We spend a month road testing Reynolds Black Label DB 46mm hoops. The come with an impressive lifetime warranty and look super slick, but just how good are they?
Reynolds, a name synonymous with top-quality bike wheels, has raised the bar with their latest offering, the DB 46 road wheel platform. Promising to be the “Only Wheelset You Need,” these wheels are designed to tackle diverse terrains, catering to both professional and recreational road and gravel riders.
Innovative Rim Design
The DB 46 rim boasts a teardrop shape that widens to 31mm before tapering back slightly. Fully tubeless, each rim features a 21mm hooked tubeless channel, accommodating road tires with a sweet spot for 28mm through to wider gravel tyres. Reynolds’ tried and tested approach to aerodynamics strikes a perfect balance between speed and stability and – as we’ll get to shortly – the new hoops performed faultlessly.
Stylish and Versatile
Upon unboxing, the modern matte finish and subtle ’46 Black Label’ decals exuded sophistication. These wheels instantly transformed our long term test bike, the Ribble Gravel Ti, giving it a fresher and more aggressive stance. Compatible with various tyre widths, these wheels blend seamlessly with the Ribble Gravel Ti, a genuine road/gravel/all-road machine.
Despite the 46mm depth, these wheels handled crosswinds admirably, providing a smoother and more comfortable ride than stock alloy wheels. Climbing, cornering, and straight-line cruising all experienced significant improvements, elevating the overall ride quality. The combination of a titanium frame and carbon wheels proved unbeatable, leaving us unwilling to revert to previous (stock) setups.
Reynolds’ commitment to quality is evident in every detail, from packaging to simple tubeless setup instructions. Fitting super slick 35mm GoodYear Eagle F1 ‘AllRoad’ tyres and using FinishLine FibreLink sealant, tyre fitting, inflation, setting and sealing was a straightforward, clean and minimal fuss process. During the test period we topped up the air a couple of times, it drooping around 5 to 10psi between rides, but other than this didn’t have any significant issues.
Three Options Plus Extras
The Reynolds Black Label 46mm wheels come in three distinct build levels, each offering a unique combination of components and weight specifications. At the top tier, the Blacklabel 46 Pro DB wheels stand out as the premium choice. These wheels feature Black label Torch hubs, Sapim CX-Ray spokes, and alloy nipples, meticulously crafted with 20 spokes in the front and 24 in the rear. Remarkably lightweight, Reynolds claims a total wheelset weight of 1,397g for this high-end option.
Stepping down the ladder, the Blacklabel 46 Expert DB wheelset (as tested) maintains the same top-quality rim but adopts 24 Sapim CX-Ray spokes for both front and rear wheels. These spokes are expertly laced to Reynolds/Ringle Super Bubba X Road DB hubs, which employ a three-pawl ratchet system with 8° engagement. Despite the slightly increased spoke count, the claimed weight for this wheelset rises marginally to 1,430g, offering a balance between weight and performance.
Lastly, the Reynolds AR46 DB wheelset takes a different approach, utilizing Sapim Sprint spokes with brass nipples. Paired with the new Reynolds/Ringle hub that has a 3-pawl freehub mechanism with 12° engagement. Freewheel wise, they were middle of the road – not ‘look at me’ loud or ‘look down, something’s not right’ quiet.
While slightly heavier than its counterparts, Reynolds states a weight of 1,604g for this variant, ensuring durability and resilience for riders seeking a more robust option.
Shipped with top quality Reynolds wheels bags, plus pre-taped and supplied with 60mm tubeless valves, we were impressed with the packaging, attention to detail, instruction manual and other assorted accessories.
Lifetime Warranty & Bottom Line
One of the major selling points with the Reynolds Black Label 46mm is their lifetime warranty – that’s massive peace of mind for any bike rider. The conclusion after our month with there hoops is this – they are more than a wheelset but were a truly a transformative upgrade to the Ribble Ti. They were fast, aerodynamic, looked great, and significantly enhanced performance. In fact, the enhanced every aspect of the ride and were sorely missed once removed, boxed up and sent back.
To the price, and these bad boys come with an RRP of $2299 or $2999 for the Expert model.
What’s in the Box?
2 x Single Wheelbags
2x75mm Tubeless Valve Stems
End Caps (12TA/12×142 installed 15TA included)
22mm Tubeless Tape installed
Reynolds Owner’s Manual
Keen to find out more – visit Reynolds Australia via this link.