Although they’ve slipped away from the WorldTour this season, Dutch wheel builders FFWD (Fast Forward) are a pretty big deal. You can find their wheels all over the spectrum from road racing, to triathlon, to cyclo-cross, to their very visible presence in the velodrome.
That prescence and their Dutch heritage makes FFWD another of those companies that you assume have been around forever, but actually this year is only the 10th anniversary since their inception in 2006.
Anyway, we’ve just had a set of their F4R Silver Edition carbon fibre tubular wheels in and they cut a rather striking figure. Weighing in at a claimed 1,145g for the set, they combine a 22.4mm rim width with a 45mm depth, shaped in FFWD’s DARC (Double Arc) profile. That profile is widest at the brake track, but slims down to widen again near the trailing edge, giving it an almost red blood cell-esque shallow toroidal shape. FFWD claim that this shape negates the need to go super wide with the rims like many manufacturers have in the last few years, in order to get comparable aerodynamic performance. Of course, all of this comes at a price, and that price is a rather intimidating £2,175.
Those rims are paired with DT Swiss’s top-of-the-range 180 hubs, and joined with DT Aerolite spokes. Keeping weight down was so important to FFWD, that they’ve only used straight-pull spokes – 20 at the front, 24 at the back – thus saving that little extra weight that J-bend spokes add.
The final touch on our test set, added by UK distributors Paligap, is the Challenge Criterium 25mm tubular tyres. They’re a seriously fancy set of tubs with a 320tpi casing that weigh in at just 260g each and should have these wheels rolling very well indeed.
I’ll be getting out and about on these plenty over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for a full review in the near future.