Race Face Turbine Wheelset, 29″
Size Tested: 29” (also available in 27.5”)
Stated Weight (per set): 1,880 grams
- Material: 6061 aluminum alloy
- 28 hole
- Tubeless compatible
- Presta valve
- Internal width: 21mm
- External width: 25mm
- Height: 19.5mm
- Bladed, stainless steel
- 304mm length
- 3-cross lacing
- 304mm length
- Silver brass nipples
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Turbine wheelset has 6000-series aluminum alloy rims, welded at the joint for strength and better balance / weight distribution.
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.