The Reynolds Assault C is a full carbon clincher wheelset at half the price of the new Zipp 404 Firecrest. It's backed with an extensive demo programme and a crash replacement scheme. Zipp has long been considered the gold standard for racing wheels, but this year it looks like Reynolds is on the offensive...
When looking at a new set of wheels, whatever the price bracket, you need to consider which features will best suit your needs. At 46mm, the Assault C is probably best described as a medium section aero wheel. At that depth, it's pretty versatile: light but not scary; fast, but usable in the wind for all but the skinniest riders.
Reynolds also produces a tubular version of this wheelset, the £50-cheaper Assault T. The debate on tub versus clincher is not likely to end anytime soon, but as full carbon clinchers like the Assault C become better and more available I think the more practical clincher set-up is likely to prevail. (Cue counter arguments!)
I have had only a week's love affair with these wheels but it was a Spanish holiday romance and they saw plenty of action. After 850km and eight mountain passes, I feel I know these wheels well. Very rarely did they disappoint. They were light on the climbs, fast on the descents, and solid, stable and reliable in the hairpins. The wheel balance is excellent on the test set and the spoke tension good, with only the slightest of loosening on the rear wheel's drive-side. The hubs are solid, free of play, and roll well. The freehub spins sweetly too, without excessive noise, and pick-up is quick and positive as soon as you start to pedal.
The Assault C wheelset is a big step in the right direction for carbon clinchers. The price is reasonable and the wheels tick all the right boxes. At 1568g for the pair, they are not the lightest money can buy - Reynolds' own RZR springs to mind - but for the money and the 46mm depth they're pretty good. The full carbon rim construction saves weight at the edge of the wheel. A Cosmic Carbone from Mavic, for example, uses an aluminium rim (with an ultra thin carbon faring to hide the spokes from the wind). This means more weight at the extremity of the rim. Since it's all carbon, the Reynolds Assault C doesn't do this, resulting in a wheel with less inertia that consequently spins up to speed more easily. This makes the ride much 'lighter' than you would expect from a clincher at this weight. In fact, the ride feel is much closer to that of a tubular rim than I was expecting.
In order to get the most out of the Assault Cs, I decided to treat them to a fresh set of tyres in the form of Conti's excellent 24mm Grand Prix and a set of condom thin Supersonic tubes. This set up was super-fast and really cements my position as a supporter of the clincher system, for racing as well as training.
One of the big problems with carbon clinchers has been heat dissipation. Too much heat can result in brake fade and punctures. Reynolds reckons to have solved that this year, with a slightly thicker 'CTg brake track' and its own Cryo Blue brake pads. I must say that braking is excellent for a carbon rim, with impressive modulation and power. That's true in the dry; I rode in Spain and can't comment about what they are like in the wet. The pads were fairly well toasted by the end of the week, with maybe only one more big mileage week of riding left in them. But this is to be expected with carbon pads and they are much better than traditional cork ones.
On test I had two punctures, both on the front wheel and both close to the valve. Both the punctures showed some hallmarks of being heat/rim related, but it's hard to be conclusive after just a week's test. A bit of overzealous hand pump action the day before could have caused a weak spot. Having spent time well above 70km/h on these wheels and ridden 10km long descents like the Calobra without problem, I am willing to give the rims the benefit of the doubt, especially as the braking is so good.
Still not convinced? This year Reynolds has a demo programme so you can try before you buy. In the road.cc coverage of CORE bike we briefly mentioned the new 'Spin it Up' programme from Reynolds. Basically at participating retailers you can get a set of wheels, from the 6 different models on the demo programme, on a weeks or so loan based around you getting a solid weekends riding. The number of times you can demo and the length is up to the dealers discretion so it may depend on how friendly you are with your local shop but generally it’s expected that you should have made your mind up on a couple of outings.
If you are worried the wheels can be covered on the crash replacement programme for $200 for three years assurance thanks to RAP. For more details check the link to the relevant page on the Reynolds website.
Fast, zingy carbon clinchers, with confidence-inspiring braking. They're stiff enough for criteriums and light enough for the mountains. At half the price of the Zipp equivalent, I'm sold
road.cc test report
Make and model: Reynolds Assault C
Size tested: Shimano Wheels
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
This beauty represents the first family of world-class, yet affordable, carbon wheel performance. The 46mm Assault not only has a leg up on the best alloy wheels, but it can out-sprint, out-corner and generally out-perform any deep profile carbon wheel for a fraction of the price. For 2011 we've improved the layup composition and added our proprietary new CTg braking system to measurably improve stopping performance. All this for about what you'd pay for the finest alloy wheels.
Rim Depth: 46mm Spoke Patterns: Radial Front/2x-Radial Rear 20/24 Weight: 1272g (T) / 1568g (C) Hubs: Reynolds Front Spokes: DT Revolution Rear Spokes: DT Revolution Brake Pads: Reynolds Cryo Blue
Customers who purchase a 2010 Reynolds wheelset from an authorized dealer can purchase a two-year damage protection plan for any wheelset being used in its intended fashion. The Reynolds Assurance Program (RAP) allows you to ride with the confidence of knowing your wheels are covered by the best protection plan available.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
The CTg brake track and Cyro blue pads are aimed to get rid of the bad reputation of carbon clincher braking
Summer and racing only to keep your investment sweet
Neither impressive or offensive but a very good comprimise
Hard to comment really as they were tested on a new frame and post I wasn't familiar with.
1/2 the price of a Zipp 404 Firecrest. Need I say more?
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Great braking, great looks, great ride quality
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
About the tester
I usually ride: Boardman Pro C My best bike is: Canyon \"Grand Canyon\" Ergon24 team issue
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Semi pro
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, mtb,