FastForward (or FFWD) is better known on the road side of things, but the Dutch wheel company has a growing mountain bike wheel range, with the Outlaw AMs sitting pretty near the top of the tree.
FFWD has a lot of carbon wheels in its range, and the Outlaw AM uses this experience with its 33mm outer width, 24.5mm deep all-mountain orientated wheels. FFWD says that these wheels are aimed at bikes with 120–140mm of travel, so I fitted them to a Transition Scout and did my best to find their limits.
The Outlaw AMs have lived on my Transition Scout for over a year now and show no signs of undue wear Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
The rims are built on to a pair of DT Swiss 240 hubs with 28 spokes front and rear in a 3-cross style — the spoke count isn’t massive, but 3-cross builds tend to be fairly strong, and, as we’ll get on to, carbon rims can often feel harsh with a stiff build.
The rims come tubeless ready, requiring just a slosh of sealant and a couple of valves to get the tyres inflated. In practice, I’ve never struggled to get them to inflate, and yet I’ve also had no problem mounting various tyres to the rims.
The wheels come in Boost and non-Boost, Shimano and XD driver options Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
The DT Swiss 240 hubs FFWD offers are centrelock, however there are adapters to take them to 6-bolt if you prefer. FFWD builds the wheels with Sapim CX-Ray and DT Aerolite spokes.
DT Swiss’ hubs are legendary for their performance — light, reliable, serviceable — and so seeing them here on this high-end set of wheels is no surprise, and not something I was disappointed about.
Their pick-up is incredibly quick, and in over a year of use I’ve never had to service them, they’re still running smooth.
Centerlock rotors haven’t caught on as quickly as Shimano might hope, but adapters are available Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
As I’ve alluded to, it is possible, especially with smaller 650b wheels, to end up with a very harsh feeling bike. Fortunately, FFWD seems to have avoided this. I’m not sure whether that’s down entirely to the 28 spoke build, or a softer rim, or a combo of both.
However, as a sufferer of arm pump, I’m yet to experience this to any great degree with these wheels, which is a sure sign that FFWD has got something right with the feel of the wheels.
This also suggests there’s a fair amount of vertical compliance, or at least some damping of harshness. On the trail this gives comfort and control. Laterally, the wheels are fairly stiff, and I think built in to a very stiff frame you might find some chatteryness on flat, loose corners.
However, if your chassis has a bit of inherent flex, I think the stiffness of the wheels shouldn’t be an issue.
The rim is wide enough to give ample support to wide, aggressive tyres Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Through my testing I’ve used everything from DH tyres to single ply rubber with tyre inserts. I have managed to ping the rim off rocks a couple of times, and when this has caused issues it’s been with the tyre — the rims haven’t suffered any damage, but that strength means that the tyre takes the brunt of the force.
I think this is my main sticking point with carbon rims as a whole. While alloy rims might get a ding, they generally don’t waste a tyre, while carbon rims are prone to doing so. On the back at least, I’d run a tyre insert.
And that should be okay, because the Outlaw AMs come in pretty light at 1,575g for the pair (735g front, 840g rear — 650b, XD driver).
The wheels have seen a lot of abuse, and shrugged it all off Tom Marvin / Immediate Media
Overall, I’ve been impressed with the Outlaw AMs. They’re stiff, yet avoid being harsh, and their broad form gives ample support to the majority of regular width trail tyres, and set-up has proved consistently easy.
They’re not a cheap set of wheels, but if you’re looking for a high-end pair of carbon hoops I don’t think you’ll go too far wrong with the Outlaw AMs.