Readers of a certain age may be familiar with FiR wheels.
The Italian brand supplied wheels to Stephen Roche during his annus mirabilis in 1987, when the Irishman won the Triple Crown – the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and World Championship – while riding for Carrera.
FiR was founded in 1956 but stopped production in 2005. However, after a seven year hiatus, the marque was resurrected in 2012 by Italian distributor, Gist.
The 2013 range covers road and mountain bike wheels. Twenty-one wheelsets make up the road range, all made in Italy, and we’ve just received the £350 R3 hoops to test.
The R3 sits in FiR’s range of aluminium wheels and are made from a 6005 alloy with a claimed weight of 1,480g, which is impressive for the money. Our test hoops weigh exactly that on the RCUK scales without skewers, or 1,600g with, so top marks to FiR for advertising the correct weight. We’re off to a good start.
The rims are 25mm deep and 21mm wide, with what FiR call an “aero-shaped profile”. The aero benefit of a 25mm-deep aluminium rim is hard to quantify – and justify – but wider rims are increasingly popular with manufacturers, who promise increased stability, improved grip owing to the larger contact patch of the tyre and improved aerodynamics when used with the wider 25mm rubber now popular across the board with amateur and professional riders alike.
The wheels have bladed stainless steel spokes and alloy nipples, with 20 spokes at the front laced radially, and 24 at the rear laced in a two-cross pattern on the driveside and radially on the non-driveside. The CNC-machined alloy hubs have sealed cartridge bearings – two at the front, four at the rear – to improve longevity, while the red freehub body gives the wheels a flash of colour and matches the single red spoke on each wheel, and the red anodized spoke nipples.
FiR say the R3 (also available in an all-white finish) has been their bestselling wheel to date, prompting them to introduce a 30mm-deep version, the R7, which has a claimed weight of 1,560g, and a £365 price tag.
We’re most concerned with the R3 hoops, however, and FiR promise a “balanced, light and aerodynamic wheelset.” We’ll be finding out over the weeks ahead.