Swiss Side Franc wheelset - first look

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Swiss Side Franc wheelset – first look

Aluminium hoop in standard use-with-tubes 'clincher' format arrives at RCUK Towers

Seasonally appropriate wheels, aluminium and in the standard use-with-tubes ‘clincher’ format, have arrived for test at RCUK Towers, this time from Swiss Side.

Swiss Side is the brain child of Formula One engineer, Jean-Paul Ballard, currently engaged with the Sauber F1 team. While manufacturing is outsourced to Taiwan, the wheels are designed by Ballard and his engineering partners in Switzerland, hence the brand name.

The Swiss Side Franc aluminium clincher wheelset

Ballard will soon be inviting riders to give their own input into the design of Swiss Side’s new carbon-alloy wheelset, including rim depth,  width, and spoke count, via the brand’s social media channels.

We’re testing the Franc, a mid-priced aluminium clincher (€414 Euros – Swiss Side has an on-line only, direct sales model) that places it in a competitive section of the market occupied by, among others, Hope’s excellent Mono RS. The Franc tipped our scales at 1560g for the pair, without skewers. Let’s take a closer look at the constituent parts.

Rim

The Franc’s rim is fashioned from heat-treated 6066 aluminium, with a joint welded for strength, rather than pinned, and with a brake track CNC machined to provide a consistent surface.

The 27mm rim profile is present front and rear. A welded and machined brake track is intended to deliver consistent braking

The profile is a conventional pyramid shape, 19mm wide and 27mm deep, and so distinct from some of the wider rims that we have been seeing recently. Its dimensions place it as a mid-height all-rounder, we’d say at this early stage. We’ll report on the accuracy of this observation in our subsequent review.

Rims with stress-reliving eyelets, notably Mavic’s bullet proof Open Pro, while becoming rarer, tend to make an appearance in winter, but are absent here, perhaps in a quest for weight saving.

Hub

The hubs are CNC machined from an aluminium billet. The front hub is a low profile affair, slotted for 18 straight pull spokes laced in a radial pattern, and which revolves on two Japanese cartridge bearings.

The driveside flange is larger than the non-driveside on the Franc wheel, allowing the use of shorter spokes

Out back, we find a hub with differing flange sizes, with the driveside enlarged, presumably to withstand the greater load. It’s laced with 24 straight-pull spokes in a 2:1 pattern, crossed on the driveside and radial on the non-driveside. The rear hub is equipped with four cartridge bearing races, and has Swiss Side’s own four-pawl freehub ratchet. The freehub body is aluminium.

Spokes

The spokes are Sapim’s stainless steel, bladed CX Wing spars: a substantial 4mm wide, painted white for the most part in our sample set, with a couple of red spokes per wheel. They’re of the straight-pull variety, so sans j-bend, and so hopefully more resistance to flex and failure.

Aero-bladed, stainless steel Sapim CX Wing spokes are secured in the CNC-machined rim with brass nipples

To complement the aforementioned enlarged driveside flange on the rear hub, Swiss Side have deployed shorter spokes in what we imagine is another bid to defeat flex in such a heavily-loaded section of the wheel.

We’ll be replacing the recently tested Shimano RS81 C35 wheelset in our faithful Kinesis Raleigh TK3 test rig with the Swiss Side Franc,  and will report back with our findings. Check back soon for a full review.

Discuss in the forum

Price: €414
Size: 700c x 19mm x 27mm
Colour: Black with white and red spokes
Website: Swiss Side

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