After my DV46C UL’s had a little melt down, I was able to choose between another set or wait 1 month for the 2011 Forty-Six. I had only spotted a few photos from Euro-Bike at the time and specs were hard to find but the rumor was that the new rims, combined with the blue brake pads reduced the temperature on the carbon braking surface by 100°F… which is what I was interested in. Funny though, journalists at Eurobike and Interbike seemed to focus primarily on the improved name (vs DV46C UL) and the cool new stickers (???) Do they even ride bikes?
They finally arrived today. 3 minutes later, another delivery guy handed me a new 17″ MacBook Pro with 250GB SSD Hard Drive and i7 Processor. For a split second, I was at an impasse.
What would I do first? I managed to mount the veloplugs, tires, tubes, and cassette while the Macbook was transferring data from the old 17″ Macbook Pro. The old Pro is in very bad shape… the battery exploded and doesn’t work, the trackpad is busted, the cd drive eats discs for breakfast, the screen has weird spots all over it, the machine runs slower than a Tandy, and it doesn’t even boot up, you have to boot it from the command line! A benchmark test using XBench scored my old Macbook as the #49050th fastest Macbook Pro… out of 49140 machines. I checked the computer that was ranked next to me and it was using a copy of OS X loaded onto an 8GB SD Flash card! Yeah, it’s that slow!
The wheels looked pretty nice. According to the distributor, this is one of the first sets to hit the road in Europe. I was pretty excited to try them out. Out of the box you notice the carbon weave braking surface and Paul Lew’s “Swirl Generator”. The “Swirl Generator” is very tiny and I know Lew has a background in Aerospace Engineering but I’m much slower than a 747 or Challenger so I really don’t think a few millimeters is going to reduce enough airflow drag to make me faster. I tossed them on the scale before mounting the hardware and to my horror(!) they were WAY overweight compared to my DV46C UL (although now the Reynolds website is listing the 2011 models and listing the claimed weight at 1474 grams… but I did not have that info at the time).
[Mini rant: optional reading] The DV’s had a claimed weight of around 1410g but mine came in at 1359g and have an equally impressive price tag of ~ 2000 €. They were pretty sweet wheels and survived dozens of big mountain descents. These new Forty-Six wheels tipped the scales at… 1512g!! Not even in the same ballpark. In fact, they are even 3g heavier than my old Assaults (~ 1000 €). I started to think the 2010 Top-of-the-Line clinchers probably were not replaced adequately, perhaps something from the new RZR line would be more appropriate (at least based on weight) – but they don’t make a clincher (yet). Maybe I should have opted for the RZR 46 Team tubulars at ~1200g and learned the joys of glue sniffing. If these fail down the line, it would be great to replace them with something more in-tune with the DV46C UL set that can climb big mountains… It’s not that I’m that big of a gram-snob, but it was a fun upgrade going from a 1500g set to a 1360g set as the DV’s felt more energetic than the Assaults and could easily be leaned into corners and maneuvered around sketchy roads, not to mention the climbing benefits. [/rant]
Pretty disappointed with the weight, I pushed off. Time to ride bikes!
After riding with an American Classic 350 Sprint on the front for 2 months and the rear for a week or so, the Reynolds are amazingly solid, probably even more than the DV’s. Pothole here, roadwork there, cobbled roundabout, dug up dirt sections… these are smooth wheels! After 15 miles I stopped trying to pretend that I needed to dodge road hazards and just kept my line, letting the Reynolds do their thing. I know it’s still a road bike, but compared to riding on aluminum clinchers, it sure felt like a sweet freeride bike. (Road bike = freeride bike? Yeah, I’ve been off the trails far too long!)
I passed through an old village at the base of the mountains and wondered if I’d notice the 150 gram penalty, hardly noticing the cobbled sections through the narrow street. I passed by the cozy square, spotted the old men talking at the cafe, and nodded to the guy roasting local chestnuts the way this town has done for hundreds of years. After 3 days of steady rain, the roads were a bit slimy but illuminated with golden sunshine and orange ferns under the chestnut trees. The Forty-Six wheelset was super-stiff and begged to pushed hard even though I hadn’t planned to. My 14:53 minute stint up the 3.1 mile climb was the fastest I’ve ever done without a tailwind, even 30 seconds faster than when I rode up this pitch with 12x National Champion in tow.
Down the other side of the mountain and into the Gulf du Saint Tropez, I started hearing strange noises as I descended down the windy road that balances on the side of the mountain. I realized that it was the sound of wind, almost like those things you put on your car so you scare deer away (What?? You don’t know about those? Everyone in my town had one!!) Anyway, it was actually that little “Lip Swirl Generator” that was churning up the wind over the rim. “Ah, guess that Paul Lew wasn’t so crazy after all.” [Edit: just checked the wheel, it says “Swirl Lip Generator”… oops. I’m getting a cold sore just thinking about all this lip swirling]
Whether the Lip Swirl Generator reduces enough drag to translate into actual speed is something I’ll leave for wind tunnel testing and folks who actually know. But I can tell you that at around 26-27 mph is when the sound starts. I kind of like it. Reminds me of a stormy winter night, but I start to get Egg Nog cravings on long descents.
The braking was also very solid and I was quite impressed. Better than even the aluminum American Classics I was using. The real test will be in wet conditions but so far in dry stuff, they are very confidence inspiring.
I checked when the exact time for sunset is on my Garmin (always tricky this time of year but even trickier because with the switch to Daylight Saving Time a few days before). I wanted to know how much further I could ride because I was having a blast! I had just enough time to go to the beach and check out the waves… but not enough time to go shopping in Saint Tropez for a new Hermes bag for my toy dog… nor an extra 5 miles to fit a century ride in. Oh well.
I turned around and the ride back was even more beautiful with gorgeous views of the misty mountains in the late afternoon sun. Passed a few vineyards, the mountain top monastery, a couple waterfalls, and realized that these are those lame scenes you see on those motivation posters. ‘Serenity’, ‘Enlightenment’, or the ubiquitous ‘Goals’ would all fit well.
But this wasn’t a poster at school or the office… this was the real deal. Here’s a quick sample:
I got home just as darkness set in (perfectly timed!) dodging the bike path folks and city traffic. On the lift ride up to my floor, I looked over my wheels with a new appreciation for them. But then noticed something weird on the tire. It was hard to see with my orange tinted glasses which were now fogging up, looked like orange or pink bubblegum. Instinctively, I tried to wipe it off with my fingers and it came right off… I peered over the orange sunglasses to see that it wasn’t bubblegum at all… and it smelled funny.. and then I realized….
Maybe these wheels really are the sh*t.
Don’t worry, in the end that MacBook got some play time too… 5 hours for the wheels, 4 hours for the Mac and my XBench standing jumped from #49050 to #260 fastest Macbook.
If you do end up finding a deal on Reynolds Forty-Six wheelset, I recommend signing up for the RAP coverage on the Reynolds website before your first ride. Definitely worth the piece of mind.