Utah-based Reynolds Cycling has been pumping out innovative carbon wheelsets for many years now. However, the past few years has seen extensive innovation as wheel shapes and sizes and braking technologies have advanced. Fatbikes, plus bikes, gravel bikes aero bikes, race bikes and more are all on the scene and Reynolds has a wheelset for all of them. Their Assault carbon clinchers just might be considered their “meat and potatoes” wheelset because you just can’t get enough of them.

2018 Reynolds Assault SLG Carbon Wheelset Features:

  • Uses new resin system for a higher Glass Transition Phase
  • Updated brake track for better braking in all conditions
  • Increased damping for smoother rolling
  • Enhanced Swirl Lip Generator (SLG)
  • Compatible with Shimano, Campagnolo and XD drivers
  • Tubeless-ready with valves and tape
  • Width: 25 mm external / 17 mm internal / 41 mm depth
  • Spokes: 20 front / 24 rear
  • Weight: 1515 grams (stated)
  • MSRP: $1800
Reynolds Assault Wheelset Review

At 41mm deep, the Assaults are perfect all-rounders.

Updated Assaults are an impressive package

Aboard the Fezzari Fore CR5, I’ve been able to put some serious miles on the updated 2018 Reynolds Assault carbon clincher wheels. For this year, the big story is the new resin system that delivers two important benefits: better braking and better damping. On a capable all-rounder, these wheels can bring serious performance to the table.

On paper, the Assault delivers a ton of value for the money. At 41mm deep, they are at the sweet spot for aerodynamic performance without being sluggish on long climbs. In fact, sluggish is on the other side of the planet from these wheels with their quality build and light 1515 gram weight.

Rim shape is slightly more conical than some other brands and also features their Swirl Lip Generator — a ridge on the inner edge of the rim to direct airflow across the spokes. Ridley uses a similar design on their framesets, but Reynolds is the only one doing it on wheels that I’m aware of. The claimed aerodynamic advantages are impossible to test without a lab, but the overall performance of the Assaults is beyond questioning. These roll long and fast and are great for all the terrain I’ve thrown their way.

For 2018, Reynolds updated the resins for a higher Glass Transition Phase and an even more reliable brake track. One unintended, but positive, side-effect is that these new resins also increase the damping of the wheels for a noticeably-smoother ride. While I haven’t tested the prior models, I have ridden a fair amount of carbon clinchers and these do deliver a high-quality ride with the Schwalbe One 25mm tires inflated at 90/95 psi.

Reynolds Assault Wheelset Review

The Assaults owned the long climb out of Cascade Springs.

Roll baby, roll — climb baby, climb

Lateral stiffness is excellent with standing efforts unable to flex these wheels in the least. No brake rub or noodly wheels while sprinting or during standing climbs. Hard descents are rewarded with precise handling and instant tracking.

Their 41mm depth is perfect for all-round duty with fast spin-up at all speeds and low rolling weight for fast times on even the longest of climbs. Ascending 3k feet up the Alpine Loop here in Utah has been the perfect testing grounds for their climbing and descending capabilities. Other rolling terrain has yielded equally-good tests on mostly flat terrain.

Crosswinds are the demise of deep-section wheels for everyday riders. Pros have the skill to ride these wheels in conditions that would throw you or I into a death wobble. Thankfully, the Assaults have proven to be the Goldilocks of depths and rim shapes as crosswinds have done little to faze bike handling and allowed me to confidently descend at speed while being blasted by sideswiping gusts.

Reynolds Assault Wheelset Review

Long climbs and descents in the mountains were second-nature on the Assaults.

Something else that’s been outstanding with the Assaults is the consistent braking. In dry conditions, I’m getting some of the best braking I’ve experienced with carbon clinchers. I’ve been testing these with Shimano R9100 brakes, which are arguably the industry benchmark, and stops are consistent and smooth. And, while Reynolds would like to say that there’s little braking degradation when wet, I’m going to say that’s not entirely true. They are certainly among the best carbon clinchers in the wet I’ve tested, but I know better and road disc is the simple answer when adverse weather is on tap — thankfully the Assaults are also available in disc flavor. 

Tubeless setup is a breeze as I’ve been able to seat tires fairly easily and they hold air quite well. Reynolds’ hooked bead design does tend to make tire removal more on the difficult side, but I could consistently mount and remove tires without levers — it did take some gumption though.

I perform the same rolling test with all wheels in for review and the Assaults rolled as far as my previous best — the Bontrager Aeolus 3. Kudos for making such a fast-rolling set of hoops.

The Good

  • Excellent all-round depth
  • Respond well to sprints
  • No noticeable flex under load
  • Adds a dose of comfort to your ride
  • Roll as well as some of the best wheels I’ve tested
  • Killer value here at $1800
  • Swirl Lip Generator seems to be doing its job
  • Tubeless-ready

The Bad

  • Don’t expect dry braking performance when wet
  • Internal width is still a little narrow

The Bottom Line: 2018 Reynolds Assault Carbon Cinchers

With the myriad of wheelsets out there, it takes a good set to stand out and the Reynolds Assault does that. Their perfect 41mm depth, lateral stiffness and fast rolling performance puts these in the same territory as wheelsets costing twice as much.

Buy Now: Available at CompetitiveCyclist.com

In Summary

9.2 Fast, Smooth Hoops

Reynolds has nailed the perfect balance of ride quality, stiffness, weight and comfort with their updated Assault carbon clinchers for 2018. Oh, and the price is hard to beat.

  • Lateral Stiffness 9
  • Responsiveness 10
  • Durability 9
  • Braking 9
  • Aerodynamics 9
  • Ride Quality 9

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 –sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah’s Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

7 Comments

  1. How do you rate the hubs please? Been looking at the assaults, mavic cosmic pro sl c or Cero evo rc45, any thaughts/preferences? Many thanks.

    • For the money, these have been fantastic. They roll well and utilize standard straight-pull spokes. I didn’t get enough long-term miles on them to determine durability of the bearings or hubs themselves, but I don’t have any hesitation recommending these.

  2. I’m finally looking to replace my trusty HED Belgiums and enter the carbon world. Are there distinct advantages that you feel the Assaults will provide?

    • Dave… thanks for your comment. While your HED Belgium wheels are durable and likely will last for many more miles, these are really fantastic. I’m guessing that the Belgium rims you have are custom-built or do you have a set of Ardennes wheels? The ardennes wheels are no slouch. I’ve ridden them and love them.

      With the Assaults, you’ll gain more aero advantage and spin-up speed. You’ll also be able to run them tubeless — which I try to do exclusively on my road bikes. I think you’ll notice the straight aero speed of the deeper-section rims pretty quickly.

      Are yours the narrow or wider (21mm) internal width rims?

      • Ahh… All great questions… Yes, I have a custom set of Ardennes built on CK hubs. I have the older version of the Ardennes (non-tubeless) and max out at 25mm width tire. I did have a chance to ride a set running tubeless and was blown by the supple ride quality of tubeless, which is surprising the industry has been so slow to adapt and push the technology forward at a faster rate. Either way, you hit home on a few key areas, tubeless ready and I’m assuming the ability to run a wider tire, say a 28mm or larger? Any specific recommendations on an all-around good set of tubeless tires?

        • I’ve been liking the new Zipp RT25’s, which measure out pretty wide on the 303 Discs. They wouldn’t be quite so wide on the Reynolds wheels though. I’ve found them to be some of the easiest-mounting tubeless tires on the market. Outside of that, the consensus is that the Schwalbe One Tubeless is the current tire of choice.

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