Focus Carbon 24mm wide 50mm deep carbon clincher review

Everything about building wheels, glueing tubs, etc.
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jkcrowell
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:37 am

by jkcrowell

I've ridden these wheels for a little over 1500 mi now. I'm not racer, just a recreational rider. Here's my findings.

Wheels took around a month to get to me, but I ordered them around Christmas and I was not surprised they took a little while.

Placebo or not, these wheels feel fast, especially at speed. Like most have said the effect is not obvious below 20mph, but quickly becomes apparent as speeds rise. I'm not sure how heavy the wheels are, but they feel fairly light, very similar to a 1500g pair that I have. I don't have the gear to weigh them accurately. They are a bit heavier than my wife's Dura Ace C24s, but that's to be expected.

The hubs roll well. I had them change out to a Bitex hub in the rear. They were also supposed to change to a Bitex hub in the front with wide flange spacing, but they built the front wheel with stock Powerway hub (I believe). That's a bit annoying as I paid extra for the Bitex hubs, but I didn't want to send the whole wheel back to have it rebuilt with the different front hub. Love the sound of the hubs though, not too quiet and not too loud. Seem to have good engagement. I would definitely use Bitex hubs again.

Wheels are pretty stiff, sometimes I do feel the front could be stiffer as I'm a big guy at 6'4" 200lbs. It's only when I really rock the bike climbing or accelerating. But I never get any brake rub, so that's an excellent sign. Corners feel great on these wheels with the 25c Gran Prix 4000s tires I ride.

Finish on the wheels looks great. Love the look of the wheels, the carbon layup looks quite good, they make the whole bike look better. However, a lot of flakes of resin or something similar were floating around inside, especially in the rear wheel. I fished them out through the spoke holes, but the process took a long time.

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When I was first riding the wheels, I was using the included cork-like brake pads. The stopping performance was good, but I think the pads were rather poor. I could not get them to stop squealing when braking hard, and when I bled off a lot of speed, they would literally smell like smoke.

I believe it's the pads that led to my problem: the rear wheel formed a bulge. It happened after coming down a fairly steep and twisty decent. I was not riding the brake, but pulsing it, however it still occured. I measured it, and it was deformed by 0.66mm at the widest. The wheel would pulsate heavily under braking after this happened. I sent the pictures along to my contact Tracy at Focus Carbon. I removed the wheels from my bike because I had 0 confidence in riding the rim at this point. The front, oddly enough since it should receive more of the braking force, was fine.

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Service was very good. After seeing the pictures of the rims and sending it to someone else at Focus Carbon, Tracy OK'd a replacement rim for me. The rim arrived pretty quickly, in less than two weeks. It was up to me to put the new rim on the existing wheel, and as I'd been truing my own wheels for a while I decided to rebuild the wheel myself. But that means the rim replacement was at no cost to me.

After rebuilding the rear wheel, I replaced the pads with Swiss Stop Black Prince pads. These pads are worlds better. No noise, even better braking performance, and they don't seem to get the rims any where near as hot.

Overall, I think if I had started using the Black Prince pads from day 1, I might not have ever had a problem with these wheels. With them set up as I have them now, I have confidence in them, though I did remove them for one ride I did with 7800ft of climbing in only 60 miles. However I've done less steep rides with significant hills and had no problems at all with the wheels. My main gripe is on windy days, the 50mm front does catch some wind.

I did eventually get a great price on a set of Bontrager Aeolus 3/5 wheels that I primarily ride now. That set up doesn't feel any faster, honestly, though it does catch a bit less wind with the more shallow front. Also, those wheels have been faultless with braking, but the braking performance with the same Swiss Stop pads is no better on the Aeolus.

I would order something from Focus Carbon again, they are easy to contact and did stand behind their product.

by Weenie


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