My personal highlight of last week’s Core Bike Show had to be the supremely light Reynolds RZR 46 wheels.
First, let’s get the price out of the way. Are you sitting down? They retail for a cool £4499.99! And no, that’s not a typo, before you ask. For that incredible price tag you do get to own one of the lightest sets of wheels currently available, with a quoted weight of 875g for the pair.
They’re the brainchild of Paul Lew (who previously headed up his own company, Lew Racing, but who now works for Reynolds), a man who, it has to be said, has a penchant for producing insanely lightweight wheels. Their lightness is made possible through a complete carbon fibre layup, including the hubs, spokes and rims.
The most notable feature, once you’ve got over how light they are in your hand, is the rear hub with its three flange design. A central flange transmits torque from the hub to the rim through four spokes, and with these central spokes doing the power transfer job there only needs to be another 16 radial spokes to complete the wheel. The front wheel gets 16 spokes.
Besides low weight, aerodynamic performance has been a consideration. A narrow rim decreases frontal area and the 46mm depth reduces mass, while a ‘Swirl /lip Generator’ helps to reduce drag at the spoke end of the rim. With this ‘lip’ the rim is effectively as aerodynamic as a much deeper section rim. This ‘lip’ is also said to improve performance in cross-winds, which would certainly be appreciated in windy road races.
Considering the extremely costly nature of these wheels, it would be interesting whether a broken spoke would cause a write-off. We put this question to Andrew James, Reynolds European Sales Manager, who reassured us that the wheels can be repaired, a broken spoke can be ‘removed’ and a new one can be added in a process which apparently takes just 20 minutes. He also stated that the wheel will function perfectly with up to four spokes out of action.
The future of wheels? Quite possibly. It’ll be interesting to see the advances made here trickle down through Reynolds price range. Available in tubular and clincher and Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo compatible.