You would think that wheel manufacturers are pretty close to exhausting the possibilities of wheel design. We’ve seen pretty much everything now. There were the sharp edge aero wheels, then the blunt edge Firecrests and Enves, then wide rims, then wider rims, and now super-wide rims. Along the way, they have all gotten lighter, the braking better, and for the most part, stronger, but eventually you start to wonder, “It’s a round bicycle wheel. How much more can they change?”
Well, Reynolds kept going and has pushed it to another level with their new Aero line. There are 46s, 58s, 72s, and 90s to choose from, and a whole bunch of front/rear combos. The weights are about the norm for $2700 carbon clinchers these days, with the Aero 58s weighing in at 1580 grams for a set. That’s pretty darn light, especially considering that the 1500 gram benchmark was set off of the Mavic Ksyrium SL, which is a 26 mm-ish tall rim. There are no tubulars for the Aero line, only clinchers. Aesthetically, the Aeros are great to look at, too, but that’s not the selling point, because today, just about every carbon wheel looks good.
What sets the Reynolds Aero line apart from a design perspective To start, Reynolds has followed the trend and the Aeros are WIDE. Really wide. At the brake track, they measure almost 27mm, which I think this is the widest rim currently on the market. Reynolds says the optimal tire width, aerodynamically, is a 23mm clincher. However, most of our staff have run both 23s and 25s on the Aeros and I think the consensus would be to use the 25mm. It gives you a little more comfort, with no indication of rolling resistance increase, and it just puts a little bit more tire over the rim’s edge, which is wide. Did we mention that?? Reynolds has switched “back” to a sharper “V” edge on the Aero line. This is in direct contrast to the Zipp Firecrest’s profile, which is very blunt at the spoke nipple. Zipp says this is just as aero, but allows for better control in crosswinds. Reynolds says almost exactly the same about their Aero design. Which marketing department should you believe? We’ll get to that, in just a minute.
Next up are the unique and, if you ask me, somewhat brilliant “nipple cutouts.” Since Reynolds used a V shape where the nipple enters the rim, that allowed them to cut a section out of the rim that is about 3mm by 3mm. What this does is allow the spoke, with its internal nipple to pull straight to the hub flange. It’s not a new idea and has been done by companies like HED for years on their alloy rimmed and carbon-faired wheels, but this is the first that we have seen where there are literal notches in the rim to allow the spokes to move side to side. We are also guessing this allows for higher spoke tension and wheel stiffness than some of the other carbon wheel options.
The last little design piece is something so simple that you have to wonder why no one has thought of it, or are doing it. Rattling valve stems have been an issue since the development of deeper wheels. Simple fixes are to use the little threaded nuts that come on most tubes or to go the “pro” route and put a piece of electrical tape over the valve/rim. The tape is actually the better solution, but it’s not the cleanest looking fix. Reynolds thought about it and said, “Why don’t we just line the valve hole with a rubber grommet?” And, they did. And, it works. It’s a simple, but great idea that eliminates one of the most annoying sounds. Tick, tick, tick. Rattle, rattle, rattle. Gone, baby. Gone!
The Ride –
- Lots of room for tire pressure adjustment, especially with the 25s.
- No pushing in wind.
- No brake rub.