Reynolds TR 309 S Carbon Mountain Bike Wheels: Performance Boost at a Competitive Price [Review]

Photos: Jeff Barber

Last year Reynolds introduced their more affordable TR line of carbon wheels. I’ve been testing the TR 309 S wheels on my hardcore hardtail build over the past couple of months to see how they perform.

The wheels

Within the TR line, Reynolds offers two price points based on the hub choice. The ‘S’ series I tested ($1,549 MSRP) features a slightly nicer hub, with 5 degrees of engagement versus 10 degrees in the base $1299 TR set. (Reynolds’ top of the line Blacklabel wheels boast 3-degree engagement hubs built by Industry Nine.)

  • $1,549 MSRP (compare prices)
  • Boost and non-Boost options available (Boost tested)
  • 29er or 27.5″ diameter (29er tested)
  • SRAM XD or Shimano driver body (Shimano driver tested)
  • 24mm, 30mm, and 36mm inner rim width options (30mm tested)
  • 5-degree engagement (six pawl)
  • Tubeless ready
  • Weight: 890g rear, 750g front (1,640g set)

An asymmetric rim profile allows Reynolds to spec even spoke tension all the way around. Both the front and rear wheels feature 28 spokes laced 3-cross. The spokes are Sapim CX-Delta attached with external alloy nipples.

Set up

It seems every new set of wheels I set up tubeless is easier than the last, and the Reynolds TR 309 S wheels were no exception. The included valves fit securely in the inner channel and the hookless rim makes it easy to slide a set of tires on without a lever. I mounted 2.6″ Teravail Honcho tires with a floor pump on the first try, and juiced them up with Muc Off sealant.

The Shimano compatible hub option features center lock brake mounts, and Reynolds throws in a set of adapters in case you’re running 6-bolt rotors. I found the adapters don’t fit certain two-piece rotors so if your bike has 6-bolt rotors, budget for a new set of center-lock rotors just in case. (The hubs on the XD version are 6-bolt.)

Out of the box, the Reynolds T6 Mountain hubs are configured for a 15mm thru axle up front and a 12mm thru axle in the rear. End caps are available to adapt to other hub setups.

All wheels ship with white decals and a set of five color match stickers for customization. The orange decals add a nice pop of color to my Orange P7 build, and while the match isn’t perfect, I ride so fast that no one can tell anyway. 😛

On the trail

My hardtail build is no lightweight, and the TR 309 S wheels offer a welcome opportunity to shave a few grams. Right out of the gate I found them to accelerate incredibly easily, giving the bike a light feeling with tires planted on the ground. The bike pedals like its a much lighter bike, and the TR 309 S wheels feel instantly responsive to power input.

Testing wheels can be tricky. Tire pressure and suspension settings get all the attention when it comes to ride feel, leaving wheels as an afterthought for many riders. At least on a hardtail one of the variables — suspension — can be eliminated, though even then, only in the rear. On my hardtail, the TR 309 S wheels don’t feel harsh, even toward the end of punishing, long rides across rooty trails.

I have another hardtail in for review that’s running carbon wheels from a different brand and I’ve already experienced a few harsh “twangs” from the spokes where rim meets rock. Not so with the Reynolds TR 309 S wheels. They have held up well against everything I’ve thrown at them with silent composure.

In two months I don’t recall adding any air to my tires, so clearly the rims are well sealed. I suspect part of the reason I’ve experienced rim strikes with the other set of carbon wheels I’m testing is that those rims (or possibly the tires) are slowly leaking air. While I always begin the ride with the right amount of pressure in my tires, by the end that pressure is inevitably lower on the other wheels, which can lead to problems. With the TR 309 S wheels I find I don’t worry about uneven performance thanks to consistent performance during the ride, and from ride to ride.

The 30mm internal rim width has proven to be a great match for the 2.6-inch tires I’m running. In fact, the Teravail Honchos are up there with some of the best tires I’ve tested (look for a review coming soon), and I have to believe part of the credit is due to matching the tire to the right rim width. The TR 309 S wheels give the tires just the right profile for optimal performance.

Perhaps the one area where the TR 309 S wheels fall short is in the hub selection. However at this price point, buyers know they’re sacrificing hub performance, so this shouldn’t be a surprise. Five degrees between engagement can feel like a lifetime in tricky situations, and this takes away from the quick acceleration benefits I mentioned earlier. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but hubs with better engagement certainly feel a lot better.

Bladed spokes look cool, feel good, and they’re even aerodynamic, but in my experience finding replacements can be a hassle. Not every shop carries bladed spokes in their inventory, but at least these are Sapim and not a proprietary design which should make replacement a little easier.


All in all Reynolds has put together a compelling mountain bike wheel set at a competitive price. The TR 309 S wheels offers a huge performance boost over most stock configurations, delivering fast acceleration, consistent tire pressure, an excellent ride feel, and durable build quality.

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