RESERVE's New 30 HD Aluminum Wheels
No battery-powered tire pressure sensors or sealant moisture readers are linked to a digital handlebar display. No real-time traction measurement system or voice-activated pressure adjustment apparatus. No built-in power meter, or air compressor. There isn't an automatically decoupling freehub mechanism or a GPS-linked wheel-speed-reporting shift-point suggestion system. Heck, the nice folks at Santa Cruz's wheel brand, Reserve, didn't even come up with a way to route my brake lines through the hub shell bearings.
No matter how nifty the hoops, there's something beautifully boring about aluminum rims laced to DT Swiss 350 Star-Ratchet hubs using 32 j-bend Sapim spokes and nipples. Said DT 350 rear hub even comes equipped with the middle ground 36-tooth (10° engagement) ratchets which provide double the engagement points of the basic 18-tooth (20°) setup without the always-carry-spare-ratchets reliability of their more ambitious 54-tooth (6.66°) ratchet setup.
To make things even more boring, I requested my test pair with my preferred HG freehub driver rather than the XD or MicroSpline drivers that are now most common on performance mountain bikes. Support for this legacy standard is a nice feature of using a DT hub set. It's compatible with the drivetrain on my non rigid bike, makes for easy single-speeding, and fits the drivetrains I'm currently most keen to review.
HG is not what arrived, and time was already tighter than DT's tolerances to get this first impressions piece live, so I'd like to shout out my friend the Squidulous Toucan for coming up with an on-the-spot swap. I need to remember to send him a nice Valentine's Day card.
The story behind Reserve's 6069 aluminum rim release is a tale of custom extrusions and spoke tension equalizing asymmetry. Like the choice of hubset, the wheels are meant to be hassle-free and they come with an impressive warranty. Impressive both because it's the sort of after sale support I'm generally only used to seeing with carbon wheels and also because Reserve goes to an effort to lay out what a lifetime warranty means in this case:
- Lifetime warranty for the original owner
- Crash replacement rim or wheel cost at 50% of the retail cost
- Ship out complete wheels as the first option; rims and service credit as the second option
Detail on Issues
- Dented rim, no paint chipping, holding air: crash replacement
- Dented rim, paint chipping, holding or not holding air: warranty
- Dented rim, not holding air: warranty
- Seam separation: warranty
- Crack at spoke hole: warranty
I will not be able to speak to these rims' dent-resistance abilities in this brief first look or at this time of year generally because I'm running CushCore inserts. When the trails are damp, dank, and daubed with grease I'm fully sold on the weight penalty I pay to have suppler tire and trail surface interface. Between the way my tire pressure ramps up thanks to the big grey volume spacer and how the system bottoms out on the insert instead of the rim, I've yet to manage to dent a rim through my insert setup.
When the hero dirt returns, I'll pull the inserts, put in air pressure over the 19-ish psi I'm currently sitting at with a 2.5" Assegai front and 2.5" SE6 rear, and see if I can ring them off some rocks in the name of science.
It's interesting that Reserve has brought out two versions of their aluminum wheelset, both featuring DT Swiss 350 hubs and Sapim bladed spokes. These HD wheels have a classic 32-spoke configuration and the SL version has the increasingly common 28-spoke configuration. Both feature the same 6069 aluminum material and 30mm internal width but the HD has more material. I would think folks who really care about a few grams here or there are going to probably buck up for carbon rims.
At the same time, the SL carries the same warranty as the HD for the same trail, all mountain, and Enduro use cases, so either way I'm not certain why they've bothered doubling up on SKUs when they could have settled on one or the other, or maybe a unicorn 32-spoke version of the SL.
How much weight does the SL wheelset save over the HD setup I'm running? According to Reserve, I'm looking at 1920 grams for this 32h HD pair compared to 1840 grams for the 28h SL version. That's a difference of 80 grams. But, also according to Reserve, the difference in rim weight between an SL rim and HD rim is 80 grams per rim.
The 30 SL|AL rims are claimed to be 460 grams for a 27" and 500 grams for a 29" hoop. The 30 HD|AL rims are 540 grams for a 27" and 580 grams for a 29" rim. So, I'd expect there to be a difference of 160 grams in rim weight plus 8 spokes and nipples between the SL and HD wheels in their respective sizes.
Something doesn't add up. As part of doing a wheel review, I'll get an actual weight for this specific wheelset with an HD driver. Reserve sells some of their hoops as rim only, so if that does end up being the case with the aluminum models, and you do care about a few grams, be sure to confirm before ordering.
I'm used to running much faster to engage rear hubs, with the most sluggish setup I've ridden in months hitting at 5° between power points. Worse yet, on my full suspension bike, I've been running an Industry Nine Hydra with close-to-instant engagement (0.52°). Switching to DT's 10° setup, there was a transition. I'd still much rather have a faster-engaging hub for any technical climbs, but aside from the odd time that the extra pedal floatation catches me off-guard in a power move, I've adapted well to the bit of lag on my sag wagon.
I much prefer the quiet confidence of the classic star-ratchet configuration on these 350 hubs over the guttural roar of the new Ratchet EXP drive system that comes on DT's higher-end 240 hubs for the same level of engagement.
Aside from the hubs, there's not a heck of a lot to say at this point. Thank you to Reserve for going with j-bend spokes instead of direct pull. I know every mechanic trying to lace up a mid-June warranty wheel build, for what's hopefully a reasonable service credit, appreciates the difference, as do most riders trying to source a broken spoke or two. After all, there's nothing in the warranty about derailleurs, sticks, or other day wreckers getting between the spokes.
The wheels are clearly very well built and tensioned and were arrow straight out of the box. They aired up tubeless using a floor pump without complaint, and aside from getting used to the increased lag in engagement, they've been remarkably unremarkable on the trail.
The SL and HD versions both sell for 700 USD for a complete set of wheels, and there's more information available at Reserve Wheels.