Tested : Ben’s Race Face Next R31 Wheelset Review.

Race Face Next R31 wheelset are the company’s first foray into carbon wheels with a 2 year warranty, low weight and ready for the toughest enduro stages.

Can the Race Face Next R31 wheelset compete with the other high-flying carbon wheels out there? Check out Ben Plenge’s review below to see whether they cut the mustard.

RaceFace R31 Wheelset

Key features:

  • 31mm internal rim width
  • Race Face Vault hubs
  • 120 points of engagement
  • 4.5mm offset rim profile
  • 1680 grams for 27.5” pair
  • £1549 for the pair
  • £799 for rear, £749 for front
  • RaceFace.com

Carbon rims divide opinion amongst mountain bikers almost as strongly as e-bikes do. On one hand, there are the riders who appreciate the light weight, precise nature of carbon and the fact that you never have to true them.

On the other hand you have the riders who think that they will eventually fail catastrophically, will be too stiff, and are too expensive compared to aluminium. At £1500 for the pair, the Race Face Next R31’s have a premium price tag and promise a lot. Will the performance live up to the hype?

On my first rides on the R31’s my feelings were quite predictable… They were way lighter than the wheels they replaced and they instantly breathed new life into my bike. It felt nippy and fast, accelerated quicker and felt like a proper upgrade. What was surprising was that they didn’t feel harsh or overly stiff.

The bang on trend 31mm internal rim width helps to create a nice tyre profile when used with wide, modern enduro and trail tyres. They are ready taped with a quality rim tape and are also supplied with good quality valves making tubeless setup easy.

These wheels spent a fair bit of time on the Commencal Clash, sporting 180/165mm of travel and a rather aggro attitude. A bike like this really lets you push a wheelset hard and I found that they were totally up to the job. They survived a whole winter of riding on the Clash and other bikes without any damage or need to tune them up. I would have liked to keep them for the summer too when hard baked trails and higher speeds make a wheel work harder, but over the winter they were bang on.

Merida eOneSixtyMerida eOneSixty

I feel like the Race Face Next R31 strikes a really good balance of weight, strength and ride quality. The low weight is immediately felt on the trails, but they still feel strong and stiff enough for you to push hard and give them some abuse. They don’t skip around on roots and off camber like some overly stiff wheelsets and I really liked the way they rode on a variety of terrain.

The Race Face Vault hub has a nice, satisfying sound and the 120 points of engagement help with the immediate response when you stamp on the pedals to drop into your favourite trail.

RaceFace R31 Wheelset

The only thing that let them down was the stickers which started to scratch and peel off after a few rides and in particular whenever a tyre lever came in contact with them. They made an expensive wheelset look cheap and I would just peel them off and go stealth if they were mine.

So, should you buy them? £1500 is a big load of cash to splash for wheels, especially when there are comparable options out there for a third of the price so it really depends on your priorities with your bike build. Are they better than Halo’s Vortex wheels? Check out our review of those hoops here.

RaceFace R31 Wheelset

What do we think?

They are top quality wheels that offer a palpable performance upgrade over most other wheels. If that light weight, snappy, immediate acceleration is worth £1500 to you then the Next R31’s are well worth a look.

We love:

  • A genuine, quality upgrade option
  • Stiff and light, without being harsh or skittery
  • Instant engagement

Could do better:

  • Higher quality decals are a must

Full details on the Race Face Next R31 wheelset can be found over on RaceFace’s website here.


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