On show: Eurobike 2009 Part 4

Reynolds debuts ultra-high end RZR 46T road wheel

Reynolds Cycling recently added carbon wheel talent Paul Lew to its enviable roster and along with him came the ideas and concepts behind his stunning VT-1 road wheelset. Those wheels have since undergone a number of refinements and reworks but Reynolds claims the resultant RZR 46[T] (as it will now be known) is still under 900g and yet is one of the stiffest and most responsive, too.

Radical appearances aside, the RZR 46[T] is essentially built using a conventional separate, hub, spoke, nipple and rim layout – albeit in this case everything is bonded together once the alignment is completed and there are no metallic joints whatsoever. The spokes boast a symmetric airfoil profile, the 46mm-deep carbon tubular rims incorporate a unique 'Swirl Lip Generator' at the spoke end to slightly reduce drag, and the hubs feature double-walled carbon shells, precision ground carbon fiber axles, and low-drag cartridge bearings – including three in the rear hub shell to squelch any axle flex.

The rear hub also adds Lew's novel Torque Flange design, which is positioned at the centerline of the wheel and anchors four spokes solely to transfer rider power to the rim (all of the other spokes both front and rear are laced radially). According to Lew, each of those flanges is tested to 200ft-lbs – more than the output of many small cars – and drive force is transmitted through a proven Tune freehub body and drive ring.

The near-100 percent carbon and boron fiber construction is obviously responsible for much of the weight savings but the unique build configuration also allows for a much lighter rim than usual. Unlike on typical wheels, the RZR 46[T]'s spokes are under no tension whatsoever – in use, some of the spokes are thus loaded in tension but others are in compression. Lew says the rim spoke bed doesn't have to be built up as much as a result and the entire system in general can be made to handle a lighter load.

In addition, the ultra-expensive carbon and boron fiber content throughout the entire structure requires less material than carbon fiber alone and also lets the system operate in both tension and compression throughout.

The alloy freehub body and driver mechanism is custom built for Reynolds by German manufacturer Tune.

Even so, the RZR 46[T] does carry a maximum rider weight limit of 82kg (180lb). In case something were to happen, however, the wheel's bonded construction means that damaged components can be replaced relatively easily and Reynolds also includes the flagship model in its Reynolds Assurance Program – an optional no-fault protection program that covers owners for three years.

RZR 46[T] owners would be well served to shell out the extra money for the plan. At a stratospheric US$6,000 per pair, a little piece of mind will likely go a long way.

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