Reynolds Blacklabel Wheels AndrewM
REVIEW

Reynolds, Honzo and Ned's : A Carbon Wheel Review

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Jun 22, 2017

Bleeding Tires

I've just rolled in from another awesome ride and it's time for a beer. Pedaling from home, even if it's thirty minutes of pavement in each direction to hit the trails, is my favorite luxury and rolling in the door after a solid effort always has me smiling. I'm singing* a catchy tune by Ed Sheeran and I don't even care that it's not underground, indy, punk or old-school hip hop enough to be mountain-bike-cool.

As I hang my Honzo from its hook.... what's this? There is Stan's sealant bubbling up from around a pile of the center knobs on the front tire. Oh, and the back tire too. 

Reynolds Blacklabel Wheels AndrewM

I've been riding these Reynolds Blacklabel wheels since Jeff helped with a teardown at the beginning of November. The Industry Nine hubs are starting to get obnoxiously loud again which indicates to me that they are due for a re-lube, but in terms of performance they are still straight and spinning as new. 

For tires, I have a Schwalbe Magic Mary up front and a Hans Dampf in the rear. Both are the Trailstar compound. I could clean up the rubber and list them on the buy-&-sell as "83% life remaining" and by appearance, no one would argue. I cracked the bead and added some more sealant.

I don't feel like either tire owes me anything. They've had a hard, hard life. I tried to ruin the Industry Nine hub by running it on my single speed and in turn I thrashed the rims by riding that bike down a rock garden called Ned's on a regular basis. 

Set 'em On Fire


...some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.” - Alfred Pennyworth

In addition to being a great year-round trail option that can be ridden in any weather, Ned's consists of the perfect sport surface to dial in bike settings. It eats wheels three meals a day and moves onto tires for dessert. It's at the top of a solid climb and doing a couple laps has enough climbing that I may actually accomplish some of my Fatness Goals.

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For beautiful photos and a take on the 27" version of these Reynolds Blacklabel wheels mounted on a dual suspension bike check out Dave Smith's review here. Photo: Dave Smith

For their part, the 28mm internal, hookless bead Reynolds hoops are stiff without being harsh, light without being wispy, easily air up tubeless, feature excellent Industry Nine hubs with near-instant engagement and they look great. They've also held up to months of abuse. 

Despite this recent experience, I have a personal aversion to carbon fiber rims and cranks. I've had enough bad carbon experiences in certain product areas that I'm paranoid about sticking both thumbs in the air lest they be chopped off by a bladed spoke. The Reynolds Assurance Program helps put my mind at ease but I still want to be certain. 


Solidly built but I would expect nothing less from a wheelset with a $2500 USD price tag. At that price, I would definitely consider forking out the ~$300 for the Reynolds’ Assurance Program to cover crash replacements and other unexpected tear-inducing situations." - Dave Smith

Musical Rides

In the immortal words of Robert Munsch's Mortimer: "Clang, Clang, Rattle-Bing-Bang, Gonna make my noise all day!" I've hard crunch bottomed the rear rim on my trusty Honzo enough times per ride that if I'd only recorded the various sickening sounds Matt Dennison could have turned them into a wicked bicycle themed horror movie soundtrack

That's not saying that the Reynolds rims are loud, if anything the carbon hoops damp sound more than aluminum. Even my Industry Nine hubs are reasonably quiet thanks to some teardown & winterization. It's just that even with 28-29psi in my rear tire I'm bottoming the rim regularly riding down Ned's.  

Reynolds Blacklabel Wheels AndrewM

My Toxik Harald painted Kona Honzo has been through a lot and is still a great test mule. Currently rolling a variety of product on test: an e13 TRSr crankset, e13 TRS+ dropper post, SQLab 30x handlebar and these Reynolds Blacklabel wheels. 

I did my able best to choose sh*t lines** and on multiple occasions frightened birds took flight to the percussion of my rear rim bottoming on a sharp rock. I had more than a few minor giggle fits examining the rims after my crunchier runs. 

This would be a good time to apologize to anyone who doesn't want to play bikes with me anymore because anytime I'm on the Honzo I'm suggesting Ned's for trail choice. My regular rim-on-rock queries: ("Did you hear that one?") might get a little old as well.

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Where I have to tension my aluminum wheels semi-regularly the Reynolds were excellently tensioned and true out of the box and required only minor love through the review process. This is a clear advantage carbon rims have over aluminum. 

The ride quality is excellent. Perhaps it is a nuance that only someone on a really stiff hardtail would notice but these rims have more give than most carbon hoops I've ridden. They are efficient and easy to get up to speed without delivering the ass whooping of other carbon rims I've tried. 

Reynolds, Honzo & Ned's

The Reynolds Blacklabel wheels come built with bladed spokes and Industry Nine hubs. Along with Jeff at Bikeroom I serviced them from new and then never looked at them again. I mounted them on my trusty Honzo, first with some old rubber and then with some fresh Schwalbe tires, and then rode them all over the North Shore and surrounding areas with an unnatural focus on Ned's Atomic Dust Bin. 

I'm not saying these rims are invincible. When a composite force meets an immovable rock there is only one party with any risk of losing. Sh*t happens as they say and the Reynolds Assurance program is a saving grace on that front (note - the program is not included in the price of your wheels). The fact is that I treated them cruelly and the Blacklabel wheels stuck by me. 

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The Reynolds wheels have seen lots of steep and chunky terrain and also many miles of solid single speed pedaling. Photo: Dave Smith

These wheels are expensive. $2500 USD expensive. It's a lot of money. It's A LOT of money. But, anyone considering spending big dollars on a set of carbon hoops would do well to consider the ride quality and overall package of the Blacklabel wheelset as part of their research. Buying a Pivot? They are available as an upgrade from new. 

For more information check our Reynolds Blacklabel here.

*My singing has been compared to the sound of two cats gently mating.
**With my hack skills the lines choose me. 


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Comments

rvoi
+1 Andrew Major
rvoi  - June 22, 2017, 9:37 a.m.

Now I really want to hear raw sound capture of you charging that carbon rimmed Honzo through the rock gardens! A decent mic is very inexpensive and you could also do some long-term sound clip analysis between different variables... hardtail versus full suspension, carbon versus aluminum, pro versus amateur, 2.1 versus 2.8. We all know the look and feel, but what do the differences really sound like? This could be groundbreaking work in the field of telemetry science.

Reply

natbrown
0
natbrown  - June 22, 2017, 10:23 a.m.

A unidirectional mic would probably be important if you wanted only, or principally, the sound of the rim on rocks. Just saying, should anyone be interested in specifically that.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2017, 2:41 p.m.

I was just being comfortable but that is definitely within my bike-nerd interest level but outside my means/expertise - and I don't know about "groundbreaking" when it comes to bicycle anything...

Unlike say using a mic to grab free hub sounds (where the mic can be mounted on the hub) the diameter of the wheel is so large how would you grab consistent contact sounds from anywhere in the diamater of the rim - multiple mic points?

Reply

velocipedestrian
+1 Andrew Major
Velocipedestrian  - June 22, 2017, 6:18 p.m.

Directional mics are often long and thin - perfect for strapping to a chainstay. 

For extra nerd points, attach between the chain- and seatstays just in front of the rotor, point at the contact patch and giv'er. Mic

Reply

velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - June 22, 2017, 6:20 p.m.

Bother. This time? 

Mic

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 22, 2017, 7:54 p.m.

If I had a million dollars I would definitely waste some of it commissioning Matt Dennison to remake the 1812 Overture using rim strikes and brakes squealing in the wet. Too awesome.

Reply

rvoi
0
rvoi  - June 23, 2017, 7:51 a.m.

But you don't need $1,000,000... the budget for capturing raw audio is probably under $100. Matt might even help with a few free tech tips if you offer the right bribe :D

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Pete Roggeman
Andrew Major  - June 23, 2017, 8:10 a.m.

The budget isn't for the raw audio it's for the 1812 overture part! :-)

Reply

velocipedestrian
+1 Andrew Major
Velocipedestrian  - June 27, 2017, 7:34 p.m.

There's a dude in Finland who'd probably be keen. 

http://chainslapmag.com/2017/06/serious-sundays/

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 27, 2017, 8:41 p.m.

That is an awesome little video! Thank you for sharing.

Reply

D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - June 28, 2017, 4:25 p.m.

I don't expect to be buying carbon wheels any time soon, but I enjoyed reading this.

On a semi-related note, which alloy rims have fared best for you on your hardtail?

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 DMVancouver
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2017, 6:13 a.m.

Thank you!

I've had a great experience with RaceFace ARC rims. I run high enough pressure to not regularly bottom them (2.4 DHR2 WT or 2.6 Laughter Grid). 

I'm running the ARC 30 out back. 

I've run Flow MK3 as well with good results. Would be in to trying the DT 511 next as I've heard great things.

Reply

D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - June 29, 2017, 8:36 a.m.

Cool, sounds like you've had good luck with most of the major players. Maybe I need to run more tire pressure, but the ARC 27 on my full-suspension AM bike dents more easily than other rims I've used. I figured I'd make short work of it on the hardtail.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - June 29, 2017, 11:39 a.m.

I have two friends in the same boat - both run generally lower pressure than me. I've pulled a couple small dents out of mine and still sits up tubeless. I think running the 2.6 helps too. I bottom the smaller tires on my Honzo way more often (29x2.3 on Reynolds vs 29x3 & 27x2.6 with ARC).

Guys going through ARC/Flow should check out 511.

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