Whether it’s bike frames or wheels, there is no doubt that alloy is fighting back hard against carbon fibre, especially in these cash-strapped days where cost effectiveness matters more than ever. But have these latest wheels from FSA’s Vision aero division got the mettle to measure up to the benchmark metal rollers?
The gloss anodized sidewalls and subtle stealth finish of the shot-peened 35mm deep rims mean these could very easily be mistaken for carbon at a distance, when they’re new. At 1,630g (720g front and 910g rear) they’re not far off the weight of a lot of 40-50mm deep carbon wheels that cost double the price or more (including Vision’s own 1,550g, £1,499.95 Metron 40 Carbon).
Twelve-degree freehub engagement and very tight hand-laced, straight-pull aero spoke build with double the spokes on the driveside to offside mean they transfer torque well. External spoke nipples in the raised rim blocks make them easy to re-tension, but we’ve had no need so far. The cartridge bearings in the sleek PRA hubs are adjustable for wear over time, too.
While we have no independent wind tunnel statistics on the wheels aerodynamically, they ride and roll down more like old-school 40-50mm deep wheels than 35s, particularly in crosswind situations. That’s likely due to the blunt face/trailing edge of the subtly rounded rim that generates a turbulence-reducing wind shadow, which bends in relation to airflow. This gives them a better behaved character than an arrow-shaped rim in blustery conditions or when trying to turn in at really high speeds.
Add the tight-tracking build, 17mm axles and 17mm internal rim width to support larger volume tyres and you get naturally combative wheels that like to be ridden hard on twisting roads.
We would like them even more if they were tubeless, ready to make full use of their width and offset some of their occasionally harsh stiffness. The anodising on the sidewalls will scour away over time, and while they’ll become fully polished raw alloy in time, ours are looking slightly scruffy as the black starts to get patchy with the onset of winter.