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
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- Don’t expect dry braking performance when wet
- Internal width is still a little narrow
- Tubeless setup requires usual tricks and some elbow grease (but I’ve mounted worse)
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
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.