Santa Cruz has brought to market a new carbon rim that's making even the most jaded bike junkie sit up and take notice. Have they done the impossible? I'll let you decide. The "Reserve" is the name of this nearly indestructable carbon fibre rim. I first took notice of it after seeing a video of Danny MacAskill attempting to literally destroy this rim by riding up and down cement stairs at speed and eventually doing it with no tire on. It took quite an effort to finally kill that rim!
Santa Cruz is so confident in the hardiness of this rim that they are offering a lifetime warranty. When was the last time that you heard of a lifetime warranty on a carbon rim? So, what makes this rim so unique and so difficult to kill? Lets take a look at some of the design details that make this rim special.
First off is the asymmetric spoke bed. A 3 to 5mm offset, depending on the rim model, helps to equalise spoke tension on both rear wheels as well as front disc wheels. This is a great idea that I wish was utilised by more rim designers.
The next noteworthy design consideration is the actual spoke nipple seat. This area has been beefed up considerably. This likely will guarantee that nipples will rarely ever pull through even under very high tension.
Santa Cruz has entrusted the manufacturing of these rims to an Asian company that has not been disclosed. The fact that this rim is not made in the USA doesn't surprise me, as several Asian rim makers have extensive experience and have solid quality control.
Here's a cutaway photo of a Reserve rim and as you can see it has no bubbles or any other type of voids that are sometimes found inside carbon rims. All in all, very clean work.
So what different models are on offer. The Reserve is available in both 27.5 and 29er's in a few different widths.
Obviously these rims will be the domain of the MTB world but I certainly could see the Reserve 25 getting used by the gravel grinders out there. In fact it might be a really ideal carbon rim at 390 grams for those looking for a compliant ride and near indestructibility.
This brings me to my one beef about these incredible rims. At the moment I don't believe they are available to custom wheel builders like myself. Hopefully Santa Cruz will soften on this position and decide that only good can come by making them available to all those talented wheel builders out there who will pair them up with interesting hub choices. I would love to build up a set and thrash them on some of my fave gravel roads.