1,020g for the pair – that’s how much these high-end carbon wheels weigh in at. The manufacturers’ claimed weight is actually 999g +/-5% for the carbon coloured versions. The white versions here have a claimed weight of 1040g, and ours fall comfortably under that although admittedly that’s excluding skewers. To give that figure some context, a set of Shimano Ultegra wheels – good, reliable if not spectacular hoops – hit the scales at about the 1,750g mark. 1,020g is freakin’ light.
FFWD Fast Forward is a high-end Dutch brand and they only make their wheels from carbon. The F2R wheels are tubular only (they don’t make this model for standard clincher tyres) with 20mm deep high tensile TC35 carbon rims and DT Swiss 190 hubs that spin on ceramic cartridge bearings. They’re handbuilt in The Netherlands using DT Aerolite aero-bladed spokes – 20 radially laced up front, and 24 laced two-cross at the rear – and they come with FFWD’s RC1 titanium/carbon quick release skewers.
You also get wheel bags and brake pads as part of the package. They usually come in a carbon finish – with a 3K weave outer layer – but we got our hands on the pimptastic White Edition. Did you get all that? Good. We’ll move on to the ride…
You know these wheels are something special from the first pedal stroke. They are incredibly fast. They accelerate so quickly that it puts an excited smile right across your face. And when you’re up to speed and just want to put in a burst to get to the front of the bunch, your bike responds more quickly with these on board.
It’s in the hills that the FFWDs really shine, though. Lively? Oh yes. You almost feel like you’re cheating as you surge away from riders who can usually stick on your wheel. These could well be the best climbing wheels that we’ve ever used.
What’s the downside? Well, they’re not the most aero wheels out there, so you’ve got to decide whether the light weight is more important than aerodynamics for the type of riding you do.
Plus, FFWD give them a rider weight limit of 80kg (12st 8lb). It’s not that you’re likely to wreck them if you weigh more but the extra mass might cause them to heat up too much when braking on long descents. Oh, and you don’t need us to draw your attention to the, frankly, humungous price.
That said, they are absolutely fantastic wheels and, several big rides in, ours are still absolutely round and true. They’re a road racer’s dream, especially for hilly days.
Available in both Shimano and Campag versions.
Brilliant, superbly lightweight race wheels – although the huge price will severely limit their appeal
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Make and model: FFWD F2R 190 wheelset
Size tested: n/a
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, they're fabulous
Would you consider buying the product? I wouldn't spend this kind of money on any wheels
Would you recommend the product to a friend? I'd recommend them to someone after top lightweight performance if money was no object
Age: 36 Height: 184cm Weight: 74kg
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: time trialling, commuting, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,
Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been road.cc technical editor for over a decade, 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 winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now pushing 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.