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Sam Shaw takes a look at Far Sports carbon clincher wheels, will they stand up to Scottish roads?

I've read about Chinese manufactured carbon wheels on other forums and this sparked interest into what these companies have to offer, can their wheels stand up to UK roads?  What's the quality like?  They generally get a good response from forum posters who have bought them, but are they as good as they seem on paper?  So I set about looking for a set to try out as a comparison with a traditional set of lightweight(ish) aluminium wheels, the type that most of us ride in the UK.  Carbon clincher’s were the choice, tubulars didn’t appeal as I’ve never owned a set but mostly because I want to do a direct comparison with a comparable alu set of wheels.

So where do you start?  First stop was eBay, and the choice there is vast.  Most seem priced around the £250-£350 mark, depending from whom you’re buying and what spec you choose.  This didn’t really appeal though, mainly because there was no clear link to any ‘manufacturer’ as such.  A bit more research required…  forums provided the most information on where to buy from with posters keen to provide information on their purchases and those companies that were reputable.  There were a couple of companies that kept cropping up, but the one that seemed to get the most mentions was Far Sports, based in Xiamen, China.

A look at their website sees that they offer carbon wheels of various types, along with frames, bars, hubs, saddles, spokes etc.  The wheels come in various depths and widths, the wider rims seen on established branded wheels have filtered into Far Sports’ range, with 23 and 25mm widths available.  My first step was to contact Far Sports and tell them what kind of riding I do, my weight, what the roads are like and what their advice would be.  The email response was within 24 hours and the recommendation came back that suitable wheels would be 24h front, 28h rear 38mm deep, 20.5mm wide carbon clinchers.  They would be built with a Bitex hub (which would appear to be the RAR12/RAF12 combo) and Sapim CX Ray spokes laced radial front, radial rear non drive side and 2x drive side.  This lacing seemed odd at first, but a couple of recent wheelsets reviewed on road.cc have this pattern (the Amp 50mm carbon clinchers and the Spada Stiletto’s)  I also asked for UD Matte (assumed unidirectional carbon) finish on the wheel section (other options were 3k and 12k weave), with Far Sports graphics.

The spec was duly agreed and the order made, with delivery from China to Scotland being predicted to be within two weeks.  Far Sports informed me that they would send me images before they were shipped and also provide a tracking reference, which would let me know where the wheels were at every point between the factory and my doorstep.  Being honest, I was skeptical whether the images would arrive and if the tracking would be of any use.  Sure enough though, the pre-packing images came through and shortly afterwards a tracking number was emailed.

I’ve not purchased many items from China before, and they’ve always been sent via a fairly slow untracked courier, so it was encouraging when after a day or two the wheels had arrived in the UK and were in the hands of UK customs.  This delay was short and the wheels were released for delivery a few hours later, off they went into Parcelforce’s tracking system (with the same tracking reference) and delivery was made the following day.  All in, it was 4 days from China to my door, not too shabby at all.

The wheels were well packaged in a reinforced wheel-specific box, the hubs were protected with plastic packers and everything was in bubblewrap bags.  The ‘extras’ in the box included two svelte (44g combined) skewers, two pairs of brake pads and an instruction leaflet. 

The Far Sports graphics were a bit of a disappointment, they’re well made and neatly applied but the material itself is reflective red and white stickers, and the design isn’t really that appealing.  Branding is very much an area that Far Sports can look to improve.  The UD matte finish seems to be a painted matte black, which looks smart and feels robust.  The rims are a “U” shape, more akin with modern wheels made to handle cross-winds more effectively than the V-shaped rims of the past.  The Sapim CX-Ray J-bend spokes all have a brass washer at the hub end (where laced radially) and there’s also a small Sapim sticker on the inside of the rim.

The wheels weighed in on my own (not road.cc’s!) scales of truth (ok, the digital kitchen scales) 598g front and 754g rear, giving a combined weight of 1,352g.  This is a bare weight and doesn’t include rim tape or skewers… speaking of which, there were a few things I needed to buy.

If you’re going to swap new wheels about a lot, you need the sundries… new tyres, a cassette, tubes (these needed 60mm length valves) and in this case, rim tape.  The bits were duly procured and fitted to the wheels.  It’s quite an extra expense, so bear that in mind if you’re making a similar purchase.

So that’s where I am with these wheels at the moment.  They’ve not been ridden or fitted to the bike yet, I’m still rolling on my winter aluminium bike and don’t envisage riding the wheels until spring starts to blush, and the temperature goes up.  Call me old fashioned, but you don’t ride carbon hoops in winter!  This year, I’ll be blogging quarterly on how I’m getting on with these wheels, how they’re bearing up on Scotland’s roads and what the differences/similarities are between these and my usual aluminium Pro-Lite Bracciano wheels.  I’ll check back in April once I’ve put some miles on them, until then, it’s still winter miles for me!

47 comments

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Paul J [839 posts] 2 years ago
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Bought a set of 38mm Farsport clinchers the other year, and I've done just over 3000 km on them. No problems so far. They've not required any trueing - unlike my Mavic Aksiums. Fairly pleased with them!

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notfastenough [3661 posts] 2 years ago
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Be really interested to hear more about these. Graphics aside, they look really good.

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Pisiform [47 posts] 2 years ago
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How much were they?

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SamShaw [264 posts] 2 years ago
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Pisiform wrote:

How much were they?

Sorry, should've put that in... £325 (US$528).

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chrissyd [46 posts] 2 years ago
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I bought 50mm carbon clinchers from ebay (via China), I've used them for two full summers and have had no issues what so ever and at a fraction of the price of branded wheels, unlike the Mavic's i'm using as training wheels.

Last winter I bought a carbon aero/TT frameset, TT bars and stem, this time direct from Miracle Bikes, China and again no issues. A purchase I would definately think about doing again.

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Gizmo_ [1333 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm really thinking about getting some like these too, built with disc hubs for the CX bike. 38mm is a psychological sweet spot between thin ones that look flexy and un-aero, and 50mm-plus that look heavy and wind-sensitive (even if they aren't).

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notfastdave [4 posts] 2 years ago
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I've been thinking about a set of something similar for this summer. The choice of hubs available on the far sports site is pretty confusing. Is it worth paying extra for some of the different hubs?

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Flying Scot [908 posts] 2 years ago
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Need to get them stickers off!

I would be interested to run them for a month in winter, with an 80kg rider then get someone like big al (who doesn't have an axe to grind with carbon, as he really doesn't do them) true them to see how straight they are and what the residual tension is like.

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bikefitteruk [1 post] 2 years ago
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lolol [181 posts] 2 years ago
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But is carbon, any carbon for the sake of it, necessarily better than aluminium?

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700c [819 posts] 2 years ago
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lolol wrote:

But is carbon, any carbon for the sake of it, necessarily better than aluminium?

In a clincher? No, not really. In fact this may well have a number of drawbacks over the braccianos - poor braking, risky heat build up on long descents, perhaps even dubious warranty support - ( I admit that last point is speculation...)

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robert.brady [155 posts] 2 years ago
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No customs charges?

Rob

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GlennR [2 posts] 2 years ago
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lolol wrote:

But is carbon, any carbon for the sake of it, necessarily better than aluminium?

No, it's not. But the wheels mentioned are the same weight as Shimano C24s (if you include rim tape), more aero and almost half the price.

And depending who you are, carbon wheels make you look pro, or like a try hard.  1

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SamShaw [264 posts] 2 years ago
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Nope. I was expecting it but they were in and out of customs in a couple of hours.

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SamShaw [264 posts] 2 years ago
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All points that I'm interested in writing about, including lolol's original comment.

The reason I wanted to look at these is that there seems to be a fair bit of talk about them (mostly good from those who own them, as the first reply states), but do they offer anything a similar alu clincher doesn't? Does the average UK rider get any benefit from them? What is the performance like in comparison? There should be some answers in a few months!

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lolol [181 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm very much looking forward to reading your findings.
Someone in my club rides on some mavic carbon wheels. He's a big sprinty type, and they arent particularly well looked after, so they rub on the brake blocks a lot when he's out the saddle etc, I always think even a cheap set of stiffer alu rims would be working so much better.

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SamShaw [264 posts] 2 years ago
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I once had a set of Aksiums and they rubbed a heck of a lot when out of the saddle. Ok, I was between 13 and 14 stone at that time so no lightweight, but the flex was more than I would expect.

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nellybuck@msn.com [165 posts] 2 years ago
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SamShaw wrote:

I once had a set of Aksiums and they rubbed a heck of a lot when out of the saddle. Ok, I was between 13 and 14 stone at that time so no lightweight, but the flex was more than I would expect.

Do you mind me asking what you weigh now? I'm just under 90kg, and have always shied away from this option for that reason. Will be interested to see how you get on, as would be a good way of getting some aero wheels for triathlon.

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SamShaw [264 posts] 2 years ago
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Erm... still carrying some Xmas timber so 80kg... will be down to usual 75-76kg shortly!

These are a 24/28h lacing, rather than the usual 20/24h, I mainly wanted something more robust due to the road conditions where I live. And the fact that I'm no lightweight!

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HLaB [68 posts] 2 years ago
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I'll watch this thread/blog eagerly. When a mate was talking about Chinese carbon wheels, I talked him out of it, more alu wheels that'll give the same performance and are more proven; perhaps I was wrong  39

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nickobec [246 posts] 2 years ago
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Owned for almost 18 months now, a couple of farsports wheelsets, a pair of 38mms, a 60mm front and 50mm rear paired to a power tap.

I am 80kg, and use them to train and race on, and the racing is usually over pretty rough roads.

Built up a 50mm on a G3 powertap. Ridden under to 10,000km on that rim and probably 6000km on each of the 38mm & 60mm front.

Problem is all (except the 38mm rear) pulse badly under braking. The issue is the rim width at the braking surface varies. On the 50mm rear it varies from 19mm (what it should be) to 21.7mm. In other words the rims have become deformed, becoming wider in some sections.

Why carbon, light, deep and it makes a big difference, particularly if you are TTing or off the front. Plus a 2kg carbon wheelset (incl tyres, tubes, cassette, skewers) is so much faster to get up to speed than my 3kg alloy training wheelset. So sticking with carbon, just not chinese right now.

I am currently replacing the rims with Taiwanese 55mm carbon.

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harman_mogul [208 posts] 2 years ago
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nickobec wrote:

Owned for almost 18 months now, a couple of farsports wheelsets, a pair of 38mms, a 60mm front and 50mm rear paired to a power tap. I am 80kg, and use them to train and race on, and the racing is usually over pretty rough roads.

Thank you for answering the question posed by the writer, nickobec!

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blinddrew [44 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm about 85kg and have a set of carbon clinchers, gigantex 24mm rims, 20/24h 50mm deep built by Wheelsmith. Paid a bit extra for the handbuild but there's no flex on them at all. Weigh 1555g the pair (according to the kitchen scales) including skewers and rim tape.
Done about 350 dry-ish miles now and so far so good, got the hack bike out now though as the weather and roads have both gone to sh...

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cavmem1 [50 posts] 2 years ago
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blinddrew wrote:

I'm about 85kg and have a set of carbon clinchers, gigantex 24mm rims, 20/24h 50mm deep built by Wheelsmith. Paid a bit extra for the handbuild but there's no flex on them at all. Weigh 1555g the pair (according to the kitchen scales) including skewers and rim tape.
Done about 350 dry-ish miles now and so far so good, got the hack bike out now though as the weather and roads have both gone to sh...

How is this relevant to a blog about a pair of Chinese Carbon wheels that cost about £300?, since wheelsmith are in Scotland. I am sure your wheels are the best thing since sliced bread, I just cannot for the life of me work out why you posted that as your wheels cost twice the amount around the £750 mark except to brag. If so can I I say I have a set of hand built carbon and titanium wheels built by Amazonian Valkyries in Papua New Guinea and they are awesome?

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mike the bike [565 posts] 2 years ago
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cavmem1 wrote:

..... How is this relevant to a blog about a pair of Chinese Carbon wheels that cost about £300? ......

Aah Cav, what would life be if we all stuck to the script?

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Metjas [359 posts] 2 years ago
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cavmem1 wrote:

How is this relevant to a blog about a pair of Chinese Carbon wheels that cost about £300?, since wheelsmith are in Scotland. I am sure your wheels are the best thing since sliced bread, I just cannot for the life of me work out why you posted that as your wheels cost twice the amount

well, I found it an interesting contribution. If you didn't, why not simply skip and move on to something that you enjoy reading?

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Pinaman [28 posts] 2 years ago
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I recently bought some 45mm Deep, 23mm wide (aero profile) carbon clinchers from light-bicycle in China.

Good price, prompt delivery and they have handled nearly 2k of winter (dry) miles since they've arrived and are still perfectly true.

They look awesome to boot too!!

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Ad Hynkel [90 posts] 2 years ago
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Far too relevant for my tastes, Pinaman...

BTW cavmem1, looking forward to your long term review of those fantasy wheels from Papua New Guinea.

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MNgraveur [63 posts] 1 year ago
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So I got my farsports 50mm clinchers today. I'm not an expert, but they look flawless. Unfortunately we are having a blizzard tomorrow and it will probably be a month before I get to try them. But so far so good. It took about a week from china to mn, USA.

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HLaB [68 posts] 1 year ago
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A month on how are you feeling about the wheels Sam ?

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