The greatest gear rarely sits atop the podium alone. Success in anything is typically thanks to a long list of thinkers and vital factors; like a great city that includes thoughtful council members, social services, progressive schools, parks, trail access, bars, and other essentials.
A top-level MTB wheelset is similarly nothing without all of its bits, and these 30|30 wheels from Reserve are made from the good stuff. We call them “carbon wheels” but only the rim is made of resin and fiber, and all of the rest is aluminum and steel. The carbon circles here have a 30mm internal width to play well with 2.3-2.6″ tires. The spoke holes are offset by 4mm to create a more symmetrical and balanced overall build. That strength emphasis is backed by extra material at each of the spoke holes where rims typically fail, and a reinforced external edge for added protection. Have you seen the video of MacAskill trying to break them on a trials bike?
According to Chris Currie of Stans No Tubes, some brands have struggled with tubeless tire setup on asymmetrical rims, where the bead can be harder to seat on one side and may burp more easily on the other. Reserve has managed a fine balance with these rims that makes for a quick and even bead-lock when the tires are first filled, and I haven’t experienced any burping issues to date. The rims arrived with tape installed and I was able to mount a set of gravity tires with a simple electric pump, no compressor necessary. Reserve says the wheels will eventually ship with their new Fillmore valves though existing stock, including the wheels tested here, ship with standard Presta valves.
The overall build quality of these wheels feels super solid. All of the 28 spokes have maintained tension over the past few months of daily mud sliding, and both rims are still within 1mm from a perfect true.
I’ve ridden these wheels hard over the past few months. I ride almost daily on wet rooty tracks here in Bellingham, hitting unknown lines and trails where I regularly land sideways in the messiest spot possible. The 30|30 rims have endured admirably, even exceeding the performance of another set of carbon rims I’m currently testing. I landed a jump into a sharp rock with a different wheel and snapped the rear rim last month. When I replicated that smack with the Reserve wheels nothing happened. Not even a quick puncture. That other rim may have been defective, or maybe my landing was 3cm to the left of the previous one, but the important story for me is that this rim remained intact, with no sign of fatigue. I’ll share more on the broken rim in a coming review.
Like most gravity wheels, these 30mm-wide ones work well for climbing, even if that’s not the point. I won’t belabor the I9 Hydra hub story, since we have reviewed these hubs in several articles, but I will say that I still love the tight engagement they provide. It feels sweet to have immediate engagement while ratcheting up a tricky climb. The bearings are still spinning smoothly despite loads of rain riding and zero maintenance, and they feel like things should stay that way throughout the winter. Also, they come in all of the spacing options your contemporary frame could ask for.
More importantly, these wheels feel fantastic on descents. A while back I wrote about how the Union wheels from We Are One compress slightly and snap open from their compressed egg shape when exiting turns and compressions, and these wheels feel every bit as spry and snappy. Reserve kept these well below the “too stiff” threshold that carbon rims used to teeter along, while they’re plenty stiff to offer a responsive sprint and a clean line down track. There is certainly enough lateral give to keep them away from adjectives like “jittery” or “skittish” and cuddled up close to words like “control” and “damping.” While someone could certainly over tension these, I would put the 30|30 wheels, as built by Reserve, in a close tie with my personal favorite wheel picks of today.
The Reserve wheels weigh very close to their reported 1,811g mass with the I9 Hydra hubs, and retail for $1,899 at Competitive Cyclist and JensonUSA. The brand offers a 28mm-wide option for XC that gets the weight all the way down to 1,367g, a slightly lighter 30mm “trail” set at 1,750g, and a full-fledged 31mm-wide DH set for the burliest of hucks that tips the scale at 2,050g with Hydra hubs. That’s a load of options that should cover anyone’s circular MTB needs. If the DH offering doesn’t seem tough enough for you, watch Greg Minnaar rip them down Black Snake in Italy on the way to another World Champion title. Yes, he’s sponsored by the brand, but Minnaar likely wouldn’t ride them if he didn’t trust the rims.
Like most good carbon rims these days, the Reserve 30|30 come with a lifetime warranty. At this point, it seems that investing in a carbon set is more worthwhile than replacing alloy rims every six months or so. Rims are going to bend and break, and having a free replacement shipped out every time it happens is a pretty sweet deal for folks with the requisite wad of cash. If it was my money, I’d buy a DH set for added security, laced to Hydra hubs. I’d follow that by never busting my thumbs on tire inserts again and largely not worrying about my rims.
In the world of carbon fiber wheels, there are great riding sets and there are all the rest. The Reserve 30|30 set earns a place at the top, alongside great hoops from brands like We Are One. If you have the cash for a stellar gravity wheel upgrade, these are just that: collected bits that make an impressive whole.
- Superb ride characteristics
- Lifetime warranty
- Tough while not overly stiff
Pros and cons of the Reserve 30|30 wheelset.
- Not in everyone’s budget
- Could be lighter with different spokes