Santa Cruz Reserve Wheels

Santa Cruz Debuts Wheel Brand

Reserve wheels will come in two diameters and three widths

Enve wheels have practically become synonymous with high-end Santa Cruz bikes in recent years, the perfectly color-matched logos screaming style (and "I've got money!").

But Santa Cruz noticed issues over time–some rims were breaking (not uncommon for any carbon rim) and the ride delivered by the stiff hoops could be harsh. So the company hired composites engineer Nicolas McCrae to see if he could develop a stronger, more comfortable rim that would result in better traction for the rider. Three years later, and countless hours of testing at Santa Cruz's carbon prototype lab, the result is Reserve, a line of five carbon wheels that debuts today with the new Nomad and Strega bikes.

For now, only the Reserve 30–the 30-millimeter-internal width version–is available, and only on the new Nomad and Strega. The full line will be available in a couple of months as an upgrade to a Santa Cruz or Juliana build for $1,200. Santa Cruz plans on offering Reserve wheels for aftermarket sales this fall, but pricing is still to be determined.

Here's the rundown of the full line:
— 29-inch wheels in three internal widths: 25, 27 and 30 millimeters
— 27.5-inch wheels in 27 and 30 millimeters
— 3.5-millimeter-thick rim beads
— 28-spoke, 3x lacing
— DT Swiss Competition Race double-butted spokes
— Available with DT Swiss 350 or Industry 9 Torch hubs
— Sapim Alloy Secure Lock Nipples
— External nipple access for easy servicing
— Lifetime Warranty

The rims have an asymmetric profile to combat unequal spoke tension and bracing, a result of the hub not being centered in the rim because of an imbalance from the drivetrain on one side and the brake rotor on the other side. "With the spokes at different angles, you end up with unequal tension, which is bad for durability, and unequal triangulation, which is bad for stiffness," says Josh Kissner, Santa Cruz product manager.

Santa Cruz Reserve Wheels

Santa Cruz also used external reinforcements around the spokes that are held in place by steel tools so that the material can't shift, and if the spoke holes are drilled incorrectly at the factory, the mistake is visible. Often, rim failures result from holes that are drilled on the edge of the reinforcements or off of them entirely, but because reinforcements are commonly inside the rims, it's not obvious, Kissner says. This way, "if it's messed up, we can see it," he added.

Santa Cruz Reserve Wheels

The rims weigh similar to that of its competition, Kissner says.

"We're not out to make the very lightest wheel on the market. That was never our goal. Weight-wise, they're comparable to an Enve or an e13, we weren't trying to go lighter. What we wanted to do was concentrate on efficient use of material and shape."

The rims are manufactured by a third-party Asian factory and built at the Santa Cruz headquarters.

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