Reynolds Eight One carbon clinchers are a well-built set of wheels that ooze quality. As the name suggests they feature high modulus 81 mm deep carbon rims which are laced into Reynolds own hubs. These lightweight machined aluminium hubs are laced into the rims using quality DT Aerolite spokes up front and DT aero on the rear. They roll on quality sealed cartridge bearings and the nice thing here is that you can fit them and forget about them because of the quality of the bearings and seals.
Where things get interesting are the rims themselves because they employ a different tactic to handling in crosswinds compared to the current trend of fatter rims like those from Zipp, Enve and Hed. While Reynolds RZR wheels use a sharp leading edge the Eighty One is blunted which Reynolds call the Swirl Lip Generator. Essentially this is a 9mm inside edge on the rim so that when air hits the face it ‘sticks’ to the rim. This airflow is then managed and directed across the rim so that it best helps to deal with stability in crosswinds.
Out on the road the Eighty One wheelset feels solid because of the 20 spokes on the rear and 1 6 up front. This setup not only provides great power transfer but with the deep section rim keeps lateral movement to a minimum. Whether we were putting the power down on the flat, out of the saddle climbing or hitting hard and fast descents the Eighty One wheelset handled whatever we threw at them in an confident manner. On windy days we were certainly impressed with the way they rode, especially on descents when things can get twitchy at high speeds. On such days less confident riders might want to pair the Eighty One with Reynolds Sixty Six or Fourty Six front wheel. Reynolds offers mixed wheelsets if you prefer.
Another area that impressed us was the quality of the braking. Reynolds include brake pads in the box and these Blue Cyro pads are paired perfectly to the brake track to provide possibly the best braking we have found on a carbon rim. Even in the wet the pads continued to work well.
The Eighty One wheels tip the scales at 1 798g for the pair, which weight watchers will know is comparable to all the other big brand carbon clincher wheelsets. All of this means that Reynolds bring a true player to the race hoop table with a well-made wheelset that not only look good but handle well. They’re not cheap but this is a top end wheelset competing with the best, and they do this well.