Reynolds has been building the same versions for ten years, so the Attack, Assault and Strike road bike wheels were long overdue for a refresh. The trio has been revamped and recategorized to become their entire mid-range “performance” lineup, breathing new life into their most popular models.
All three get completely new profiles, with each one getting their own unique design tailored to the depth and intended use. All were designed with CFD to optimize aerodynamics. A quick bit of background: They used to offer a “competitive” range in addition to the “performance” range, but with last year’s addition of the top-tier Aero line, they’ve combined the other offerings into a single “performance” grouping.
Besides the shapes, a noteworthy change across the group is the move to external nipples. Thus far, all of Reynolds’ carbon rims used internal nipples, but this change should make shop folks and home mechanics much, much happier. That they’re priced well and rather light should just make that smile bigger.
Spin past the break for pics, specs and a little lesson on aerodynamics from resident guru Paul Lew…
All three are clinchers, with tubular options for the Assault only. They’re designed for use with tubes, but Reynolds’ rep suggested they’re looking into tubeless for the future. Fortunately, though, all of these wheels will use their new inkjet graphics rather than these quite temporary stickers.
The Attack is the shallowest of the three. The shape is a bit more rounded profile, becoming a bit shallower and wider. The old Attack was 32mm deep and 21mm wide, new is 29mm deep and 25mm wide. Weight is 1365g for the set, making it a good all purpose training, climbing and performance wheel. Retail is just $1,600. Rumor has it they may be working on a disc brake version of the Attack, too.
The Assault SLG is the mid-depth all-purpose aero wheel. It also gets a bit shallower and wider. The old was 46mm tall and 21mm wide, new one is 41mm tall and 25mm wide. The new profile adds their SLG (Swirl Lip Generator). In the past, the SLG was added to the rims after the fact. The new ones get SLG designed into the rim shape from the ground up for better aerodynamics.
What’s super cool about the Assault is that it now has a truly disc-specific wheel option. Last year’s version simply bolted their standard rim brake rim to some disc hubs. These get disc specific rims, 2-cross lacing and better disc brake hubs. The Assault SLG is also the only one of the three that’ll have a tubular option (for now), in both disc and standard versions. Retail is $1,800 (rim) and $1,850 (disc brake), claimed weights are 1475g (rim) and 1540g (disc).
The new Strike SLG follows suit, going to 62mm deep and 25mm wide (from 66mm/21mm) and is already approved for mass start UCI races. Starting in 2014, UCI events will limit wheel depth to 65mm for mass start events, so this one clears that hurdle. It, too, gets the SLG. Pricing is $1,900 and claimed weight is 1,525g.
About the aerodynamics: On the Aero line, there’s a Step Hook at the outside of the bead hook that essentially mimics the SLG “lip” on the spoke facing side, but designer Paul Lew says it’s a bit more difficult to mold. The new Assault and Strike use a slightly less pronounced Radius Hook that gets about 50% of the benefit of the Step Hook but is easier to produce, which keeps the price down. The SLG lip is designed to create a small amount of intentional turbulence to keep the overall airflow laminar. The new wheels use one that’s 20% larger, which they say provides 35% less drag than prior Assault and Strike models. Lew says the Attack is too shallow to benefit from SLG.
One other thing you may notice is these wheels’ rounded aero profile shape, similar to what many other brands are touting as the best shape, using NACA profiles. It stands in contrast to their Aero line, which uses Lew’s DET (Dispersive Effect Termination) design that has a slightly rounded wall profile that ends in a point at the spoke holes. Lew says for the low speeds of cycling, it just works better, and here’s why in a nutshell: When you turn the modern crop of aero wheels such that wind is hitting it at an angle, all the graphs show that overall drag drops initially. The reality is that actual drag is increasing, but lift is created and also increases. Lew says you want a positive lift-over-drag ratio (lift increases faster than drag), which is what lets manufacturers show reduced overall drag in a cross wind. But, Lew says (compared to his DET shape), rounded NACA profiles are high drag wheels, but they’re also high lift. So, say brand X has a drag value of 4 and lift value of 2, you effectively cut the drag in half. But, the DET shape has less drag (say, 2) and less lift (say, 1), so it still cuts overall drag in half. He says this is important because lower lift means lower forces affecting your steering by applying less wind-induced steering torque. The result is supposedly a more stable wheel that’s also very fast.
So, why use a rounded shape for the new models? Simple: It allows external nipples, which was a pretty big consumer request, and it offers a similar aero benefit as competing offerings but at a generally lower cost.
Unrelated but interesting given current trends, Lew says as a general rule, disc brakes double the drag of your wheels. He says it’s probably too big a penalty for triathletes with current frame designs, but for road racers that tend to draft each other, it’s probably not as big of a deal.
About that Aero line, there’s a new Aero 46 that’s (yep) 46mm deep. Width is 26.2mm and it uses the same pointed DET shape as the others. It’ll be available in November, wheelset is $2,675 and weighs in at a claimed 1,505g for now, but they’re shooting to get it under 1,500g for production.
At the moment, all of the Aero line is clincher only, but look for tubulars in Spring 2014.
Their carbon rim offerings grow by two. Shown in both detail pics, new 29er XC carbon rims are 24mm wide (19mm internal) and 24mm tall. It shrunk 4mm from the Trail version they released last year, and drops about 30g at the rim. Weight difference for the wheelset versus the Trail is about 75g, coming in at 1,600g. Retail is $1,990.
New 27.5 AM wheels are 31mm wide (23mm internal at tips of bead hook). Wheelset weight is 1715g and it’ll retail for $1,900. The original model becomes the 27.5 XC, but is otherwise unchanged.
Both are available in Fall, just after the tradeshows. More at ReynoldsCycling.com.