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Race Face Turbine SL Wheelset

Vital Rating: (Spectacular)
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Race Face Turbine SL Wheel Set Long-Term Review

Hitting all the marks on price, weight, engagement and durability, there's no way we're taking these wheels off our short-travel 29er anytime soon.

Rating: Vital Review
Race Face Turbine SL Wheel Set Long-Term Review

We've spent nearly a year on the $849 Race Face Turbine SL wheel set and have had nothing but hassle-free, fun, ripping trail rides on them. These 29er-only, light-duty trail wheels from the Canadian component brand have clocked miles on three different test bikes (2018 Rift Zone 2, 2020 Rift Zone and 2021 Fezzari Delano Peak) and have hosted two different drivetrains (Box Prime 9 with HG driver and 12-speed Shimano with Microspline driver).

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The asymmetrical, 25mm-internal-width 6069 aluminum rims are laced to the incredibly fast-engaging Vault 424 hubs with 28 butted straight-pull spokes in a 3x pattern. Conveniently, all spokes in the wheels are the same length, and Race Face provides five extra spokes with the set. Visually the wheels are fairly low-key and look fast. The rear Vault hub provides snappy, nearly instant acceleration and the sound of buzzing bees on the trail. 120 points of engagement at three degrees are created through six double and independently sprung tooth pawls. Three engage at a time, putting power from drivetrain to wheels. The low-drag Labyrinth cassette seal allows for a free-spinning wheel while coasting. We ran Boost front and rear hubs, and there is a Superboost 12x157 option for Microspline only.

Race Face Vault Hub with Box Prime 9 drivetrain on Marin Rift Zone
Race Face Vault Hub with Shimano 12-speed drivetrain on Fezzari Delano Peak
Race Face Vault front hub

The 25mm width created nice profiles with the 2.25-, 2.35- and even 2.4-inch tires we ran during the test. Any tire bigger than a 2.4 on the Turbines is missing the point and will be folding and rolling in corners with a bulbous profile. Inflating and seating beads of tubeless setups of all tire sizes was no problem with a floor pump. The pre-installed rim tape and valve stems have not been changed throughout our test period and are still holding a seal.

Kenda Regolith 29 x 2.4 on Race Face Turbine SL 25mm internal width rim.
Profile of Kenda Regolith 29 x 2.4 on Race Face Turbine SL 25mm internal width rim.
Kenda Regolith 29 x 2.25 on Race Face Turbine SL 25mm internal width rim.
Profile of Kenda Regolith 29 x 2.25 on Race Face Turbine SL 25mm internal width rim.

Our first experience on the wheels was using an HG driver and a Box Prime 9 drivetrain aboard a sub-$3,000 Marin Rift Zone. The way the wheels made the bike light up was remarkable. Our biggest complaint about that particular bike was the poorly engaging stock hub. With the Turbines, an already-fun bike was transformed into an even more responsive machine. There were typical wear marks on the ribs of the HG driver shell. We eventually swapped to a Shimano 12-speed drivetrain earlier this year when Race Face offered a Microspline driver option. After a similar amount of trail time on a new Rift Zone and a Fezzari Delano Peak, we also found wear marks on the Microspline. Swapping drivers and getting access to the inner workings of the rear hub is easy and tool-free. XD drivers are available for SRAM drivetrains.

Vault 424 drivers - Microspline on left, HG on right.
Microspline driver for Vault 424 rear hub.
Vault 424 rear hub internals.

Without a doubt, the Turbine SL wheels are made for slicing, dicing and stomping on the gas without delay or momentum loss. We've had some good discussion about hub engagement and upgrading bikes in our forum. For XC and trail rides with frequent pedaling over traverses and mellow descents, a hub with fast engagement is a must-have. In tricky, technical terrain where timing pedal strokes is crucial, a hub with fast engagement is a life-saver. The Vault hub's precision will dramatically increase the fun factor on such terrain.

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At 1635g for the set, there is a comfortable compliance paired with precision on the trail. Acceleration and torsional stiffness while pedaling is solid with the 3x pattern, but the lighter nature of the wheels and aluminum rims keep massive deflections off trail obstacles to a minimum. They have never come across as noodly or flexy, a trait we've experienced on lighter-weight wheels in the past, but there is also no harsh sting or jolt when impacting rocks or roots. The Turbines accept the impact as the wheels work their way over and through flow-snagging pieces of trail. The wheels can get overwhelmed if the trail conditions and terrain fall outside of their intended use, however.

The Turbines aren't meant to be an enduro wheel set substitute, and we did not treat them as such. We rolled them on the fast, flowing singletrack of the Boise area with sprinklings of rocks and roots at higher elevations near McCall. Even when a rough, sneaker section would surprise us, the wheels held their composure and remained straight and true throughout the test period. It should be understood, however, that these are not hold-on-close-your-eyes-and-smash-shit-at-full-speed wheels. With that said, Vital MTB followers across the globe on Instagram have had nothing but positive things to say about the durability of the Turbines, as well.

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In the right environment, we have nothing but praise for the Race Turbine SL wheel set. Hitting all the marks on price, weight, engagement and durability, even after nearly a year of testing, there's no way we're taking these wheels off our short-travel 29er anytime soon. Their compliant, precise-handling, fast-accelerating character make them the perfect upgrade to any light-duty trail or downcountry bike.

Visit raceface.com to purchase the wheels or find a Race Face dealer near you.

Specifications

Product Race Face Turbine SL Wheelset
Riding Type Cross Country, Trail
Wheel Size 29"
Rim Material Aluminum
Rim Welded 6069 alloy, 3mm spoke offset, 20mm height, 28mm external width
Inner Rim Width 25mm
Hole Count 28
Tubeless Compatible Yes
Rear Hub Race Face Vault:
--6 double independently sprung tooth pawls (3 engage at a time)
--120 points of engagement (3 degrees)
--Low drag labyrinth cassette body seal
Rear Axle 12mm x 148mm (Boost)
Front Hub Race Face Vault
Front Axle 15mm x 110mm (Boost), Other
Disc Mount Type 6 Bolt
Spokes 3x lacing, five spares included, single spoke length used throughout wheelset
Nipples
Colors Black ano with high-gloss black vinyl decals
Weight 3 lb 9.7 oz (1,635 g)
Miscellaneous Large oversized flange for improved bracing angle and larger bearings
Wide bearing stance
Tool-free interchangeable end caps (sold separately)
Price $849.99
More Info

raceface.com

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