New Wheelset Arrives: 2011 Reynolds Forty-Six

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.

Dueling Deliveries

Dueling Deliveries

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).

Reynolds Forty-Six weight

Reynolds Forty-Six on the scale

[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!

Reynolds Blue Brake Pads

Reynolds Blue Brake Pads

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.
Motivation Poster

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:

My Journey

My Journey

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.

Reynolds Forty-Six

Reynolds Forty-Six mounted with Gray Decals

Reynolds Forty-Six Brake Track

Brake Track

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.

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11 Responses to New Wheelset Arrives: 2011 Reynolds Forty-Six

  1. Andy says:

    Nice little review. I’ve got a set a Assaults and really like them. Had some issues with the first batch, but the second are really solid. The funny thing was when they replaced the wheels under warranty (orig 2009, replaced with 2010 model) I still got the new brake pads. These pads made a huge difference to the braking capability of the wheels, so maybe it’s the new brake pad compound that’s making the difference rather than the new braking track?

    Bit of a dilemma with your deliveries…glad to see you’ve got your priorities right; bike first, then other shiny toy when the sun goes down. 😉

  2. Pro35 says:

    Did the wheels help your time on the climb from 49050 to 260?

    • thewaywardcyclist says:

      It’s quite possible that’s everything is connected. Wasn’t it our friend TP who had that coach who said that if you want to ride fast, you had to eat things that are fast. Like rabbit. So maybe this is just a variation on an old Slovakian training regime.

  3. Erin says:

    Nice bars. What are they?

    I got a set of Reynold’s 46s (tubulars). I’m a little nervous about riding them. =O

  4. Tom Lee says:

    Thanks for the reynolds review. I ordered a set of 2010 with the blue pads and hoping the braking will be like what you have experienced with the new rims..


  5. Dave says:

    Stumbled onto your blog while looking for info on carbon wheels…I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your adventures. Beautiful pictures, and a very enjoyable writing style along with terrific subject material make this a real pleasure to follow.

    I was wondering if i could ask your advice on a couple of things:
    I’m looking for an all in one wheel set that works well for training and climbing. If you had to buy, would you buy carbon wheels? Would you recommend 32 or 46 mm rims (a little worried about wind handling).

    Second, what is your recommendation for bike transport? I’m thinking about a padded bag like the aerus or pika bags? Good idea –bad idea? Better ideas?

    Thanks for your help. Happy travels.
    Na zravi!


    • thewaywardcyclist says:

      Hey Dave,
      Great comment! Glad you brought your wader boots and were able to find some pearls of wisdom in my murky ramblings.

      First I’ll try to answer some of your questions…
      Regarding an all-in-one wheelset, it’s hard to say.
      There are guys that ride study box rims and taught their advantages – simple, strong, easy to repair, affordable… and they are right.
      There are guys who ride expensive lightweight aluminum wheels and praise the tradeoffs between weight, performance, and reliability… and they are right.
      There are guys who swear that tubulars feel the road in such ways that your trojan-brand clinchers will never appreciate… and they are right.
      There are the carbon clincher clan who say that it’s the new way to go, despite all the aforementioned riders who claim that they melt, or are overweight, or are too expensive.

      In reality, I think it comes down to personality. Really.

      Tubulars are lighter and really wish I could ride them with my noise up high. But I’m more concerned with the time I’ll be smelling the glue, waiting for them to dry, and wondering about my mounting aptitude when I take a sharp turn on a big mountain descent. My other restraint is that I’ve done a lot of long rides in areas where I probably couldn’t ask for help – as many rides crossed borders where the flag, language, and currency changed several times before I returned home. SOS calls home for emergency pick-ups were out of the question as well, so I have to be pretty certain that I can return home come what may.

      Therefore tubulars are out of the question for me at the moment.

      So now it comes down to carbon or aluminum. Today I was on a ride that I hadn’t done in a few months. I was having a pretty good time and wondered what was different about this ride vs my last ride (when I detested the same route). It was rather bumpy in sections with wavy asphalt and a few pot holes. Then I remembered that I late rode this route with my aluminum wheels (while I was waiting for my replacement Reynolds set). It was a big difference on my comfort level for sure and my impression of the ride.

      46mm vs 32mm is probably something I can’t answer as I’ve never owned 32mm or shallow carbon wheels. My experience is limited to Spinergy Rev-X (48mm?), 46mm Assaults, 46mm DV UL, and 46mm Forty-Sixes.

      Can a carbon clincher be an all-in-one?
      Yes and no, depending on your habits. If it’s raining outside and you say “great day for a ride” then carbon wheels probably aren’t you’re best fit. I hate rain. I get caught in it sometimes (even knowingly if I’m somewhat deranged that day). It’s fine if it’s flat. If you are in big mountains then you really have to be aware of your decreased braking power and I would be really hesitant riding in a group in the mountains with carbon wheels. If you can put up with that for a few turns or maybe half a ride and have some experience with less-than-optimal breaking power (remember MTB in the mud with canti’s!) then you’ll be fine.

      Bike transport:
      I’m guessing you are referring to air-travel which I’ve done perhaps a dozen times. I’ve also picked the brain of my buddy who happens to be a pro on what he does (more in the context of ‘how the heck to do get through the airport with 3 bikes????!!!)

      I’m a big fan of the basic cardboard box.
      It’s usually free. I don’t have to store it in my small apartment and if it gets damaged on the flight in, I can usually find a replacement for the flight out (or have a handy roll of duct tape). I guess I adopt the automotive industry’s crash-test dummy philosophy of the more the box crumples and takes a beating, the safer my bike is. Yes the hardshell cases are typically indestructible but they cost a lot, require storage, and (the biggest factor) they have less volume than the cardboard box. I’m all about cramming as much into that box as possible. Bike shoes, pumps, tubes, helmet, bike clothing (padding), towels (padding), regular clothing (padding/avoiding weight restrictions with normal luggage). So far so good. I follow the typical advice that you see posted on most sites and magazines regarding padding. Probably the most important is the handlebar/top tube section. I usually wrap each item in cardboard or rags or towels and tape/zip tie everything in place. Duct tape the bottom of the box completely for easy sliding. If rain is in the forecast, just add more duct tape. 🙂 That’s how I do it anyway.
      One blog reading is flying in next week so we’ll see how he prefers to roll. He’s pretty smart with such things.

  6. Paul Mauro says:

    I enjoyed reading your article on the wheels, it would have been very difficult to choose which to open first. I just received my Reynolds Forty Six Clinchers yesterday and was rather surprised to see the weight for my wheels was 1469g actually below what they advertised at 1474, and a good bit below the set they sent you…First ride is in an hour and look forward to riding them. Thanks for the great reading.

  7. Jack Sedgwick says:

    Hi, you say in a response about the braking capability in the wet. Does that comment stand true for the 2011 braking surface and reynolds pads? Have you had any experience yet of riding these and braking in the wet?

    Am thinking about buying some 32mm reynolds carbon rims to ride across the alps but am worried about braking on descents in the wet.


    • thewaywardcyclist says:

      Hi J,
      Riding in the wet with full carbon wheels is always risky business. I’m using KCNC brakes which seem to degrade in performance in the wet more than, say Dura-Ace or Red brakes. So yes, when it’s wet, it isn’t as fun. If you love to ride in the rain several days a week, up and down mountains, with a group… then definitely get yourself some wheels with aluminum brake tracks. No? Then maybe you will be ok with full-carbon wheels. As for the Reynolds, I doubt they are any worse than other brands. The blue break pads are slightly better… but I hate riding in the rain… a fact that overshadows bike performance of any kind.

  8. Bart says:


    Can you give a brief update about the Reynolds Forty six at the moment? Do you still like them?
    Iam thinking about these wheels but I also like the Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR. Both wheels have there pro’s en con’s.
    If I buy the Reynolds, can I use them in the mountains. It would be very scary when going down on the Reynolds and it is starting to rain. If I buy the Reynolds i will use it for 95% in flat or easy hills. I also have a Fulcrum racing 1 alu wheelset so the carbon clinchers are for dry weather. The stiff Mavic SLR’s are suitable in any condition due to the alu exalith rim although a bit heavy (1600g).
    So what would you buy?



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