RaceFace Era Wheels - The Quintessential Carbon MTB Wheel?

Words & Photos by Jared Erickson

It seems as though every brand has their own carbon wheel nowadays. RaceFace, on the other hand, has been developing and engineering carbon wheels for the greater part of the last decade. Their latest offering, the Era wheel, is a true culmination of all those learnings and experience. Let's find out how they stack up.



RaceFace impressed us with their first foray into the carbon wheel world years ago with their Next R wheelset, and have been consistently been putting out some of the best mountain bike wheels on the market since. Like other premium RaceFace offerings, the Era wheels are based the proven Vault hub which has quick engagement and a unique oversized hub shell. This oversized hub shell allows for larger bearings, improved power transfer, and shorter, stronger spokes. Another unique feature of the Vault hub is that it houses the pawls in the hub shell and the freehub houses the ring drive, whereas most other hubs are designed vice-versa. This design has a quick 3 degree engagement which translates to 120 points.
RaceFace Era
The newly-designed Era carbon rim utilizes an offset spoke design which allows the spokes to have even spoke tension and improved lateral compliance. The rim has a 30mm internal width, and the rim bead has what RF calls an Anvil Edge  which helps prevent pinch flats and other unwanted happenings. Laced up to Vault hubs with straight pull spokes, all this adds up to an impressive 1750g system weight which is right in line with the Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 wheels and is about 100g lighter than other offerings like Revel's RW30 or Forge & Bond's 30EM. That indeed sounds like a lot of technical mumbo jumbo, and the guys over at RaceFace can explain the techy bits much better than myself. So let's see what really matters, how they ride out on the trail.
RaceFace Era

Ride Impressions

I had the pleasure of testing these wheels out in a myriad of conditions and trails from fast, flowy and rooty to steep, technical and twisty. It's going be challenging to write this review without sounding cliché, because these wheels really do have an excellent blend of traits that I enjoy in a carbon wheel. They spin up quickly and have that precise and snappy handling as a result of their light weight, and yet they aren't so stiff where you rattle your teeth out. Some carbon wheels are so light and stiff that they lack compliance, and some are so compliant that they lack stiffness or aren't as light weight. The engineers over at RaceFace have found a nice sweet spot with the Eras. The hubs have quick engagement which is great for cranking up quick techy climbs or for getting one or two more pedal strokes in before that jump you might case. I ran these wheels with EXO/EXO+ Maxxis Assegai and DHRII tires (F/R respectively) at pressures of around 23/28 and 22/27 and have yet to experience any unnerving sounds, tire burps or anything else that might be anxiety inducing. After some slightly degenerate and abusive riding, they are still rolling true and haven't lost any spoke tension. I don't have hundreds and hundreds of miles on these wheels yet but I'm looking forward to putting many more on them to see how they hold up in the long run.
RaceFace Era
Compared to some other heavy hitters in the wheel game, I would say these are right up there with some of my other favorite carbon wheels, the Crankbrothers Synthesis E11. For some context, I've been running the Crankbros wheels for nearly a year now, and even after enduring hundreds of miles and plenty of abuse they've never needed a wheel true, so at this point you could say I have high standards. Like the Synthesis, the Eras have a more compliant front wheel and stiffer rear wheel for an optimized ride feel. While they have comparable weight, durability, and ride feel, that's about where the similarities end. The Synthesis E11 are built with J-bend bladed spokes, and while they are light, they could be harder to find in a pinch. The Synthesis E11 wheels also have an i9 Hydra hub that have more engagement than the Vault hubs on the Eras. Yes, saying anything has more engagement than a hub that already has 120 POE is crazy, even if true. Out on the trail, the engagement difference between the Vault hub and Hydra is negligible. As far as price is concerned, I believe the Era wheels are actually reasonably priced within the segment considering the whole package at $1599. That's a good $800 under the Crankbrothers Synthesis E11 we've been comparing them with, and is about $600 cheaper than the Hydra equipped Forge + Bond & Revel wheels, which is exactly the same price as more bike parts. Yes, it is still a lot to spend on a set of wheels for your mountain bike, but I do feel that you get a lot of bang for your buck with this wheelset, especially when you consider the lifetime warranty inclusive of crashes. All in all I have been very impressed by the durability and performance of these wheels as a whole and can authentically recommend them.

Final Thoughts

With so many different types of carbon wheels and designs out there, it's refreshing to see somewhat of a no frills approach from RaceFace. They established themselves as heavy hitters in the carbon wheel world years ago and they've proven themselves once again with the Era wheel. With a tried and true hub paired with a light, durable, and compliant rim, what more could you ask for? If you're looking for a strong, great performing carbon wheel for your mountain bike with a bulletproof lifetime warranty, these are absolutely worth a go. 
RaceFace Era Wheels

March 28, 2024

Carbon Wheelset › Employee Review › RaceFace ›

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