Powerful new beast.
Not content with leaving it's Black Label line the same for its third birthday, Reynolds released a brand new version of the 27.5 Enduro Black Label Wheelset this year, and although it still shares some features with the versions we're all familiar with, we're looking at an all-new beast. The top-of-the-line hoops manage to be stronger and stiffer than their predecessors, while promising a suppler, more responsive ride using a new carbon rim profile and an exclusive version of Industry Nine's legendary hubs, readying the wheels for aggressive trail and hard-charging enduro riding all over the mountain.
If you looked closely at the Enduro Black Label rims, you wouldn't be imagining things if you noticed that they don't look the same all the way around. This is intentional; our Utah-based neighbors over at Reynolds carefully shaped the carbon fiber rims asymmetrically this year to strengthen the wheels on the drive side where it's needed most, avoiding adding unnecessary extra weight to the non-drive side. With this construction, Reynolds ensures that the entire wheelset gains strength and rigidity, without a total compromise of ride quality. As you blast through a teeth-chattering stretch of rock gardens, the wheels will roll over whatever you throw at them without tossing you around painfully in the saddle in the way some ultra-stiff sets of carbon rims do.
Notably, Reynolds also joined the growing list of wheel manufacturers eliminating bead hooks, and the Endurance 27.5's now feature a completely hookless bead. We were skeptical at first about this new trend, but with the huge gains made in tire composition over recent decades, the interface between the rim and tire has already improved enough that a hooked rim is nowhere near as essential to holding a tire on a rim as it was a half century ago. During testing, manufacturers — Reynolds included —are continuously finding that the right hookless rim shape actually creates a smoother ride while you're railing around tight switchbacks, lessening the likelihood of burping tires and other inconsistencies while actually possessing better durability and response to impact than earlier versions of hookless rims.
The other major change, arguably the most significant, to the Black Label line this year comes from Reynolds' partnership with the hub geniuses hiding over in the Blue Ridge Mountains at Industry Nine. Abandoning the always-reliable DTSwiss 240's that anchored the wheelset previously, the new proprietary design is referred to simply as the Reynolds center lock hub, featuring I9's two sets of three pawls offering clean, accurate engagement every time you spin the wheels. Whether you're throwing your weight onto the pedals to heave your frame over a rocky crux or accelerating along a straightaway to make it over a set of rollers in the distance, the hubs' 120 points of engagement mean the pawls grab on and hold before you even have a chance to think about jamming down on the pedals. In another first for Reynolds, the exclusive hubs are laced to the rims using straight-pull, Sapim aluminum spokes, only enhancing the enviably sleek aesthetics of this wheelset, which appears to only be getting better with age.