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Race Face Turbine Wheelset

Eric Melson reviews the Race Face Turbine Wheelset, Blister Gear Review

Race Face Turbine Wheelset

Race Face Turbine Wheelset, 29″

MSRP: $600

Size Tested: 29” (also available in 27.5”)

Stated Weight (per set): 1,880 grams

Rim Specs:

  • Material: 6061 aluminum alloy
  • 28 hole
  • Tubeless compatible
  • Presta valve
  • Internal width: 21mm
  • External width: 25mm
  • Height: 19.5mm

Spoke Specs:

  • Bladed, stainless steel
  • 304mm length
  • 3-cross lacing
  • 304mm length
  • Silver brass nipples

Hub Specs:

  • 5 x 100mm axle (front)
  • 12 x 142mm axle (rear)
  • 9/10 speed alloy freehub (rear)
  • Cartridge bearing
  • 6 bolt disc pattern

Intended Use: XC / Trail Riding

Tested On: Canfield Brothers Yelli Screamy

Reviewer Info: 5’10’’, 165 lbs; prefers to go over things, not around them.

Duration of Test: about three months

Test Locations: Boise, ID; Missoula, MT; Albuquerque, NM; Durango, CO; Park City, UT.

The Turbine is Race Face’s first aftermarket wheelset. Weighing 1,880 grams per set, the Turbines aren’t the lightest pair of wheels on the market, but their price tag, seemingly strong build, and convertible hubs had me thinking they could be a good option for an affordable, aftermarket wheel upgrade.

I was especially curious to find how the Turbines compared to the similarly priced Sun Ringle Black Flag Experts, which I’ve owned.

To find some answers, I put the wheels through their paces (or rotations) over three months of riding around the West this fall.

Hubs

The Turbines’ hubs feature a low flange straight-pull spoke configuration, a standard 6-bolt disc pattern, and spin on Race Face’s own sealed cartridge bearings.

Eric Melson reviews the Race Face Turbine Wheelset, Blister Gear Review

Race Face Turbine Hub

The 15 x 100mm front hub comes with available end caps to allow it to fit a conventional quick-release axle if you have an older, open-dropout style fork.

The front hub does NOT convert to 20mm, which shouldn’t be a problem as the majority of all-mountain forks these days are being offered in 15mm anyway.

The rear hub is also convertible using interchangeable end caps (see above) to accommodate most rear axle configurations, including a conventional quick-release for hardtails and older frames. It’s nice to see Race Face providing these adapters to keep up with changing standards.

No axles are provided by Race Face, so if you want to utilize the 10×135 or the 12×142 options, be sure your frame has one, or plan on ordering it. This was the case with my Yelli Screamy, as I wanted to take advantage of the stiffer 10×135 but had to buy a DT Swiss RWS axle to do so.

The internals of the Turbine rear hub are pretty conventional. Race Face hasn’t fitted the hub with a fancy, patented ratchet system with 300 points of engagement. Instead, they used a tried-and-true 3-pawl system with 21 points of engagement (what you’d expect to find on a wheelset in this price range). A hub with more points of engagement is preferable, especially if you ride trails with a lot of slow-speed, techy sections, but a set of those hubs alone (e.g., from Industry Nine or Chris King) can cost you almost as much as the entire Turbine wheelset.

Eric Melson reviews the Race Face Turbine Wheelset, Blister Gear Review

Eric Melson on the Race Face Turbine wheels, Durango, Colorado.

The nice thing about running a hub with a 3-pawl system is that they’re easy to service and they’re cheap; you can find a 3-pawl freehub body at most any bike shop across the country. However, 3-pawl hubs are generally heavier, and in my experience, can deteriorate more quickly if not serviced often.

Lastly, if you plan on running a SRAM 11-speed cassette, you’ll need to purchase a SRAM XD driver body, which you can get from Race Face for an additional $109. I only tested the Turbines with the stock 9/10 speed freehub, however.

Rims

The Turbine wheelset has 6000-series aluminum alloy rims, welded at the joint for strength and better balance / weight distribution.

Eric Melson reviews the Race Face Turbine Wheelset, Blister Gear Review

Rim and spokes of the Race Face Turbine wheel.

The spoke holes on the rims are drilled without eyelets. This shaves a few grams on each wheel, but it means you’ll be running a lower spoke tension all together, as rims with eyelets often allow for higher spoke tension. I had a little trouble with the tensioning in the rear Turbine wheel, but was able to fix it without a problem (more on this below).

Rim width has been a hot topic in the bike world lately, with a lot of companies pushing the “wider is better” mantra. With a 21mm internal width, the Turbine rims are on the narrower end of the spectrum; the Sun Ringle Charger Pro’s have a 22.8mm internal width, and the WTB Frequency Team i25 Rims have a 24.7mm width. Aluminum rimmed trail wheelsets like the Turbine are hard pressed to keep up with the widths available in carbon options – it’s just not practical from a weight standpoint. So, without getting sidetracked by that rather involved discussion, suffice it to say that the Turbines don’t produce as square a tire profile as some of the wider options out there, but on the other hand, the narrower rim keeps their weight down a bit.

5 Comments

  1. Bob McBob December 10, 2014 Reply

    Why review this mediocre spec wheel set when there are much more compelling options out there? For example Derby HD carbon rims. This is outdated technology already.

  2. Sean McDermott December 11, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for reviewing a wheelset that is within the realm of real world pricing. It’s nice to see opinions on something that I would actually buy. I love everything RaceFace and it looks like I can add these to the list.

  3. Blister Member
    Guy December 13, 2014 Reply

    These wheelset came on a lapierre 429 I bought last Febuary.
    Within a few months the free hub had shredded and after 6 months of riding the rims had ripped through the sidewalls of 3 tires. 1 nobbly nick, 1 maxxis ardent, and quite wtb nano.
    Reply suggested I was riding at too low pressure. At 40 psi I don’t think so.
    Fail. Fail. Fail

    • Dude July 20, 2015 Reply

      You mean too HIGH pressure. Why in the world would you ride a mountain bike at 40psi?!

      Drop your psi or get a road bike!

  4. MoGo Roslan November 11, 2016 Reply

    It has a been a year since my ‘marriage’ with my Lapierre Zesty 529 and the wheel tension is marrying very well week in week out. It has sadly, loosen a couple of a few, hence schedule for tuning this coming days. Overall, awesomely happy with the quality and weight factor.

    I must say that the coasting was an eye opener! My stock RF hub could ‘out-distance’ a pricier hub by a good but this is subjective but with a lot ‘wins’ in different terrain, happy as hell!

    One question, can I do a tubeless on this rim?

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