Reynolds Trail 27.5 carbon wheels review

Are these $2500 hoops the ultimate upgrade for your trail bike?

27.5 Wheels
These wheels may be branded as XC/trail, but we had little issue pushing beyond those boundaries. Photo by Dave Kozlowski

These wheels may be branded as XC/trail, but we had little issue pushing beyond those boundaries. Photo by Dave Kozlowski

Lowdown: Reynolds Trail 27.5 Carbon Wheels

Any way you look at it, $2500 is a lot of money — especially when you’re talking about an upgrade for your mountain bike. But if you’re going to drop big dime in the name of incremental performance enhancement, high zoot carbon wheels are arguably the way to go. The best of the bunch lower overall bike weight, enhance durability, and offer faster engagement and acceleration. So what do you get if you spend that $2500 on a new set of Reynolds Trail 27.5 carbon wheels? Read the full review below to find out.

Stat Box
Depth: 28mm Claimed weight: 1568 grams
Outer rim width: 30mm Actual front wheel weight: 750 grams
Inner rim width: 25mm Actual rear wheel weight: 880 grams
Rim design: Asymmetric with hookless rim channel Total actual weight: 1630 grams
Rim set-up: Tubeless ready Size options: 27.5 (tested) or 29er
Carbon lay-up: Reynolds MR5 Technology Extras: Tubeless valves and tape pre-installed
Hubs: Industry Nine for Reynolds Bike used for test: 2014 Pivot Mach 6
Hub engagement: 120 points, 3 degrees Tires used for test: Continental Trail King 27.5×2.4”
Driver: XD or Shimano Tire width at 26psi: 2.5”
Spoke count: 28 front and rear Wheels Price: $2500
Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray bladed straight-pull Rating: 4.5 Flamin' Chili Peppers 4.5 out of 5
Rotor attachment: Center lock (6-bolt adapter available)

Pluses
Minuses
  • Light weight
  • Expensive
  • Tubeless ready
  • Decals easily scuffed
  • Fast engaging hubs
  • Bland graphics
  • Easily serviceable hubs
  • Finicky tubeless set-up
  • Asymmetric rim design
  • Must use adapter for 6-bolt rotors
  • Balanced spoke tension
  • 6-bolt adapters add weight
  • Wide inner rim width
  • Some will prefer wider inner rim width
  • Rims net wide tire footprint
  • Loud hub (if that’s not your thing)
  • Stiff, but not too stiff
  • Track burly lines very well
  • Rapid acceleration
  • External spoke nipples
  • Can be trued without removing tire
  • Loud freehub (if that’s your thing)
  • No tire burping
  • Highly durable
  • Boost spacing now available

Review: Reynolds Trail 27.5 Carbon Wheels

Don’t get me wrong. I loved my Pivot Mach 6 long before these Reynolds Trail carbon wheels showed up. While not super wide, my personal bike’s old aluminum Mavic Crossmax hoops served me well, performing admirably while capably absorbing several years of regular abuse. There was nothing to complain about, which left me skeptical as to whether any upgrade (even a $2500 one) would really make that much difference in my overall ride experience.

Key stats include a 25mm inner rim width, 120 points of rear hub engagement, and an eye watering $2500 price tag.

Key stats include a 25mm inner rim width, 120 points of rear hub engagement, and an eye watering $2500 price tag.

Flash forward to the end of a full summer test session, and I can’t say these wheels are worth every penny. But that’s mostly because how you and I value our pennies is not necessarily the same. What I can say is that if I was in the market for new wheels and could afford these, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Here’s why.

Out of the box, the Reynolds Trail wheels are an impressive pairing. Actual weight with tubeless valves and tape installed is a reasonable 1630 grams — or 80 grams less than the outgoing Mavics. That’s not a huge number. Drink a few less beers a week and you could quickly shave twice that. But it is rotational weight, which is always most important when talking bikes.

More important, though, is the construction of these carbon wheels. Inner rim width is 25mm, which isn’t huge by today’s standards, but was still plenty wide to give a very nice shape to the set of 2.4” Continental Trail Kings that accompanied this test.

These Continental Trail King tires have been a great discovery. They roll quick, corner well, and have proven highly durable.

These Continental Trail King tires have been a great discovery. They roll quick, corner well, and have proven highly durable.

Coming in, current marketing hype had me believing that the 25mm inner width wouldn’t be wide enough and that I’d have preferred the Reynolds Enduro wheel offering (or something similar), which has a 28mm inner width measurement. But honestly, these did the trick just fine with a little weight savings to boot. And while comparatively speaking, these rims are not quite as robust as the Reynolds Enduro model, I’ve yet to have any issues with durability. Price is the same.

Read the Mtbr review of the Reynolds Enduro carbon wheels.

Once tires were mounted and inflated to ~26psi, they plumped up to 2.5”, which more and more is becoming the sweet spot in the ever changing “right tire width” debate. Sure wider set-ups avail more traction and cushion. But the wider you go the more susceptible you become to squirm and sidewall tears. Just ask my flat-changing friends on 3.0” tire set-ups during a recent trip to Moab.

Weight savings on our Pivot Mach 6 test bike wasn't huge, but any rotational weight loss is a good thing.

Weight savings on our Pivot Mach 6 test bike wasn’t huge, but any rotational weight loss is a good thing.

Whatever the case, this tire-wheel pairing worked great during this test. Cornering traction was toothy and predictable, sidewalls were stable, and we suffered no flats or burps during three months of hard use that included everything from backcountry XC epics in the Colorado high country, to aggressive Crested Butte bike park days, to that Moab excursion, which included a run down the infamous Whole Enchilada trail.

Continue to page 2 for more of our Reynolds Trail 27.5 carbon wheels review


About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.


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  • Perfectbike says:

    That’s a long list of minuses not the mention the lying about the weight of the wheelset. How can a modern rim have finicky tubeless setup? Stick with a Roval carbon setup of your choice.

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