Good wheels can be hard to find, if you don’t want to shell out bags of cash. Most sub-$1,000 wheelsets require some sort of compromise in performance, and many – weirdly – look like holdovers from the rim brake era, for some reason. With its new Aeffect R wheelset, Race Face is trying to change that.
Race Face Aeffect R – Performance without the price
Built around an aluminum rim and Race Face’s new Trace hub, the Aeffect R’s are designed for everything from trail riding to all-mountain and enduro. There’s even a dedicated eMTB-rated option.
The idea is to mix performance and durability, for a reasonable price. The stout, aluminum rims use J-bend spokes and an easily serviceable hub for easy repairs and maintenance. A steel-axle on the new Trace hubs adds durability, while keeping the Aeffect R’s weight at a reasonable 1,920 grams for the 27.5″ option. The rims also come in 29″, which tip the scales at a nice round 2,000g. The wheels come in Boost (148) or Superboost (157) hub spacing and with your choice of XD, HG and Microspline cassette body.
Sizeable bearings help the Trace survive wet weather abuse
The front hub uses 110x15 Boot spacing
A tough steel axle, and 6-bolt disc brake tabs
Tall flanges, J-bend spokes and all major cassette standards
At the centre of the Aeffect R wheelset is Race Face’s Trace hub. They appear deceptively simple. High flanges add stiffness, while J-bend spokes are used in place of the straight-pull spokes on Race Face’s pricier wheels. This makes it easier to find replacement spokes in a hurry, and Race Face even includes five spares with the rear wheel. Accidents happen. When they happen far from home, knowing you’ll be able to find a replacement spoke easily is great. It also makes it easier to build the hubs into a new wheel, if you manage to mangle the Aeffect R rims.
Trace hubs use a steel axle, which spins on nice, oversized cartridge bearings and an aluminum hub shell. Standard Aeffect R wheels use a 28-spoke count and aluminum cassette body. The eMTB version is similar, but ups the spoke count to 32 and adds a steel cassette body to deal with extra torque. All versions of the Trace hub have a respectable 10-degree engagement.
Both are sold separately as a hub-only through RaceFace.
Race Face uses a 4.5mm offset to keep a more balanced spoke tension.
Aeffect R rims arrive tubeless ready
Aeffect R – made for rough conditions
Race Face gives the Aeffect R a 30-mm inner width, which matches its enduro and all-mountain purpose. All Aeffect R rims arrive taped and tubeless ready. The rims use 6069 aluminum and have a 4.5mm offset. This is supposed to allow more even, and therefore durable spoke tension. Race Face adds a visually pleasing brushed finish on the black rims, which is a nice aesthetic touch for a rim designed to be a workhorse component on mid-range bikes.
Riding the Aeffect R
Over half a hear, the Aeffect R’s have seen many miles, under very different bikes. From a trail bike (Santa Cruz 5010) to Norco’s bruiser freeride bike, the Shore, and even plenty of side loading on a custom 27.5″ DJ bike (I know a 27.5″ DJ is weird. Leave me alone, I’m lanky). Race Face ships the Aeffect R’s tubeless-ready, and setting up – or switching between tires was simple. Tires are easy to get on the rim and seated quickly with a floor pump.
The Aeffect R wheels have survived all kinds of riding without complaint. Without truing. And, honestly, with minimal maintenance through late summer dust and some miserable west coast winter weather. I have “the knack” for denting aluminum rims. Despite several questionable incidents during the test period, the rims remain unscathed. The Trace hubs have a pleasant freewheel sound. They’re not ostentatiously noisy, but not silent either.
On the trail, the Aeffect R’s ride with all the characteristics that make aluminum an ideal rim material, beyond just price. They feel solid without being harsh and engage quickly. 10-degrees isn’t as fast as some pricier options, but it’s quick enough that engagement is rarely, if ever an issue. When the hubs do engage, they do so solidly and without any flex.
The offset rim and low rim profile also have a part to play in this excellent trail feel. The rims are stiff enough to track well without feeling jarring. The low profile also likely helps Race Face bring the Aeffect R in at a competitive weight. At 1,920g, they’re not feathery, but they are right in the middle of competitors with similar value and design. Add in their performance and aesthetics, and the Aeffect R’s punch above their price point.
Good wheels aren’t hard to find, if you’re willing to spend large sums of money. With the Aeffect R, Race Face brings quality performance, durability and a clean aesthetic at a solid price. There might not be a single standout feature that elevates the Aeffect R’s above the rest. Instead, it’s the lack of weak points in a wheel at this price that is impressive. Everything works, and works together just as it should. With tough aluminum and steel construction, and easy serviceability, Race Face’s latest hoops should keep working well for a long time, too.
Race Face offers the Aeffect R in 27.5″ and 29″ options. They are available in Boost (148) and Superboost (157) rear hub spacing, and Boost (15×110) front hub spacing.
Aeffect R wheelsets retail for $805 ($470 rear, $335 front) while the 32-hole eMTB rear wheel retails for $540. All are available through Race Face and local dealers.