When they first launched, wagon wheels generated some negative press because of their tendency to wander on climbs and get noodly under hard pedaling. Forks with 51mm rake address the former concern, and the Reynolds 29 Trail Blacklabel Boost Wheelset addresses the latter. The combination of carbon rims and Boost hub spacing mean that this version of the 29 Trail responds to pedal and braking inputs more like a 26in wheelset while still enjoying the faster angle of attack that grants 29ers their ride-with-abandon qualities.
The Blacklabel branding 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. The lay-up takes advantage of different material properties to balance stiffness, durability, weight, and even a touch of engineered flex. It's an admittedly complicated process, but it speaks to Reynolds' insistence on outdoing the less-expensive open-mold models that might leave you stranded on the side of the trail on any given rock garden.
The rim width is another point where Reynolds departs from the industry norm. The rims plump out to an internal width of 25mm (30mm externally), which we find pairs well with the new-norm of 2.3-2.5in tires. Their powers combined, rims and tires of these dimensions allow for lower PSI, higher air volume, increased traction, and a touch of added cushion when enthusiasm overrules restraint and good judgment. These qualities are especially welcome on the new breed of high-clearance hardtail 29ers, which we often find ourselves pushing into territory somewhat beyond the scope of the frame manufacturers' use recommendations.
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 brake and pedal input from hub to rim to trail) without stiffening them radially (not translating every bump and lump straight up the seatpost). Just one more reason for hardtail enthusiasts to drop the hammer on the way up and drop into the big line on the way down.
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 wagon wheel builds
- Blacklabel carbon construction is more complex than many frames
- Mid-sized width marries perfectly with 2.4-2.5in tires
- Boost spacing increases responsiveness without harshness
- Torch hubs boast 3-degree engagement