RESERVE 40|44 – JACK OF ALL ROADS
There’s not much that the Reserve 40|44 wheelset doesn’t do well for the cycling enthusiast who wants one wheelset for road and gravel riding.
It gives you a comfortable, smooth rolling, and quiet ride. The compliance my fellow tester Miles and I felt on paved and unpaved surfaces with a range of 28mm and 40mm Conti, Michelin, and Schwalbe tubeless tires was likely due, in part, from some of the widest all-road rims I’ve measured – 33.5mm external, 26.0mm internal on the front wheel, 31.5mm and 25.6mm in the rear – on the Reserve 40|44 wheels.
While both of us are light and prefer tubeless setups with sealant inside, the Reserve 40|44’s hooked rims and strength testing allow you to use tubes inside clincher or tubeless tires and inflate far beyond what most riders of modern wheels and tires would want to ride comfortably. There are also no weight limits for heavier riders to be concerned about.
Our test set came with DT Swiss 240 Ratchet EXP hubs, though you can also order the 40|44 with DT 180 or DT 350 models. While not always the case in our experience on other wheels, the DT 240s on the Reserves were absolutely silent. I always find a quiet freehub a bonus when combined with a comfortable wheelset.
The Reserve 40|44 also climbs well, is stable in sidewinds, tracks wells in corners, and is responsive to line changes on gravel and accelerations on the road.
But against the field of all-road wheels, a highly competitive one to be sure, other wheelsets do many of these things better.
Even with its “40” front wheel (my calipers actually measured it at 41.5mm deep), its aero performance was good but not great. Miles raced these Reserves in a fast, technical criterium and was not overly impressed with their straight-line speed or lateral stiffness during sprints.
For someone like me, pushing average watts and sprinting only when I need to go to the bathroom, I enjoyed the Reserve 40|44’s speed and found them stiff enough but wasn’t wowed by them on days when the workout plan called for threshold or long VO2 intervals.
All-road wheels, including the slightly more expensive Roval Terra CLX II, still more expensive ENVE SES 3.4, and way expensive Zipp 353 NSW ride faster and are more responsive than the Reserve on paved, dirt, and gravel roads.
And while I respect your unique aesthetic tastes, I’ve got to say the Reserve 40|44 look rather blah. Their matt black finish with small, simple logo and model name labels make them look underwhelming and not nearly as proud of what’s rolling with those labels as they should be.
Perhaps the look is consistent with the meaning behind the Reserve brand.
Regardless, these are solid all-road wheels. But the US$2200 price for the DT 240 model makes me want to stretch a bit for the added performance I get with the US$2500 Roval Terra CLX II or even more for the ENVE SES 3.4.
Instead, I see the DT 240 equipped Reserve 40|44 as good competition for those who want hooked rims and a bit more comfort than the slightly less expensive Zipp 303 Firecrest.
You can order the Reserve 40|44 while supporting the site’s ability to provide more ad-free and subscription-free reviews like this one at no additional cost to you when you buy it through this link to Competitive Cyclist, a store I’ve vetted and recommend for its competitive prices, selection, customer satisfaction, and reader support.
See how this wheelset compares to others in my review of the Best All Road Wheels.
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Thanks, and enjoy your rides safely! Cheers, Steve