Reynolds RZR 46 Tubular Wheelset
- Item: REY0037 Actual Weight:"Actual Weight" means we weighed this item ourselves. 510 g
Reynolds Cycling aims to blow your mind with the RZR line of wheels. And at less than 900 grams for their first wheelset, they might have done it. They claim the front wheel will weigh no more than 370g and the rear 570g, but they expect most will come in a good bit lighter; they're targeting a wheelset weight of 875g. The RZR 46T is the first model released by their highest-tech Composites Studio. Headed by wheel guru Paul Lew, the goal is to re-imagine the wheel as optimized in every variable and component.
Lew is one of those guys, and one of those names, that only people in the know mention. He was building ultra-light wheels, freakishly light for the time and reportedly way lighter than Zipp, back in the late 1990s. We knew racers who bought his wheels as part of their attempt to jump from the amateur ranks up to Pro. His company disappeared, then re-appeared, and then disappeared again. Every time he was back, it was with an ever-lighter wheelset. With the Reynolds RZR, he's done it again, and this time, nothing has escaped his scrutiny.
Let's start with the most basic change from the "norm" of superlight wheels, the wheel isn't made from carbon fiber cloth and resin alone; it has boron fibers strategically placed within the lay-up. The boron can be found in both the rims and the spokes. This makes the wheel stronger and more impact-resistant than the typical carbon fiber only components.
The spokes, which are solid carbon fiber/boron shafts, are shaped as symmetrical airfoils, so the leading and trailing edges are the same. The shape is not only aero, but works both in tension and compression. They're epoxied one at a time into carbon-fiber hub flanges and the ...the goal for the RZR46 Wheels was to create the lightest, stiffest, strongest road racing wheels ever. For that job, Reynolds enlisted Paul Lew and spared no expense on materials and testing. The result is breathtaking... rim, and they can deflect up to 125mm before breaking, which is well beyond the 4-5mm of deflection that is considered extreme for these spokes. Also, thanks to the fact they're assembled one at a time, if a spoke breaks, it can be replaced individually.
The front wheel has 16 spokes, all radial, while the rear has 20. You'll see that it has eight radial spokes on both left and right flanges, and four tangential spokes angled into a third, middle flange. This one lines up with the center of the axle and is the torque flange; it drives the wheel forward without pulling it laterally. The spokes that enter the side flanges offer supreme lateral support. The spokes on the torque flange are likewise 50% larger in their cross section for greater strength. The result is a stiffer, more responsive wheel with fewer spokes in the wind.
The RZR hubs are different in more ways than just the torque flange. The shells are 100% carbon fiber composite, as are both front and rear axles. Yes, roll-wrapped, ceramic-coated carbon fiber. And worry-not, they are super strong. Both hubs spin on ceramic bearings for super low rolling resistance. The rear hub has a titanium ratchet that is threaded into the hub body and the RZR freehub body engages with it. The 7000-series aluminum freehub runs dry, as in no lube, both for maximum weight-savings, minimum resistance and maximum longevity. It might be a bit noisier than the average freehub, but it is designed with performance in mind, not aural sensitivity.
And the wheel in its entirety wouldn't be an RZR unless the rim was re-thought and perfectly executed as well. It might look like an average 21.25mm wide, 46.5mm deep air-foil-shaped tubular rim, but appearances can be deceiving. The carbon fiber/boron lay-up is compacted at over 250psi into a mold that results in no voids and a perfectly flat brake track. The high-temperature cure and a ceramic scrim optimizes the braking surface for excellent and consistent stopping performance.
But all of the above isn't what really makes the rim stand out. What is unique is the Swirl Lip Generators (SLG). The SLGs are two tiny lips on either side of the arrow-head end of the V-shape aka the trailing edge. If you didn't know better, you might think they were parting lines that weren't sanded down after the rim came out of the mold. There's no sanding forgotten, and they are hardly an accident. These little shelves, barely noticeable until you're looking at the rim carefully, help with two different things, both of which help you go faster. One is that the SLG creates a little turbulence that helps the airflow reattach faster behind, after passing over the rim. The second is that the SLG has the effect of decreasing sideways air force on the rim, as in decreasing the force of crosswinds pushing your wheels sideways. And in so doing, makes your bike easier to steer in crosswinds, which means it takes less concentration and less strength to pilot the bike, which means you can devote more concentration and more strength to going fast.
Reynolds puts a lot of stock in low inertia. They feel it's a great indicator of how easy or hard it is to accelerate the wheel or keep it moving at speed. They tested the RZR 46T and then compared it to the values produced by the people of the Roués Artisanales website. Reynolds' new wheel beat them all, with an inertia of 77 joules.
As fast as a wheel is, the engineers at Reynolds believe that the tire should be considered as integral to the aerodynamics of the wheel. As such, they recommend using tires that are narrower than the rim. As the rim is 21.5mm wide, your fastest tires with these wheels will be 21mm or narrower.
For the coup de grace, Reynolds also includes their new ultra-light quick release skewers with the wheels. These weigh in at a claimed 16.6g for the front skewer and 17.7g for the rear. The skewers have aluminum alloy shafts and titanium levers to maximize weight savings.
While the wheels should be nearly indestructible, all Reynolds wheel owners can buy themselves some extra peace of mind by purchasing Reynolds' two-year damage protection plan. It's called RAP, short for Reynolds Assurance Plan. Based on Mavic's popular MP3 program, the insurance means you should have little fear that a crash will ruin your wheel investment. Find out more about it on the Reynolds Cycling site.
The Reynolds RZR 46T wheels come with either Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM compatible freehubs and they include a full set of Reynolds' blue Baradine brake pads in versions to match each. Reynolds recommends only these pads for the RZR rims; use of any other brake pads is not recommended and will void the warranty. Also included with the wheels are valve extenders and wheel bags. They do NOT include a wheel magnet and Reynolds does not recommend affixing a clamp-style magnet to the spokes. They do suggest using contact cement to affix a small rare earth magnet to a spoke or the rim. The recommended rider weight limit is 180lbs (82kg).