These Fast Forward F4R FCC Tubeless Ready wheels are seriously good for their relatively sensible price tag. They're stable in strong winds, quick to spin up to speed and also quick to stop. What's more, you get great hubs and high-end pads. It's a great package.
- Pros: A great set of wheels and a sensible price, good accessories included
- Cons: I've not really got anything negative to say
FastForward (or FFWD) has added tubeless compatibility to the F4R and it's done it very well. This full carbon wheelset comes in at a very respectable 1,450g, 35g lighter than the claimed weight. That's slightly lower than the claimed 1,455g of the non-tubeless version.
The rims are 26mm wide externally and supported the 28mm Goodyear tyres I used very well. They're laced to the brilliant DT Swiss 350 hubs with DT Aerolite spokes, 20 in the front and 24 in the rear.
Those hubs are pretty bombproof. While these wheels were used in mostly dry conditions, I've had these hubs on wheels that have seen some horrendous weather; they're solid and don't require much attention. While we're on reliability, I've had zero spoke tension issues even after a few big hits in races.
Out on the road, I was looking for any effects of the Dual Arc (DARC) section in the rim. If the intent was to improve aerodynamics, it has only a slight effect. These feel no faster than the £2,000 Fulcrums that I've also been testing. They don't, however, feel any slower. At over £750 cheaper, that's a big plus point for the F4R.
At 45mm deep, these strike a great balance between speed, quick acceleration and handling. They don't pick up strong winds which is probably down to the blunt profile at the leading and trailing edges. Out of corners and up steeper slopes, they're a touch harder to spin up to speed than the Fulcrums, but again, I point you to the price.
One of the attractions of this set of wheels is what you get for your £1,250. They come in a well-padded double wheel bag with a zippered storage compartment containing brake pads and skewers, and if you are going to run the wheels tubeless, you also get a set of tubeless valves.
The excellent SwissStop pads, consistency in the rim's construction and FFWD's Confidence Brake Technology all combine to give you very good braking. Wet weather braking isn't as good as the Fulcrums, but these are still consistent, with good power that doesn't grab. It results in braking that you can predict and then control.
To some degree, any wheelset's performance is affected by the tyres that you choose. These were supplied with Goodyear 28mm tubeless tyres so I got some sealant to test the set-up time.
The tyres installed easily, suggesting a bit of a loose fit, but when I used a track pump to inflate the tyres without sealant (usually sealant is required to hold enough air for the tyre to seat), they went straight up, the bead seating effortlessly. Impressive. I added sealant later to prevent punctures.
At 28mm wide, the tyres also provided a great test for the wheel's stiffness. There was hardly any clearance at my SuperSix's chainstays, but I got zero tyre rub on the frame, suggesting less than 1mm of lateral movement at this point. Very impressive.
FFWD suggests a user's weight limit of 100kg. The wheels can handle more than this, but FFWD is erring on the side of caution to take into account riding terrain. The disc brake version has a higher weight limit due to the absence of braking forces on the rim.
In terms of value, these wheels stack up pretty well against more expensive options, and when compared to cheaper options you can see where the extra money has gone. There are no issues with the braking as I found on the Parcours Grimpeur wheels (£700), for example.
At £1,250 I'd say that these strike a near perfect balance of performance and price. You will lose a few watts to a high-end set like the Fulcrums, but the FFWD's rim width and stiffness combined with the excellent DT Swiss 350 hubs make these a fabulous wheelset for racing or just going fast. I've also tested the Giant SLR 0 wheels (£1,549.98) this year. The FFWDs are comparable in terms of braking and also spinning back up to speed, but the FFWD hoops have a much better tubeless system that plays nicely with standard clinchers and tubes so, for me, they represent significantly better value.
So you get a fast set of wheels that run on great hubs, and the rims are perfect for wider tyres and give you good control when braking: £1,250 seems like a very fair price to pay for such a good package.
Fast tubeless-ready wheels that are perfect for wider tyres, a great package for the price
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fast Forward F4R FCC Tubeless DT 350 wheelset
Size tested: Rim height: 45mm Rim width: 26mm external Rim width: 20mm internal
Tell us what the wheel is for
From FFWD: "Proven aerodynamics and an extremely lightweight are combined in the F4R with DARC profile, making it the best choice for an all-round wheelset!
"All FFWD wheels with a carbon brake surface have a model specific CBT (Confidence Brake Technology) surface to optimize the brake performance.
"DT350 Hubs: The best hubs based on price and quality. High-end DT Swiss hubs with star ratchet system and least rolling resistance."
These are fast in the real world without being a nightmare to handle. They're not extremely lightweight, but they're not heavy. I'm not sold on the DARC profile, but it could be the thing making the wheels handle so well.
The braking surface is very good. They allow you to build confidence, especially in the wet.
I do love DT Swiss hubs and the 350 is about perfect for me. Good performance with a sensible price. It's easy to service too.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Superstiff High Tensile TC35 Carbon
45 mm deep rim
FFWD DARC Profile
FFWD decals under clear coat
Weight: 1315 gram
DT Aerolite spokes
DT Pro Lock Brass nipples.
Hand built in The Netherlands
I'm not sure on the DARC rim shape but the brake track is really good. Smooth and powerful and pretty good in the wet too.
These felt very fast and were pretty quick to get up to speed. Once up at speed, they also hold onto it quite well.
I've had zero issues after a month of racing and general riding on some shoddy roads.
A weight of 1,450g is about right for a set of hoops at this depth. Our set was also measured with rim tape on, for what it's worth. You can get lighter, you'll just be spending more cash.
If you buy them at full RRP, you'll be happy. If you get some money off them, you'll be ecstatic!
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Perfectly straight. It helps that they're hand built.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Tubeless and clinchers were both very easy. I've not had that before!
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
They come with tubeless rim tape installed and worked perfectly. Skewers are easy to close and look good too.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well. I was happy racing on these and then taking them on a cafe spin the next day.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
By supporting a nice wide 28mm tyre so well, these are not only fast but also very comfortable over poor roads.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
I couldn't feel the benefit of the DARC rim shape.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yep. They are a comfortable and fast wheelset.
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes. I'd have these on my summer bike in a heartbeat.
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yep
Use this box to explain your overall score
You get a great rim that supports tyres well and is easy to make tubeless. The wheels have stayed perfectly true throughout testing. The hubs are fast, smooth and bombproof. And these are so much cheaper than the Fulcrums that I've just finished testing.
I've given these an 8 on performance because you lose a little speed compared to the Fulcrums, but – and this is a big but – they get an overall 9 because of the price. Here, you've got a wheelset that nearly matches the two-grand Fulcrums but with a saving of over £700. For many, that will pip absolute performance.
Okay, I'm not sold on the effectiveness of the DARC rim shape, and £1,250 is still a huge investment, but I really think as a package it's excellent.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.