The new Reynolds RZR 92 time trial/triathlon wheels are stunningly light and fast – they're so quick you'll be amazed.
We've reviewed a set of RZR – pronounced 'razor' – wheels before and they blew us away with their performance. That was the RZR 46T wheelset.
Although the 92s look like a deeper-section version of the same wheel, and they do share some of the same features, they actually have a completely new rim shape. For more information on the background to the design, check out the story and video we posted when Reynolds' wheel consultant Paul Lew paid Road.cc a visit last year.
The carbon-fibre rims are tubular-specific and 92mm deep – hence the name – but whereas brands like Zipp and Bontrager have moved towards wide rim profiles over recent years, Reynolds' rims taper steeply to a sharp point. The idea is to minimise turbulence in order to keep the drag as low as possible.
The tyre bed is 70% larger and 30% deeper than Reynolds' traditional tube profile to smooth the transition between the tyre and the rim and avoid disturbing the airflow. Reynolds reckon the rim works best with tyres from 19mm to 22mm.
The deep-flanged hubs come with carbon bodies and house super-smooth bearings. You're not allowed to open them up for maintenance, though. If you do you'll invalidate the two year warranty. They have to go to an authorized Reynolds dealer for servicing.
The front wheel is held together by 12 radially laced carbon spokes. Those spokes are aero-profiled and Reynolds say their drag is virtually zero. They aren't tensioned; they support the rim in compression which allows Reynolds to bring down the weight of the rim.
The spokes are designed to be more flexible than the rim so that rather than rupturing under an extreme force, they'll just bend a little and then regain their shape. Strands of Kevlar inside each spoke mean that it won't fall apart in the unlikely event that you crack one, although the wheel will need to go back to Reynolds in the US for a replacement.
The rear hub features 12 radially laced spokes too but it also gets a torque flange that anchors four more. The torque is a distinctive feature that Reynolds use on the RZR 46 wheelset too. It's an extra flange that extends out of the hub body in line with the centre of the rim, designed to stop the rim deflecting under torque. In plain English, it's to stop the rim moving off-centre when you put the power in, without the addition of loads of weight.
Speaking of weight, our test pair of RZR 92s came with Schwalbe Ultremo HT 22mm tubulars ready fitted and weighed 946g (front) and 1,056g (rear). Without the tubulars (260g each) you're looking at around 686g and 796g (not including quick release skewers). That's a total of 1,482g (less a bit for the tub glue) – an astonishing weight for 92mm-deep wheels.
Get them out on the road and the RZR 92s are amazingly fast. Being so deep, your head says it'll take a while to wind them up to speed but not a bit of it; these accelerate beautifully and climb better than most shallow-depth rims.
It's when you're bowling along fast that these wheels really shine, though. They absolutely fly. Reynolds reckon that data from the A2 wind tunnel in North Carolina says that for the same power the RZR 92s will save you 41secs over 25 miles (40km) compared to the 'leading competitor 81mm' – and by that they mean Zipp 808s.
They say that although the minimum drag level for the RZR 92s and the Zipp 808s is equal, the RZRs perform better over a broad range of wind angles – so the cumulative drag is lower.
Reynolds are keen to point out that the engineers at the wind tunnel rather than Reynolds employees perform the tests. Bear in mind, though, that a set of Zipp 808 Firecrest tubulars will set you back £2,100 – hardly cheap but a lot less than the RZRs.
Even more surprisingly, Reynolds say that the RZR 92s will save you time over a Zipp 808 front wheel with a disc wheel at the rear – 22.8secs over 40km.
We've not put these in a wind tunnel but our amateur timings say that they are extraordinarily fast. They slice along, seemingly unbothered by the wind angle, and they barely notice a slight incline. Get out of the saddle and throw your bike from side to side on a steeper climb and they hold steady too. If you set up your brake blocks really close to the rims you can get some rub, but no more than most other wheels out there.
Those 92mm-deep rims can be hard to handle in windy conditions. Steering becomes a challenge when a hard breeze catches them... but no more or less than with any other wheels of a similar depth.
The only other criticism we have (price aside) is that the sprockets have quickly bitten into the splines of the freehub body, although not enough to be a problem. That barely detracts from the overall performance.
Light, aerodynamic wheels that take over from the RZR 46s as the fastest we've ever used, but the price puts them into a very exclusive category
road.cc test report
Make and model: Reynolds RZR 92 wheelset
Size tested: One size
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?
They're time trial/triathlon wheels.
Reynolds say: "The Reynolds RZR 92 is the first non-disc wheel designed and built for the precise demands of time trialing and triathlon. It's stiff, responsive and aerodynamic, with astonishingly low mass.
The ultra deep profile was developed using proprietary computational fluid dynamics–the same techniques used to design, optimize, and validate airflow for U. S. Navy unmanned drones and guided missiles. The 92 mm rim depth terminates in a razor sharp trailing edge that creates the smoothest possible conformal shape for re-attachment of separated and turbulent air. We've further enhanced the unique trailing edge contour by attaching 12 N.A.C.A. 0033 airfoil, full carbon-composite spokes virtually zero drag. The spokes terminate in a full carbon Torque Flange hub with a double carbon wall for extreme lateral stiffness, and full carbon axle.
"The innovative tire mounting and brake-track region of the rim of the RZR 92 is another Reynolds exclusive. We've made the tire bed 70% larger and 30% deeper than our traditional tubular profile, for nearly seamless tire-to-rim airflow continuity. The RZR 92 aerodynamic section accommodates tires from 19mm to 22mm with no increase in drag as tire diameter increases. Typically a narrower tire will result in a lower drag value, due to the fact that a narrower tire moves the thickest portion of the aerodynamic shape rearward, reducing separation. With the increasing popularity of wider tires in TT and Triathlon, the RZR 92 is designed to accommodate wide tires without sacrificing performance.
"In addition, we've added a channel that runs around the rim on the centerline of the tire mounting surface to create additional clearance for the stitching and cloth tape covering. This feature promotes optimal contact between the round tubular tire and the rim to ensure the tire stitching and tape covering will not 'waddle' from bottoming out on the rim. This optimal contour reduces rolling resistance variability caused by tire gluing . Unlike ovoid designs, the RZR 92 does not compromise braking performance or frame fit. The sidewalls of the RZR 92 are parallel for predictable, strong braking, but the sidewall placement and termination is unique. The RZR 92 is the first wheel to apply Dispersive Effect Termination™ (DET) to a wheel contour to help smooth out the turbulent airflow caused by wheel rotation. DET smoothes excited, energized air (air that varies in predictable frequencies) and re-attaches it to reduce drag.
"The 92 RZR sets a new standard for a low-drag time trial and triathlon wheel, best in class, 15.2 watts at 50 kph at 10 degrees yaw."
The sprockets started to bite into the freehub body quickly which is a shame, although it's easily replaced if that becomes a problem over time.
Easily the lightest wheels of this depth out there.
On the one hand they cost masses - you could buy a car for that etc. On the other hand, they have a whole load of excellent features and they're the fastest wheels we've ever used.
Each set of these wheels is made to order, taking 60 hours.
If you've got this kind of money to drop on a pair of wheels... lucky you! You won't get any better wheels.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's designed to be light, aero and fast... and that's exactly what it is.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The speed across a range of conditions - and that's what they're all about.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The little notches that the sprockets made in the freehub splines.
Did you enjoy using the product? .Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Ha! You've obviously never seen my payslip. If money was no object, I would.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? If they were after the ultimate performance and had the cash to pay for it.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 75kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding,
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.