: 1239g (including 44 red VeloPlugs installed)Rims
: N-type from FarSportsSpokes
: Sapim CX-RayHubs
: ED Hubs, ceramic bearingsDrilling
: 20h front, 24h rearFinish
: UD finishRider Weight
at time of review: ~155lbs (US) or 11 stone (UK) or 70kg (World)Tires
: Continental GP4000s "Black Chili", 23mmTubes
: Continental Supersonic Race 60mm (Butyl)Brakes
: Planet-X CNC (aka "Feather" aka ... )Pads
: Reynolds Blue (possibly same as the blue pads sent by FarSports with wheels)Skewers
: 43g Ti with carbon... similar to Tune, generic type.PSI
: Typically 110psi front and rear.Review terms
: 2.5 weeks of off season tempo riding: ~720mi/1,160km, 28k/8530m ascent. 90% of the time this is without a GPS because I'm experimenting with a theory (as stated over in Training).Build Quality
So far I'm fairly impressed with the build. Wheels were true out of the box and remain true despite sometimes roubaix-like road conditions. The brake-track surface has rubbed down a little bit but this does not seem to have noticeably affected braking compared to the first ride. The box is nice and can be easily re-used for shipping other wheels, a nice bonus I suppose. For the cost ($640USD shipped) I think they are worth it. Hubs:
There are varying reports on the "ED Hubs" - some say that they are horrible and fall apart, others say they are smooth. Some have stated that the bearings aren't smooth and grind, others have stated the opposite. I really don't know and I am interested in the long-term performance of the hubs, so we'll see how things go. So far the hubs have been great. They are very smooth and engagement on the rear hub is fine. I wouldn't mind if the flanges on the front hub were wider from center, but the wheels are stiff enough that I think for my weight they are ok. If the hubs do eventually break down I can just replace them with some other hubs I have in waiting, which is a nice benefit of the rebuild-ability of these wheels. Are there better hubs out there in the world? Obviously, yes. Those hubs also cost per pair the same or more than the wheels cost in total. If I have some money I'll certainly make a call to Jason @ FWB and order the best hubs money can buy me, but I'm patient for that future to happen and in the meantime I'm riding these and very happy.Braking
These wheels are my first long-term (more than one ride) experience with braking on a carbon surface and took a little bit of getting used to. Having come off of alloy rims (Stan's Alpha340), braking on these rims is certainly different. I am certain other users here would be better able to describe braking on carbon rims or may think differently, but I would best describe the braking as "fade-in and then out". Coming to emergency stops is not easy, and I do recommend braking earlier rather than later if you are traveling at a high velocity. On descents up to 15% I found the wheels to be perfectly fine for a confident descender. If, however you are not a confident descender I do not believe these wheels are for you.
Be honest with yourself here! There is a chance you can over-heat the rims into failure if you are grabbing the brakes too often. For comparison purposes for those of you that are local to Southern California: I'm the type of rider that doesn't touch the brakes from RedBox to LaCanada off of Angeles Crest, barely touches the brakes descending Piuma or Stunt, and use the brakes moderately descending Decker. I have not descended some of the steeper and technically difficult roads just yet - and after reading so many internet horror stories like old wives' tales there's a bit of admitted nervousness about the possibility. Then again, none of those previous reports have had any proper parameters for judgement: what if the rider was a nervous descender and held the brakes down the entire time? How difficult was their descent anyway to a different type of rider? Who knows?
On the short list of roads I'd like to take these on to test (and risk) - descending Mt. Olympus, Deer Creek, Tuna, ChairLift Switchbacks @ Baldy. I'll update in this thread whenever I get around to those.
With these I found the best technique - that works for me - to manage speed where brakes would otherwise need to be grabbed hard is to feather the brakes between the front and rear separately in small bursts. That being said, I don't use the brakes that much on descending compared to many people I know and I'm not a larger rider, so managing my momentum is easier than someone perhaps heavier than myself. Braking in the Wet
HA! It's interesting, let's put it that way. There certainly is some
braking when it's wet, but I would't descend like a madman when its raining or the brake surface is wet. I would prefer alloy rims for wet braking.Aero Qualities & Sidewinds
I chose the 38mm for a few reasons: some aero qualities, perhaps, and they look cool (semi-deep). Are the wheels aero? Perhaps a bit. Compared to the Alpha340 wheelset I've been riding for years, I can feel a noticeable difference in performance going forward. Am I any faster? These wheels certainly feel like it, but there are so many other factors that may determine speed that I can't state an absolute. On descents I pick up speed a bit more and feel as though sustained speed is stronger. On flats whether pulling a train or tucking in I feel that there is a very slight advantage and less energy needed to maintain the speed - this, again, is only felt. I do not have a powermeter for verification.
Sidewinds: It might be that I ride a "potato chip" as a friend says or that I'm a relatively
light rider, but I can certainly feel the wheels being pushed by strong sidewinds. How strong? in 18mph/28kmh sidewinds the wheels were lightly pushed. In 35mph/56kmh sidewinds I was riding at a definite lean. Canyon winds were easily dealt with however and did not concern me. Based on that I am very, very happy that I did not get the 50mm. That is purely based on my experience, rider weight, and so on (parameters described above). 50mm may work for others and may be more aero.Cornering and Ride Quality
I believe these wheels to be stiff. I have not felt nor seen any serious side-to-side deflection in sprinting or out-of-seat punch climbing. The carbon wheels seem to deaden some rough roads which is nice yet they are by no means soft feeling. Since the rims are not "wide rim" tech, cornering is not as fluid as you may find on wider rims such as ZIPP Firecrest, Enve's Smart series of wheels and so on, but they're good enough for me since I've been riding standard wheel-width rims for as long as I can remember. I am confident that FarSports or other similar companies will eventually come out with wide-rim styles. They may not be companies at the cutting edge of tech, but they'll eventually cover ground and I'm okay with that. Extras
The wheels came with a pair of light-ish skewers. I didn't use them at all since I have many skewer sets in waiting anyway.Other Statements
There's inevitably an ongoing debate in the bicycle world and industry about these 'open-mold' type companies. Will they put the big brands and mfgs out of business? I don't think so, and I don't think they ever will. I believe these wheels are fantastic for those that do have a limited budget and want quality performance. Are they better than the top-end wheels such as Lightweights, Enve, Xentis or ZIPP? Not at all, but by no means does that diminish their value and quality as they are. If you do have an ample budget and resources to pick up the high-end wheels than by all means do so. Ultimately your performance comes down to the rider (engine) and the rider's skill level, and these wheels won't hold you back. The rest is up to you.
Don't use Latex Tubes on these rims.
Thanks for reading. I preemptively apologize for not being an "expert" at reviews, experienced with the highest-end equipment available, a Pro-level rider, or putting out 12,000 Watts of power as a rider. I just like riding my bike(s) and climbing. A lot.