I was lucky enough to have a pair of 2014 Reynolds Assault SLG disc wheels to ride recently. They came as part of a Kinesis Tripster ATR build which I’ll write about separately.
Yes, we know that the bike industry is embracing disc braking and wheels. You might also have spotted that Reynolds have followed on from their cutting edge Aero series of wheels by completely re-engineering the Performance and Alloy wheels range (http://girodilento.com/reynolds-launch-2014-road-wheel-range-affordable-aero/).
The Reynolds Assault SLG (whether it’s disc specific or not) features a completely new design for 2014 – all for much the same price point as last years model. Some of the big news for this particular disc version is that new SLG (Swirl Lip Generator) which was previously only available on the high end Reynolds wheels (like the 32, 46 and 66) now features in new Assault. The new Assault is slightly lower depth at 41mm (versus 46mm in the past) but I think this will make it work better with more frames aesthetically. The new design also features wide rims (25mm) and promises better comfort, handling and a massive 35% improvement in aerodynamics over the old model. The Reynolds Performance series of which these wheels are a part also feature external nipples for easier wheel truing, which I know some people will prefer over internal nipples.
For the disc specific version – there is a 135mm width rear hub, higher spoke counts (24/24 2x lacing front and rear) for the different forces going through the wheels via disc braking versus the standard Assault SLG (20/24 radial front and rear (non drive side) lacing. The spokes are DT Swiss Aerocomp bladed, straight pull spokes, so shouldn’t be too difficult to find replacements for if you need to.
The Assault SLG disc also doesn’t feature the normal Reynolds CTG brake surface on the rims – as of course, it doesn’t need them. The collective impact of these differences is an extra 90gms of weight for the disc version over the standard rim brake version – of course that’s before you add your disc brake rotors. So the claimed weight of a pair of Assault SLG disc is 1565gms versus 1475 for the non-disc Assault SLG.
First impressions are – they look bloody fantastic. Really impressive – the new graphics work well, the rims look great (including the finish) and the depth looks good too. But obviously looks aren’t everything – it’s how they perform that counts.
The Kinesis Tripster ATR I rode them on – was a heavy bike – at about 10kgs all up with the Reynolds wheels. At the time I had this bike we were at that point in Autumn where nature decides to blow all of the leaves off the trees – so it was windy. For aero wheels this is a key issue – how do they handle winds that swirl or change as they blow across you in gaps in hedges etc as you ride. It seemed like almost everytime I went out with these wheels the wind speed was over 20mph, yet not once did I feel that the wheels didn’t handle the wind well. I had no big pushes (some moderate ones) but nothing that worried me and not a lot more than say a pair of Ksyrium’s from Mavic (not great in cross winds in my experience). I found them very manageable to ride, regardless of the wind speeds and when the wind worked with you they delivered even more speed!
In all conditions I found the Assault SLG Discs to be fast, comfortable, light to ride and a pleasure to have underneath you. I’ve ridden Reynolds Attacks, 32, 46 over the last couple of years and I think these new Assault SLG are the best Reynolds wheels I’ve ridden yet, regardless of price point.
On a heavy bike I even managed to comfortably get my 3rd gold sportive time this year. Interestingly it was on this ride – I had my epiphany about disc brakes and wheels. On a greasy, wet, covered in leaves technical descent – I could brake with 100% confidence at a much higher speed than those around me. In fairness, this is more to do with the TRP Hy/Rd disc brakes on the bike and that’s an interesting point too. With disc wheels – you no longer think about the rims with respect to braking – as they’re not involved anymore.
These are quick wheels with a great ride quality. I found them good climbers as well. I do a lot of climbing and have a figure of 1500gms in my head as being the tipping point for climbing wheels, but I set some personal bests on these wheels. The weight and geometry of the Tripster are not optimised for climbing – but I had no hesitation in attacking any form of climb.
If you’re looking for a set of aero disc wheels but have been wobbling a bit about the Zipp 303 discs – then put these on your list. In the UK the 303 disc wheelset retails for £1,000 more than the Reynolds Assault SLG – now not having ridden the Zipps, I can’t make any comment on how much better they are (and they may well be much better for all I know) but I can say these Assault SLG disc impressed me so much I’m not sure I’d look any further. These wheels give credit card speed at a chunk less eye-watering level of financial discomfort!
The 2014 Assault SLG Disc retail in the UK for £1350 a pair and the non-disc (standard rim brake) Assault SLG will retail for £1300 a pair.
Another plus with the Reynolds is in their own marketing materials they rate these wheels as a 5 out of 5 for both Cyclocross and gravel riding – to me this shows a lot of confidence in the strength of the rims and builds for the wheels – good news if you’ve not been sure about making the jump to carbon wheels. Of course there’s no brake track to overheat either – eliminating that potential issue for good.
This is a great time to be a consumer of aero wheels – the bar has just been moved higher at a much lower price point. If you’ve been able to spend at the high end, there has been a lot of great choices like the Reynolds Aero Range, Zipp Firecrest and the ENVE Smart series. However when you’re down spending at more “normal” price points (circa half the above) – it’s been much harder. I praised Shimano’s new D2 rim technology earlier in the year (http://girodilento.com/shimano-road-wheels-2013-godzillas-getting-very-serious/) but I think the 2014 Reynolds Performance range is a game changer – based on riding the new Assault SLG disc – I’m just as convinced and I can’t wait to try some of the non-disc versions.
More information on these wheels can be found here:
Thanks for reading