FFWD F4D wheelset review£1,700.00

Lively deep-section handbuilt hoops

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Based in Zwolle in the Netherlands, FFWD has only been going for 10 years but is already well known for its tasty wheel offerings. The F4D wheelset comprises 45mm deep, full carbon clincher rims laced to DT Swiss’ legendary 240s disc hubs.

With brass nipples and 28 standard J-bend spokes both front and rear, these wheels are built for durability and ease of servicing. FFWD’s wheels are all handbuilt, and our test set was certainly well put together, with impressively even tensions all round.

Weighing in at 872g for the rear and 783g for the front (plus 86g of skewers), the F4Ds are reasonably scale-friendly for their depth – if not quite featherlight. The rims measure 16.3mm internally and 22.4mm externally, which isn’t wide by current standards but is certainly a step up from traditional rims, giving a slightly better tyre profile. They use FFWD’s proprietary DARC (‘double-arc’) design, which combines a moderately blunt edge with a sort of hourglass cross-section, all aimed at reducing drag. They aren’t tubeless-compatible, however.

The most remarkable thing about the F4Ds is how normal they feel on the road. Carbon clinchers were once associated with a firm ride and poor braking, but these wheels are testament to how much things have moved on. Stopping, of course, is now taken care of by discs, which means no lingering worries about delaminating brake tracks or exploding inner tubes, while ride quality is helped by modern carbon construction.

Interestingly, the wheels are quiet given their deep section, a consequence – we think – of the higher spoke count necessitated by the discs. This in turn means lower tensions, so there’s less of a satisfying ‘whoosh-whoosh’ soundtrack. That said, they’re fast and lively feeling, which is exactly what you want from a wheel upgrade.

While the F4Ds are well behaved most of the time, we did find their behaviour in gusty cross-winds somewhat disconcerting. The front wheel was somehow both twitchy and at the same time oddly resistant to steering inputs – a combination that was far from confidence inspiring. For this reason, we can’t recommend the F4Ds particularly for lighter riders, but that one admittedly significant flaw aside, the F4Ds are a very well made set of wheels, which of course they should be given the asking price.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

Matthew Allen

Senior Technical Writer, UK
Former bike mechanic, builder of wheels, hub fetishist and lover of shiny things. Likes climbing a lot, but not as good at it as he looks.
  • Age: 27
  • Height: 174cm / 5'8"
  • Weight: 53kg / 117lb
  • Waist: 71cm / 28in
  • Chest: 84cm / 33in
  • Discipline: Road, with occasional MTB dalliances
  • Preferred Terrain: Long mountain climbs followed by high-speed descents (that he doesn't get to do nearly often enough), plus scaring himself off-road when he outruns his skill set.
  • Current Bikes: Scott Addict R3 2014, Focus Cayo Disc 2015, Niner RLT 9
  • Dream Bike: Something hideously expensive and custom with external cables and a threaded bottom bracket because screw you bike industry.
  • Beer of Choice: Cider, please. Thistly Cross from Scotland
  • Location: Bristol, UK

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