Club Roost FCR50 carbon clincher wheelset – review

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Club Roost FCR50 carbon clincher wheelset – review

Club Roost's carbon clinchers are cheap, but do they offer quality performance to go with that budget price?

After the purchase of a bike the next thing on a cyclist’s list is usually a new set of wheels – and an upgraded wheelset can vastly improve both how a bike performs and how its rider feels.

The after market for wheels is booming. There are plenty of brands from which to choose, and many have very different ideas about what makes their wheels faster than the next set. The premium brands come to the party with the latest tech but carry an equally significant price tag, but if you’re not looking to drop a couple of thousand on the likes of Enve, Zipp or Lightweight can you pick up a decent set of hoops for a fraction of the price?

Enter brands Club Roost, who are better known for their 1990s mountain bike products than affordably priced road wheels, so when these first arrived it was a surprise that they didn’t come with purple anodized nipples encircling the rim.

The Club Roost FCR50 carbon clinchers come in at 1,620g for the pair, so they’re on a par weight-wise with the new 52mm-deep Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbone Exalith wheels, albeit for £300 less and without the Exalith braking surface. But the real question is: does that low price also reflect a lack of quality?

Going for a full carbon clincher over a rim with an alloy braking surface generally makes the wheels lighter, particularly as far as deeper wheels like this go. The FCR50s 1,620g weight is decent considering the 50mm depth and while an even lighter set of wheels is going to offer even more out-right reactivity when the road rises, these strike a good balance between weight and the aerodynamic performance that comes with a deeper rim on fast and flat or rolling roads. When I put the wheels under pressure while sprinting their responsiveness and stiffness meant they got up to speed quickly and, thanks to that 50mm rim, sustained it noticeably better than a shallow box section rim.

The rear wheel is constructed with 24 stainless steel double-butted spokes made by Sapim – the same brand that supplies spokes for Zipp, among others. And these spoke played a big part in the fact that when the need for a change of pace arose, there was very little flex in the wheel meaning that very little power was going to waste.

Up front, the 20 spoke wheel incorporates a similar 6061 aluminium hub to the rear. It’s not the slickest hub I’ve ridden, but the design gives easy access to the innards, making servicing straightforward. The spoke nipples – which are black, not purple – are housed internally, and the wheels come with a spoke key for truing.

While the trend for wider rims is growing – as is the preference for matching them with wide tyres – Club Roost have bucked opted for a 21mm rim width, which is narrow by today’s standards. Even with a standard 23mm tyre, there was substantial ballooning over the rim which is detrimental to the aerodynamics of the system and the handling of the tyre.

To counter this, I made a change to a set of 22mm Vittoria Open Course SL tyres. This didn’t fully rectify the ballooning, but it was an improvement to the profile of the wheel. However, the narrower tyres weren’t ideal in the comfort stakes.

I rode these wheels in the dry and wet, and the braking was very impressive. In the dry, the rims out braked a lot of more expensive wheels, and in the wet they were perfectly decent. Carbon rims aren’t renowned for their stopping power in wet conditions, and generally for good reason, but these certainly weren’t worse than anyone else’s.

At 50mm, the rims are right at limit, depth-wise, where wheels start losing their everyday usability and become too specialist. Any deeper and crosswinds really start to compromise handling. The flat sides are another of the features of these wheels becoming a little outdated as the trend continues for bulbous ‘U-shaped’ rims that perform better in a variety of conditions. Still, these didn’t deal too badly with wind punch, but this is based on my anecdotal evidence and a lighter rider might suffer more.

Conclusion

If the primary reason for buying these wheels were for fast crit racing with the rider wanting a quick, affordable wheelset, then it’d be difficult to argue against the Club Roosts. They’re not the most fashionable, nor is the design cutting edge, but what they deliver is a decent level of performance for a very decent price. Performance is on a par with the previous mentioned Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbone Exalith, but the price is £300 lower.

A wider rim track would improve these wheels significantly, though. It’d bring the wheels in line with modern thinking where wide tyres are de rigueur and as popular in the club run as they are in the pro peloton. And would purple anodized spokes be going too far…?

Pros

– Wallet-friendly price tag
– Excellent braking
– Come with a plush padded wheel bag

Cons

– Narrow rims limit tyre width
– Only available with Shimano/SRAM freehub

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