Revolution Wheelworks Rev-50



 Revolution Wheelworks is a two man operation based in Pennsylvania founded by Jonathan Kahler and Andrew Rose. Kahler and Rose were frustrated by the fact that race wheels were getting increasingly expensive while relying on proprietary parts that make repair and servicing difficult. They decided to start RW, carefully spec’ing quality components to meet a reasonable price point. Kahler hand builds each and every wheel. Prices are kept low by restricting marketing efforts to a website and an informative and plain spoken blog (and buying ads with test wheels). They sent us a set of Rev-50’s to review.

The Rev-50 is a tubular wheelset with 50mm deep carbon rims, similar to the Zipp 404, my point of reference for this review. Our wheels came in at 1359 grams (1 gram under the claimed weight), 109 grams heavier than 404’s. With 20/24 spokes, each wheel has 4 more spokes than the Zipps. Our test wheels came with Pillar spokes but moving forward RW will be using Sapim’s exclusively. This will bump the list price for the Rev-50’s from $900 to $960, which makes the set still cheaper than ONE Zipp wheel ($2280 list for the set). The wheels arrive complete with 92 gram skewers with hollow steel shafts, 3 replacement spokes (front, rear drive, rear non-drive), valve extenders, and brake pads. Zipps, by comparison, come with relatively porky 112 gram skewers, valve extenders, but no extra spokes and no brake pads.

The hubs are fairly standard, with conventional flanges. The bulk of the weight differential is at the rear hub. Conventional j-bend spokes might be more prone to breaking than straight pull spokes, but finding a replacement is a whole lot easier. Hidden nipples are used so that the rims are drilled with much smaller holes. The nipples have a plastic insert to hold the adjustment in place, but Kahler uses a threadlock compound as well.

Out of the box the wheels were very true, and spoke tension very even. Each wheel comes with a small handwritten tag that attests to the fact that they were genuinely hand built for you. I did a quick rotational inertia test (see below) before gluing up the wheels and found them to spin up 5% slower than the Zipps. Of course, this doesn’t mean they’ll make you 5% slower to accelerate. 800 grams of rim weight is only about 1% of the total bike + rider weight, so we’re talking about 5% of 1%, or a .05% penalty. Even if you count it twice (since it’s rotational weight) it’s still negligible.

A friend of mine did some wind tunnel testing for a wheel company (not Zipp or RW). They found that Zipps performed the best of all, the least likely to stall in a crosswind. There wasn’t a huge difference between the other wheels for a given rim depth. My guess is that the Rev-50’s, with their less refined rim profile, perform much like most 50mm wheels – slower than Zipps in a crosswind.

I started out using Kool Stop black pads and the wheels squealed and howled like mad. The honking on the front end was strong enough to vibrate the bike under hard braking. A change to SwissStop yellow pads (to be included with the wheels moving forward) fixed the problem. Braking was smooth, consistent, and powerful. In the wet the pads would take a split second to squeegee the rims before slowing, but once they got a grip braking seemed as good as in the dry.

Glued up with speedy tires, the wheels give you that giddy feeling of speed the moment you hop on the bike, seemingly giving you one or two gears right off the bat. They withstood several hundred miles of training with no ill effects, and I managed to drill a pothole in a race hard enough to elicit a very loud crack (probably the axles slipping in the dropouts). Having recently cracked two Zipp 404 rims on a slightly deeper pothole at a slightly higher speed, I was very relieved to find no damage to the Rev-50’s.


These wheels are maybe 95% as good as Zipps, for 42% of the price. Unless you’re lighting cigars with twenty dollar bills these babies are hard to beat.

 Rotational Inertia Test

I balanced the wheels with some putty, then attached a nut to each rim with more putty. An electromagnet held the nut in place at about 2 o’clock. When the magnet is turned off, the weight of the nut spins the wheel. I counted the number of frames as the nut traveled between two fixed points. At 30 frames per second, the Rev-50’s averaged 90.4 frames, the 404’s 86.



A couple of things. First, the rim depths are kind of close, but not really close as the 404s are 58mm compared to the rev’s 50mm. A much closer rim comparison (which also uses a carbon fairing) is the Hed Jet 60 which is just 2mm off the 404s.

Second, the torroidal shape of the 404 rim (the Jet 60 has the same torroidal shape) is not only faster in crosswinds than a flat or scoop shaped rim (eg., American Classic 420), but by “catching” less crosswind, makes them easier to handle in strong crosswinds especially for light riders.


If they inclue Swiss Stop Yellow pads that makes the deal even sweeter as those pads are by far “best of breed” in terms of pads for carbon rims AND they cost a small fortune. $45-60 pair… thanks for the review. Can’t wait for the category killing clincher model. Is that in the works


People buy them 100% for the look. They are heavier, dont hold up to tire pressure above 140psi and are more expensive. If you want deep dish aero wheels you can get the new Mavic Carbon/alum clinchers. Alum braking, stronger, lighter and $2000. All carbon wheels are meant for tubulars.


This means that to true the wheel you have to tear off the tire and then re-glue — major PITA, no?

And I think their principle on carbon clincher rims is only that right now clincher rims are simply too expensive to source and keep their price point.

My question — how do these compare to deep-section Neuvations? Nugent carries a 50mm tubular, sapim spokes, conventiional nipples for under $600, ceramic bearings a nominal upcharge.


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i have a set of reynolds carbon dv46 wheels, same idea (small hole in the rim, hidden nipple). they have a very high spoke tension, and strong rims. i’ve only needed to true them once in five years, after a crash. zipps are way more fragile.


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the only wheels that are deep dish carbon that actually aid you while riding are zipp and hed.

all other so called aero wheels no matter how deep dont help… AT ALL!!!! in fact may be worse

look at the tests. less spoke count on the front helps drag much more than running a deep carbon rim.

check it out. running a 16 spoke box rim on the front is better than or equal to all of them except 404 808 and the hed line up. that bow shape works very very well

save your money


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Neuvations are $1400 for their new C48 carbon tubulars. Revolution wheels seem to be some of the cheapest around.


too funny. that’s why zipp has done so well: everyone recites their marketing schtick as gospel.

talk to any good mechanic and he’ll tell you what he thinks of zipp wheels. sure, they’re great…until they break. often.

glad to see guys like revolution and neuvation making a go of it with the direct-to-consumer biz model. little to no global marketing budgets and pro team sponsorship overhead to cover, no big time in-house r&d (since it’s contracted out).


oh and and they’re not deep-f’ing dish either. learn what “dish” means for wheels you ninny.


Are there some spelling errors you’d like to correct also? A little high strung about carbon wheels. There just wheels dude.


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notice that the top wheels have 16 spokes. deep carbon section or not

look at the shimano wheels all are very close , same spoke same hub different rim depth ….. but same performance how can this be ???

16 spokes means more than 18 with any depth rim unless you are running a zipp or hed rim with some shape to it

save your money


some riders could tape their helmets AND their mouths, providing aerodynamic benefit as well as peace of mind for the group.


that song sucked so bad it was painful to watch.

it was like listening to an anthem for a cat 4 upgrade.


Who of CRCA’s longtime notoriously squirreliest Cat 4’s riding with one of his BFFs was involved in an accident with a pedestrian in the south end of CP tonight…AND, who’s BFF was overhead whining about the fact that his helmet was totaled while standing over the injured woman who’s leg was hurt seriously enough that she had to be taken away in an ambulance. What class boys!

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