Review: Reynolds Forty Six wheelset

Brake quality: great in dry, moderate conditions; less so in the wet and on extreme descents

Bombing down Colorado mountain roads, we felt comfortable on windy days. The wheels do seem a bit twitchier than, say a Zipp 303 (which has a 45mm rim but is 28.5mm at its widest point), but with less side force.

Coming around a downhill corner and getting hit with a side wind that quickly dissipates as you round another bend, for example, the front wheel would want to turn just a hair then ‘release’ as the wind dropped.

We found the Reynolds shape to be twitchier than a snub-nose rim of similar depth, but with less side pressure in crosswinds

We found the reynolds shape to be twitchier than a snub-nose rim of similar depth, but with less side pressure in crosswinds:

we found the reynolds shape to be twitchier than a snub-nose rim of similar depth, but with less side pressure in crosswindsBen Delaney / Immediate Media

The rubber valve stopper eliminates the rattle you can get with other deep rims

It’s impossible to accurately gauge the aero speed of a wheelset by feel, but based on a thousand or so miles under three riders, we can definitely say these are on a level with comparable Zipp and Enve wheels for pure pace.

The 46 is decently light – on par with the Zipp 303 – but some test riders said they felt lighter because the lateral stiffness is immense. As a result, climbing, acceleration and cornering are all given a boost, especially if you’re a bigger rider or a sprinter.

On the road, the wheels are light and agile

On the road, the wheels are light and agile: on the road, the wheels are light and agile
Ben Delaney / Immediate Media

The wheels are easy to accelerate, on the flat or on hills

We tested first with Reynolds’ older blue Cyro pad, then the new Cyro-Blue Power pad. Both work fine in normal conditions, but the latter works better under extreme braking or wet conditions. For example, two 185lb / 84kg test riders in the US could get the older pads to squeal fairly easily on steep, hairpin descents, but the newer pads would mostly give a pulsating ‘videogame’ noise when braking hard.

Only under extended hard braking – such as stopping as fast as possible from 55 and 60mph on steep mountain roads – would the brakes start chirping. Repeated hard braking would worsen the noise; when the roads flattened out and braking was less intense, the squealing went away. However, the braking power and modulation remained steady, regardless of the audio feedback.

The newer Cryo-Blue Power pads (installed) are a definite improvement on the older model (at front)

The newer cryo-blue power pads (installed) are a definite improvement on the older model (at front): the newer cryo-blue power pads (installed) are a definite improvement on the older model (at front)
Ben Delaney / Immediate Media

The new Cryo-Blue Power Pads (in the holder) are better than the last version, but still not ideal in all conditions

In the UK, wet braking proved a bit of a challenge, and there was a slight delay before engagement and reduction of power.

Reynolds recommends that riders who live or ride in the mountains to regularly clean the rims with acetone and scrub the brake pads with a fine grit sand paper.

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Hubs: a DT Swiss/Reynolds hybrid

Reynolds uses a DT Swiss 240 straight-pull rear hub, but with a modified DT Swiss 180 driver. The wheels don’t get the ceramic bearings of the standard DT Swiss 180 hubs, however. But the straight-pull spoke configuration and stiff rims conspire to produce taut hoops and a lively ride.

We experienced a little play ({amp}lt;1mm) in the cassette body that we couldn’t eliminate, but it didn’t affect shifting or anything else. It was just a little disconcerting when changing cassettes. Otherwise the hub performance was the smooth and dependable performance we’ve come to expect from DT.

Wiggle | Reynolds 46 Clincher Wheelset

CTg Carbon Clincher Braking System
CTg is an innovative braking solution developed by the engineers of the Reynolds Composite Studio (RCS) to give riders utmost braking confidence in their wheels. The carbon fiber clincher may very well be the perfect wheel: it’s fast, light, and strong, with the added benefit of convenient-to-change tires. Yet there is a challenge in creating a carbon clincher that stands up to rough roads, stresses imparted by the rider, and heat build-up during extended braking. Designed as a fully integrated system, CTg (Cryogenic Glass Transition), is Reynolds’ patented carbon fiber rim-and-brake pad pairing that allows Reynolds wheels to run up to 53% cooler than standard (non CTg) rim-and-pad combinations. CTg ensures smooth, predictable braking performance, enhanced safety, and industry-leading dependability.

The CTg brake track unlike other brands that order off-the-shelf, Reynolds formulates its own proprietary carbon fiber laminates and specifies only the highest grades of resin systems for its rims. With this arsenal of differing carbon fiber lay-ups and high-performance resins, Reynolds engineers arrange laminates in optimized layers to create the CTg brake track. These layers extend into the rim, effectively creating a heat sink. Heat dissipates away from the surface, to be cooled by the passing air.

To Reynolds engineers, it was logical to develop brake pads in conjunction with their rims due to the critical role that both play in braking performance. Made of proprietary polymer compounds, Reynolds’ Cryo-Blue pads are designed to work specifically with the CTg brake track. Together, the combination of brake track and pads reduces rim temperatures by up to 220° F versus other manufacturers’ carbon-specific pads.

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Reynolds hoops have become an increasingly popular choice for those in the market for a carbon fibre wheelset,the US firm’s range covering a spectrum of prices. The Forty Six clinchers we’ve been testing for a while sit roughly in the middle of the price band, priced as they are at a whisker under £2000.

The Forty Sixes are flanked in the range by the Thirty Two and Sixty Six, so there’s a rim depth to suit all tastes. The Forty Six is a good middle ground, and is the closest of the three to the near-standard 50mm rims that many cyclists want on their bikes. They’re also a good compromise between the aero benefits of deeper rims and the lighter weight of the shallower rims, finding suitability in road races, time trials and even non-competitive riding.

To put the wheels to test, I packed them in with the NeilPryde Diablo and headed to Majorca for the Wheels in Wheels training camp. The eight days of riding would surely offer a serious test for the wheels, and their performance as well as their durability would be put under serious scrutiny.

The 46mm rim is constructed from high modulus carbon fibre with a narrow and straight-sided profile, and boasts several smart features that helps it stand out from the increasing choice in the carbon wheel market. Firstly there’s a Swirl Lip Generator, a small lip on the trailing edge of the rim [acting like a Gurney flap – ed.]  to encourage airflow to fill the low-pressure area behind the rim section rather than break away into turbulent flow, with a resulting reduction in air drag.

Linking rims to hubs are Reynolds DT Swiss hubs with DT Aerolite bladed spokes, 20/24 front/rear with tangent spokes on the drive side and radial lacing elsewhere and nipples hidden inside the rims. Inside the delivery box are Cryo Blue brake blocks and the latest Reynolds quick release skewers. Both Shimano/SRAM and Campagnolo freehubs are available. Weight for the carbon clinchers tested is 1474g.

Then there’s the heat-resistant braking surface comprising a heat-conducting resin plus protective weave coating on the rim, a technology reynolds call CTg (cryo glass transition point). Braking performance is one area where I’ve always disliked carbon rims; they never really perform anywhere near as consistently as good old aluminium wheels. But this new braking track gives the Forty Sixes (and other Reynolds carbon rims) a very similar level of power and feel to standard aluminium rims, so swapping between wheels doesn’t require much of a brain retune.

So much that their performance  impressed me greatly on the many long fast descents of Majorca, all longer than any UK descent. The surface offers strong braking from the first moment the pads contact the rim right through to dragging the brakes (not something you should do with carbon because of the risks of heat build-up) but even when doing this, braking still remained powerful, with little noticeable degradation in performance.

Heat build-up can be an issue with carbon rims (highlighted by RH’s problems with his wheel choice ) but the Reynolds proved faultless. They maintained a near 100% record, until the last day when the rear inner tube (finally) popped, that is. This heat build-up is a seemingly-inescapable problem with carbon rims but the Reynolds, with their special braking surface treatment, coped much better than most other carbon rims out there, and in particular handled the long descent to Soller fine.

How did they ride then? They performed superbly, is the short answer. I came away from my time with the wheels impressed; in fact, I didn’t want to give them back. Their stiffness and light weight results in incredible acceleration, with a very quick turn of speed from out of the saddle climbing. Whether climbing some of the big hills on the small island or sprinting for the town name sign that indicated the end of the day’s ride, they impressed on all fronts.

Out of the saddle sprinting really reveals their stiffness; the bike leaps from left to right with shocking immediacy, and making changes of direction reveals no hesitation from them. They’re a wheelset that is well suited to the attacking style of rider, as they encourage you to do that at every opportunity. They’ll tire you out quickly, though, if you indulge them!

As for their aero benefits, here, without a wind tunnel to hand, it’s difficult to really assess their performance, but based on perceived effort level at various speeds on the Forty Sixes compared to a pair of Ksyriums, they felt faster, with less effort required to maintain speed. It’s more noticeable at the higher speeds, approaching 40-50kph, where they really propel along with startling velocity.

In crosswinds they’re not so good however, and seemed to cope less well than other deep-section carbon wheels being tested by others in Majorca. While I struggled to begin with during the first five-hour ride with lots of crosswinds (leading to a tired set of arms from the bars constantly ‘tugging’ left and right) I soon became accustomed to it. This is a common problem with deep-sections; it’s generally unavoidable, so it would be unfair to criticise the Forty Sixes too much for their poor handling of cross winds.

They’re a tough set of wheels, as I found out when I hit some rough roads and the odd pothole on the Majorcan roads, and back in the UK they handled the scarred roads of Surrey and Kent ably. Their durability is such that I wouldn’t hesitate to use them every day, rather than saving them for Sunday best (which is great because if you’re going to spend serious money on wheels like these you want to use them as much as possible don’t you?)

That stiffness I mentioned early does have a downside however, and that’s in quite a loss of ride comfort. The stiffness of the bike used to test the wheels contributed a small degree, but when I put some regular wheels back into the Diablo ride comfort was restored to satisfactory levels. You’ll find yourself searching out smoother Tarmac aboard these wheels to save your butt.


They’re not cheap wheels, and might at a glance appear to offer little by way of an edge over the more affordable Assaults. The addition of the bladed spokes and the 100g saving will be enough to convince some. However, I would rather take the cheaper Assaults and keep the extra grand in my bank account.

Reynolds Forty Six clincher wheelset £1,999.99


Deep-section carbon clinchers that are stiff and light with excellent braking; the price tag is justified by the performance

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Make and model: Reynolds Forty Six wheelset

Size tested: 46mm

Tell us what the product is for, and who it’s aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

At this price they’re obviously for the performance conscious (or for the rich fashion conscious).

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Feature packed with plenty of unique features from Reynolds’ extensive and well-regarded R{amp}amp;D department

Rate the product for quality of construction:


Rate the product for performance:


Rate the product for durability:


Rate the product for weight, if applicable:


Rate the product for comfort, if applicable:


Rate the product for value:


Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Without fault. Hub didn’t skip a beat. The package is light and stiff and they look great too.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Most things! The all-round (ahem!) performance.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

The quick release is designed to be light rather than a great wheel holder.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Overall rating: 9/10

Age: 23  Height: 5\’11\  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: Canyon Ultimate CF  My best bike is: Canyon LUX MR/ Grand Canyon CF

I’ve been riding for: 5-10 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Semi pro

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, mtb,

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