The Carbon Wheel Experiment: REYNOLDS MT29 Wheels – Final Review: by c_g

… and another 2 ½ months have gone by riding the Reynolds MT29 wheels. With a total of nearly 7 months and testing on various bikes, we can speak of a fairly complete picture we have of these carbon hooped wheels.

But first, a quick recap of the wheel specifications – including some observations/comments:

• The matt gray High Modulus Uni-Directional carbon rim, (no “pretty to look at” 3-k carbon weave anywhere, just the dull dark gray looks of UD ), is somewhat susceptible to superficial scratches, but otherwise very robust and durable.
• Outer Rim width of 29 mm with a strong outer curvature, and the decent inner rim width of 21 mm seems to be about the ideal size for almost any tire – even narrower tires are not unnecessarily “blown out of proportions” and wide tires still get enough support for low pressure riding – very good!
• The Tubeless Ready design with the pronounced rim shoulders and positive bead locking also is rather universal in diameter for any kind of tire.
• The 24 black DT Revolution spokes (2-cross), (accessible from the outside) with aluminum nipples are holding up well. The one incident with a cracked nipple, was a one timer and had been easily fixed.
• The Reynolds hubs are easily convertible from 9 mm QR to 15 mm through axle (front) and from 135/ 9 to 142/12 by simply swapping the end caps. (All small pieces included). We converted the wheels back and forth multiple times with no issues. The new straight pull model year 2013 front hub is also convertible to 20 mm. No issues with the bearing quality.
• 744 grams front (15 mm version) / 894 g rear (142/12 mm axle) With the total weight of 1638g they are absolutely suitable for XC racing.
• Msrp is $ 1950,- or € 1599,-.

Those who have followed the course of the tests know that the wheelset has been used on several bikes – ranging from the ROCKY MOUNTAIN Element 970, then the all-mountain hard tail TRANSITION BIKES TransAm two9, a month on Banks´ OS BIKES Blackbuck II and most recently as the climax or my durability testing as part of the quick test of the SANTA CRUZ Tallboy LTc.

The reason for this very intense and exceptionally long test phase has been due to the fact that the REYNOLDS wheels are explicitly marketed as tough enough for all-mountain use, but early in the test we had had a defect in the form of a cracked nipple. So, to check whether this has been a systemic problem (excessive peak stresses with the only 24 spokes) or only an inferior nipple – with the consensus by REYNOLDS we have extended the test significantly. Most recently, the wheels have served a month´s term under one tester known for his “destructive riding style” (Banks) and from there directly went on the SANTA CRUZ Tallboy for some severe alpine trails and even a day bike park abuse… and they stood up to the challenge without even the hint of a complaint! Thus, we can fully confirm on the REYNOLDS MT29 wheelset´s durability and strength … even under hard use.

TEST RESULT: We have never before had a set of wheels on test this long and never have we pushed any so far as the REYNOLDS MT29. The cracked nipple during early testing initially caused some skepticism as to the low spoke count, but our test completely did away with it. The combination of a very stiff (albeit not the lightest) and stable carbon rim with 24 spokes produces a lightweight and very precise set of wheels for both XC and All-Mountain riding, that needs not fear any competition.

Among the other available carbon wheels the MT29 sure is not the lightest of the pack, but probably one of the most versatile sets. With this rim anything seems possible, whether narrow or wide tires. The dimensioning falling somewhere between UST and STAN´s and as such don´t harmonize perfectly with any tire, but do work with all of them. While other wheels usually give an “either or” approach, the REYNOLDS MT29 allowed to mount UST confirming tires (such as WTB TCS or GEAX TNTs) with some experience or a simple plastic tire lever, and still ensured a decent inflation and seal on the wider tires like SCHWALBE or CONTINENTAL. Only the pre-installed tape is somewhat sensitive to mechanical stresses (such as tire levers) and had to be changed several times.

At $ 1950.- (or € 1599.-) the MT29 is almost a bargain for a carbon wheelset. Taking the versatility, durability and weight, in our opinion it is worth every penny. If you add another $ 250.- you get get the “REYNOLDS ASSURANCE PROGRAM” which means 2 years of worry-free riding. The only real competition we see in that price /performance range are the SPECIALIZED Roval Control SL Trail 29″er Disc wheels (tested by Grannygear here).

There are lighter, there are cheaper, and there are more stable wheels existing than the REYNOLDS MT29 – but we still know of very few others that combine these traits so skillfully. Anyone with the desire to have only one wheel set to cover all from XC race to All-Mountain and everyday use, should find an ideal partner in REYNOLDS MT29. We enjoyed out time on these wheels.

RIDE ON,
c_g