27.5 Trail Blacklabel Boost Wheelset
In cycling as in life, there is virtue in moderation. Reynolds' 27.5 Trail Blacklabel Boost Wheelset proves this. Kind of. The wide-but-not-plus rim bead occupies the versatile middle ground between XC hoops that look like road wheels and the 40mm+ monsters we're seeing on the latest extreme enduro sleds. So it's definitely the Goldilocks choice there. But the wide, Boost hubs are decidedly immoderate, and so is the effect of increased drive stiffness and responsiveness that they grant the wheels.
The Blacklabel branding represents another departure from moderation, as it indicates that these wheels are Reynolds' top of the line construction. They feature the brand's Mountain Rim 5 (MR5) lay-up, which involves five different carbon matrixes applied to five different areas of the wheel. If that sounds decidedly immoderate, well, it is—the construction process is more complicated than many framesets. And though we don't often dwell on the possibility of equipment failure while roosting berms and challenging lines that are, well, ill-advised, the fact that Reynolds puts so much engineering into the rims helps ensure that we won't have to dwell on equipment failure. For a few months. While wearing a cast and saving up for a new wheelset and/or bike.
The Goldilocks theme of moderation definitely applies best to the wheels' rim width, which hits the just-right dimensions of 25mm, internally. Mid-sized tires pair well with this width, and we find that the 2.4-2.5 range provides the best all-around blend of extra cushion and increased traction without getting floppy in hot corners. As with Reynolds' 27.5+ wheels—which sit at 40mm internal width—there are specific instances when we like plus-sized tires; however, we find that the combination of a mid-sized rim and a mid-sized tire handle almost every trail situation we can imagine, so they're our pick when we're limited to a single set of hoops and rubber.
Boost hubs have also become a staple around the Competitive office and the industry as a whole because of their increased responsiveness. It's something of an old story by now, but it's worth rehashing: by setting the flanges wider Reynolds (or more accurately, Industry Nine) improves the spoke bracing angle, which stiffens the wheels laterally and torsionally (translating braking and pedal input from hub to rim to trail) without stiffening them radially (not translating every bump and lump straight up the seatpost).
As implied above, the hubs are manufactured by Industry Nine, and are basically just rebranded versions of the Torch model. I9 machines all of its bits and widgets in Asheville, NC, with the only non-US component being the ABEC 5 grade Japanese bearings. And the Torch freehub is the real star, anyway, because it uses two sets of three offset pawls in order to reduce the hub's engagement angle to three degrees. The Torch hubs effectively replace DT Swiss' 240s, and—if it were any other make and model—we'd call it a downgrade. But I9's Torch promises to become the new standard, so we're perfectly content with the change.
- A trail wheelset for all-around riding
- Carbon construction more complex than many frames
- Mid-sized width marries perfectly with 2.4-2.5in tires
- Boost spacing increases responsiveness without harshness
- Industry Nine Torch hubs are rapidly becoming the new standard