When you think of Black Label, what springs to mind? Luxury? Whiskey? High end? For Reynolds, Black Label is synonymous with high end mountain. While the current line of XC and AM carbon hoops certainly can’t be considered low end, Reynolds had customers looking for a premium build using their excellent rims but with premium hubs and spokes. That’s where Black Label comes in. Using the same purpose built rims as their current carbon offerings, Black Label offers a premium build with a premium look that is an industry first.
Pour yourself some Black Label after the jump – as Reynolds says, best served on the rocks.
Coinciding with the launch of their new website and interactive wheel selector, the Black Label series starts off where the newly redesigned 2014 carbon rims left off. Offered in 27.5” and 29” sizes and XC and AM profiles in each, the rim profile and MR5 carbon design are about the only things that are borrowed from the MTN line. The most obvious difference is the new look – understated, yet striking at the same time. Initially, Reynolds looked into using their new Inkjet technology that was introduced for their Aero line up, but the shape of the mountain rim didn’t lend itself to printed decals with a very shallow surface available for a logo.
Instead, Reynolds looked into a graphics technology which they consider an industry first for a carbon rim – heat sublimation. The tricky part about using heat sublimation graphics on a carbon rim is reintroducing the carbon to heat after it has already been cured. Apparently it wasn’t the easiest process to figure out, but they did it and ended up with slick, durable graphics that are in our opinion, quite good looking. While the move to sublimated graphics is more for a premium aesthetic than anything else, weight weenies will find joy in the fact that the process results in 10-15g saved per wheel over standard decals.
When it came to picking a hub partner, while there are many companies that make products that Reynolds admires, they said DT Swiss was an easy choice for a few reasons. Since Reynolds has a major international footprint, they needed a hub that would translate well overseas and would be able to find parts for in other countries. Using the DT 240 hub also meant an extremely light hub that is easily adaptable to nearly any axle standard with their swappable end caps, as well as having XD freehub bodies readily available.
All of the Black Label wheels use a 3 cross lacing pattern with 28 straight pull DT Swiss Aerolight spokes. Those spokes are laced to Centerlock 240 hubs with a custom Black Label graphic that are shipped with 15mm front and 142x12mm rear axle setups for the hubs.
Offering the perfect blend of stiffness, durability, and light weight, the Black Label wheels will carry a premium price tag of $2400 per set. The wheels all include the standard Reynolds’ 2 year warranty, but are also eligible for RAP – Reynolds Assurance Program or the Reynolds Aggressive Protection program. Available in the 30 days after purchase, and for an extra $250 in the off chance of you damaging the wheels under normal riding conditions, RAP means Reynolds will repair or replace the wheels free of charge for as long as you own the wheels though it is limited to one replacement per wheel.
Between the four wheels, the 27.5″ XC wheelset is the lightest at 1435g for the set, though the heaviest set, the 27.5 AM wheels aren’t much heavier at 1528g. Each wheel has its own unique rim profile dimensions based on the intended use, with widths ranging from 26 -31mm wide externally and either 24 or 28mm deep.
The other big news for Reynolds on the mountain bike side of things is the announcement of their wheel sponsorship for the Pivot Factory team. Yes, that means a carbon downhill offering from Reynolds in the future, but nothing is available just yet. What will the team be riding in the meantime then? When it comes to endure racing, the team will be riding the Black Label AM series straight off the shelf. Without a downhill specific wheel, Reynolds will be providing the team custom 27.5 AM wheels that will have a higher spoke count and a tougher carbon layup to handle the abuse of high level downhill racing.
In its second year of world cup downhill racing, the team consisting of Bernard Kerr, Micayla Gatto, and Eliot Jackson and will assist Reynolds in product development and inevitably with the creation of their first carbon downhill rim.