Luxury Bikes

(First ride) Race Face Turbine wheelset

Today Race Face announces an updated version of the Turbine aluminum wheelset, which I’ve been happily riding for the past few weeks. While at first glance the wheels don’t look significantly different than their predecessor, there are some key updates that are well worth discussing in detail. Let’s dive in…


  • 27.5″, mixed (tested) and 29″ available
  • Boost (tested) and Super Boost distance
  • 6-hole brake interface
  • MS, XD (tested) and HG drivers available
  • 28 holes front and back
  • 30mm rim width
  • Straight, double butted spokes
  • Alloy nipple
  • Specific rim profiles front/rear with 4 mm offset
  • 1895 grams claimed (29″) / 1850 grams (our scale, mixed setup with tubeless valves and tape)
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • $799

Starting with the rims, the new turbines feature a 4mm offset front and rear, providing a significantly improved bracing angle and more even tension between the drive and non-drive sides. Both design options improve the overall integrity of the wheel as a whole.

A new aspect of the rim profile is the wider rim base. By effectively dulling this part of the rim, the rim is less likely to cut through your tire and is therefore less likely to go flat. It’s also thicker, so it should be better at warding off dents and flat spots.

Another interesting design aspect of the new rims is that their specific design, front and rear, aims to improve ride quality. While both rims are 30mm wide, the front rim is 18mm deep and the rear is 20mm deep. The flatter front wheel profile is said to contribute to a more comfortable and compliant ride, while this is less of an issue at the rear and instead focuses on strength and rigidity, which are increased at the rear due to the higher profile.

At the heart of the Turbine wheelset are Race Face’s robust Vault hubs, which have earned a solid reputation over the years. An interesting design aspect – besides their enormous size – is the fact that the main bearings are very widely spaced, increasing their longevity and reducing the risk of rear axle failure. Compared to the popular DT Swiss 240 hub, the Vault’s main bearings are approximately 10mm wider.

The Vault hubs are constructed entirely around straight pull spokes. 28 of them front and back to be exact.

While the drive-side flange on the rear hub is quite large, the opposite is true for the front hub, as shown above. It’s worth noting that both the front and rear hubs are tool-free, so the end caps and driver bodies can all be removed by hand for quick maintenance.

With the driver body removed you can see the 6 pawls. Each pawl has two teeth for better grip/contact and the arrangement is designed so that there are two opposing sets of three pawls each, with only one set engaged at a time. Also note the large labyrinth seal, which is easily removable for maintenance and access to the springs.

The steel drive ring has 60 teeth for lightning-fast 3-degree engagement. Also note that the Vaults feature oversized 6902 Enduro bearings throughout.

On the path

The turbines come with tape and valves installed, and I found mounting the tires and inflating them with a floor pump was a breeze. I immediately noticed the quick cooperation and I really appreciated it. The hub bearings were smooth and the size of the hub shells is impressive. Because these wheels have aluminum rims, they offered a very comfortable ride on the track with a great balance of stiffness and compliance – especially given their low 28-hole spoke count. While some aluminum wheelsets can feel a bit “dead” on the trail compared to carbon fiber options, this was not the case. Rather, the ride quality was such that the Turbines are exactly the kind of wheelsets that are making me increasingly skeptical about carbon wheels in general – especially from a value for money perspective.

Even though it’s still a bit early for a detailed long-term test, I’ve already done a few rides on fairly rough terrain and mastered a few jumps without the turbines twitching even a bit. I also ran the tires well below my standard pressure and didn’t manage to get my tires flat on them. How well does the wider rim wall protect against punctures? Similar to the claim that the flatter rim profile at the front results in a smoother ride, it is difficult to assess how well certain design aspects work in practice, especially when the differences are only a few millimeters. Theoretically, however, both make sense and the wheels have excellent handling characteristics. If I didn’t have to look for any defects, I would probably point to the straight spokes. Certainly they have helped Race Face achieve its goals for the Vault hubs from a design standpoint, and they have their pros and cons. However, I personally find it annoying when handling them in a truing stand. All in all, 1,850 grams is quite light for an aluminum wheelset with such powerful hubs, so that’s another plus point.

In total

As mentioned, it will take more time on the trails to do a more comprehensive assessment of the turbines, but all is good so far. From a value standpoint, I think they’re a great thing. $799 for a well-designed, premium aluminum wheelset that runs on high-end hubs and comes with a realistic lifetime warranty is an absolute bargain. That they offer a ride quality that would probably make you question the usefulness of carbon fiber wheels makes them all the more compelling.

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