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.
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.
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.
I have a set of Assault disc SLG’s and run them on Pro One tubeless. Not easy to get off …but do it enough times and you find a way. I am looking to replace my rim brake alloys on my rim braked bike and was wondering what you thought of the Fast Forward F4R DT180 Special Carbon Clincher Wheelset – only downside is they are not tubeless but in the same price bracket at the moment as the SLG’s ….decisions decisions.
Hmmm… I haven’t seen the Fast Forward wheels so I can’t say much about them. Tubeless (when you have it set up right) is so awesome eh? I have a hard time riding anything else. You should try the new Zipp RT25 or RT28 tires. They mount up in a jiffy without swearing like a sailor.
Do you know what the material the nipples are on the 2018 Assaults?
These hoops are fantastic. I started riding them with a new set of Continental Grand Prix 4000S II’s with tubes while I waited for my tubeless Schwalbe Pro One’s to arrive. Holy crap, they were good before but the difference with the Pro One’s was incredible. I was riding Dura Ace C35 tubs before these and I can without a doubt say this is the best wheel/tyre combo I have ever ridden. Absolutely love them.
Great setup! Glad you like them.
I’ve just bought a new bike with these wheels & pro one tubeless! I have never been so quick on a bike in my life! Loving my cycling!
Hello do you know if the rims are american made or taiwan?
While Reynolds does build some of their rims here in their HQ in Sandy, Utah, I don’t believe these are one of them. I’ll do some more research to see if I can get a definitive answer, but as of now, I’m pretty confident they are made in Taiwan.
I am looking at these as well as a Assault/Strike combo set which I think you have also reviewed previously.
My question is this: I already have a light (1465g) pair of non-aero wheels so realistically what sort of speed do I need to be able to sustain to gain a speed benefit from aero wheels? I’m not really that fast, and wheels aren’t cheap, so I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on aero wheels and only gain like 0.1km/h and still be averaging well under 30km/h on my rides…
I have heard that aero wheels start helping or making a significant different at around 20mph (~36 km/h) and the benefit increases the faster you go… I rarely go that fast unless I’m going downhill or have a nice tail wind or both. So is it worth it?
Good question. Yes, higher speeds mean more aero benefit, but at lower speeds you will still get yourself some nice gains. These are not that deep, but deep enough to notice a difference, in my experience.
Again, you don’t “need” to upgrade, but you certainly could and I think that you would notice both a slightly better ride quality and an increase in straight-line speed from these. Again, marginal gains, but I think you’d notice.
Thanks for the response. I’m humming and hawing over whether I need aero wheels and which ones if I take the leap. The Reynolds are priced well but slightly heavier than some similarly priced alternatives from less established competitors.
Anyway I appreciate the response and I’ve also read some other evidence that aerodynamics can benefit even average riders like me to the tune of around 2km/h which isn’t nothing….
are the previous versions of the Assault all the same internal width of 17mm?
Good question. I think they were likely 17mm, but could have been narrower still. I haven’t tried any previous versions before these. 17mm isn’t wide by today’s standards, but these wheels remain a huge value for rim-brake wheelsets.
Thanks for detailing out as I have been researching a training wheel and race wheel for Ironman Lake Placid. Would you still recommend this? Or something else under $1000? (Prices have been discounted recently due to the older model of this I guess). Thanks, Dave
Definitely good wheels for the money, I’d say. If you can get them for around $1000, that’s pretty killer. Internal width is narrow, but you can still run tubeless on 25mm tires, which is likely what you’d want on a tri bike.
Thanks for such a quick response! Funny as I continue to research other wheels…and it leads me back to your site. I just saw the craziness of Walmart’s E11EVEN 50mm (now for $299???), and then saw you wrote a separate piece on that. While the internal width is narrow, I have a 2015 Giant Propel so I am looking for 700×23 wheels to fit and not sure if 25’s would do. Anyway, would you still recommend the E11EVEN’s as I am putting over 100 miles per week and plan to race Lake Placid in July? – Thanks again, Dave
Those E11EVEN wheels are simply rebadged top-shelf wheels. I forgot about those. Hard to beat at that price man! While I can’t tell you what manufacturer they are from (I actually don’t know), I do know the seller well and he has vouched that they are simply rebadged brand-name carbon wheels. And, with DT Swiss hubs, you’re in a good spot.
If you do pull the trigger, you’ll have to let me know how they look.