Race Face Aeffect Wheelset AndrewM
Review

Race Face Aeffect Wheels - Who Needs Carbon?

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Jul 24, 2017

"They Owe Me Nothing"

With a street price touching down around $575 USD | $725 CAD I certainly wouldn't call Race Face's Aeffect R wheels cheap. That package, though!?

The excellent 30mm internal Race Face rims come with tubeless tape and valves pre-installed, the build quality is excellent, they've sourced a no-nonsense hubset and laced it up 3-cross, the system is highly adaptable and the wheels include extra spokes. Buck naked, the wheelset enters the ring a couple of empty beer cans over 1800 grams.

Race Face Aeffect Wheelset AndrewM

Race Face's Aeffect R wheelset is one of the last pieces we tore down at Bikeroom's old location before Jeff moved shop and hit the road with Rocky Mountain's EWS squad. 

The Aeffect R wheels are relatively common as stock spec on aggressive mountain bikes that fall into the champagne-tastes-on-a-beer-budget category which gave me some unique insight. I know a few riders who have absolutely sh*t kicked these wheels. Two for way longer than this review period and one who rendered them square riding park & Enduro. 

Dents, flat spots, and broken spokes aside, when I took on this review they all said the same things: "Great wheels. They owe me nothing." 

I spend a lot of time thinking about product value and ways to measure it. Any time a component is terminal and a rider feels they've gotten excellent value despite having to purchase a replacement I think it's about as impressive a review as you can get. 

The Formula For Success

When you're selling a full wheelset for the price of a boutique hubset, something always has to give. In the case of hubs the classic rule of three - strong, light, cheap - is actually a rule of four since high-engagement is also of key importance. Pick any three?

Race Face split the middle in all categories by choosing Formula's most reliable 3-pawl (9.2° engagement) freehub bodies with both XD and standard cassette mounting options. A decision was made to sacrifice weight in favour of durability via a removable plate that holds the pawls in place instead of relying solely on alignment. 

Lubrication was executed better than I have ever seen in a Formula hub. The bearings, axles, and interfaces were greased right out of the box and the hub-pawl interface was well lubricated. 

Buying a wheelset with the hubs properly assembled out of the box is like putting cash back in your wallet. Compared to a lot of wheels I've opened I can deduct the cost of the first full rebuild including bearings off the price. Riders often find themselves at the shop far too early because hubs aren't properly lubed. 

Spokes

I've long advocated for wheels with 32 spokes of the J-bend variety. I can't count the number of times working in shops that I've bent a J-bend spoke straight to solve a rider's direct-pull spoke need. There was not enough demand to commit inventory dollars to spokes of every variety and a spoke cutter and blanks represented a hard to justify return on investment beyond seeing it as a community service. 

RaceFace counters this by designing these wheels with only one spoke length, front, back, side-to side, and then including a five pack of spare spokes with the wheels.

Race Face Aeffect Wheelset AndrewM

One of the biggest advantages of direct pull spokes is that it's easy to replace a broken one without having to remove a rotor or cassette. Heck, if the nipple is still good and you're just trying to save the day you can swap a spoke out and tighten in a replacement without removing your wheel or tire. 

The wheels are stiff. How stiff? Rather then bust out a thesaurus I'll say they are stiff enough I can't imagine anyone ever complaining about them. In fact, as carbon manufacturers try to engineer a bit more compliance into $500 rims, the Aeffects are probably ideal. 

A Mishap

I was riding at night through an eroded rocky trench when a tree root reached out and grabbed my wheel. The abrupt reduction in speed told me there was going to be some damage. There were two broken spokes but the wheel was still straight and I pedaled out cautiously. 

I removed the tire to replace the spokes but the brass nipples were fine so I left the rim tape, valve and rotor in place. It was a quick job and with everything tightened up the wheels have remained true with just some minor tensioning.

A Bold Understatement

Race Face Aeffect Wheelset AndrewM

RaceFace specs very subtle stock graphics on all wheelsets but they also sell 8 different colours as aftermarket options. 

When I say they're understated I'm not just talking about how the Aeffect R wheels looks. Performance is understated as well. The 9.2° engagement is either perfectly acceptable for the price or plenty quick depending on perspective, durability of the drive mechanism is excellent, the rims hold their shape and tension well, they air up tubeless easily and they're right in the sweet spot for rim width. Graphically speaking, the black on black rim logos are essentially invisible out on the trail. RaceFace offers 8 aftermarket decal colours for anyone who prefers a bolder look but for me they're perfect the way they are. 

Race Face Aeffect Wheelset AndrewM

RaceFace's evil eye logo pops out in silver but not in an offensive way. 

Min Max Win

As a complete package I think it's hard to beat the value of Race Face's Aeffect wheelsets as an upgrade for a lower-priced rig, a direct replacement for some trashed wheels on a mid level machine and even as an option for anyone on a budget trying to keep a higher-priced bike rolling. 

That last point is especially true I think for the Aeffect R wheels I've been riding. With non-Boost hub spacing and rims wide enough to work perfectly with current rubber they're a great way to get a couple more years out of a 142x12 / 100x15 trail or Enduro machine without investing in boutique wheels that won't be transferable. 

Race Face Aeffect Wheelset AndrewM

Marin's Hawk Hill is a great platform for testing parts like Race Face's Aeffect wheels and cranks because they are truly upgrades but that doesn't mean riders with higher-priced rigs shouldn't be looking at the Aeffects as an excellent value replacement package. 

I've had great experiences with Race Face's current aluminum rims and while the hoops on my personal bike and the Aeffect R wheelset on test both show lots of signs of abuse I'd definitely say they don't owe me anything. 

As I mentioned earlier, I think that's high praise for a mountain bike wheel.

For more information on the $575 USD Aeffect R wheelset check here.

Comments

D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - July 24, 2017, 9:12 a.m.

Are these the same as the Easton Heist?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 24, 2017, 10:13 a.m.

I'm ~ positive the rims are the same so that would make sense. 

Looking at the Heist tech doc it isn't clear that the 'Easton X5' driver is compatable with Formula freehub RaceFace is using.

Looking at photos it could be the same Formula body less the bolt on inside pawl guide.

Reply

JBV
+2 Cam McRae Andrew Major
James Vasilyev  - July 24, 2017, 11:02 a.m.

solid review. i was expecting to be highly cynical as i hate straight pull spokes but the fact they are all one length and come with spares is impressive. it's like they actually thought about the end user being a serious rider and all. nice work.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 24, 2017, 1:03 p.m.

Thanks James,

The cynic in me notes they could have likely accomplished the same thing with 32x J-bend spokes per wheel  but this is the first package I've ridden where it's really a non-issue.

Reply

dsl4life
0
dsl4life  - Oct. 27, 2017, 2:55 a.m.

Very nice review. I actually bought this wheelset based on your review. I'm looking to service it soon... how did you remove the freehub? Cannot find any info about it on RF's website.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Oct. 27, 2017, 6:42 a.m.

There is a pressed on cap on the freehub side of the axle. If you look carefully you can see a 12mm* hex insert underneath it.

Pull that drive side cap and then you can use a hex key and there are cone wrench flats (17mm if I recall correctly) on the disc side of the axle.

*I’m 95% sure it’s 12mm. If it helps let me know and I’ll confirm.

Reply

tungsten
0
Drinky Crow  - Dec. 1, 2017, 11:23 p.m.

How'd you get that tire off when you broke the spokes? 

I got a brand new tire on one of those rims brand new and now I can't break the bead down?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2017, 11:33 p.m.

Tube or tubeless?

Even with tires that tend to bead hard (Schwalbe) I could get it started enough to get a tire lever in.

I generally don’t need tire levers for mounting (years of changing tires on Sun Rhyno Lites in the shop gave me Superman like thumbs) but I find with the new tubeless ready tires they make removal faster. I like Schwalbe’s plastic tire levers, which are actually made by SKS in Germany, as they’re thin, tough, and wont damage rims.

Running tubeless with Gorilla Tape I actually had a tire bond to the tape this year. What a cluster f***. Patience, tire levers and hot water got the tire off - hence asking if it’s tubeless. 

The AR/ARC rims aren’t amongst the worst on the market to seat/un-seat which makes me think something else is going on?

Reply

tungsten
0
Drinky Crow  - Dec. 2, 2017, 12:53 a.m.

2.60 Forekasters. Tubeless. New. W/o sealant. Took a tire iron to flip the last bit of bead to mount them.

Now, for the life of me I can't even get a ("plastic") tire iron started let alone break these off w/my fingers.

I think I'd rather have my money back than have to struggle like this with a tire change.

Boiling water you say? lol..........

Reply

PDavis
0
PDavis  - May 19, 2018, 4:26 p.m.

I have these wheels and am trying to swap the rear freehub out for an xd compatible hub. I am hoping you can answer two questions for me. One, is it the same hub as the trace? From what I can tell it looks like it. Second, once I remove the screw down plate holding the freehub on, I can’t get the stock shimano free hub to slide off. Not sure if there is an extra step or if it should just slide off. Any info you could provide would be much appreciated. Thanks

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - May 21, 2018, 7:33 a.m.

Sorry, I’m not familiar with a brand/model called ‘Trace’.

I have only seen Aeffect-R freehubs sold as units (including the plate and pawls). In this case you would slide off the Shimano freehub body and slide  on the XD version. 

Hope that helps.

Reply

PDavis
0
PDavis  - May 21, 2018, 8:27 a.m.

Thanks Andrew. Yeah the aeffect r freehub is the same as the race face trace freehub. My shimano hub is stuck on my aeffect r wheel. One of the bearings must be holding the freehub from sliding off. Thanks for the reply. I have a eagle drive train sitting in my garage, waiting to go on my hawk hill. Just got to get the shimano freehub off...

Reply

SJP
0
SJP  - July 7, 2018, 12:16 p.m.

Hi Andrew, PDavis,

I have a brand new Aeffect rear wheel, and I am having the same problem.  As described above, I pulled off the non-drive-side axle cap (which slides on and is held by an O-ring), used a 12 mm Allen to hold the axle and removed the drive-side, reverse-threaded axle cap.  (Andrew, you have it flipped in your Oct. 27 reply.)

I think the freehub should slide off, but it is solidly stuck on the axle.  I've even tried putting the hub body in a vice (with plastic jaws) and pulling up on the wheel, but I can't get it off.  If you have a solution, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks,
SJP

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 7, 2018, 4:02 p.m.

With the disclaimer that if you aren't comfortable you should take the wheel to a professional bike mechanic, I would try and tap the axle out with a mallet and a socket.  

With the added disclaimer that I don't have the wheel in front of me, you should be able to gently tap the axle out from the drive side. Then grease it well before reinstalling. Most likely the issue is the freehub bearings are seized on the axle.

Hope that helps! Let me know

Reply

SJP
+1 Andrew Major
SJP  - July 7, 2018, 6:34 p.m.

Hi Andrew, PDavis,

I really appreciate both of your replies.  Thanks very much.

PDavis responded by email; his solution was to put the cassette back on after removing the axle cap, which gave him enough grip to pull off the freehub.  This will be the first thing I try.

Andrew, your suggested solution implies that normally, the axle is free to slide out from the non-drive side, and the only thing holding it in it the drive-side axle cap.  That seems unlikely, but if the cassette trick doesn't work, I can certainly tap it such that I won't break anything, but will learn if it will move.

Again, thanks to both of you for your suggestions, I really appreciate it.

SJP

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 8, 2018, 9:18 p.m.

That's a great suggestion re. cassette & hopefully it works.

On most hubs the axle slides in from one side and, when not in the frame, is only held in place by bearing tolerances. 

The exception is anything with a bearing tension adjuster, but in those cases (P321, Chris King) the axle slides out when the adjuster is removed. 

If you hit a wall let me know.

johnmcarguy
0
johnmcarguy  - Aug. 24, 2018, 4:12 p.m.

PDavis, do you still have the 9/10 speed hub you took off? want to sell it? im going the other way, from an 11-speed Aeffect hub to an SRAM 9/10. mine is brand new

-John 

johnmcarguy@yahoo.com

Reply

tungsten
0
Drinky Crow  - Aug. 11, 2018, 6:14 p.m.

Can a generic boostinator kit be fit to these hubs?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Aug. 11, 2018, 9:57 p.m.

The Problem Solvers Kit would definitely work. The only caveat is I don’t know for sure the rear wheel can be dishes far enough over with the stock spokes - I’d think yes but haven’t done it myself.

Reply

tungsten
+1 Andrew Major
Drinky Crow  - Aug. 13, 2018, 9:21 p.m.

> don’t know for sure the rear wheel can be dishes far enough over with the stock spokes

Oh yeah 'cause stock they supposed to be even length.

Reply

AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Aug. 13, 2018, 9:51 p.m.

Exactly - but if you do try it let me know!

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Holgerfromgermany
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Holger Baer  - Sept. 17, 2018, 9:26 p.m.

Andrew, did you have any problems with the rear hub getting loose? my old 2014 specialized stumpy formula rear hub (hi lo disc? not sure) is getting loose all the time. 

Is it there the same problem with this hub?

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Sept. 17, 2018, 9:46 p.m.

Hi Holger,

Absolutely no issue. I know a few people who have had these wheels OE on bikes and I've never heard a complaint about the hubs coming loose. 

Take care,

Andrew

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