When RCUK took a First Look at the Attack wheelset from Reynolds a couple of weeks ago, we were asked what was the point when aluminium-rim wheels of roughly the same weight and a similar rim profile are available at half the price.
The reply is that they aren’t. Not exactly, anyway. It is not possible to construct a roadworthy aluminium rim with the profile of the Attack and the same weight; if it were, nobody would bother with carbon. This applies across the board with deep-section carbon rims, which are very light but have two drawbacks: they are expensive and they need either special brake blocks or an aluminium braking track.
It was also, until very recently, not possible to make a clincher rim using carbon fibre alone. Instead, an aluminium extrusion would be bonded to the rim moulding, providing both braking surface and the location for the clincher tyre. The extrusion was heavy, which is why manufacturers persevered with trying to construct a clincher rim section in carbon.
There are plenty around now, but they are more complex and therefore more expensive to make than a tub rim. The Reynolds Assault wheelset is available with either tub or clincher carbon rim, the latter costing £50 more for this reason.
The weight saving of all-carbon over an all-aluminium clincher rim may be guessed at from the quoted weight of the Solitude wheelset, which is identical to the Attack but for a 31mm aluminium rim that weighs 70g more per wheel. That saving is, of course, right where it is wanted and although Reynolds don’t quote a weight for the rim alone, around 400g each would seem about right.
The result is a rim with good aerodynamics that provides a stiff, responsive ride despite only having a 20/24 spoke count front/rear. The spokes are round and those on the gear side of the rear wheel of heavier gauge than the others in order to take higher tension, but the low count means these wheels feel quick through the air. They are also very quick to spin up to cruising speed thanks to their weight and high spoke tension.
Even ride quality is reasonable enough, the 32mm section allowing a measure of radial deflection along with the usual damping effect associated with carbon.
So; first riding impressions? Very favourable; both rims run true and centred between locknuts, all the spokes are good and tight and both response and ride comfort are right up there with wheels such as Shimano’s Carbon 1380 design.
The Attacks should offer better air penetration thanks to the deep section and they do have that cachet that attaches to deep-section carbon rims. Braking is excellent with the blocks provided although there is a hint of snatch at very low speed and light braking effort indicating that braking track width varies minutely. It’s not a problem and nor are the skewers, which manage to be easy enough to use despite being those ubiquitous external cam jobs found on every wheelset not made by one of the major components manufacturers.
Reynolds Attack wheelset £899.99 including rim tapes, skewers, two valve extenders, two pairs of carbon-specific brake blocks, spoke key, tyre levers