Race Face Turbine Wheels Are Built for Enduro Racing and Have a Lifetime Warranty

The new Race Face Turbine alloy wheels are built for enduro racing and big sends and have a lifetime warranty. But do they stand up to the test?
Race Face Turbine wheels

The newest Race Face Turbine wheelset is extolled as the aluminum answer to enduro racing and big sends, building in carbon comfort at an alloy price point. Race Face is a brand with a long history of producing burly parts for tough BC riding. Now they’re putting their money where their mouth is with a lifetime warranty on the rims, a move that we’ve only seen on carbon wheelsets up until recently. Will the wheels live up to the hype though?

Here in BC at least, aluminum wheelsets are seen as somewhat disposable, which isn’t a good way to look at any bike part. Personally I’d rather have something that lasts. Either way, rims don’t tend to last long on the chunky, technical Canadian trails, and the cost of a shop rebuilding a new rim on an existing hub is often more than just buying a whole wheel. Does a lifetime warranty on an aluminum rim mean the rims are less likely to fail, or is Race Face just making a smart business decision to keep customers happy? I put the Turbine wheels through the wringer on some of the roughest trails I could to find out.

Race Face Turbine wheel specs

  • Diameter: 29″ or 27.5″
  • Rear hub options: Boost and Super Boost, XD and Microspline drivers
  • Weight: 860g front, 1,010g rear
  • Price: $349 front, $449 rear
  • Buy from evo.

To start things off, the Turbine wheels are not cheap, but they also won’t break the bank at $349 for a front wheel and $449 for a rear. On paper they’re a good deal considering what you get: a modern tubeless enduro wheelset with straight-pull spokes, a 3-degree engagement Vault hub, and tubeless ready build with valves. The Turbine wheels are available in 27.5″ or 29″ diameters, in Boost or Super Boost widths, and with an XD or Microspline driver body. On test here is a mixed diameter Boost wheelset with XD driver and 6-bolt rotor mounts, weighing 1,010g for the rear wheel and 860g for the front.

Big hubs = big fun?

The Turbine wheels are designed as a system with rims and Vault hubs specially designed for the task. The straight-pull, 2.0/1.65/2.0mm round-butted spokes are laced three-cross. The Turbine rim profile has been updated, and while it looks similar to the ARC Offset rims, the two are very different. Race Face says the front and rear rims are shaped slightly differently, with the front designed for more compliance and the rear for strength. The rim profile is noticeably wider than the ARC series, and features what Race Face calls “Anvil Edge,” where the edge of the rim is broader and flatter, so that in the event of a tire bottom-out the force is dispersed over a wider area, preventing pinch flats. While the outer rim width is a wide 35.3mm due to Anvil Edge, the inner width is at this point fairly standard, 30mm wide. The Turbine rims are not currently available for purchase separately.

Race Face Turbine wheel setup

Setting up the Turbine wheels involved very little drama, which I’ve come to expect from modern tubeless wheelsets. Using a shop inflator the tires mounted easily and the factory-installed tape did not leak. Tires popped onto the bead seat easily and quickly, and getting tires on and off is not much fuss. The aluminum valves are good enough quality and mounting the rotors and cassette was straightforward.

One of my test mules was a Banshee Phantom, the other a Santa Cruz Nomad.

Race Face Turbine ride impressions

Straight off the bat, the Turbine wheels deliver a pleasant riding experience. The high engagement of the Vault hubs is immediately noticeable, and in line with what I’ve come to expect from a modern, high-quality hubset. Engagement is fast, making quick back pedals and mini ratchets on technical climbs and trail features easy, and they have a pleasant, quiet buzz to them when coasting.

Putting the wheels through their paces, I ran Vittoria Air Liner Light inserts with the lightweight Vittoria Agarro tires on my downcountry bike, and opted to run without inserts on my enduro bike, going for Maxxis Double Down casing tires instead. While I did puncture a couple of times on the lighter tires, I’m putting this down to the casing of the tire not being up to task since I don’t give that bike an easy time, and neither of the punctures was a pinch flat; borth were in the tread rather than the sidewall. I have not punctured on my enduro bike, despite hearing more than a few rim impacts.

Anvil Edge gives a wider surface area to the edge of the rim for pinch flat protection

Running the Turbines on the two different bikes highlighted some ride characteristics for me, and switching the Turbines out for a set of Reserve 30 HD wheels highlighted just how compliant the Turbines are. The Reserve 30 HDs are a stiff wheelset, and switching out to the Race Face aluminum wheels left me feeling less trail feedback and overall less fatigued, particularly on my short-travel bike where comfort is at a premium.

Even on the enduro bike however, the wheels absorb the impacts of square edged hits and drops and distribute them, rather than sending them directly through the rider. The effect is subtle but it is there, and the most noticeable tell for me was how less tired and beat up I felt at the end of a chunky, chundery trail.

Start to push the wheels to their limits however and they do let the rider know with a distinctive ‘ping,’ particularly as a result of harsh impacts and short, sharp, high-speed hits. While I don’t think there’s anything untoward happening and it’s likely just spokes loading up and unloading quickly, it certainly gets my attention and lets me know that I’m either riding hard, or like a hack. At the same time however, the wheels feel laterally stiff and don’t create any strange sensations while cornering hard, tracking true while pushing them through some sizeable G-outs.

Early on with the Turbines in an excellent display of my skill, I smacked the rear wheel into the landing of a jump that I probably should’ve looked at before I hit it. The rim held air but under inspection later I discovered that I had flat-spotted it. The Race Face warranty policy says that they will warranty the rim if it no longer holds air, and since this wasn’t the case I opted to use some spoke-freeze on the loose spoke at the flat spot, tighten it up and keep riding. A few hundred kilometers later, way down the line in my opinion, I had a couple other spokes come loose, but otherwise no major drama, and the wheel has held up surprisingly well considering.

Having dealt with Race Face’s warranty department on other matters, I have confidence that I would have no issue getting a replacement should the wheel fail. A Race Face representative tells me that for the most part they are shipping people complete new wheels if available, after having inspected the damaged parts. If a complete wheel isn’t available, the customer would receive a rim and would be on the hook to re-lace themselves. Crucially, Race Face believe that an aluminum wheel has a practical lifespan of roughly three years, so bear in mind this is what they are referencing when they say “lifetime warranty.”

The Vault hubs are pretty damn chunky – I like it

General reliability

As mentioned, I did have some issues with flat-spotting the rim, but it held up pretty well. Further down the line I would have concerns with spokes snapping due to uneven tensions, and while the wheels do come with a handful of spare spokes, it’s worth considering that straight-pull spokes are always harder to find in a pinch than J-bend. For this reason it would be worth bringing spare spokes on any multi-day road trip. I personally find the wheels good to look at, though I understand the decals can be polarizing, I also found that the decals don’t stand up well to damage from rocks and from the fastening ropes on my North Shore Rack, the latter being more my fault than anything else.

The rear hub uses a six-pawl design to achieve the high engagement drive, but in a less conventional manner than usual. The massive hub shell houses not what I initially assumed was a huge drive-side hub shell bearing; it actually uses a pretty standard 6902 bearing with a large drive ring on the outer edge of the freehub body, with the pawls located in the hub shell. For those not familiar, this is the complete opposite of most other hubs, and I assume helps not only with engagement, where the larger ring means stronger engagement with bigger teeth than would otherwise be possible. It also ensures the ratchet ring cannot strip out the threads in the hub shell because it isn’t threaded in at all and is machined as a solid part of the freehub body.

Whatever the reason for the flipped drive ring setup, I had zero issues with the hub during my time on it, and when cracked open, despite the grease looking a little on the brown side, I found no water ingress, and all bearings, pawls etc. were in great shape.

Pros and cons of the Race Face Turbine wheelset


  • Compliant ride takes the sting out of harsh edges
  • High-engagement hubs
  • Pinch flat protection
  • Lifetime warranty


  • Straight-pull spokes can be hard to source
  • Rims are not bomb proof

Bottom line

The Race Face Turbines are a relatively solid set of aluminum wheels for anything from trail to enduro riding with a really nice compliant ride quality that takes the sting out of harsh compressions and chundery trails, and the rim shape does a good job of preventing pinch flats. While they aren’t necessarily the strongest aluminum wheels out there, most aluminum rims can almost be considered disposable and a considerable impact can write off almost any alloy rim in an instant. Where I did damage the Turbines, with a little love they held strong for a ton more riding, safe in the knowledge that they have a lifetime crash/damage warranty.

While the Turbine wheels aren’t cheap, they’re a strong contender given that most alloy wheels don’t promise much in the way of ride feel, and they still cost significantly less than most carbon wheels. The smooth ride certainly gives them an edge over other similarly priced alloy wheelsets; overall, I’m impressed. For those who push their bikes but aren’t too hard on wheels, the Turbines are a great choice. For those wheel destroyers and heavier riders who can’t afford carbon, DT Swiss aluminum rims are some of the strongest out there, but come at a higher price and lack the compliance and high engagement hubs of the Turbine wheelset.