The Reynolds Forty-Six wheelset is a deep section, carbon clincher package which comes with a premium price tag as standard. Sitting in direct competition to the Zipp 404 Firecrest, this price point is occupied by real wheel-tech big-hitters; open mould options need not apply. With plenty of features trickling down from Reynolds' own price-record-breaking RZR wheelset, the Forty Six is an attractive offer for the performance conscious.
This year Reynolds has really hit out on the offensive in the UK. It's for good reason that we keep hearing about them; an impressively wide and varied range is backed with both dealer demo and crash replacement schemes. The first set of wheels I tested from Reynolds was the excellent, carbon-clincher value-benchmark, Assualt C. Over 1,000km on Majorcan roads they came up trumps offering fantastic performance at around the £1,000 mark. The Forty Six is double the price of the Assualt C without an earth shattering weight saving for your money. So what tech bonus do you get for your money?
- Swirl lip generator
- Higher modulus carbon
- Higher pressure moulding system
- Specially developed resin system
- DT 190 hubs
- DT Aerolite spokes
- Much better and lighter quick release skewers
- Better graphics
Reynolds have really gone to town on publishing tech and research in their White Paper series; you can find a full series download on the Reynolds website. This is largely focussed on the RZR wheelset but features such as the Swirl Lip Generator feed down to the Forty Six. The principle is pretty simple; reduce the pressure drag by tripping the flow. There are plenty of examples of that technique around. It is far too difficult to analyse objectively out on the road, but it certainly doesn't feel gimmicky if you know the theory.
Reynolds also talk about their use of a higher-pressure moulding technique and more expensive, higher-modulus fibres in the Forty Six versus the Assault. Often features like this go unreported in reviews despite being very important to performance. With just a little knowledge of the composites mathematics and manufacture it becomes clear how important the moulding technique and quality of manufacture is to the structure. Reynolds don't give away too much on their site about this... not surprisingly because this is the real 'black magic' aspect of composites.
One more feature that warrants a mention - a feature common to all the Reynolds carbon clinchers – is the CTg brake track. It means that heat build-up induced punctures just don't happen; a big stumbling block for many carbon clinchers. The brake track combines with Reynolds own Cyro blue pads to produce excellent braking on a carbon rim. It doesn't stop there, either; the pads far outlast anything I have used before on carbon. This is a real advantage of the Reynolds package.
So how do all these tech features deliver on the road? These wheels have been through a more varied test than most wheels I get, including a 360km (225-mile) adventure with road.cc's Dave Atkinson and a few rounds of the Bath Cycle Races along with most distances in between. Over all those miles they've provided a faultless, uninterrupted performance. They are as stiff as you need and light enough for anyone with premium hubs, excellent braking and a price tag which is justifiable for the performance
The comfort provided by these wheels on long rides means there's no restriction on where and when you can use them, from criterium to epic Audax. Don't think of these as race-only wheels. For those with the cash, this is a high-quality, do-it-all wheelset that can take you miles, and do it fast. I want a set... and I want the kind of job you need in order to afford them too.
Deep-section carbon clinchers that are stiff and light with excellent braking; the price tag is justified by the performance
road.cc test report
Make and model: Reynolds Forty Six wheelset
Size tested: 46mm
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?
At this price they're obviously for the performance conscious (or for the rich fashion conscious).
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Feature packed with plenty of unique features from Reynolds' extensive and well-regarded R&D department
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Without fault. Hub didn't skip a beat. The package is light and stiff and they look great too.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Most things! The all-round (ahem!) performance.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The quick release is designed to be light rather than a great wheel holder.
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: Canyon Ultimate CF My best bike is: Canyon LUX MR/ Grand Canyon CF
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,