In the mountain bike world, carbon wheels are a polarizing idea. Carbon wheels are certainly lighter, stiffer, and offer more precise handling. They’re a must have for anyone looking for performance first out of their bike. However, many fear a supposed lack of durability, a level of stiffness that actually worsens ride quality, and their price point. Santa Cruz Bicycles has the answer to the conundrum: the Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheelset.
Santa Cruz Bicycles brought carbon rims to the mountain biking mainstream when their World Cup Downhill team partnered with ENVE on their championship-winning downhill bikes. The success of their Syndicate downhill team proved the benefit of carbon wheels, and it set a precedence for their use today. However, Santa Cruz felt they could do better. As such, they created an in-house carbon lab with the end goal of creating strongest and most reliable carbon wheel on the market.
How are they this confident in their wheels and rims? After plenty of testing far above that of UCI standard regulation, Santa Cruz found that rims needed to be strong around the spoke nipples, as well as around the rim bead. By making their rims as light as possible, they were able to add material exactly where it was needed. The result of their testing and development is a rim that trials rider Danny MacAskill thrashed – without a rear tire – and still impressed with its durability.
The Santa Cruz Reserve line of mountain bike wheels is relatively new to the carbon wheel scene, but they come with a promise: a lifetime warranty. They’ll replace any rim broken from riding for free, with a rim sent out within 24 hours. Add that to the high quality hub choices available and traditional J-bend spokes, and the Santa Cruz Reserve mountain bike wheel is an extremely reliable wheel packaged by an impressive technologically-advanced wrapper.
Simply put, these wheels are light. Light enough to notice on the trail. They feel smooth enough over rough terrain that the wheel doesn’t rattle fillings out of teeth, but also enough stiffness to keep things from feeling vague. This was accomplished through careful spoke selection and how the rim itself was profiled and constructed. Early reports on durability are very positive, leading to a carbon wheelset that offers all of the benefits of carbon wheels with none of the drawbacks.
The Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheelset is offered in two rim sizes, three rim widths, and two hub options:
- 27.5” 27mm/30mm, weighing 435-470g per rim, depending on width.
- 29” – 25mm/27mm/30mm rim widths, weighing between 390-490g, depending on width.
The Santa Cruz Reserve carbon wheelset retail for $1599.99 with DT Swiss 350 Hubs, $1899.99 with Industry Nine Torch Hubs, or $2199.99 with Chris King ISO Hubs. These whels offer a 1.5:1 rim width-height profile that is asymmetric in spoke drilling.