I was thoroughly impressed with how these wheels were built. Out of the box they were completely true as expected from any wheel manufacturer and the carbon layup was smooth with no wrinkles.
The wheels came laced up with Sapim CX-Ray spokes and Sapim SILS nipples and a Novatec A291SB/F482SB hub set, as a fan of Sapim I’m pleased to see this and although I’m not experienced with Novatec the hubs felt very smooth. If you’re a fan of loud hubs the Novatec hubs are not for you, they have a quiet, deep sound.
Real world weight came close to the advertised weight of 1265g/set at 1257g/set. They also have Quality Control stickers which is nice to see although I’m not sure what type of testing FarSports performs for Quality Control.
Extras in the box:
FarSports included brake pads, skewers/quick releases, and a cassette spacer in the box to run 10 speed on the 11 speed hub. Everything worked very well and I’ll discuss the braking in detail under “Riding Impressions” I used the spacer to run ten speed Red and it had no issues as expected.
I didn’t get the chance to test these wheels in crosswinds as I’ve only used them for cyclocross so far. (This does void their warranty but I wasn’t too worried about breaking them, they looked like they were built well and cyclocross rims don’t take that much more abuse than road rims.) The deep rims tracked very nicely in mud and with the wide rim and Zipp Firecrest-like shape they shouldn’t have any problems in cross winds. I found that the wheels were very stiff, with just a bit more flex than a Dura Ace C35 (I’m unsure what year the wheel is from, it was an old wheel from the Symmetrics team). They were reasonably compliant, on par with a 30mm aluminum rim. Obviously with their low weight they were very easy to maneuver and they accelerated very well. I actually found no real difference in braking between my aluminum rims with SwissStop GHPll pads and the FSE rims with FSE brake pads, granted I’ve only ridden them on muddy days and dry days so there was always enough friction on hand. I’m not sure who makes the brake pads (they might be made in house, but that’s a rare occurrence among wheel manufacturers) but those brake pads paired with my Avid Shorty Ultimate cantilevers and the Basalt brake track made for impressive braking. If I wanted to nitpick I’d say the braking had a loud scraping sound in mud (same as any aluminum rim) but this sound was amplified the deep carbon rim, since I’m a young rider I just thought it was a really cool sound instead of an annoying one.
After racing the MFG Waves for Water cyclocross race I assumed both wheels would be scratched badly, really badly. The first day was brutal and very muddy as you saw from the pictures above (no those Challenge Grifos were not the correct choice for either day, but I won’t complain, the deep rim was nice in mud) but surprisingly the wheels were unscathed. I’ll include pictures to show this below. There was also no cracked rims despite a few very rough corners. I did knock the back wheel out of true slightly but I really smashed the wheel, I slipped on an off camber corner and smashed it on a rock. There was also a few braking bump laden high speed descents and potholes which would have knocked any of my aluminum wheels out of true.
I had a great time testing these wheels, the braking was very impressive. The stiffness/weight really impressed me as well. As far as improvements go I can’t think of much, they performed great with no issues. I haven’t been able to test the rims with SwissStop Yellow or Black Prince pads but I’m sure they’re not that much better than FSE pads. I didn’t like the way the hubs sounded (on the fence, it’s nice to have quiet hubs when you’re trying to focus on smooth lines) but the wheels come specced with a bunch of hub options.
If you’re interested in purchasing the wheels you can find them here: http://www.wheelsfar.com/road-wheels/tubular/50t/50mm-x-23mm-tubular-wheelset.html
If you have anything you want to ask about the review please let me know.