Carbon wheels have been slowly coming down in price the last few years, making them more accessible for riders on a budget seeking top level trail performance. At $1549, the TR 309 S carbon wheels from Reynolds Cycling are $1000 less than what a set of flagship carbon wheels cost just a few years ago, while still providing most if not all of the benefits of the flagship models.
You can certainly spend more. The TR S series sits in the middle of the Reynolds Cycling line with the Blacklabel models perched at the top. Like all high end bike parts though, performance increments are smaller at this level, though even the Blacklabel models have come down slightly, now listing for $2299.
On the other end of the spectrum, the new TR wheels offer Reynolds carbon at their lowest price point to date at $1299.
The TR models feature the same rim as the TR S, but use a less expensive hub and spoke to hit the lower price, gaining over 100 grams in the process.
Out of the Box
Unboxing a new set of wheels is not unlike the experience of unboxing a frame. Seeing as how both are sizable investments in future good times, one may as well enjoy it. (even or should I say especially, in the case of a hot set of loaner wheels)
Decals are included in a variety of colors to match your bike, which is a really cool touch. Unrelated to what comes in the box for the consumer, Reynolds also tossed in some of the best swag I’ve received to date, a set of whisky glasses that I will not be sharing… often. (they’re rad, thanks fellas)
Like any quality wheelset these days, the wheels come set up for tubeless and include valve stems and adaptors for both the Shimano spline and 6 bolt rotors. Rotors are quickly installed using a bottom bracket tool making wheelset up a cinch.
Installing the TR 309 S carbon wheels
My experience installing the TR S 309 wheels was similar to the Black Label Wheels I tested last year. That is to say, as effortless as it gets.
I had signed up for a grass roots super D event earlier in the weeks and with the wheels showing up the night before, I was a bit concerned with setting up new tubeless tires just before an event. A badass set of carbon wheels was a major performance upgrade though, so heading into the shop, I started by soaping up the bead of the tires and put them on. Pumping right up, they seated without hesitation; a loud “pop” and that was it. I was careful to swish around the sealant (I used Stan’s this time around as it was what we currently have on hand) and let the wheels lie in a horizontal orientation for a few hours, rotating and swishing them periodically. Good to go.
The next day they were holding air and I set them to my “new wheels pressure” of 32/35 psi and headed to the races. The lowered rotating weight was a massive change to the personality of the bike. Although I hadn’t ridden the course in years and rode it blind, I managed a 4th in the men’s open category. (Zang wheels, thanks for making me fast)
At the local bike park the lower rotating weight was again apparent as I chased the hardtail guys doing laps around the park. Last week it took a lot more effort to keep up on the buff trails and quick bursts.
I had the same revelation hitting the local trails.
Installing the carbon Reynolds TR 309 S wheels on my long travel 29er was an eye opener. While I’ve spent time on carbon wheels in the past, the performance upgrade is significantly more noticeable with bigger 29″ wheels. Between the quicker, faster response when you jam on the pedals and the stiffness felt while railing a turn, I’m not sure what stokes me more.
They are a lot more stiff than the alloy wheels they replaced. (Stronger too) On a top to bottom enduro style Strava run at Sandy Ridge, I felt the additional feedback of the trail on rock covered sections, with my shoulders taking a beating. (Much of that I’ll attribute to my stiff suspension setup and tire pressure though, which is set for big jumps.)
A week later I did the same run, with a slight change to my setup. I added a spacer token to the Lyrik fork and increased sag from 25% to 28% or so. With the increased ramp up, the front end feels great at speed and on big hits still with a lot more comfort on the high speed rocky stuff. I also dropped a few psi in both the front and the rear tires. (from 32/ 35 psi to 30/32) I didn’t charge as hard into the rock garden to avoid punching a hole the first time out, instead aiming to float through while cranking hard on the pedals. These small changes were like night and day and I’m loving it.
I tend to run a lot more air when I’m running wheels that aren’t mine, plus I hate punching holes in tires, so I’ll stick with the middle of the road pressures. I’m still learning how fast I can ride the Sentinel – the TR S carbon wheel upgrade have made it feel like a different bike.
These wheels are amazing. I’m not sure what I’m going to do when I have to give them back.
- Rim Material: Carbon Fiber
- Rim Construction: Hookless tire bead, tubeless ready, Mountain Rim 5 (MR5) Construction Technology
- Rim Size: 29”
- Rim Width: Internal 30mm, External 36mm
- Rim Depth: 26mm
- Rim Weight: 474g
- Hub: Reynolds TR6 Mountain Hub, 100% CNC machined – 5 degree engagement, 6 pawl freehub
- Spoke Count: 28 Front, 28 Rear
- Brake Interface: Disc Only, Center Lock
- Front Axle Spacing: 15×100 or 15×110 (Boost)
- Rear Axle Spacing: 12×142 or 12×148 (Boost)
- Freehub: Shimano 9-11spd (testing) or SRAM XD
- Listed wheelset weight: 1635g
Are carbon rims for you?
I’m a XT over XTR kind of rider; my preference is to focus on performance but I don’t always care what is the lightest — especially considering the trashing our bikes get on our local trails. If you’re going to slap a Cushcore into the rear tire, you may not care about saving a few more grams making the TR model appealing.
That said, if you’re going to splurge for carbon wheels, saving an extra 100 grams for another $100 is pretty significant – it feels like the upgrade to the TR S model is a no brainer – and they’re bad ass wheels.
Going carbon on on an aggressively ridden 29″ bike feels amazing. I’m going to be rocking these bad boys as long as Reynolds will let me and will report additional feedback in future posts.
The Reynolds TR 309S carbon wheelset lists for $1549. Learn more at ReynoldsCycling.com