressing warranty issues. Introducing lifetime warranties all over the place. Coming up with new products to address weaknesses in the line... etc....

Not sure what else you want from them? But maybe put some ideas out there and see if they listen?

For me... I want some flats with a bit of concave and some carbon bars with a bit more damping in them.

Everything else for me has been a-ok.
  • 1 1
 @onemanarmy: I want new Race Face saddles. I don't think they even make them anymore but I could be wrong. I feel like the older direct mount flippable stem for two different lengths is better than the new one. Bottom brackets need a redesign, and I wish they made headsets. Wish they made cheap dh wheel sets like nuke proof. Among other things.

I just got some new Atlas handlebars and the bend feels different than my last pair of the same. Idk if they changed the sweep, bend whatever, but all in all I prefer the Race Face from 5-10 years ago compared the the Race Face today.
  • 1 0
 I'd just buy Astrals.
  • 4 5
 raceface and their wheels made of butter...gotta love them /s
  • 3 5
 no wonder you're denting a rim running 23psi. £700 for a 2kg wheelset is pisspoor
  • 5 0
 23 psi with DH casing tires is entirely appropriate, especially since I weigh 160 lb.
  • 5 7
 @mikekazimer: clearly not if you dented a rim
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