Reynolds Blacklabel Wheels: Teardown & Winterization (Updated)

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Nov 6, 2016

Offseason? What Offseason?

With the rains having arrived I’m in the process of winterizing my bikes, including this set of Reynolds Blacklabel wheels. Its a great opportunity to get together with my friend Jeff at Bikeroom, crack a beer, and demonstrate the little weather resistant details of the Blacklabel’s Industry Nine hubset and some steps to winterize any wheelset.

Based in North Vancouver, BC, I have the luxury of access to year round riding. While Karma dictates a much smaller selection of trails, there’s still plenty of variety allowing me to maintain my sanity and ruin my bicycle.

Reynolds Blacklabel

Hmmmm. Hahaha! Hrmph? Thanks as always to Jeff at Bikeroom for the bench time and his experience. Reynolds Blacklabel 29’er Enduro hoops use their 28mm ID MR5 carbon rim, 28x straight pull bladed spokes, and Industry Nine hubs with 3-degree engagement.

Reynolds Blacklabel

Reynolds 1760 gram Enduro wheelset is light and reasonably wide (with a 28mm ID). By most accounts these hoops are also very stiff without having a harsh ride. With Reynolds Assurance it offers excellent value for a rider who wants carbon wheels but is concerned about the fact that sh*t happens.

Today I am looking deep into the Industry Nine hubs and borrowing on Jeff’s experience to prepare for a winter of dark, dank, wet, and sometimes torrential pre-dawn and after dinner rides. I’ll be talking about the Reynolds Blacklabel MR5 asymetric rims as part of the review process.

Reynolds Blacklabel

Checking the tension on the Reynolds Blacklabel wheels’ bladed spokes. Jeff’s Wheelsmith spoke tension meter is a source of joy and sadness, dating back to before HBG had their way with the company.

I do want to mention that Reynolds designs and manufacturers their rims in their own facilities. They also manufacture all their carbon molds, produce all the prototypes, and even make the first production batch of any new rims in-house in the USA.

Once a rim design is ready to go production shifts to a factory that Reynolds owns in Asia.

Reynolds Blacklabel

Industry Nine’s hubs are very straightforward to access for basic service and full rebuilds. Rubber mallet recommended.

Industry Nine

Reynolds Blacklabel wheels use a USA Made hubset from their friends at Industry Nine. They are 28h direct pull models for Centerlock rotors but the guts are identical to all their high-end mountain bike hubs. The six pawls are offset into two sets of three and offer a very quick 3-degrees of engagement.

The first surprise came with removing the end caps from the front and rear hubs. Grease? There is grease! This was a very pleasant surprise because the majority of hub manufacturers – from cheap to boutique – don’t bother with details like lubrication. Or as Jeff put it: “no one does that.” Industry Nine has a couple of other nice nods to water resistance:

Reynolds Blacklabel

The orange 2-way seal on Industry Nine’s freehub body keeps bath lubrication inside the hub and water out. After the spa treatment my pawls are swimming in 0W-30 full synthetic.

The first feature of note is the orange 2-way seal on the freehub body. In addition to keeping water out of the hub the seal allows for healthy sloshing of oil to bathe the pawls and teeth. Like all the small parts in Industry Nine’s hubs this is replaceable and can be purchased directly from the company.

Another clean little detail is the o-rings embedded in each end cap that interface with corresponding grooves on the hub axles. No lost end caps here as they require a little tug to pull free. They also help seal the hub against water ingress.

Reynolds Blacklabel

Grooves in the hub axles allow for tight fitting axle end caps thanks to an o-ring interface.

Reynolds Blacklabel

O-Rings mounted inside the hub end caps interface firmly with grooves in the corresponding axles for a tight fit.

Universal Truths

There are many product-specific best practices for service and maintenance floating around but Jeff’s advice on winterizing these Industry Nine hubs is applicable to any hub that uses sealed cartridge bearings and pawls on the hub driver.

Reynolds Blacklabel

Don’t have a set of Reynolds Blacklabel wheels? Don’t have an Industry Nine hub? Basic service/winterization is the same for any hub driver with spring loaded pawls – leaf or coil springs.

Tools

A few tools are required to do a full hub teardown on most hubs: a bearing press, some kind of bling bearing install tool, a razor blade, heavy bearing grease, a very light grease – like Slickoleum, and some full synthetic 0W-30 should fit the bill.

A bearing press can be an expensive proposition, but for home service a fully machined ‘professional’ level tool isn’t required. Boca’s Bike Bearing Install tool is $40 and works great. Some kind of bearing punch is also great for tapping bearings out.

Reynolds Blacklabel

A nice ‘professional’ grade bearing press with machined adapters is a sweet, sweet, luxury, but Boca’s Bike Bearing Installer is a great tool for about $40.

Reynolds Wheel Teardown

Hand made in North Vancouver from 100% recycled materials. Jeff has bearing punches in a variety of diameters in addition to a Snap-on Tools blind bearing puller.

Winterizing

I’m not racing my bike beyond the odd amateur attempt at not puking/cramping/crying so I’m happy to run a heavy waterproof bearing grease in my hub bearings all year round. Best practice for competitive racing is to run a much lighter grease in the hub bearings on race day and leave the heavy grease for riding the nasty.

Reynolds Blacklabel

Hub bearings and suspension pivot bearings and… well… bearings in general. For nasty winter usage popping the bearing seals and filling them with heavy waterproof grease is the best practice.

Reynolds Blacklabel

If press fit tolerances are perfect, like on this Industry Nine hub, then all that’s needed between the hub shell and outer bearing race is grease. If the tolerances are bad then some bearing retainer (Loctite) is recommended.

In contrast to bearings, the rule for pawls is as light a grease as you can find. Slickoleum, normally recommended for reducing seal friction, is a great choice but there are lots of options.

Reynolds Blacklabel

Leaf springs or coil springs. Slickoleum is a great choice for a very light grease for pawl springs. “Nothing thick or pawls will stick” says Jeff. Update (below): this is the best practice for many/most pawl style hub drivers; however, Industry Nine now spec’s stainless steel springs so corrosion issues of the past are not present. Slickoleum is not necessary for these specific hubs.

Many companies making similar pawl driver hubs recommend different lubricants for the pawl-teeth interface. Running a 0W-30 full synthetic oil is a safe bet for hubs where there is not a recommendation and in general.

Reynolds Blacklabel

Holding the wheel at a 45-degree angle fill it with 0W-30 full synthetic. I would always recommend checking first if a given hub manufacturer has a lube recommendation. If in doubt you can’t go wrong with the 0W-30.

Ready to ride through a North Shore winter!

Update : Stainless Steel Springs

As part of the winterization above I recommend applying a small amount of a very (very) light grease – Slickoluem – to the pawl springs to help keep them from corroding. An issue that Jeff and I, and every mechanic I know on the North Shore, has seen with most pawl style hub drivers including Industry Nine.

It is a concern for some manufacturers. This includes Industry Nine, whose awesome Torch hubs are used on these Reynolds wheels, and Mavic among others. Applying too much, or too heavy, of a grease will restrict the pawl movement and can damage the freehub with improper pawl engagement.

A big thanks to Colin from Reynolds, a very experienced Industry Nine tech, for the heads up that Industry Nine switched over to stainless steel pawl springs. While its still the best practice for many hubs to prevent corrosion through the winter, with the Reynolds wheels shown here, and Industry Nine Torch series hubs in general, spring corrosion is not an issue.

Thanks Colin!


For those that aren’t looking at the start of Fat Bike season, what do you do to winterize your main rides?

Comments

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Nov. 7, 2016, 7:41 p.m. -  Kenneth Perras

I'm enjoying the quality articles Drew! Keep them coming.

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Nov. 7, 2016, 8:43 p.m. -  DrewM

Thank you Ken; I really appreciate it.

I owe a lot to Jeff @ Bikeroom [HTML_REMOVED] James et. al. @ SuspensionWerx for helping make them happen.

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Nov. 7, 2016, 12:50 a.m. -  Robert Cole

a great tip for ensuring sealed bearings get fully coated when applying thick grease

once you have packed suitable grease into the bearing, before replacing the bearing shield. Take an electric (or cordless) drill/driver, remove any bits from the chuck, wind the chuck close, gently push the chuck face against the inner bearing race and spin the bearing with the tool running at low speed. this distributes the grease throughout the bearing package.

you might want to apply a little more grease on the outside before replacing bearing shield. For full suspension pivot bearings, you can do this with axle removed and the bearing still embedded in the frame 😉

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Nov. 7, 2016, 8:50 a.m. -  walleater

Yep, in a pinch I've done similar with seized bearings and an easy-out. One can at least get the bearings spinning so they can be flushed out and re- greased in the same way as above. It's not pretty, but if the correct bearing can't be sourced or the person doesn't want to spend the money, having a freely spinning bearing is better than a seized one.

Reply

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Nov. 7, 2016, 9:17 a.m. -  DrewM

This has been me more than once in my life at the 11th hour the night before a big ride. I actually keep a few of the most common bearing sizes around the house now.

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