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Teton Tested: Reynolds’ Black Label Enduro Wheels

Rolling around on the excellent and incredibly stiff Reynolds Enduro wheels. Mick Ferraro photo.

The Black Label (yes, like the scotch) Enduro wheels are Utah-based manufacturer Reynolds' apex predator carbon wheel—designed for aggressive all-mountain and enduro shredding. Coming home to find $2500 wheels at my doorstep was one of those moments when I truly appreciate my job. (If you’re wondering, no, I don’t get to keep this stuff but it's fun while it lasts.)

The Enduros come in 29'er (tested here) and 27.5-inch versions. Black Label wheels also include a narrower 27.5-inch and 29er 'Trail' model, as well as a 27.5-plus flavor. The short version is these wheels did not disappoint and if any wheels are actually worth that kind of money, the Reynolds are gold-card members of the club.

Specs

Sugar, how'd you get so fly? GW photo.

Weight, tubeless Set: 1753g
External Width: 34.00 mm
Internal Width: 28.00 mm
Rim Depth: 29.00 mm
Spokes: 28 front/rear
Hub: Reynolds Hub by Industry Nine, 3-degree engagement
Hub Spacing: 142/100 Rear/Front (Boost option is available now)
Driver: XD or Standard, Centerlock
Compatibility: Center Lock Rotor
Warranty: 2 years
Price: $2,500
They came with end caps for QR and 15mm and a center lock to 6-bolt adapter. Which was incredibly easy to use.

Tech

The Enduro's asymmetrical rim profile and various carbon layup zones. Reynolds photo.

Reynolds uses a varied carbon layup methodology they call MR5 (Mountain Rim 5). The process uses five different carbon fiber patterns and resin layups to customize five different rim regions (bead, sidewall, nipple bed, spoke face, and tire channel). This optimizes the tensile strength, stiffness, and flex of the rim. A lot of work but, hey, making light, fast, and stiff wheels is not an easy task.

The ever-fabulous i9 torch hubs. i9 Photo.

The wheels are built with Industry 9 Torch hubs, which are hands down my favorite. They have three-degree engagement—so power transfer is immediate and ratcheting over weird techy sections is a breeze. Also, they make the best mountain bike noise ever. I’ve reviewed i9 wheels a few times now, and rest assured, you’re getting great stuff with these hubs. An added bonus is i9 hub drivers swap out without tools, so if you switch from SRAM to Shimano, it's an easy change.

The wheels spin up fast and keep rolling. Like a tire for lighter useyet they're bombproof. Dave Peters photo.

Reynolds’ Black Label rims feature an asymmetric design. What asymmetric rims do is balance out spoke tension.  Harmonizing spoke tension not only restores wheel strength but balances rotational weight and equalizes how a wheel deflects between left and right sides.

Hookless rim design GW photo.

The rim utilizes a hookless rim channel (where the tires set) with three-millimeter walls. Apparently, hookless designs also straighten out tire sidewalls a tad, providing a bit more air volume. I have no idea how I’d notice that while riding, but I found a PSI sweet spot and stuck with it. For what it's worth I hammered the hell out of these and burpage was minimal to non-existent. They hold a tire just fine. I think I might have noticed a bit of spooge on the wheels every now and again, but nothing significant.

The Setup

The wheels will berm, shred and hammer, but never flex. ESC Enduro photo.

You can now basically get rims in any width, but take the time to mate the right rim to the right tire and you are golden. I used two tire combinations with these 28mm internal wheels: Vittoria Morsa 2.3’s front and rear, and a Maxxis Minion DHR 2.5-inch front and Ardent 2.4-inch rear. Both combos worked great. My humble opinion is that the 2.3's and 2.4's might have maintained a slightly more optimal tire profile than the 2.5 (which was Maxxis’ WT designation). But seriously, no slips, burps or weird pushes either way.

RELATED: 7 steps to picking the right MTB tire.

I was able to swap tires on and off with only my hands, and they inflated with just a floor pump. Which was mildly disappointing, as I had just snuck the purchase of an air compressor past my wife for 'inflating tubeless tires’.

If you have any yellow on your bike, the Enduros match up nice. GW photo.

I ran the wheels on BMC's Trailfox01 with SRAM’s XX1 drivetrain. Hardcore enduro race bike for hardcore enduro wheels. It was reall a marriage made in heaven.

The Ride

This is the stiffest wheel I’ve ever been on. Stiffer than 27.5-inch Enve wheels I tested on a Santa Cruz 5010. (I don’t own a DH bike, maybe those are stiffer.) No chance they’re going to wobble or flex in even the fastest corner. There is an argument to be made for having some flex versus stiffness-induced deflection, but on a 150-160mm bike, probably not so much. They Reynolds Enduros are scalpel-precise and Viagra-hard.

Pick your line exactly, and the Enduro wheels will smash through it. ESC Enduro photo.

I assume if you’re reading this review, and are ready to consider plunking down $2,500 bucks for wheels, you have a rough idea of what you want. If getting the stiffest wheels is on the list, these are probably it. They give you a nice amount of confidence, and you can try them before plunking down.

At 1,750  grams they're also some of the lightest. And therefore spin up really quick. Almost faster than you’d expect on a burly bike. That’s carbon wheels for you. I got no hate for aluminum. Just… well… carbon wheels, y’know. There might be carbon hoops that are a few grams less, but I don’t know offhand which.

Swapping drivers is a cinch. GW photo.

As mentioned, the i9 hubs provided near instant hookup from their 120 pawls and phased engagement. So a quick punch of power on anything technical was right there, no dead spots on the crank hookup.

The torch hub driver body. i9 image.

I pre-rode and raced the wheels at a couple enduros and, of course, rode them around my local trails a ton. (Three months, actually.) And rode them without regard for how they’d look when I had to send them back. Heck, while I had them, I was going to use them. I couldn’t bust em, they still look new the spokes are solid, rims are pristine.

They are so light and strong that you start to harbor fantasies around building a second, hardtail trail/race bike just to use the wheels on that as well. 

The Bottom Line

Okay, let’s talk about money. These are $2,500 bucks. The price of a new high-end frame. Or a halfway decent bike, even. If you have made the decision to drop the coin, spending it on these wheels is a smart choice. As high-end wheels go, the Enduros are tops: The i9 hubs are best, the wheels are light, and they are the stiffest thing going. If you want less stiff (and that’s a legitimate choice), you might want to look around a bit. Dunfee really liked the degree of suppleness afforded by Mercury's X1 carbon rims, which worked nicely for his shorter-travel Evil. Certainly there are very high-end aluminum wheels out there that will flex a bit for you. I don't mind a bit of vertical flex, but not lateral, of course. But try these anyway. Reynolds has a try-before-you-buy program. You can ride a tester set and, if you buy them, I think Reynolds will knock $100 off the price.

It’s well documented that spending on wheels is where you’ll get the most noticeable bang for your performance buck.

Original tape on left, Gorilla tape on right. GW photo.

There is ONE small minus that I’ll mention, but it’s true of all new wheels: what the hell is up with the chintzy blue rim tape? Am I supposed to replace that out of the box? Is it there so that, just in case I weigh them right away, the weight matches up with what’s on the website? It’s slick, doesn’t hold very long, and air slides underneath it. It’s not a tragedy, it’s nothing to do with the wheel, per se, once I got out the Gorilla tape and put a proper strip around the rim all is good.

Anyway, that’s it then. These are light, fast, strong, quick-engaging. But not cheap.

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