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
• 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
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. 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.
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. 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.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 WarrantyReserve:
• 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 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