The Swiss Side Franc wheelset is a good all-rounder: well-equipped and with a weight of 1560g and a price tag of around £340, one that offers a high bang-for-buck ratio.
This aluminium clincher came to us last November and its use has been in the grime of winter. Despite rides perhaps better described as river crossings, including on sections of road where the water has risen almost to the hub, we have no failures to report.
This consistency of the performance we felt owed much to the quality of construction. While ground breaking technical features or headline grabbing lightness were absent, the Swiss Side Franc proved to be a pleasing sum of its rather nice parts.
We measured the rim at 19mm wide by 27mm deep, and the rim performed much as those dimensions had lead us to expect. The latest thinking on rim width tends to a wider profile to promote more effective seating of the tyre. The sub-20mm breadth here provided a stable mooring for the rubber deployed (seasonally-appropriate Specialized Roubaix Armadillo Elite, since you ask) but perhaps nothing more. The 27mm depth we felt worked nicely, offering some of the aesthetic bonus of a deeper section rim with none of the instability in cross winds that we’ve experienced with even slightly deeper offerings (Fulcrum Racing’s 30mm Quattro, for example).
The welded joint should prove durable, although a longer test would be required to provide a definitive statement in this regard. We can comment on the smoothness of the nicely machined brake track however, which showed no trace of the weld, either visually or in feedback under braking. It provided a stopping surface that inspired confidence in all conditions.
We hadn’t expected to experience any disconcerting issues from the Sapim CX Wing spokes and nor did we. A wheel manufacturer can place a pronounced tick in the box marked ‘durable’ by spec-ing the Belgian brand’s spars, and the aerobladed offerings in our test wheels remained true and unbroken throughout the test period.
The 18-spoke radial lacing up front was attractive and solid; the minimalist approach did nothing to detract from its solidity and stability. The 2:1 lacing on the driveside rear would doubtless have contributed to the Franc’s ability to retain stiffness under load; whether the enlarged hub flange on the same side did too, we’re unable to say (we’ve ridden plenty of stiff wheels with equal-sized flanges). It contributed to this wheelset’s aesthetic appeal, however, along with the non-driveside radial lacing
The rear wheel revolved with an audible purr; not quite the Hope staccato, perhaps, but pleasing to the cyclist’s ear, none-the-less. Pickup was fast if not instantaneous and the hub continued to revolve without complaint despite trips through roads turned into rivers by the continued deluge that has blighted the UK for most of the post-Christmas period.
Most pleasingly, the hubs contained very visible slots by which a broken spoke may be removed and replaced. An occasional drawback with factory-built wheels equipped with straight-pull spokes is the difficulty in replacing them: both in sourcing and fitting. Neither should be an issue here.
Wheelbags and quick release skewers will perhaps be considered extraneous to a performance-focused review, but both are of such quality that they’re worthy of inclusion. The padded wheelbag is one you might expect to receive with far more expensive hoops, and the Q/Rs are aesthetically pleasing and offered a nice cam action.
Swiss Side operate an online only, direct sales model, with the aim of keeping prices low, and at €414 – about £341 – for a 1560g wheelset, it’s fair to say they’ve met their goal. Whether the Franc meets yours will have much to do with your purpose. Riders seeking an attractive wheelset able to offer good all-round performance may find the Swiss Side Franc worthy of further investigation.
Size: 700c x 19mm x 27mm
Colour: Black with white and red spokes
Website: Swiss Side