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Product Test: Reynolds Stratus Wheels
Sweet Circles: Another ultra top end Carbon Wheelset from the guys at Reynolds and these babies are nice…

God (or your choice of higher being) must have decided to smile upon me over the last few weeks, as we have seen some of the absolute best in the business in the form of top end wheels. The newest from Reynolds, the Stratus and Cirrus models have shown up on our door step and they landed almost side by side with some of the best rubber available from Tufo (Thanks Vlad!) and a couple of sets of tubular tape. So in about 10 minutes they went from box to rolling down the road (thanks to the rim cement replacement tape from Tufo, no fuss no muss).

This all started a few months back when I saw a super nice set of wheels being ridden in a National Cyclocross race by a pro known for bunny hopping. I was counting the laps, and trying to take bets from the people around me on how many barriers would be cleared before we all heard a crackling sound. Nothing broke, so I had to find out who made the hoops. After finding they were a black box pair made by Reynolds, I got a little bit more info. Turns out they were the same guys that gave a set I had seen a few times in Arizona this winter on the bike of a former Mercury sprint God (you take a guess) who is still winning races…

So I called up the VP at Reynolds and asked who I could talk to about these wheels and found my source would be Chris Bingham. That was nice, since the guy knows a butt load about Carbon and was part of the famed Lew wheels guys crew before they were rolled up by Reynolds Mclain Composits group. That’s an awful lot of know-how teamed up to produce what is arguably the most difficult thing to make in cycling, because of the multiple stress directions and impact forces that wheels need to go through. But these guys rock and roll with Forks (another nightmare product to get right) and did a great job here too. They are also the only folks out there drawing solid 6/4 Titanium and have been around longer than you can imagine. With 27 Tour victories under their belt, Reynolds has been there…

Out of the box, the first thing that catches your eye after the graphics (which I really like), are the little patches of Carbon at the Valve stem opening, and on the opposite side. These reinforce strength and I would imagine it is a better alternative than making the entire rim heavier in order to strengthen a specific area. The second thing catching my eye is the use of prepreg (not the mesh look) Carbon fiber. This is what all carbon parts look like before they put the carbon matt weave over it to add the finishing touch for looks. Reynolds built these things to do nothing but perform, but the matt look is still way cool to the eye!

The Hubs are White Industries and are simple and straight forward in looks. They are solid performers, and the rear engages well. The free hub engages well and is about as noisy as most hubs. Nothing like the chain saw hubs from Hugi, but I like quieter hubs like the Dura Ace, Record and American Classics Micro.

The rim depth qualifies as a solid aero profile and they also feature the “hidden nipple” style like the Campy Eurus and a few others. This is supposed to be stronger (as the hole in the carbon is smaller) and is supposed to add some aerodynamics (with no nipple cutting through the wind at the outer edge of the wheel where added interference does more damage. This makes perfect sense, but with the two large patches of carbon at the stem and opposite end (which probably have greater surface area and are even further into the turbulence zone than a few tiny nipples would be) I would guess it is a wash on performance from standard nipples. Personally I favor not having to pull off your tubulars in order to true your wheels (as the nipple access is through the rim bed). But then again, these wheels came to me dead on perfect and have not come a tad out of true, so I will shut the yap about that…

Now to the fun part, Strapping em on the Green jersey edition Prince and off we go!

These wheels are light. They are also deep and solid enough to be a bit more stiff ( a good thing) than a few other wheels we have had. The deep profile means they hold speed well, but in a cross wind you do get a little push. That is the same for all wheels with this profile, but when wheels are this light, you feel it a bit here. I am also pleased with the durability, as I absolutely pegged a road plate (the thick kind that they cover holes with) and did so at pretty close to 35 mph (with the Tires at 160 lbs) and they didn’t flinch a bit. I purposely cranked up the side to side pressure with a few jumps (power meter said 1227 watt spikes) and after the ride, put em in the stand and they were spot on. Not too bad at all.

Bottom line here is that this is a great all around race wheel. They are light enough for climbing and aero enough for the flats. This might be the perfect breakaway wheel! While there are lighter wheels out there, there aren’t many, and the ones with this deep a profile are fewer still. The price is on par with top shelf products from American Classic and Zipp, and this wheel fits in very well in that group (you can spend more money, but would be foolish to do so…). The other product ready to go is the Cirro. It is the shallow profile version, and we cant wait to get on it!

While you wait, Check out Reynolds site at Check out their other bits as well. You’ll be hard pressed to find better fork makers as well as tubing and other carbon parts…


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