Reynolds Aero 46 DB wheels review

Aero carbon hoops with disc brake and tubeless compatibility

Wheels
Reynolds Aero 46 DB Wheels

Reynolds has committed to disc brakes and tubeless technology, integrating them nicely into its aero wheels.

What is it

Reynolds’ aero lineup of wheels is now offered with disc brake hubs, which is great news for lovers of road disc. The carbon Aero 46 DB blends light weight and aerodynamics while using a unique rim profile, alloy Industry Nine hubs, and stainless bladed spokes. Weight for the set is 1547g (677g front/ 870g rear, with rim strip). The wheels measure 46mm deep, with a 28mm outer rim width, and 19mm internal width. Thru axles are 15/12×100 up front and 12x142mm in the rear.

Pros
  • Great looking, all-rounder wheels
  • Tubeless compatible rims
  • Centerlock rotor mounting
Cons
  • Internal spoke nipples require more work when truing
  • Pricier than an equivalent competition
Reynolds Aero 46 DB Wheels

The black on black graphics are subtle. Internal nipples keep them hidden from the wind, and from the mechanic.

RoadBikeReview’s Take

From a technology standpoint, road cyclists are in a sweet spot right now. Disc brakes offer incredible performance in all conditions. Carbon wheels are lighter and more affordable than ever. More tubeless tires options are available every season. I won’t even get into the upsides of endurance geometry, electronic shifting, power meters, or car-detecting radar. Suffice to say, things are good.

Reynolds Aero 46 DB wheels are a perfect example of technologies culminating into one happy package. With a 46mm deep, tubeless compatible, aero rim, and Industry Nine disc brake hubs they are a great way to spice up a disc-equipped road bike. The downside to a bike fitted with hydraulic disc stoppers is the added weight. But I for one would never go back to rim brakes, and I know many other riders who feel the exact same way. So why not take that weight back and in doing so, add in the ability to run tubeless?

Reynolds Aero 46 DB Wheels

Sleek disc brake hubs use straight-pull spokes. The front comes with 12mm and 15mm adapters.

Reynolds clearly sees the benefits of disc brakes and tubeless, even on bikes intended for competitive riding/racing. In fact, the Aero 46 isn’t even the deepest wheel in the lineup. The Aero 65 is also offered in a disc brake version. Like all the wheels in Reynolds aero line, the profile is guided by the company’s Dispersive Effect Termination (DET) design philosophy. Instead of the rounded rim edge, DET rims come to a point. When an appropriate sized tire (Reynolds recommends 23mm-25mm) is mounted, the cross section mimics a National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) airfoil shape. Reynolds claims that this profile is still the best for managing airflow, lowering drag and lift, and thereby increasing both stability and speed.

Reynolds Aero 46 DB Wheels

Reynolds collaborated with Industry Nine to develop its new disc brake hubs. The rear borrows internals from the I9 Torch series.

After riding in the often-blustery conditions of Colorado’s Front Range I can attest that the Aero 46 DB wheels are stable. You still feel the push, but it doesn’t seem to come and go as forcefully. The technical term is a “stall.” And I say this as a skeptic. At 155 pounds soaking wet I’m not a fan of deep wheels. I usually stick to 30mm-35mm deep wheels because I prefer stability and climbing performance. But the Reynolds wheels have me rethinking my wheel choices. While I was cautious about the trend-bucking rim profile, it certainly shows that there are many ways to skin a cat.

The Aero 46 DB’s are snappy as well. They wind up quickly and out of the saddle efforts are met with no appreciable windup or deflection. The Industry Nine hubs are sleek looking, helped in part by the decision to use centerlock rotor mounting. Engagement is great, just like with other hubs from the North Carolina company. Spokes are black, bladed stainless steel, with 20 up front and 24 in the back. Internal nipples keep the aerodynamics slippery but require a bit of extra work if you ever need to true the wheels or replace a spoke (I had to do neither during my time on the Aero 46 DB’s).

Reynolds Aero 46 DB Wheels

Not that many thru axle rim brake bikes exist, but this sticker states the obvious.

For any tubeless compatible wheel to truly shine, I recommend installing a set of tubeless tires. Without a tube you lose some weight and can also afford to run slightly lower pressure. This helps to compensate for the rigidity of the Reynolds wheels on training days. For race day, bring them back up to 80psi and zoom your way around the course. For summer riding or racing, well after the winter’s sand and grit has been cleaned off, I recommend a pair of Specialized’s S-Works Turbo Tubeless or Vittoria’s sublime Corsa Speed Open TLR tires. Both offer a tubular-like ride and hold up surprisingly well to long miles.

Reynolds Aero 46 DB Wheels

The internal rim width of the Aero 46 is 19mm, a nice size for the recommended 23mm-25mm tires. A tubeless rim strip and tubeless valves are included with purchase.

Unfortunately, at $2600 for the pair, the value proposition isn’t as great as I would have liked. You can get a set of ENVE SES 3.4 disc wheels for an extra $300, or save yourself $350 and grab a pair of Zipp’s 303 Firecrest Disc wheels. Both options are tubeless tire compatible and have a slightly wider internal rim width at 21mm. The ENVE wheels also save a claimed 110 grams over the Reynolds Aero 46 DB’s. The Zipps are 115 grams heavier.

One last feature of the Aero 46 DB wheelset worth mentioning is the Reynolds Assurance Program, an insurance policy for your fancy new wheels. Averaging $115 per year, the program is a “no questions asked” deal. This goes above and beyond the company’s warranty and its crash replacement program. It’s certainly worth consideration.

Rating: 4 out of 5 4 stars
Price: $2600
More Info: reynoldscycling.com

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)
About the author: Nick Legan

Nick Legan is happiest with some grease under his nails and a long dirt climb ahead. As a former WorldTour team mechanic, Legan plied his trade at all the Grand Tours, Spring Classics, World Championships and even the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In recent years, gravel and ultra-distance racing has a firm grip on Legan’s attention, but his love of mountain biking and long road rides hasn’t diminished. Originally a Hoosier, Legan settled in Boulder, Colorado, 14 years ago after finishing his time at Indiana University studying French and journalism. He served as the technical editor at VeloNews for two years and now contributes to Adventure Cyclist, Mtbr and RoadBikeReview.


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