has made a few headlines with its elite-level carbon fiber wheelsets and expectedly so, as it was one of the pioneer wheel-makers in that field. This review, however, celebrates Reynolds' commitment to the more affordable end of the spectrum, with its $625 R27.5 All-Mountain wheelset, based upon its 23-millimeter inside width tubeless aluminum rim that fits, as you may have guessed, 27.5-inch tires. R27.5 AM wheels are designed, tested and trail-proven in and around Reynolds' US factory near Salt Lake City, Utah, and then shifted to Asia, where they are manufactured in a factory which they own and operate there. Weight for the complete wheelset is 1755 grams.
• Purpose: Trail/all-mountain
• Rim construction:19mm deep, tubeless aluminum profile, pinned and pressed joint
• Width: External: 29mm, internal: 23mm
• Spokes: 1.8 x 2.0mm double-butted stainless, black
• Spoke Pattern: 28, three-cross, front and rear
• Nipples: External 2.0 alloy - black
• Hub: Reynolds, straight-pull flanges, six-bolt rotor interface
• Freehub capability: Shimano or SRAM ten-speed, SRAM 11-speed optional
• Axle options: QR or 142 x 12mm through-axle rear. QR and either 15mm or 20mm through-axle front.
• Included: All stated axle endcap options and quick release skewers. Pre-taped rims and tubeless valve stems.
• Weight: 1755g (set, depends upon axle configurations)
• MSRP: $625
• Contact: Reynolds Cycling
Reynolds builds the R27.5 AM wheels conservatively, with 28 butted stainless steel spokes, laced three-cross on both ends, and with straight-pull-type hubs that, reportedly, allow for higher spoke tension and a measure of longevity. What makes R27.5 AM wheels most attractive, however, is that the axles can be easily configured for quick release, or any number of through-axle configurations - and all the bits are included with the wheelset purchase. The front hub employs large-diameter bearings and its press-in endcaps can be pulled out and reconfigured in seconds without tools. The rear hub requires a small amount of threading, but we switched from the stock SRAM/Shimano ten-speed freehub, to an eleven-speed SRAM XD driver in about seven minutes. (XD drivers are an option, not included in the comprehensive axle kit that is shipped with the wheels).
Reynolds inverts the conventional freehub ratchet mechanism, preferring to put the engagement spline on the inside of the freehub body and the pawls on the outside of the circle, nested beneath the drive-side hub flange. There are 30 points of engagement and that divides out to 12 degrees between clicks, which is average for most wheels sold today. The freehub spline is aluminum and, as mentioned earlier, Reynolds sells an XD driver kit for those who may need to upgrade their wheels to eleven-speed SRAM cassettes down the road.
Measuring 23-millimeters inside and 28.5 millimeters outside the flanges, the R27.5 AM rims are sufficiently wide to provide support for tires in the 2.35-inch realm, but a bit dated in light of the present wider-is-better trend among all-mountain riders. There are no eyelets to reinforce the rims and the joints are pinned and pressed together instead of being welded and ground smooth. Experience, however, shows that aluminum wheels in the 1700-gram range can do fine without either feature as long as the rims are designed well. We noted that Reynolds designed the rim flanges to sit very low, which reportedly adds lateral stability to the tire. Trail Report
Testing the Reynolds R27.5 AM wheels began as a necessity. We needed wheels to fit bike in our stable with a Fox 36 fork and the Reynolds' front hubs were the only hoops we had that could be switched out from 15 to 20-millimeter axles. So the aluminum hoops were pressed into service on a bike with over 180 millimeters of travel and an appetite for straight-lining rock gardens and other features that riders aboard lesser machines would seek to avoid. Once we learned how simple it was to pull the endcaps from the front hub, we also employed the wheels for tire testing, which provided additional opportunities for us to break or bend them.
Fitted with tires from three brands and in sizes from 2.25 to 2.35 inches, the Reynolds rims only gave us trouble with tubeless installations if the tire beads were severely bent or folded. In such cases (two times),
we managed to air the tires up with a high-volume floor pump by fussing with the beads to coax them to seal while pumping furiously. Once seated, however, the tires all locked onto the rim flanges and we did not experience a single burp or tubeless malfunction throughout testing.
Reporting on the handling and performance aspects of the wheels is normally where we would complain that 1700-gram aluminum wheels are slow to accelerate and easy to ding in the boulders, but when mounted to a mini DH machine, they actually felt lightweight when compared to the heavier wheels and two-ply tires they replaced. On a more conventional all-mountain bike, the Reynolds wheels accelerated briskly enough to forget they were there and the two primary riders both remarked that their feel in the corners was on par with some of the wider all-mountain wheelsets we have been riding this winter which cost over three times more. That said, they are not going to trick anyone who has been riding lightweight carbon wheels. Reynolds wisely chose durability over "brisk acceleration" and put enough aluminum into the R27.5's to keep them alive for a while.Issues
Each time we review a Reynolds wheel we receive a handful of negative comments about the reliability of the hubs, so in this test, we kept an eye on them for any hints of weakness. Nothing to report, The bearings look and run as new, and while the freehub ratchet did not have the whizzing sounds and instant engagement of a premium wheelset like an Industry Nine, it zips along as well today as it did months ago when we pulled the rear wheel out of the box. Same goes for the alignment. While I was writing this review I checked for even tension and runout. Tension was higher than I expected and while the rear wheel had a tiny bit of side play (run-out)
it wasn't enough to warrant fussing with a spoke wrench. I'd say that our only beefs with the R27.5 AM wheels were that we had to wrestle with two tires to mount them tubeless, and that the rims are the old-school, 23-millimeter width.Pinkbike's Take:
|Reynolds produced a good looking, rugged wheelset that could be a great upgrade for a rider who needs a do-it-all pair of hoops with an affordable price tag. While there are a number of choices in the $625 range, Reynolds offers convincing warranty and crash protection options that extend the value of its R27.5 AM wheel well beyond the sticker price. Pinkbike test riders are admittedly spoiled by riding wheels that cost more than many pay for their bikes, so when a value-priced wheelset catches our attention - especially one that looks as sharp as the R27.5 AM - we are happy to report on it. I thought that they would be toast in a couple of months, but it appears that our R27.5 AM wheels will be happily assisting us to test tires through 2015. - RC|
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