Reynolds Dean carbon fat bike wheels review

The ultimate fat bike component upgrade — if you can afford them

Fat Bike Wheels Winter Guide
Just for fun, we ran a Reynolds Dean up front and a Borealis Elite in the rear. Both did the job exceptionally well.

Just for fun, we ran a Reynolds Dean up front and a Borealis Elite in the rear. Both did the job exceptionally well (click to enlarge).

Keen observers will notice a distinct resemblance between the new Dean wheels and the collaborative effort Reynolds embarked on with fat bike maker Borealis last fall. Indeed, the Borealis Elite wheels share the same (or very, very similar) carbon rims, but use different hubs and spokes.

The Dean rim features easy tubeless functionality thanks to a hookless double-wall design. Key measures include an external width of 80mm, internal of 76mm, and a 28mm depth, which conspire to provide a comfortable perch for tires up to 5 inches wide. The Dean is available in both 12x177mm and 12x197mm rear-wheel spacing configurations, while the front hub features 15x150mm, meaning it plays nice with RockShox’s Bluto suspension fork. Rotor attachment is 6-bolt.

Industry Nine hubs with 3-degree engagement and a 6-pawl mechanism spun up quickly without the annoying lag that can turn riding into walking.

Industry Nine hubs with 3-degree engagement and a 6-pawl mechanism spun up quickly without the annoying lag that can turn riding into walking (click to enlarge).

Hubs are fast engaging Industry Nine, and the wheels can be spec’d with XD 11-speed driver body or Shimano 10/11-speed. DT Swiss Competition spoke counts are a sturdy 32 front and rear. Complete wheelset weight is 2150 grams. The Dean is also claimed to boast the Reynolds Blacklabel strength and durability standards, and we have nothing to dispute that based on our snow-only testing thus far. They are plenty stiff and plenty strong.

Tubeless set-up has been floor-pump easy and hub engagement is quick and precise, which is especially welcome on slick and/or loose, snowy climbs when maintaining momentum (and traction) is the key to not walking. Of course, they also made our tester Borealis Crestone a lot lighter, slicing almost 1500 grams (or 3.3 pounds). And in this case the stock Turnagain wheels with Maxxis tires were set-up tubeless. If they’d been tubed you could add another pound or so to that weight-lost number.

Decal options include blue, yellow, or white.

Decal options include blue, yellow, or white (click to enlarge).

What the Deans are not is the lightest option out there. The aforementioned Elites, which use Borealis-branded hubs, list at 2210 grams per set, and HED’s Big Deal carbon hoops come in around the 1850-gram mark, though they use just singlewall construction, which presumably wont be as durable if you plan to use your fat bike for more than just a snow machine.

Reynolds markets these hoops as a true all-around option that will be just as at home on the wintry trails around our test HQ in Crested Butte, Colorado, as they are bashing off rocks in Moab or Grand Junction. And that’s a critical point. If all you’re looking to do on your fat bike is rip around on the snow, the Reynolds Dean is arguably overkill, as the HED’s are lighter, tubeless compatible, and can be found for a couple hundred bucks less. (A quick Internet search turned up one listing at $2240 with the same Industry Nine hubs as the Deans.)

MSRP is a wallet biting $2650.

MSRP is a wallet biting $2650 (click to enlarge).

But if you’re looking to expand your fat bike horizons beyond the winter months (and have available disposable income), then adding a set of Deans to your fat bike component arsenal makes a ton of sense. Reynolds has a solid reputation for making durable product and then standing behind it, so you’ll have a much more capable (read: light) winter rig — and you wont have to worry about charging into that rowdy rock garden come summer.

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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 Olympics, Tour de France, MTB world champs, 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 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 life with his wife Lisa and kids Cora and Tommy in and around their home in the MTB Mecca of Crested Butte.

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