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Review: Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheels are a great mix of Reynolds & Ringlé

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Did the teaser from Ringlé about a turquoise set of Super Bubba X hubs laced to carbon rims have you eagerly waiting for their release? Well, you’re in luck. With the launch of the new Reynolds 309/289 XC wheels, Ringlé and Reynolds are finally joining forces. The result is a beautiful new LTD set of wheels with turquoise anodized hubs with just enough pop to stand out on your ride. Fortunately, they also seem to ride as good as they look with the performance we’ve come to expect from the two brands.

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheels

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheels rim width

One of the unique features of the Reynolds 309/289 XC wheelset is the use of front and rear specific rims. The front 309 rim measures just over 30mm wide internally, while the rear 289 measures 28mm. The last number in the name is a reference to the 29″ wheel size. Hayes (parent company of both Reynolds and Ringlé) states that this is because each rim was designed for the unique performance requirements of a front and rear wheel.

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheels tire

The wider rim profile up front matches well with the desire to get more grip and steering precision from your front tire. In this case, I mounted up a 29 x 2.4 WT Maxxis Aspen tire which measured exactly 2.4″ wide.

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheels tire

Out back, the slightly narrower 28mm internal width meant the 29 x 2.4″ WT Maxxis Rekon Race measures 2.38″ wide – just shy of the front.

During the initial set up, both rims and tires were incredibly easy to seat and seal running Stan’s sealant, and have remained inflated without issue.

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheel color

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheel hub colors

What makes these wheels a limited edition is the inclusion of the “turquoise” Ringle Super Bubba X hubs. Turquoise is in quotes there because to my eyes, it’s really more blue than turquoise, though it also depends on the light. From a distance, it’s hard to tell that they’re a slightly different shade of blue from the adjusters on the Fox fork which makes them a great fit on our Ibis Ripley V4 test rig.

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheel micro spline Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheel freehub

Unlike the Super Bubba Clock’D hubs, the Super Bubba X hubs have a single 90t drop-in drive ring that when paired with the phased 6 pawl freehub, results in 4° of engagement. While not as fast as the Reynolds x I9 Hydra hubs with 0.52° engagement, the Super Bubba X hubs are still very fast to engage.

On our review sample, the hubs includes a Shimano Micro Spline freehub installed, but you’ll have a choice of Shimano HG or SRAM XD freehubs as well. When I pulled the freehub to photograph the internals, there was some freehub grease on the ratchet ring, but really nothing in the pawl pockets on the freehub. That meant that all the pawls fell out of the freehub when I went to pull it from the hub. I added more Dumonde Tech Pro X freehub grease, and now they all stay in place – and should wear better in the long run. This was an early sample, so it’s quite possible production wheels will include more grease though.

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheel front hub

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheel spec

Offered only in centerlock brake configurations, both hubs use straight pull Sapim CX-Ray steel spokes with external alloy nipples. Going along with the difference in rim widths, the two wheels use different spoke counts with 24 up front and 28 out back.

The LTD wheels are limited to 15 x 110 and 12 x 148mm Boost spacing, so if you need 12 x 157mm Super Boost, you’ll have to go with the set with Reynolds x I9 hubs.

Actual weight

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheels actual weight

On our scale, the 309/289 LTD wheels were quite a bit less than claimed. These were weighed with rim tape installed but no valves, and they had a combined weight of 1472g compared to the claimed weight of 1540g. Even if you add in a set of the heaviest valves at 16g, you’re still well under claimed. The wheels shipped with two valve sets, one was a heavier brass set and the other a lighter and color matched aluminum set.

Ride Impressions


Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheels on trail

Over the years, I’ve grown quite fond of both Reynolds and Ringle products, but in different circumstances. Some of my favorite carbon mountain bike rims have been manufactured by Reynolds, and the Ringle wheels I’ve used in the past have always been an incredible value for their level of performance.

That led me to wonder if the combination of the two would live up to the hype? At $1,850 for the set, these aren’t exactly budget wheels. Sure, they’re less expensive than many other mountain bike wheels with carbon rims, but they’re still a pricey upgrade.

Fortunately, the wheels performed exactly as expected. Or better. Ringle wheels have always had a snappy, precise feel to them, and it’s not different here. Only, the carbon hoops smooth out the ride a bit. These have the ride feel any high end XC wheel should with quick acceleration, and a high degree of precision in technical situations.

Blacklabel 309/289r XC LTD wheels on ibis

More than once I found the limits of the Maxxis tires at 20-22psi and bottomed the tires out onto the rim hard. The rims just shrugged off the impacts and kept rolling and the tires were unscathed as well. Even though the Ripley is on the extreme end of the wheels’ intended use, they were a great match for the bike. At the same time, they feel like they would be a great addition to a super light race bike as well. You can definitely find lighter XC wheels out there, but these wheels manage to feel extremely capable and not-at-all fragile while still checking in under 1,500g which is quite impressive for a 30/28mm internal width rim.

Overall, I came away quite impressed with the Reynolds 309/289r XC LTD wheelset. The name may be a mouthful, but their refined feel, great looks, and light weight performance with a price tag under $2k is something worth seeking out.


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K-Pop is dangerous to your health
K-Pop is dangerous to your health
3 years ago

2mm rim width difference = 2 liters of snake oil. Let’s get drunk on bs marketing claims! You’ll get far more traction benefits from mixing size and tread front and rear than 2mm at the rim.

3 years ago

I’d appreciate them more if the narrower rear had a thicker sidewall and maybe weighed as much as or more than the front rim. I’d want the rear rim to be able to take impacts better. Maybe if it had a narrower internal width but similar external.
They really aren’t maximizing their opportunity.

K-Pop is dangerous to your health
K-Pop is dangerous to your health
3 years ago
Reply to  Greg

Yep. They had the opportunity took the lazy route. A whopping .02″ difference in the width of a 2.4″ tire. Wow, just …wow. [rolleyes].

2 years ago

For what it’s worth, I got a set of these and so far I’ve run DHRii front and rear, and Dissector/Rekon front and rear, all 2.4. All the tires have set up narrower than advertised; in fact the latter pair are narrower than they were on my 25mm id DT Swiss x1675. The wheels are very pleasant to ride with the super light weight, quick engagement, and compliance, but I was hoping for plumper tires.

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