Dutch wheel builder FFWD has updated its F4R-C carbon/alloy clincher wheelset to bring it in line with its tubular counterpart. That basically means the clinchers now have an increased rim depth of 45mm, up from last year's 38mm, and are now 21mm wide.
The wheels also employ FFWD's DARC technology. According to FFWD, the DARC – or Double Arc – profile improves the aerodynamic efficiency of the rims by creating a blanket of compressed air on the rims.
We got to try out the new F4R-Cs on a recent trip to Majorca and, while we can't offer you any confirmation that what FFWD says about those aero gains plays out in the real world, we can offer you our first impressions on the wheels' ride quality.
The rim depth has been increased to 45mm and the width is 21mm, so the FFWD F4R-Cs are better suited to 25c tyres
At a claimed 1,680g, the FFWDs are a competitive weight for a wheelset costing £1,060 (US price tbc). They should prove competitive on the road too. The all-new FFWD hubs, developed with DT Swiss are quick to get the wheels up to speed and once there they hold pace well.
Depending on your taste, the freewheel is either noisy or reassuringly vocal. The 20/24 spoke profile offers a firm but smooth ride. On smooth Iberian Tarmac, the F4R-Cs rolled beautifully, but even on more broken – British-style – surfaces, they offered stability and composure.
One advantage of riding in Majorca is that you can get a decent dose of wind at the top of climbs and on coast roads. The 45mm profile seems to cope well with sudden gusts. That impression was affirmed when a rear puncture meant we had to change to a deeper section FFWD wheel, and the breeze became far more noticeable at the back of the bike.
The hubs have been designed with DT Swiss and have a typically 'clicky' DT freewheel
On Majorca's twisting descents, the FFWDs felt precise and dependable, and the aluminium braking track offered plenty of stopping bite. That the FFWDs felt equally at home on a full carbon Koga Kimera and a titanium Van Nicholas Chinook bodes well for the wheelset's versatility.
FFWD's marketing man said there were no immediate plans to offer tubeless compatible versions of the firm's clincher wheels.
A set of the F4R-Cs have just landed in the BikeRadar office so we'll have a full test soon.