Words: Ryan Walsch | Photos: Nick Waygood

Upon our recent FOX Live Valve test we rode a tricked out RaceFace equipped Rocky Mountain Altitude which was rolling on some fresh carbon hoops we hadn’t seen before. Somewhat understated, light and a very fast hub engagement we asked the Australian FOX distributor Sola Sport all about RaceFace, now sitting under the FOX Factory umbrella.

The three things that stood out to us in this first encounter were the huge hubs that produce a crisp sound with quality engagement, wide spoke bracing angles and a 2 year no-fault guarantee on the wheels. With so many great carbon wheel offerings in the market, this after sales customer service is something we are seeing more which is great for the end user and we were keen to learn more.

A closer look

This is RaceFace’s first venture into the world of carbon wheels, they purchased Easton Cycling group four years ago. No strangers to carbon wheels, Easton bring years of design and manufacturing experience to the table.

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 optimized 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.

Hub configurations are aplenty making this one of few new wheel sets that is backwards compatible with almost all trusty steeds thanks to the new and easy to work on Vault hubs. Pick from Shimano 11 speed and SRAM XD (at time of print), 142mm X 12mm (convertible to 135mm X 5mm), 148mm X 12mm BOOST, 100 X 15mm (Convertible to 100 X 9mm QR, 110mm X 20mm, 110mm X 15mm BOOST (Convertible to 110mm X 15mm Torque Cap). Plus there are 27.5” and 29” options.

While on the topic of hubs, the Vault hubs are huge. Extremely large flanges can be found front and rear and give these a very unique appearance and most importantly increase the bracing angle significantly. By increasing the flange diameter and migrating the spoke beds offset by 4.5mm, the spokes become shorter, spoke tension becomes more even from one side to the other and the wheels lateral stiffness is increased. The Vault hubs use 6902 bearings which are extremely common and can be bought almost anywhere for as little as $5 per bearing.

At $2748 they aren't cheap, but with the quality they deliver and the warranty, you could still say they are great value. But we'll let more time on them make that decision.

We've got the wheels set up and on the trails now - check out the full review in our next issue - out on February 4.