Reserve was founded in 2014, with a simple goal – to make the most reliable and durable carbon wheels on the market, with the best strength to weight ratio possible – all backed up with a lifetime guarantee.
The first Reserve mountain bike wheels were launched in 2017- with that lifetime warranty – and were quickly followed by gravel wheels, and then later aero road wheels. Reserve has always stuck to its MTB roots though and has made wheels for all different applications from trail and XC, to full on DH, and earlier this year Reserve launched their newest addition, the Reserve 30SL’s.
The Reserve 30SL’s are designed as a do everything trail riding wheel and as the name suggests, have a 30mm internal width, making them suitable for tyres from 2.25” to 2.5”. Those of you who are riding 27.5” bikes might want to look away now though as the Reserve 30 SL’s are only available in 29”.
The 30 SL’s are available in two full builds with either DT Swiss 350 hubs or i9 Hydra hubs, and are also available with a choice of 6 bolt or centre lock rotor mounting. Costs for a full set are £1,599 for the DT Swiss hub version and £1,899 for the i9 option. There is also a rim-only option if you fancy building up your own custom hoops, which will set you back £499 per rim.
We’ve had a set of the i9 Hydra hub variety 30 SL’s on test for the past couple of months, and have been putting them through their paces. Reserve claims that the 30 SL’s are one of the lightest trail wheelsets on the market at the minute and our test set (with SRAM XD driver, centre lock mounts) weighed in at an impressive 1,668g on my trusty kitchen scales (rim only 440g claimed), and even more impressive is that they don’t come with a maximum rider weight.
Reserve 30 SL Construction – Rims
The rims are full carbon, with a 30mm internal width. They utilise a step-in internal rim bed which makes for easier tubeless set up and both the front and rear rim are 28 spokes. Around those spokes are raised reinforcement areas for added durability.
The height of the rim on the 30 SL’s has been reduced compared to other 30mm rims in the range and sits at just 19mm now. This is designed to offer plenty of lateral stiffness, but to enhance vertical compliance for a better ride quality.
The rims are asymmetric with an offset of 3.6mm which is flipped front to rear. The rims come fully taped, with valves supplied and are nicely understated with just two small bits of branding. One bonus (intentional or not?!) of the Reserve branding is that it makes locating the valve nice and easy!
Reserve 30 SL Construction – Hubs
At the heart of our test wheels are a set of i9 Hydra hubs. The Hydra hubs are fully manufactured, from start to finish, at Industry Nine’s machine shop in Asheville North Carolina where they make everything from the shells to the axles
The hub shells are made from 7075-T6 aluminum and the freehub offers an amazing 690 points / 0.52° of engagement. The freehub features 6 steel pawls which all engage individually to give this super high engagement number. Once you put the power down though, the two following pawls engage, spreading the load and adding strength and durability.
The hubs run on big Enduro bearings for smooth rolling and durability while the end caps just pull off the axles, allowing easy removal of the freehub for servicing without the need for any specialist tools.
Reserve 30 SL Set Up
The Reserve 30 SL’s come pre taped, with the valves pre-installed making getting them fully set up nice and easy. Initially I set the wheels up with a pair of Specialized Butcher T9 tyres, with a Grid Trail casing on the front, and a Grid Gravity casing on the rear for a bit of added durability. When summer slipped to Autumn and the trails became wetter and muddier I swapped the front to a WTB Verdict Wet for added bite.
All the tyres mounted to the rims fairly easily, with the gravity casing from Specialized, and the Verdict, needing a bit more persuasion with a tyre lever. Each tyre had around 125ml of Stans sealant added and both wheels went up nice and easy with just a track pump, and have kept pressure throughout the test, with just the usual occasional top up required.
For the duration of the test the wheels have been fitted to a RAAW Madonna V2.2. A bike with 160mm of travel and big hitting intentions, but one that has been used as a bit of a do-everything bike over the past few months. I weigh in around 87-88kg and pressures were generally around 26psi for the rear and 23psi for the front, with the odd fluctuation as conditions required.
Reserve 30 SL – The Ride
I fitted the Reserve 30 SL wheels towards the end of summer and since then they’ve seen multiple weekly rides on a variety of local trails that range from fast swoopy moorland, to chunky rock, ghetto DH tracks and plenty of steep off piste slithers, along with a some further flung expeditions including a five day trip to the amazing Dunkeld area where they were ridden for a good eight hours a day. And they’ve taken everything I’ve thrown at them.
At around 500g lighter than the wheelset they replaced, from the first pedal stroke that weight saving was noticeable. Combined with the ridiculously high engagement of the freehub, turn the pedals and the 30 SL’s spin up to speed nice and quickly with immediate engagement from the freehub. They really get up to speed quickly and then do a great job of maintaining momentum and rolling speeds.
That light weight is noticeable when climbing, letting you spin away easily on sustained climbs and power up steep inclines. The super quick engagement also helps on techy climbs, when you’re see-sawing the pedals to get up and over obstacles, there’s no lag and each input adds momentum.
Once the gradient changes and the trail starts pointing down the Reserve 30SL’s are just as impressive. They have a great ride feel, and feel nice and precise on the trail, responding to input when picking lines, and feel great slapping into and out of turns.
As speed builds they do a great job of taking the sting out of small and medium repeated trail chatter and across rooty sections, and the faster you go the better they get with the redesigned profile doing it’s job.
Pushing on in really rough and rocky terrain there’s none of the deadness or harshness that I’ve had with some wheels in the past. While the Reserve 30SL’s are plenty stiff enough for my riding, that doesn’t translate into a harsh feeling, and smashing into properly rough trails you can hold a line without them getting deflected.
So far so good with the Reserves. They’ve been ridden hard on rock, mud, roots, grit, gravel and snow and aren’t showing any signs of giving up. Despite a good few ‘I should probably stop and look at that’ sounds when getting a bit too carried away there’s barely a mark on the rims and everything is still running as it should.
Carbon wheels might not be for everyone, and a lot of people will certainly be put off by the price, and I’ve personally had good and bad experiences with carbon wheels in the past – but my experience with the Reserve 30SL’s has been nothing but good.
They’re properly light for a durable set of wheels which makes them feel great on long days out, but then they don’t disappoint when smashing back down, making them really versatile and suitable for a range of bikes. They offer a great ride feel whether warp speed over roots and loading into loamy turns, or thundering through chunky rock. Precise yet compliant in all the right ways. I’d happily ride these on all my bikes.
|by Ross for 4 Months