Reserve Wheels gets into the road wheelset game with three new carbon models

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Reserve Wheels – the wheel brand “founded in 2014 by engineers from Santa Cruz Bicycles” – is diving deeper into the drop-bar pool with three new road bike models and a second gravel set to go along with the two that are already in the catalog. All are designed exclusively for use with disc brakes.

The lightest of the new road wheels is the Reserve 35 with 35 mm-deep rims, a 395 g claimed rim weight, and 1,449 g claimed wheelset weight. The middle child is the Reserve 50 with 50 mm-deep rims, a 490 g claimed rim weight, and 1,638 g claimed wheelset weight. Topping the charts is the Reserve 65, featuring a 65 mm-deep rear rim, but a 50 mm-deep front one for more confident handling in blustery conditions. Claimed weight on the 65 mm-deep rim is 520 g, and the total claimed weight for the set is 1,673 g.

While the road rim depths vary by model, much of the rest of the specs are shared throughout the new family. Every rim is pre-taped to be tubeless-ready from the factory, with a 21 mm inner width and 27.5 mm outer width that’s designed to be “most aero when used with 25c tires and most comfortable with 28c tires mounted tubeless.”

For gravel riders, Reserve is introducing the new Gravel 32, built with 32 mm-deep rims and a more generous 24 mm inner width. Claimed rim weight is 410 g, with a complete claimed wheelset weight of 1,515 g.

The new gravel wheels are designed for use with wider tires, featuring an internal rim width of 24 mm. Photo: Santa Cruz Bicycles.

All of the wheels are built with Sapim CX-Ray bladed stainless steel spokes and laced in a 24-hole, two-cross pattern to DT Swiss hubs with splined rotor mounts. All of the above claimed weights are wheels built with DT Swiss 240 hubs, but as with Santa Cruz’s current wheels, the new models will also be offered with DT Swiss 350, 240, or 180 hubs to suit a variety of budgets (all of the claimed wheelset weights are with the middle-of-the-range 240 hub option).

Retail pricing is set at US$1,800 (DT Swiss 350 hubs), US$2,400 (DT Swiss 240 hubs), or US$2,800 (DT Swiss 180 hubs). Pricing for other regions is still to be determined.

A potentially tough sell?

Despite the big push into the road market, Reserve hasn’t provided any test data regarding aerodynamic performance of any of the new models, although the shapes were supposedly developed by corporate sister brand Cervelo.

“The rim profiles are designs Cervelo had on the shelf, but didn’t have the resources to develop,” said Reserve Wheels media relations representative Benny Cruickshank. “With Santa Cruz, they had the know-how and resources to develop the wheels so it was a pretty natural collaboration. We’re reluctant to share wind tunnel data because you can essentially control variables and make the data say what you want. So, too much data almost makes all data moot.”

That may be, but given the exceptional level of competition in this segment, Reserve’s decision to withhold aerodynamic data given such seemingly reputable roots is rather curious. Given particularly progressive recent introductions by Zipp, Roval, and others, Reserve doesn’t have much of a tech story to tell here, either, nor are the wheels especially value-priced.

Instead, this feels more like an OEM play, especially given the announcement that these new wheels will be stock equipment on upcoming Cervelo models still to be announced, plus the fact that none of them will be offered aftermarket until some time in 2021.

All of the aero road rim shapes were supposedly developed by Cervelo, but is that enough to compel aftermarket purchases?

Reserve is at least backing all of these new wheels with the same comprehensive coverage plan that applies to all of its current models.

“Whether you’re flying down the legendary DH track at Ft. William, railing corners at the Mission Crit, or leaving it all out there on Queen Ka’ahumanu Highway, if you break a wheel, we’ll send you a new one within 24 hours,” reads the company’s marketing materials for the new wheels. “If you back over it with your car, we’ll get you a low-cost crash replacement ASAP. We know that missing a ride sucks, and missing a race can mean throwing away months of prep, and we’ll do everything we can to ensure that never happens because of one of our wheels.”

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