Wheels, wheels, wheels!
Over the past few years, we've seen ongoing advancements in bike frame technology, with the emergence of new groupsets, dropper posts, brakes, and, of course, eBike developments, among other cutting-edge technologies. What seems to have fallen slightly on the back foot however is the advancement of wheel technology. Just this year though, we've seen some established brands shift focus back to wheel development, as well as new names entering the wheel game. New releases from Reynolds, Reserve, and Classified join new players like Forge + Bond and OQUO, making the wheel world more exciting going into the new year.
The Reynolds AR46 Everywhere Wheelset Lineup
Reynolds recently announced the AR46 collection to their road lineup. These 21mm internal width wheels are offered in three variations: the Blacklabel AR46 Pro, the Blacklabel AR46 Expert, and the AR46. Intended primarily for road use and able to handle some use on hardpack dirt, they pair well with an all-road or endurance bike (think Enve Melee, Time ADHX, BMC Roadmachine). While the AR46 naming system is a little rough, the wheels are certainly not! Reynolds has refined all of their wheels at their R&D facility located right around the corner from us in Sandy, Utah. So unsurprisingly, the AR46 features a solid balance of aerodynamics and light weight that perfectly suits Utah’s varied local riding terrain. Reynolds has dubbed the AR46 the "Everywhere" wheelset, and we think they're spot on. With long days on the bike in mind, Reynolds sought out to create a light, yet aerodynamic wheel. At 1397g, the Blacklabel AR46 Pro tips the scales 58g lighter than the ENVE SES 4.5 wheelset, with a similar profile. The AR46 wheels are aerodynamically optimized for a 28mm wide tire, and provide a normal tire profile for widths up to 35mm thanks to the hooked rim design. The rim is tubeless ready and allows for the use of any standard road tire. Reynolds chose not to use a hookless design, as it decreases tire compatibility and is better suited for mountain use than road. With models ranging in price, you’re able to pick exactly which AR46 will be best for you. The Blacklabel Pro features Industry Nine hubs with 690 points of engagement in the rear freehub, making for maximum power transfer while you ride. The other two AR46 options in the lineup feature SUNringlé hubs, which are long lasting and easy to work on for the daily rider.
Reserve Makes Their First Jump Into Alloy Wheels
Working hard but still flying just under the radar in the bike world, Reserve Wheels has been building some of the industry's best carbon wheels for some years now. Reserve's global exposure saw a significant bump this past season, with all three UCI Road Grand Tours having been won on Reserve carbon wheels! Until recently however, they have not ventured into the realm of alloy. Reserve jumped into the alloy game early in 2023 with their Reserve 30 SL | AL 6069 mountain wheelset. These wheels set their focus on performance and durability in an affordable package. Alloy construction provides a strong, solid platform, and asymmetric spoke drillings on the rim increase strength and decrease the chances of knocking your wheel out of true.Reserve offers all of their products with a comprehensive lifetime guarantee, that will protect you from most of the issues that you may encounter. These wheels also come standard with the Reserve Fillmore valve, a unique valve core design that ensures that it will never get clogged with sealant. The Fillmore design also provides for high air flow to make it easier to inflate your tires. The Reserve 30 SL | AL 6069 wheelset is a great option for MTB riders looking to upgrade their bike with an affordable, durable, and high-performing alloy wheelset. We recommend these for everything from hardtail mountain bikes to 180mm travel enduro bikes. The Reserve 30 SL | AL 6069 is a wheel meant to be ridden, and ridden hard.
The Classified Mountain Wheelset - 2x Without A Front Derailleur
It’s been a while now since we’ve seen widespread use of front derailleurs on mountain bikes. There are numerous reasons why we've mainly moved on from 2x MTB drivetrain setups, but the things we sometimes miss about multiple chainrings up front are the closer gear ratios and the ability to effectively “jump” a few gears with a single click. The hub and wheel manufacturer Classified provides a clever alternative in the form of their internally geared 2-speed Powershift rear MTB hub and 11-40 cassette. Wirelessly controlled via a bar-mounted thumb switch, the Classified rear hub effectively increases the number of available gears, provides for closer ratios between gears and gives the rider the ability to quickly skip multiple gears with one shift. The net result is much like switching from one front chainring to another with a 2x setup. The real beauty of this system comes into play when you need to maintain momentum coming into a climb, and can save you several upshift clicks when things flatten out or pitch downward. With nearly instantaneous actuation and shiftable under full-load, the Classified Powershift system provides most of the benefits of 2x drivetrains in a more efficient, lower weight, and more reliable package. As far as rims for the Classified wheel, there are a few different options to get you rolling. Classified provides their in-house M25 and M30 rims, with the numbers referring to internal rim width. These rims have been designed to be stiff and responsive, and are the perfect addition to an XC race bike or shorter travel trail bikes. For those who may want to go with a rim that is more widely known, Classified has partnered with ENVE, Reynolds, Mavic, and HED, among others, to give you the perfect setup for your mountain bike.
OQUO By Orbea - Road Wheels For Everyone
Orbea fans and riders may already be familiar with Orbea's subsidiary wheel brand OQUO. Orbea jumped onto the scene in the fall of 2022 with their MTB wheel lineup and have decided to expand their range to include road use as well. OQUO has released a total of eight new models ranging from ultra-aero carbon wheels, to ultra-light climbing wheels, and even a durable alloy wheel set for off-road use. OQUO has two lines, the Road Control (RC) and Road Performance (RP). The RPs are available in 35, 45 and 57mm dish options, and they all feature a 21mm internal width. The RCs use a wider 25mm internal width, and are intended for dirt use, but are only offered in two variations. OQUO has a pretty straightforward naming system, once you familiarize yourself with it a bit. Each wheel is offered at the LTD, TEAM, and PRO levels. LTD refers to a carbon rim paired to a Zipp Cognition VS2 hub, the TEAM uses the same rim but with the Zipp ZR1 hub, and the PRO uses the Zipp ZR1 hub with an alloy rim.
For those who want a wheelset to match their bike, the LTD's are available to be painted to match your bike as closely as possible. OQUO uses a rim design that they call a “mini-hook” system, to provide compatibility with hooked tires and to ensure optimum aerodynamics. The mini-hook sits halfway in between a hooked and hookless rim design, allowing the tire to have the higher volume and impact protection offered by a hookless rim, while preserving compatibility with all road tires.
Forge + Bond - Utah Wheels For Utah Riding
New to the scene and headquartered in Gunnison, Utah, Forge + Bond produces innovative carbon wheels that are strong, lightweight, and environmentally sustainable. While a carbon wheel’s carbon footprint might not be the first thing on your mind when purchasing, Forge + Bond is hoping to change that perspective. Their carbon rims are produced using highly sustainable manufacturing processes that generate no carbon dust and yield a product that is completely recyclable. Forge + Bond wheels are 100% made here in the USA. The carbon material, hubs and spokes are all US-sourced, and the wheels are designed, assembled and tested in Forge + Bond's facility in Utah. This not only benefits the local economy, but greatly reduces the overall carbon footprint of the product by minimizing logistics and eliminating overseas shipping.Forge + Bond currently offers three wheelsets: an Enduro MTB set, an XC MTB set, and a Gravel set. They do have plans to make a trail wheelset that we will hopefully see soon. Forge + Bond wheels use what they call FUSIONFIBER, a carbon fiber that does not require a thermoset process to lay up. This also means that during the manufacturing process many of the harmful bi-products associated with carbon production are not present, and the material can be recycled at the end of its lifespan. For more about the Forge + Bond production process, check out our in-depth write-up. We take a deeper look at the “how” as well as the “why”.All of Forge + Bond’s wheels are laced up to Industry Nine hubs. The Gravel wheelset uses the i9 Torch, while the MTB sets use the i9 Hydra. Industry Nine hubs are manufactured in Asheville, NC and equipped with 690 points of engagement to provide instant power to the wheels. These hubs are just another jewel on the American-made crown of the wheelsets. Forge + Bond’s cross country and gravel wheels utilize a 25mm internal width to provide ample tire volume and allow slightly lower tire pressures than on narrower wheels. The 30mm internal width on their Enduro set provides traction and durability to both the tires and wheels.
Wheel technology, like all other bike technologies, keeps advancing to provide the maximum performance while keeping the cost and weight down. Whether you choose to go with the low-weight of a Reynolds set or the advanced mini-hook system on the OQUO’s, you will undoubtedly get a high-performing road wheel set. If durability is your primary focus, look no further than the Reserve’s, as they will keep your bike running day after day and hit after hit. The all-American Forge + Bond wheelsets provide high quality carbon, without the price tag of other American-made products or the environmental impact of most carbon options. If high-tech is what you’re after, the radically different Classified wheels give you a faux-front derailleur, allowing a wide gear range without sacrificing reliability.
Whether you have a specific wheelset in mind, or need a hand selecting what will work best for you, we are happy to get you up and running and answer any questions you may have. Come into our Park City or Salt Lake City shops to check out these wheels in person and get the rundown.