The Fast Forward F3R Full Carbon Clincher wheelset is a lightweight option that provides excellent acceleration and a high level of stiffness, although the lack of aero credentials might put off some who aren't pure climbers.
Fast Forward (or FFWD, if you prefer) bills the Full Carbon Clincher (or FCC, if you prefer) as a wheelset that's particularly suited to climbing. The carbon rims are 30mm deep and 22.4mm wide with quite a rounded profile and a blunt inner edge – far more U-shaped than V-shaped.
The sealed bearing hubs are made for FFWD by DT Swiss. We have the standard version although the same rims are available with the superb DT Swiss 240 (£1,910) and 180 (£2,320) hubs if you have a higher budget.
The front wheel is built with 20 radially laced bladed spokes while the rear is 24 spoke, 12 on each side, all laced two-cross.
The F3R FCCs are certainly light. Ours hit the road.cc Scales of Truth at 626g (front) and 804g (rear) without the quick releases. That's a total of 1,430g compared with FFWD's claimed weight of 1,420g. The wheels have a rider weight limit of 100kg.
The F3R FCC wheels accelerate beautifully. The difference you can make to your total system weight (you plus your bike) by fitting light wheels is relatively small but you can't fail to notice a little extra zing getting up to speed with these fitted.
As we often point out, a light weight is easily achieved if you don't mind taking a hit on stiffness. Thankfully, though, these wheels are stiff too, which is particularly noticeable when you bank hard into a corner or get out of the saddle on a steep climb.
The F3R FCC wheels have a braking surface that FFWD calls CBT 3H. What's that then? "Mixing three different composites and a copper layer with a high TG resin enables fast heat reduction and high brake efficiency," according to FFWD.
Due to the rims being relatively shallow, there isn't as much carbon for the heat produced during braking to disperse into as there is with deeper rims. The copper lining is included to disperse heat in the rim faster and across a larger surface area.
I've not used these wheels on Continental descents so I'm not able to tell you how they stand up to half an hour of on/off braking, but for UK conditions there are absolutely no issues with heat build-up.
In dry conditions braking is very good with the SwissStop Flash Pro pads provided. The pads bite well and the power is consistent, although, as usual, the performance lags a little behind that of aluminium rims.
Wet weather braking is good too, but you don't get the same stopping ability as offered by the Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon SL C wheelset, which leads the way in this respect as far as we're concerned.
The F3R FCCs are handbuilt in Holland and the quality is excellent, spoke tension having remained perfectly consistent throughout eight weeks of testing. If you ever do need to tweak them, the spoke nipples are exposed rather than hidden away inside the rim, so it'll be a straightforward job. The rim decals are protected by a layer of lacquer and that bodes well for long-term looks.
Like all FFWD wheels, these come in their own bag with separate compartments for each wheel so they can't scratch one another. As well as the SwissStop brake pads I mentioned, you get quick releases, valve extenders and stick-on rim tape.
As well as a two-year warranty, FFWD has a crash replacement policy that allows you to buy replacement rims at half their regular price.
These wheels put in a high-level performance. Yes, you have to shell out a lot of cash, but you do get a top-quality wheelset. My only issue would be that if I was spending this amount of money I'd want something with more of an aero pedigree – something like the 45mm deep FFWD F4R full carbon clincher (£1,600) – which would be quicker in the majority of circumstances. That said, if light weight is a higher priority to you than aerodynamic efficiency, the F3R FCC wheelset is a great choice.
Exceptional carbon clinchers for those who prioritise light weight over aero efficiency
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fast Forward F3R Full Carbon Clincher Wheelset
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the wheel is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
These are lightweight race wheels.
Fast Forward says:
"With 30mm carbon rims the FFWD F3R is a lightweight wheelset, which is optimal for climbing. It will get you over any mountain but also has very nice characteristics when riding on flat roads.
"All FFWD wheels with a carbon brake surface have a model specific CBT technology to optimise the brake performance.
"The FFWD hubs are the best hubs based on price and quality. High-end hubs with the least rolling resistance keep on going when you give them a spin."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Fast Forward says this about the brake track:
"The F3R FCC has an exclusive brake surface. Mixing three different composites and a copper layer with a High TG Resin enables fast heat reduction and high brake efficiency. Durable and capable of higher tyre pressure."
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
They've stayed perfectly true with no issues at all.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
I've fitted Continental Grand Prix 4000S tyres in both 23mm and 25mm widths and they've gone on (and come off) easily enough.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The rim tape sticks in place firmly and the quick-release skewers are simple to use and secure.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
It's designed to be lightweight rather than especially aerodynamically efficient and it accelerates sharply.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
The light weight and the build quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Nothing stands out.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? I'd be buying something more aero at this price.
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? If they were after something lightweight.
Use this box to explain your score
Yes, £1,650 is a lot to spend but these are exceptionally good wheels if light weight is your priority.
About the tester
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.