Race Face Next R Wheels

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Next R Wheelset
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Tested: Race Face Next R Carbon Wheelset

Our 225-pound wheel crusher went into this test skeptical of how they would hold up, but came away very impressed with the first carbon wheelset from Race Face.

Rating: Vital Review
Tested: Race Face Next R Carbon Wheelset

Let's be honest, we are sick of narrow rims that ride like cooked spaghetti and hardly support a 2.3-inch tire. All of us are looking for some extra advantage to let us slap that corner harder or hit that off-camber line just a little bit left of that sketchy root – you know the one. Bikes are becoming more capable, and newer, wider wheels offer real benefits over the older, narrower wheel that might be on your ride. Race Face is trying to help you get into this decade by designing the Next R wheelset around a 31mm internal width carbon fiber rim and their fast-engagement Turbine hubs to keep you on the cutting edge.

Carbon wheels done right can be amazing. Done wrong, they can have a bone-shaking impact on the quality of your ride. We were looking forward to getting the new Next R wheelset

Let's be honest, we are sick of narrow rims that ride like cooked spaghetti and hardly support a 2.3-inch tire. All of us are looking for some extra advantage to let us slap that corner harder or hit that off-camber line just a little bit left of that sketchy root – you know the one. Bikes are becoming more capable, and newer, wider wheels offer real benefits over the older, narrower wheel that might be on your ride. Race Face is trying to help you get into this decade by designing the Next R wheelset around a 31mm internal width carbon fiber rim and their fast-engagement Turbine hubs to keep you on the cutting edge.

Carbon wheels done right can be amazing. Done wrong, they can have a bone-shaking impact on the quality of your ride. We were looking forward to getting the new Next R wheelset on the dirt to find out if they hit the bullseye or need to go back to the drawing board. This is their first carbon wheelset, after all, though they do have their sister company Easton to lean on for experience.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Great balance of rim compliance and stiffness
  • 31mm inner width pairs well with today's tires
  • Tubeless ready out of the box
  • Fast rear hub engagement
  • Excellent hub durability
  • Same spoke length throughout entire wheelset
  • Minimal truing required
  • Backed by two-year no questions asked warranty
  • A bit costly
  • Lack of colored decal kits

Next R Carbon Wheelset Highlights

  • Usage: Trail / AM / Enduro
  • Available in 27.5-inch (650b, tested) or 29-inch
  • UD carbon composite rim
  • Rim Dimensions: 31mm internal width, 37mm external width, 34mm height
  • Tubeless ready rim tape and valves installed
  • Six bolt disc brake compatible
  • Rear Hub: Boost 12x148mm and 12x142mm (convertible to 10x135QR and 12x135)
  • Front Hub: Boost 15x110mm (convertible to Torque Cap) and 15x100mm (convertible to Torque Cap, 9x100QR and 20x110)
  • 120-points of engagement (3-degrees) via six double-tooth pawls and 60-tooth drive ring
  • Oversized hub flanges
  • Spokes: 28 straight-pull spokes front and rear in 3X pattern
  • One spoke length used throughout entire wheelset
  • 27.5-inch Weights: 1,680g (claimed), 1,711g (tested with rim strips, valve cores, and hub end caps)
  • 29-inch Weight: 1,765 grams (claimed)
  • MSRP: $1,500 USD

Initial Impressions

Pulling the wheels out of the box you will first notice how beefy the hubs and rims are, which hints at their intended use. The fat Vault rear hub shell gives enough real estate to stuff in four large, sealed bearings and six double-tooth pawls offset into two groups of three. Yes, you read that right – six drive pawls. When spun in hand, the bearings are buttery smooth and the oversized freehub body generates the distinct, solid-sounding purr we all expect to hear from a quality wheelset without being obnoxiously loud. You can see how the hub functions in the video below:

While the front and rear hubs come in two shell widths each for standard or Boost spacing, the hubs can easily be converted to fit additional fork and frame spacing variations by simply swapping end caps (sold separately). Large hub flanges, overall shorter length spokes and 4.5mm offset spoke holes on the rims translate to a laterally stiffer wheelset despite only using 28 straight-pull spokes per wheel.

The black and gray graphics are subtle, though in the right light they pop from the UD carbon rim surface and align perfectly with the rim contours. Smaller etchings adorn the hub bodies to finish off the look but keep with the stealthy branding and styling of the wheels.

The R stands for rally. If you're wondering what rally means, it means "ride your bike."

Race Face's attention to detail goes farther than the looks department, though. Tubeless rim tape and valve cores not only come included with the wheels, but are already installed. Two sets of Maxxis tires in 2.3 and 2.5-inch WT sizes were easily mounted up with minimal effort and paired beautifully with the 31mm internal rim width. Most tires in the 2.3 to 2.6-inch range will work well with the rim profile.

On The Trail

Over the past three months, we have put these wheels through their paces in the wet, mud, and root-filled Pacific Northwest winter. Prior to that they saw seven months of use in the dry, rocky terrain of Southern California. Tire pressures ranged from 25-27psi front and 27-29psi rear.

This balance of compliance and stiffness meant that they were noticeably stiff while cornering and very responsive when initiating a turn or between corner transitions, but not overly harsh in rough terrain.

While the whole wider-is-better movement may not be for everyone, those of us who enjoy wider tires will welcome the accompanying increase in rim width once we hit the dirt. Race Face got a lot of things right with the Next R wheelset – cornering felt predictable and controlled with these wheels as they are stiff and offer a lot of sidewall support to wider tires. Tires stayed in place and kept from rolling off of the bead in corners where we had previously rolled tires off of smaller width rims.

If you have heard horror stories in the past about carbon rims feeling too stiff and beating up the rider, fear not, the Next R wheelset is compliant enough to offer a comfortable ride. This balance of compliance and stiffness meant that they were noticeably stiff while cornering and very responsive when initiating a turn or between corner transitions, but not overly harsh in rough terrain.

Race Face also managed to keep this wheelset on a diet. It was a treat that the Next R wheels with 2.5-inch Maxxis DHF WT tires were slightly lighter in weight to our previous wheel and tire setup, which was noticeable when motoring uphill on longer climbs.

The rear hub's 3-degree engagement is a treat on technical climbs, and minimal drag keeps things feeling quick in the rolling speed department.

Things That Could Be Improved

Throughout our testing we had no issues with the Next R wheels. For a company that has a reputation of making a majority of their product line in various colors it would be nice to have the option to order decal kits for that extra splash of color, similar to the Aeffect line of wheels.

Long Term Durability

After a few less-than-stellar experiences with the durability of the rear hub on the Race Face Aeffect R wheels, we were a bit skeptical of how things might go on this wheelset. After months of abuse in the mud and rain the Vault hubs have held strong and still ride like new. We have heard of an occasional creaking issue with older Vault hubs on Turbine wheelsets, but ours have been trouble free and the bearings continue to run smoothly.

They guarantee the entire wheelset for two years regardless of the type of damage or how it was inflicted.

The rims have endured several rock hits and scrapes but have shrugged off all of the damage and keep asking for more. Our spoke wrench is looking more like a paper weight these days because we have not had to true or tension the wheels throughout our time on them. The use of a single spoke length throughout the entire wheelset makes replacement simple, and the wheels come with five spare spokes.

If there are ever any issues with the Next R wheels, Race Face has introduced what they call the Carbon Confidence Wheel Guarantee. Essentially, they guarantee the entire wheelset (including spokes, rims, hubs and bearings) for two years regardless of the type of damage or how it was inflicted. That means repair or replacement should anything go wrong, at their discretion.

Those wanting to replace bearings on their own will be pleased that commonly-sized 6902 and 6805 cartridge bearings are used throughout.

What's The Bottom Line?

Race Face's Next R wheelset showcases great hub engagement and eye catching graphics along with a competitive cost for high-end, full carbon rims. The wheels have performed flawlessly for every mile we have put on them so far. They offer an excellent balance of reasonably low weight and stiffness without the harsh feeling carbon rims have given in the past. Pair this already solid set of wheels with the two-year Race Face Carbon Confidence Guarantee and you've got a winner on your hands.

Visit www.raceface.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

David Howell has been riding bikes for the last 16 years, with the majority of that being downhill and trail riding. He raced some downhill in Colorado, but now prefers dirt jumping, trail riding, or downhilling with his friends. Working in shops for six years fueled his passion for riding all styles of bikes and has provided an in-depth knowledge of current parts and trends in the industry. His favorite trails are fast and have a good mixture of rough, rocky sections mixed with smoother flowy sections – natural jumps and berms just add to the fun. With a plow riding style and tipping the scales at 225-pounds (102kg), he puts the hurt on even the beefiest components.

Specifications

Product Race Face Next R Wheels
Riding Type Trail
Wheel Size 27.5" (650b), 29"
Rim Material Carbon
Rim UD carbon composite, full carbon fiber construction, 4.5mm spoke offset, 34mm rim height
Inner Rim Width 31mm
Hole Count 28 front and rear
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub Vault:
- Large oversized flange for improved bracing angle
- Larger bearings
- No bearing adjuster needed
- Wider bearing stance 6 double tooth pawls (3 engage at a time)
- 120 points of engagement (3 degrees)
- Independently sprung pawls
- Balanced spoke counter bore
Rear Axle 12mm x 142mm, 12mm x 148mm (Boost), Other (convertible to 10mm x 135mm QR or 12mm x 135mm)
Front Hub Vault
Front Axle 15mm x 100mm, 15mm x 110mm (Boost), Other (convertible to 9mm x 100mm QR, 20mm x 110mm, 15mm x 100mm Torque Cap, or 15mm x 110mm Torque Cap)
Disc Mount Type 6 Bolt
Spokes 3X pattern
Nipples
Colors Matte black with high gloss black water transfer logos
Weight
  • 3 lb 11.3 oz (1,680 g)
  • 3 lb 14.3 oz (1,765 g)
Miscellaneous Tool-free interchangeable end caps (sold separately)
Price
  • $724
  • $775
More Info

www.raceface.com

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