From producing some of the first carbon clinchers to dabbling in carbon forks, Reynolds Cycling has been on the cutting edge of carbon products since the 1990’s. Reynolds is now based in Utah, and puts out some of the best carbon wheelsets on the market. We’ve spent the last few months riding their top of the line Black Label 29 Trail wheelset. As smooth and refined as the whiskey they share a name with, these Black Labels look rich and go down smooth.
The backbone of the Black Label rim is the five region layup. Each layer is specifically engineered to address stiffness and weight concerns. A major focal point of this multi-layered engineering process is the bead and hook area. These rims offer a conservative 25mm internal and 30mm external width but are well within modern design trends and interface well with all the tires we put on them. Never once did we feel our traction or ride quality was compromised because of inner rim width.
While 28 spoke designs have traditionally been reserved for cross country builds Reynolds Cycling, among other brands, have shown that proper design and build can blend light weight and strength. Asymmetric drilling and a 28mm rim depth add strength while allowing them to drop weight. At 1,664 grams, these are some of the lightest wheels we have been on this year. Our blacked out wheels came built around Industry Nine hubs. We all enjoyed the performance and 3-degree engagement as it delivers instant power transfer, and the freehub sound is killer.
Acceleration! Quick spin up is one of the most noted improvements when we hopped on our Trek Fuel EX test bike. Half expecting these lightweight 28-spoked wheels to squirm, we headed out to some bike parky trails and shoved the bike into berms with reckless abandon. We are quite impressed that these wheels held true and are still ready for more. The stiffness isn’t on par with an Enve wheelset, however that’s not a bad thing. These wheels didn’t have us changing suspension settings, deflect us off line or give us sore hands. Vertical compliance is another way to describe it.
We all know big wheels roll over things well, but we are usually hesitant to smash rock gardens with “XC” carbon. After a few rides though, we grew more confident in the wheels and went so far as tearing sidewalls while smashing through scree fields and shale-littered singletrack. Even after all that, the wheels have held true and still look sharp. The factory wheel build was as good as any we have seen. After months of riding, we have not had to true the wheels or had any loose spokes.