38mm Far Sports Carbon Wheels: Update #1

Sam gives an update on riding 38mm Far Sports carbon clincher wheels

by SamShaw   May 5, 2014  

SS-38mm wheel detail

I've ridden these wheels for about a couple of months now, from dry sunny days to atrocious 70mile club rides in the driving rain, even a hundred-miler. The first time they went on the bike transformed the way the bike looked, that's not to say there's anything wrong with the shallow profile wheels I had on previously, but the increase in rim depth looks correct on an aero frame.  I borrowed my wife's hairdryer one evening (I have little use for one on my own head!) and de-stickered the wheels before putting them on the bike.

With some trepidation, I installed the skinny titanium skewers that arrived with the wheels, there's not much material on them and every ride still has me performing a cursory check to see that everything is all as it should be.  So far there's been no problems, despite my concerns about their slenderness.

First impressions

I don't know what I was expecting of the change from aluminium to carbon, which is the primary reason for looking into these wheels in the first place.  I had thought that they'd feel different to aluminium wheels, and they're certainly taught and stiff in a way that aluminium isn't, but there's no extra 3mph; the variations are small.  The wheels are harder from a comfort perspective, there's less resonance and 'spring' from these wheels compared to my aluminium rims; it's like riding a carbon and aluminium frame, they're both stiff but in different ways.  On a fast ride, this is welcome as the wheels feel encouragingly solid, which is letting me to lean into corners with confidence; the bike tracks exactly where I want it.

The weight of the wheels is noticeable, they're not super light at 1,350g, but they are light enough to make the difference on steep climbs where every extra gram on the bike seems to drag you backwards.  Out-of-the-saddle efforts and sprints haven't put the wheels under any duress, there's been no uncertainty to the response. Again, this is an area that I thought may have been compromised by such a lightweight wheel, with a rim made from a lightweight material.  


 

Crosswinds

The 38mm deep u-shaped cross-sections cope with crosswinds fairly well.  One thing I noted with my bike before was that the frame would catch crosswinds, and the shallow-depth wheels wouldn’t, what this has done is evened out the way the bike behaves and made it more consistent; bike and wheels now move as one when influenced by a side wind.  That sounds odd, but it makes handling in such conditions more predictable.  A less aero bike may suffer the reverse.

Downsides

There have been a couple of negatives, the first being that the rear wheel has come slightly out of true.  Writing this blog reminded me that I need to tend to this issue and a few minutes with a spoke key brought everything back in line.  The amount it was out was minimal, and not unlike some other wheels that I've ridden, which have needed a tweak up after a few hundred miles.  I was also getting a bit of brake-rub when going up very steep rises, which has now been eliminated.

The second (and main) thing is the braking, it's ok in the dry but leaves a bit to be desired in the wet!  The pads I received were Far Sports “ceramic compound” and they have performed very well except on a couple of steep descents in the wet.  Scrubbing off initial speed wasn't a problem but they took a long time to start really grabbing despite hauling on the levers with a fair amount of force.  A bit of investigation reveals that this isn't something that is specific to these particular wheels, but is more of an issue with all carbon rimmed wheels, worth considering if you plan to replace your current aluminium wheels with carbon alternatives for year round riding.

The rims have suffered slightly from the few really grim rides that they've been subjected to, with a couple of very light scars on he the braking surface.  Again, this isn't inconsistent with the wear that I would expect from a light aluminium rim when put in the same situation.

Confidence

Despite the braking not being as sharp as I'd like, I've got an unexpected confidence in these wheels.  Buying directly from China has is not without concern, but so far they've performed admirably.  The initial anxieties I had about riding carbon wheels have long been forgotten and I have no apprehension riding them on a daily basis.  The way I ride isn't affected by the material, potholes/grave/cats eyes are avoided with the same determination whether carbon or aluminium.  A few friends have recommended either Reynolds Blue pads or Swiss Stop Yellow pads, so I'm going to give these a go and see if braking can be improved. 

In summary: they feel nice and stiff to ride; the carbon material hasn't resulted in a lack of confidence in the wheels; braking isn't as good as aluminium; they make the bike look great.

36 user comments

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@Surly - I recently got some carbon clinchers. Clinchers so that I can swap tyres between my other bikes with clinchers.

Tubulars means all new tyres, and just the one set, plus a spare in case of a puncture. Something I didn't want to do.

posted by mtbtomo [109 posts]
6th May 2014 - 20:20

141 Likes

surly_by_name wrote:
If you start from the premise that no one buys carbon rims for practical reasons (wet weather braking being the most obvious negative), I do not understand why anyone would buy clinchers over tubs.

I'm inclined to buy a nice wheelset, but I think I'll be opting for an alu braking surface, and clinchers. Unless I was racing, why would I go with tubs? I'm not sure I like the idea of a puncture in the middle of nowhere on a tub.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3419 posts]
7th May 2014 - 9:13

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mtbtomo wrote:
@Surly - I recently got some carbon clinchers. Clinchers so that I can swap tyres between my other bikes with clinchers.

Tubulars means all new tyres, and just the one set, plus a spare in case of a puncture. Something I didn't want to do.

This is like going on a skiing holiday and deciding to save money by not buying a lift ticket. If it works for you, excellent.

posted by surly_by_name [153 posts]
7th May 2014 - 9:51

137 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
Unless I was racing, why would I go with tubs? I'm not sure I like the idea of a puncture in the middle of nowhere on a tub.

In reverse order.

A puncture in the middle of nowhere is a pain in the proverbial whether you are on tubs or clinchers. Its marginally more tedious to change a tub than a tube in a clincher - although there's no chance of pinching your tube when you mount a tub - and you do have to be a bit more cautious on the way home cause your spare tub won't be as secure as the one you just took off. But its not that hard. And you never get pinch flats, unlike clinchers.

Why go with tubs? Why not? Maybe try something different and see what all the fuss is about. Why should racers have all the fun? I would recommend that everyone should try tubs, they are great.

(An aside: The problem with tubs is that all the wheel manufacturers have poured money into developing high end aluminium clinchers, so finding a high end aluminium tubular rim is hard work - mostly they are mid range (or you go with carbon, which is another story and not my first choice in miserable weather). Also, forget riding 'cross on clinchers. Try running a clincher at 26psi and see how many pinch flats you get.)

Once you get used to them they really are just another thing you take for granted. Sure its an arse when you do puncture them (so far as I can tell since the sad passing of Peter Burgin there's only one bloke left in the country who repairs tubs, and its £14 a throw). The gluing process is like mowing the lawn or ironing - its takes time but its not so hard and mildly satisfying when you are done. Or use tape and it can be done in about 5 minutes.

My point was simply that if you are going to spend a lot of money on what are inherently impractical wheels (to paraphrase - unless you were racing, why would you go with carbon rims) then it seems to me to be slightly odd to then have an attack of common sense and go with the clincher version.

posted by surly_by_name [153 posts]
7th May 2014 - 10:09

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Thanks for the update Sam. I now have mine (38mm, 23 mm wide version) they came in right on spec at 1300g and have taken 500g off my total bike weight. I decent ride on them so far which lived up to expectations. Not pushed around by wind at all and certainly felt faster (backed up by Strava data) than my old wheels. All good so far but not had them long enough to make a proper judgement.

posted by Camcycle1974 [9 posts]
7th May 2014 - 10:16

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Life is too short for tubular tyres

David Arthur's picture

posted by David Arthur [1677 posts]
7th May 2014 - 10:40

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@Surly, thanks for your reply. My current wheels are tubeless-ready, and I will likely consider trying out tubeless once there is a good choice of tyres - I'm a fan of the Conti black chilli 4000s. I hadn't realised there was a shortage of high-end alu tub rims, so thats interesting; there's a growing choice in the tubeless-ready space. I'd be looking for something around £350-ish, so don't know if that is expensive enough to give a choice of tub wheels (with alu brake track) anyway. The vanity in me (I can't think that the performance would be THAT much improved) would lean towards 30mm depth. It does seem though that something like the Dura-Ace C24 (bit shallow, granted) would suit me - I think that's 2-way fit as well. Or I could be vain and opt for Zipp speed 30 clinchers.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3419 posts]
7th May 2014 - 10:59

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notfastenough wrote:
I hadn't realised there was a shortage of high-end alu tub rims, so thats interesting; there's a growing choice in the tubeless-ready space. I'd be looking for something around £350-ish, so don't know if that is expensive enough to give a choice of tub wheels (with alu brake track) anyway.

Best I've been able to find in aluminium rim are HED Belgian rims (which, unlike their clincher relatives aren't scandium and are as a result marginally heavier). Also available: Velocity Major Toms (tubular version of the A23), Mavic Reflex (like Open Pros), Ambrosio do the Nemesis or the lighter (but still not very light) F20 crono (neither has a machined brake track). American Classic seem to be one of the few wheel manufacturers that advertisers an aluminium tubular wheelset (and they look quite nice, too, although they are as rare as rocking horse shit and not cheap at £450 a pair). After that (so far as I can tell) you are into NOS Campag wheels from the early 80s.

I got a pair of Major Toms on Novatec hubs with straight gauge spokes (for cross) for c.£260.

This is a stonking deal and if I wasn't already long tubs I'd buy a set myself: http://www.evanscycles.com/products/cole/t24-cx-dsa2-tubular-wheelset-ec...

posted by surly_by_name [153 posts]
7th May 2014 - 11:53

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surly_by_name wrote:
notfastenough wrote:
I hadn't realised there was a shortage of high-end alu tub rims, so thats interesting; there's a growing choice in the tubeless-ready space. I'd be looking for something around £350-ish, so don't know if that is expensive enough to give a choice of tub wheels (with alu brake track) anyway.

Best I've been able to find in aluminium rim are HED Belgian rims (which, unlike their clincher relatives aren't scandium and are as a result marginally heavier). Also available: Velocity Major Toms (tubular version of the A23), Mavic Reflex (like Open Pros), Ambrosio do the Nemesis or the lighter (but still not very light) F20 crono (neither has a machined brake track). American Classic seem to be one of the few wheel manufacturers that advertisers an aluminium tubular wheelset (and they look quite nice, too, although they are as rare as rocking horse shit and not cheap at £450 a pair). After that (so far as I can tell) you are into NOS Campag wheels from the early 80s.

I got a pair of Major Toms on Novatec hubs with straight gauge spokes (for cross) for c.£260.

This is a stonking deal and if I wasn't already long tubs I'd buy a set myself: http://www.evanscycles.com/products/cole/t24-cx-dsa2-tubular-wheelset-ec032805?country=GB&currency=GBP&utm_content=mkwid__pcrid_17321847296_kword__match__plid_&gclid=CObLmKrdmb4CFSsIwwodX2wAIw

Hmm, sorry but I can't help but see the shrinking pool of choice here, weighed against the increasing availability of 2-way-fit wheelsets.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3419 posts]
7th May 2014 - 14:03

136 Likes

I'd just add that you can add some latex compound to your tubs, which will seal most punctures. Also, a tub puncture at speed is a lot less hair-raising than with a clincher coming off the rim.

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posted by Scrufftie [66 posts]
7th May 2014 - 14:09

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notfastenough wrote:
Hmm, sorry but I can't help but see the shrinking pool of choice here, weighed against the increasing availability of 2-way-fit wheelsets.

Yes, there's increasingly little choice for tubs if you don't want carbon rims. That was my point.

Not tried road tubeless. This is because: the last thing I need is another set of wheels; they don't make tyres I like (Pro4 Race; Open Corsa) in tubeless (at least I don't think they do); the tyres they do make are heavy and (I gather from reading reviews) have stiff sidewalls (might as well ride Conti gatorskins); don't know marginal gains from tubs or 21mm rim with 25mm Pro4 race and latex tubes warrant purchase. I need one of my mates to purchase some so I can try them.

I think going tubeless on a mountain bike is a no brainer but worry about tubeless in a HP (vs HV) application like a road tyre.

posted by surly_by_name [153 posts]
7th May 2014 - 16:23

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Sam, when will you be testing the tubular version? Wink

posted by Metjas [303 posts]
7th May 2014 - 19:36

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I'm still using my campag tubular rims from the 80's.....just don't brake and they last ages.....only summer use though.

Same hubs too, though I did need a new cone this year and their on the second set of spokes.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [648 posts]
7th May 2014 - 20:36

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surly_by_name wrote:
Not tried road tubeless. This is because: the last thing I need is another set of wheels;

Fair point, especially if you're already running tubs.

surly_by_name wrote:
they don't make tyres I like (Pro4 Race; Open Corsa) in tubeless (at least I don't think they do); the tyres they do make are heavy and (I gather from reading reviews) have stiff sidewalls (might as well ride Conti gatorskins);

They don't make tyres I like either (Vredestein Fortezza TriComp; Open Pave) but the Fusion3s I also ride are OK (not as supple but relatively lower pressures and 127tpi isn't that gnarly). I understand from reviews and comments elsewhere that the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX and One tubeless are not just good tubeless tyres but bloody good full stop - certainly Schwalbe, even Jens Voigt, rate them... but then again they would wouldn't they. Bontrager R3s seem well respected, ditto IRC but they're even more expensive and hard to get hold of.. and so on. Which anyway you look at it - you're not talking about Gatorskin ride.

As for weight, there really isn't much in it for clinchers vs tubeless - even against tubs you're probably talking a low few tens of grams (e.g. about 50g for Corsa Evo tubs vs Schwalbe One TLR).

The choice is still quite poor (although most of them seem to be at the higher end of the quality curve) but it is getting better.

surly_by_name wrote:
don't know marginal gains from tubs or 21mm rim with 25mm Pro4 race and latex tubes warrant purchase.

I need one of my mates to purchase some so I can try them.

Smile not a bad plan...

surly_by_name wrote:
I think going tubeless on a mountain bike is a no brainer but worry about tubeless in a HP (vs HV) application like a road tyre.

I wouldn't really - as long as you're using tubeless rims and tyres the integrity is pretty much a given (some of the advantages of tubs here - slow deflation rate, resistance to the tyre leaving the rim). The higher the pressure, the more difficulty the sealant might have with sealing - certainly as the cut size goes up - but i've had several minor punctures with tubeless and only noticed one near the time (lost about 20-30psi on the front eventually, so it started to feel a bit wooly).

There's perhaps a lot more immediately obvious benefits for off-road, higher volume, lower pressure applications - but there are enough pluses for road bike use to consider i'd say. I love my other tyres, but if reliability is an issue - or I just want to arse about without looking out for flints or potholes - i'll take the tubeless every time. YMMV clearly.

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [500 posts]
7th May 2014 - 23:32

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fukawitribe wrote:
As for weight, there really isn't much in it for clinchers vs tubeless - even against tubs you're probably talking a low few tens of grams (e.g. about 50g for Corsa Evo tubs vs Schwalbe One TLR).

Sorry should qualify that - just talking about the tyre system weight here, not the rim etc.

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [500 posts]
7th May 2014 - 23:49

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Like Sam I have been using the 38mm wheelset on my BMC. here's my link for my blog.

http://bikefitter.co.uk/?page_id=127

2000kms covered so far and I have changed the pads to BBB pads which seem to be an improvement. I am currently awaiting a 50mm set from Farsports for another build I have in the pipeline!

Big Grin

posted by sbcc [2 posts]
8th May 2014 - 5:53

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fukawitribe wrote:
Sorry should qualify that - just talking about the tyre system weight here, not the rim etc.

The other thing that you have to bear in mind when considering weight (unless you have a support vehicle) is that a spare tub is heavier than a spare tube (or even 2 spare tubes).

posted by surly_by_name [153 posts]
8th May 2014 - 13:03

139 Likes

I'd certainly recommend the Reynolds blue pads. I started off with swisstop yellow and there was a marked improvement in both wet and dry braking when I put the Reynolds on..

This may be down to the interaction of Reynolds pads and Reynolds rims, not sure.

posted by 700c [587 posts]
9th May 2014 - 8:21

145 Likes

Agree with some other comments on here - I don't really get carbon clinchers. The advantage of carbon for wheels seems to be that they produce a very light rim at big depths. If you then make it heavier by using a reinforced clincher rim it defeats the object a little.

nor do I see the point in tubeless for Road biking - though it is a fairly new market for road bikes at the moment, so once more manufacturers support, then perhaps..

posted by 700c [587 posts]
9th May 2014 - 8:33

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surly_by_name wrote:
fukawitribe wrote:
Sorry should qualify that - just talking about the tyre system weight here, not the rim etc.

The other thing that you have to bear in mind when considering weight (unless you have a support vehicle) is that a spare tub is heavier than a spare tube (or even 2 spare tubes).

True - though i'd be more concerned if I actually cared about the weight of either when riding.

fukawitribe's picture

posted by fukawitribe [500 posts]
9th May 2014 - 15:53

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I have these very wheels from Far Sports. They took much longer to arrive, 4 weeks and got stung at customs. That aside I really like them. They were true straight from the box, no tweaking them. They spin up to speed well, hold your speed and feel nice and stiff. I ordered the yellow Swissstop brake pads when ordering the rims and to be honest I wish I hadn't. In terms of braking they are fine. Unfortunately the yellow has transferred from the pads to the braking surface. This is my only disappointment. I'm now in search of ways to remove the deposits. Any one have a suggestion? Thinking

posted by DitzyArris [3 posts]
11th May 2014 - 12:35

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Honestly, Ditzy, I can't. Removing it is one thing but I'd be loathe to use solvents on the brake area to achieve this. Swiss Stop moved to Black Prince as their top end carbon brake pads, I reckon the yellow muck on the rim was a chief contributor to the new product coming out.

posted by Gordy748 [98 posts]
11th May 2014 - 14:33

131 Likes

Yeah, I don't want to ruin the braking surface. Maybe swap to the Black Prince and maybe they'll wear it off or deposit black streaks instead. Other than this the wheels can't, touch wood, be faulted. I'm really happy with them for the price.

posted by DitzyArris [3 posts]
11th May 2014 - 17:04

134 Likes

I bought some BBB Carbstop pads on the recommendation of sbcc and the difference between the standard pads is noticeable. Only used for 60miles today, no harsh braking required so not fully tested them yet, but they seem way better already.

Twitter: @velosam

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posted by SamShaw [274 posts]
11th May 2014 - 17:47

138 Likes

Have you ridden a pair of Campagnolo zonda's?

If so how does these wheels compare in your opinion?

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posted by TKDomH [9 posts]
13th May 2014 - 4:35

132 Likes

I've never ridden Zonda's, sorry.

Twitter: @velosam

SamShaw's picture

posted by SamShaw [274 posts]
13th May 2014 - 11:01

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I use the Black Prince pads and they are ace, ace, ace. Can't recommend them highly enough, especially if you cycle in conditions that aren't always conducive to carbon rims (hilly, wetty places like the UK or around Seattle).

The braking is noticeably worse in wet weather, but I'm not convinced they're worse than alloy rims. Rather, braking on carbon rims in dry conditions is far, far better than alloy. I think the difference in performance goes a long way towards explaining why people think carbon is terrible in the wet.

The other factor bearing in mind is that carbon rims brake differently when they're wet. There's initially nothing, then a big squeeze... and finally they start working. It requires a different technique from the dry, braking earlier and harder before modulating around corners, but once you get used to it only muddy deluges going down steep hills would be an issue.

posted by Gordy748 [98 posts]
14th May 2014 - 18:17

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fukawitribe wrote:
[I love my other tyres, but if reliability is an issue - or I just want to arse about without looking out for flints or potholes - i'll take the tubeless every time. YMMV clearly.

I've been running Easton EA90RT with Schwalbe One Tubeless for about a month now. They ride lovely and I just don't worry about punctures.

There's not a huge amount of choice in the Road Tubeless tyres but the schwalbe are excellent and, if you don't mind paying a bit more (or ordering from France/Germany where they're half the price) I can't see any reason to go back to tubed for general riding (commuting and for fun).

I don't race but I can understand the use of tubs in that situation where you need ultimate performance and can get a new wheel if you puncture. Though speaking to friends who do race they say that a puncture at cat 2/3/4 level is basically the end of the race anyway as little chance to get back in the group.

2013 Focus Cayo Evo --- 2013 Boardman CX Team (hit by car, RIP) Sad

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posted by IngloriousLou [132 posts]
22nd May 2014 - 10:54

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Gordy748 wrote:
braking on carbon rims in dry conditions is far, far better than alloy

Not my experience and I've never read anyone suggest this. (Closest is "no worse than".)

Aluminium dissipates heat better than carbon; carbon retains it in a way aluminium won't. Hot things expand. If you drag your brakes on your carbon rims they switch "on" all of a sudden as they heat up, hence they feel grabby (or vs aluminium rims, the sequence goes: normal, normal, normal, sudden bite results in squealing/lock up just a little - instinctively let off brakes - squeeze brakes again (because you still need to slow down), repeat cycle). So braking isn't the predictable, linear experience it is with aluminium rims. It's worse in the wet because you need to get water out of rim/brake pad interface as well, which doesn't happen in a predictable fashion.

So you need to learn a marginally different braking technique (or at least unlearn bad habits like dragging your pads).

Maybe you find braking on carbon rims better because you've adapted quicker but I think most people coming from aluminium rims find it hard to get to grips with the different technique required.

posted by surly_by_name [153 posts]
23rd May 2014 - 11:38

104 Likes

interesting to see these rims have worked out well for you. I bought a pair of 24mm clinchers from light-bicycle.com in China and the rear developed a crack along the breaking surface during the second ride - essentially the first time i had to brake on them on a hilly descent. I was using SRAM red calipers and cork pads. The rim seemed to fold in along the braking surface. You can see what i mean on YouTube if you google 'Rim Ridden Twice'. So I guess you have to be careful where you buy. Light-Bicycle didnt want to know of course.

B

posted by birzzles [19 posts]
2nd June 2014 - 4:56

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