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Better with age.
Like a well-aged Scotch, the Reynolds 27.5 Plus Blacklabel Wheelset connotes a particular brand of class with an appreciation for rugged, dusty trails that are to smooth tarmac as Scotch's peaty smoke is to the easy finish of caramel-tinged bourbon. The brand designed its Blacklabel whels with its top-of-the-line technology. For its third year in existence, a few additional developments send it stepping confidently into the future. The rims are both stronger and stiffer with Boost hub standards, and the ride is suppler and more responsive courtesy of a new carbon rim profile and an exclusive version of Industry Nine's legendary hubs. Of course, it also kept the smart, sleek aesthetics that have been a part of the wheelset's revered reputation since it was first introduced.
Our Northern Utah neighbors at Reynolds are no strangers to dusty singletrack and hand-numbing lines, and they've spent enough time rallying over slick rock to understand what a high-end enduro wheelset will handle in a day. That's why they shape the carbon fiber rims asymmetrically, strengthening the wheels on the drive side where it's needed most so they can avoid adding unnecessary extra weight to the non-drive side. With this construction, Reynolds lends the entire wheelset strength and rigidity without a total compromise of ride quality. The wheels inspire confidence to roll over just about anything you dare without tossing you around painfully in the saddle like on some ultra-stiff carbon rims.
Reynolds also joins the growing list of wheel manufacturers eliminating bead hooks; the Endurance 27.5 now features a completely hookless bead. We were skeptical at first about this new trend, but with the huge gains made in tire composition over recent decades, the interface between the rim and tire has improved enough that a hooked rim is nowhere near as essential to holding a tire on a rim as it was a half century ago. During testing, manufacturers — Reynolds included —are continuously finding that the right hookless rim shape actually creates a smoother ride while you're railing tight switchbacks, lessening the likelihood of burping tires and other inconsistencies while actually improving durability and impact-resistance.
The other major change, arguably the most significant, to the Black Label line this year comes from Reynolds' partnership with the hub geniuses hiding over in the Blue Ridge Mountains at Industry Nine. Abandoning the reliable DTSwiss hubs that anchored previous iterations, the new proprietary design is referred to simply as the Reynolds center lock hub. The freehub features two sets of three pawls (six total) that are offest to lower the engagement angle to a virtually instant three degrees.
As noted above, Reynolds also adopts Boost spacing on this model, which means you'll enjoy more acute spoke angles and beefier hubs. It's a stiffer, more reactive wheelset that responds better whether you're heaving your frame over a rocky crux or accelerating along a straightaway just because you can. In another first for Reynolds, the hubs are laced to the rims using straight-pull, Sapim aluminum spokes, which only enhance the enviably sleek aesthetics of this wheelset. Like the whisky it shares its name with, the Blacklabel line appears to only be getting better with age.
- Item #REY002B