We test the RaceFace NEXT R31 29” wheel set and see if it's ready for all day trail and enduro riding!
Words: Ryan Walsch Photos: Nick Waygood
The Next R31 wheel set is a top tier offering and amongst a total of 5 carbon wheel sets from RaceFace. The R31 is placed between the narrower (26mm internal) and more XC/trail focused Next SL and the wider Next R36 (36mm internal) wheel which is optimised for a 2.4-2.8 inch tyre. We like that the term Rally has been used rather than Enduro for placing these wheels, as these are great mix of day to day ride ability to heavy hitting race applications with climbs thrown in the mix.
Both front and rear wheels are 28 hole and have a three cross straight pull configuration or for the bespoke wheel building boffins, 32 hole J-bend hubs and either 28-32 hole rims available aftermarket. The wheels are available in 27.5” and 29”, and in just about every hub spacing option you can imagine.
With wider hubs, through axles and stiffer frames super stiff carbon wheels can be as detrimental to a ride than a flexy wheel. The Next R while having an external width of 37.5mm only has a height of 34mm making the profile more vertically compliant than some other designs. I was interested to see how this related to trail feel after testing other wheels following this philosophy.
RACE FACE CARBON CONFIDENCE GUARANTEE
“RaceFace believes that our carbon wheels are top of their class; they are so durable we are offering the following 2 year, no fault, guarantee to the original retail purchaser with proof of purchase. At the discretion of RaceFace we will, within 2 years of your original purchase, repair or replace your carbon wheel regardless of how the damage occurred or what the damage is. This guarantee covers your complete carbon wheel, including the rim, spokes, and hub with bearings to ensure you have a fully functioning, ride-ready wheel.”
The wheels came tubeless ready, with the tape already mounted neatly and valves installed. This beats the parts in the box – thanks RaceFace! There is also a packet of 5 spokes per wheel and with the wide hub flanges and offset rim both drive side and non-drive side spokes are the same length front and rear, so simple.
A fresh set of Bontrager’s SE5 tyres mounted up very easily on the preinstalled tape, helped by the relatively shallow rim well. We found that there was no need for a compressor to be used and a track pump was used accordingly. The bead slipped up onto the bead without fuss or the usual spine tingling bang of norm. Given the aggressive nature of the wheel, the SE5 or similarly Maxxis Double Down casing would be best suited giving the best balance of trail feel, sure footedness and protection.