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Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions

 

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chewgl

Jul 6, 13 14:41

Post #1 of 115 (14166 views)
Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions Quote | Reply

I managed to get in on the Flo 30s in the latest pre-order. I was looking to simplify my bike and wheel collection down to one road bike and one wheelset (I'm currently at four including this one), so I jumped on this. Really wanted to try out wide rims for a while, having read and heard good things about them, and these seemed like the wheels to do the trick...

A bit of my on wheel history for perspective: I've ridden both clinchers and tubulars, various tires and both butyl and latex tubes. Road wheels: Ksyrium Elites --> DT Swiss Mon Chasserals 1450 (still have them) --> Zipp 303 tubulars --> Zipp 404 tubulars --> Zipp 404 alu clinchers (still have them; they're for sale on the classifieds) --> Neuvation R28sls (still have them). Have also ridden clincher and tubular HED3s on TT bikes, but I'm purely a road rider nowadays (sprinter type).

Picture of the bike with wheels below. I've got Panaracer R'air tubes under Continental GP4000s tires. Wheels have been de-stickered to match my bike (an MC053 built up mostly with SRAM Force).

Firstly: these wheels are fast. Not the lightest wheels; my DT swiss wheels and Neuvation wheels (as well as Zipp tubulars) feel lighter in terms of acceleration, but not by much. Accelerating on these wheels do feel faster than my Zipp 404 alu clinchers though. In terms of holding speed, they do better: rolling at 22-23mph is rather effortless on the flats. Feel slightly slower than Zipp 404 alu clinchers, but again, not by much.

These wheels are certainly stiff though, stiffer than the DT swiss and Neuvation wheels. Because of the wide rims and the older-generation SRAM Force brakes, I've had to set up my brake very close to the rims - they touch the rims with the slightest pull, rather than 1/3 of the way like I usually prefer. Despite how close they are, the brakes don't rub at all in a sprint. Acceleration on these wheels feels solid - not snappy, but solid. To be any snappier, I think you'd need light tubular rims.

Most importantly, these wheels are *comfortable*. These wheels feel a lot more like my commuting wheels (with 700x28c Panaracer Pasalas on 29er rims) on my commuter than my other aluminum road wheels (which both have GP4000s tires and latex tubes) - bumps on the roads are just muted. I was actually actively looking for bad patches of road to go over just to see how they felt like (not much at all), while on my other wheels, I'd normally actively avoid them, and brace myself for how much they'd jar me, especially on my boneshaker of a road bike. These wheels actually made a stiff overbuilt carbon bike feel comfortable.

Bottom line: These are the ultimate do-it-all wheels for the amateur road racer on a budget. At $500, it'll be a wheelset that you would dare to race in crits (and yes, the grip feels pretty good on these wheels, although given that i was riding on new tires, I didn't push it) without slowing you down too much when the road turns upwards. It'll be comfortable for training, and will leave you fresher for the end of long hard races. For almost a third of Zipp 101s (which would be the most comparable wheelset out there right now).

For the majority of my ride, I was thinking to myself: SRAM should just acquire Flo wheels, Quarq style. Would be the perfect platform to test out direct-to-consumer internet marketing, Flo Cycling would get the supply chain management that it so sorely needs to grow its business, and we all get a chance to get and ride Flo wheels. Everybody wins. With SRAM on board, imagine selling complete ride-ready wheels to directly to customers over the internet, already shod with tires and cassettes installed. I suspect this will be appealing to many potential consumers, and would broaden the customer base to one that includes the less mechanically competent.
___________________________
Chewie
Slowtwitch Aeroweenie since '06


Kenny Powers

Jul 6, 13 16:03

Post #2 of 115 (14062 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Nice review,
am looking at getting an allround wheel and was wondering if these are the best bang for the buck considering they are around $500.

any other contenders or is this the best choice?


trail

Jul 6, 13 16:25

Post #3 of 115 (14012 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

 
> I was thinking to myself: SRAM should just acquire Flo wheels, Quarq style.

SRAM already has an aero wheel brand, and I don't think they complement each other well...


link5485

Jul 6, 13 16:28

Post #4 of 115 (14002 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [trail] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Could split things like some car companies. Flo = Toyota and Zipp = Lexus?


BMANX

Jul 6, 13 16:47

Post #5 of 115 (13975 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I think these are going to be my next wheelset.


AERO & LIGHT is RIGHT



rruff

Jul 6, 13 17:07

Post #6 of 115 (13937 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [trail] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

SRAM already has an aero wheel brand, and I don't think they complement each other well...

Totally agree. Flo has a completely different business model. They'll have no trouble meeting demand once they get their capital built up.



chewgl

Jul 6, 13 18:42

Post #7 of 115 (13829 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [Kenny Powers] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

You could get decent wheels for cheaper in the form of SRAM S30s (replaced by Zipp 30s), if you source around for used. Their shape is a little different though, and I think Flo has a shape that's closer to optimal.

Other contenders include Soul S3.0 wheels (Bike Soul[/url], which have a similar rim shape to SRAM S30 wheels, but they're probably not CFD designed), custom wheels built up with Pacenti SL23 Rims (Fairwheels Bikes, but not as deep at 26mm), and perhaps Neuvation Cycling's R28SLW wheels (also not as deep at 26mm).

Still, given my awareness of the other options, I did choose the Flo 30s...
___________________________
Chewie
Slowtwitch Aeroweenie since '06

(This post was edited by chewgl on Jul 6, 13 18:44)


chewgl

Jul 6, 13 19:13

Post #8 of 115 (13746 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [rruff] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Flo does have a completely different business model from SRAM as seen by the consumers, which is how they've differentiated themselves, and is why they are so successful now. If they competed directly with SRAM/Zipp or HED, at their current size, it's hard to survive. Disruptive innovation works.

Which is precisely why an acquisition could make sense for both parties. Given that product lines don't overlap strongly, and acquisition would be a business expansion into a market segment that isn't currently being tapped by SRAM/Zipp: truly aero wheels on a budget.

With Flo's current line-up of wheels, it does seem like they'd have some intellectual property that would be worth acquiring, although it might be best to run the business semi-independently (a la Quarq) at the onset at least - might be a nice experiment for direct sales that could be applied to other bicycle products in the future, although wheels really lend themselves to this (little to no mechanical effort needed on the consumer end).

Flo gets to incorporate the sourcing and distribution capabilities of SRAM, kickstarting their growth - as trained CFD engineers, they have better things to do with their time than to sticker up, pack and ship wheels every pre-order.

And everybody who wants Flo wheels are able to get them without that mad rush every pre-order. Something about needing to be at my computer exactly at 1pm on a particular day in order to get my order in irks me.

Food for thought... I wonder if Chris/Jon@Flo even have this on their radar...
___________________________
Chewie
Slowtwitch Aeroweenie since '06


Pooks

Jul 6, 13 19:30

Post #9 of 115 (13709 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

 
The wheels look great. I'd love to try a set. Honestly the 30s are the only ones that appeal to me for the type of riding I do.

I just wish they'd ditch the black brake track. It looks great new but...


Jon h

Jul 6, 13 20:00

Post #10 of 115 (13664 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply


Quote:
these wheels are fast. Not the lightest wheels; my DT swiss wheels and Neuvation wheels (as well as Zipp tubulars) feel lighter in terms of acceleration, but not by much. Accelerating on these wheels do feel faster than my Zipp 404 alu clinchers though. In terms of holding speed, they do better: rolling at 22-23mph is rather effortless on the flats. Feel slightly slower than Zipp 404 alu clinchers, but again, not by much.

I highly doubt you can distinguish any difference between the wheelsets you mention in terms of speed. Even the difference in inertia you describe in acceleration is unlikely to be within the measurement a human can do by feel.

No doubt they are nice wheels, but don't kid yourself.




chewgl

Jul 6, 13 20:52

Post #11 of 115 (13588 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [Jon h] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Speed can be combined with perceived exertion (measured by heart rate, or how long one can sustain a speed on flat ground) to be an indirect measure of wheel aerodynamics, especially if I'm on a long flat road that I'm familiar with. Yes, I'm aware of the limits of human perception (~5% under the best circumstances), but I suspect they apply to static systems, and not instrument-aided indirect measurements over time.

e.g. if I can usually hold 300W for 5 minutes, and that puts me at 24mph on wheelset A, if I notice that I can hold 24mph for 5 minutes 30 seconds on wheelset B, that's a perceivable difference (even if it might be only a difference of 7W - I'm going by my own real power data here).

I'll be more rigorous when I've got my power meter with me, but I'd like to think I tend to be quite sensitive to differences in wheel aerodynamics since I usually adopt a very aerodynamic position to begin with (my back is flat and parallel to the ground when I'm in my drops, and I tend to be the fastest descender in most pelotons despite being only 160lbs). So differences in equipment aerodynamics tend to be amplified in my case, since they make up a greater proportion of my total drag.

As for differences in acceleration, while it might be hard to compare wheel inertia directly by feel, I've experienced the difference when it comes to closing gaps while racing crits - how long I take to close a gap is extremely sensitive to how fast I can accelerate.

So what can I be sure of in my review? I'm pretty sure about wheel stiffness (i.e. they're stiff), since I used my brake pads as an absolute measure, rather than by feel. I'm sure of comfort, because the differences really is drastic. Acceleration "feels" somewhere in between, although I bet that might have been influenced by my own knowledge of the rim weights, but I will confirm that in more real-world scenarios. Wheels do seem pretty fast, but today was a really hot day in Boston, so my on perception might be confounded by the heat.

Still, they're a pretty good wheelset, and in my situation, stiffness and comfort alone (along with the lack of a perceivable drop in speed and acceleration) are enough to warrant a positive review. Oh, and the price is right too...
___________________________
Chewie
Slowtwitch Aeroweenie since '06


rruff

Jul 6, 13 20:59

Post #12 of 115 (13578 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Which is precisely why an acquisition could make sense for both parties.

I'm not seeing it.

There is a reason why Flo wheels are a good value. Real design and engineering work and attention to detail, with minimal advertising and no middle man. Sram is mass market with high overhead. There is no room for the margins they like to make unless the price of the wheels goes up. I'm pretty sure Sram is already sourcing wheels for a lower price than Flo. I know for a fact that retail markups can be 5x the factory cost or more.

I think Flo's model is awesome. I love to buy stuff straight from the guys who are intimately involved. The capital limitations restrict how quickly they can grow... but that isn't such a bad thing. A lot of companies implode when they try to grow too fast.

And I'm sure if the Flo guys wanted a "job" they would have never launched this project in the first place.



317

Jul 7, 13 5:16

Post #13 of 115 (13425 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [Pooks] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Pooks wrote:


I just wish they'd ditch the black brake track. It looks great new but...

just ride them in the rain for about 10 minutes and you'll get a nice uniform, non-black brake surface.


Tom A.

Jul 7, 13 7:36

Post #14 of 115 (13316 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

chewgl wrote:

As for differences in acceleration, while it might be hard to compare wheel inertia directly by feel, I've experienced the difference when it comes to closing gaps while racing crits - how long I take to close a gap is extremely sensitive to how fast I can accelerate...


...and, in regards to the effect of different wheels, how fast you accelerate is much more a function of wheel aerodynamics than any typical inertia differences...by a couple of orders of magnitude, in fact. Heck, you should know that ;-)

Even rolling resistance differences in the tires/tubes on the wheels can "swamp" any inertial differences. Actually, I suspect that what most people perceive as a lightweight tubular wheel being "easier to spin up" is actually the result of the lower rolling resistance of the latex tubed, high end tires glued to the wheels, as compared to the "regular" tires and butyl tubes typically run on clincher wheels.

Human perception can be a funny thing...


http://bikeblather.blogspot.com/

(This post was edited by Tom A. on Jul 7, 13 7:37)


Timtek

Jul 7, 13 7:54

Post #15 of 115 (13282 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Thanks for the review. That's a great looking road setup.

chewgl wrote:
For the majority of my ride, I was thinking to myself: SRAM should just acquire Flo wheels, Quarq style.

No, please. Prices would go up, red tape would increase, models would be "discontinued" due to competing lines, etc. The Flo brothers are already doing an excellent job of at running their brand.
-------------------
Madison photographer Timothy Hughes | Twitter


chewgl

Jul 7, 13 8:25

Post #16 of 115 (13248 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [Tom A.] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I'd almost agree if not for the fact that I used to run Conti competitions on my tubulars, which have butyl tubes in them, and are not the greatest in terms of rolling resistance. A straight comparison between 404 clinchers and tubulars (which I assume have similar aerodynamics), the former with Conti Attack/Force tires and latex tubes, gave me the impression that the clinchers were better at holding speed, but harder to accelerate than the clinchers. Maybe there's a presupposition bias there, but I also think that when you're close to your limits, marginal effects may be amplified (I'm talking about criterium conditions). Some other subtle effects might also be present, but difficult to measure.

For all you know, the better grip afforded by the wider contact patch of 23mm rims might give the same impression of a snappy wheel too.

I'll try to follow up with a more rigorous review when I get my power meter back. Put in another 40 miles on the wheels today, and they still felt great, although I'm going to experiment a little with tire pressure too.
___________________________
Chewie
Slowtwitch Aeroweenie since '06


rruff

Jul 7, 13 8:32

Post #17 of 115 (13232 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [Tom A.] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Actually, I suspect that what most people perceive as a lightweight tubular wheel being "easier to spin up" is actually the result of the lower rolling resistance of the latex tubed, high end tires glued to the wheels, as compared to the "regular" tires and butyl tubes typically run on clincher wheels.

Nah... it's either the inertial effects on the how easy it is to toss the bike side to side (which is something most people can feel) or it's just placebo.



rruff

Jul 7, 13 8:36

Post #18 of 115 (13227 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

the clinchers were better at holding speed

If what you mean by that is "I can hold 25mph easier with these heavy wheels" then no... not a chance. If you mean that you can coast farther when you quit pedaling, then at least that is true... but it's not enough to feel it.



chewgl

Jul 7, 13 8:41

Post #19 of 115 (13216 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [rruff] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Clinchers better at holding speed: I attribute it more to the tires (22mm on the front) and tubes (latex) than rim weight.
___________________________
Chewie
Slowtwitch Aeroweenie since '06


Jon h

Jul 7, 13 10:21

Post #20 of 115 (13122 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

chewgl wrote:
Clinchers better at holding speed: I attribute it more to the tires (22mm on the front) and tubes (latex) than rim weight.


The differences between the wheels, tires and tubes you are comparing differ by a matter of a few watts. Not a chance you can tell a difference by your speed vs effort.

This is why power meters are useful for cycling, because we humans cannot judge effort to that high of an accuracy.


(This post was edited by Jon h on Jul 7, 13 10:24)


mbwallis

Jul 7, 13 12:05

Post #21 of 115 (13032 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Thanks for the review. I like my FLO60s and think I'll try and grab a set of 30s on the next pre-order.


Canadian

Jul 7, 13 13:18

Post #22 of 115 (12973 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Thank you for the very detailed and generous review. I really appreciate you taking the time to write this. I'm also glad to hear you are happy with the wheels.

Chris Thornham
FLO Cycling: http://www.flocycling.com
FLO Blog: http://bit.ly/b3Zlpq | Twitter: http://bit.ly/bOQ08x | Facebook: http://bit.ly/d8KDhI


shaka999

Jul 7, 13 14:25

Post #23 of 115 (12898 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I also managed to pick up a pair of the 30s on the last preorder and today was my first ride on them. I'm hesitant to make any sweeping claims but I will say I like the wheels. They certainly seem more stable than my previous Fulcrum Racing 4s. I hit 47mph on them this morning and everything still felt solid. The other noticeable difference is the rid quality. The wider rims allow a lower tire pressure which in turn makes for a much more comfortable ride.


sun

Jul 7, 13 16:00

Post #24 of 115 (12815 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [shaka999] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I picked up a pair of Flo 30s as well. I'm coming from the Zipp 101s. The Flo 30 is only slightly heavier for the set at 44 grams total. This includes the rim strip on both sets. I couldn't feel a difference in weight. I do feel more comfort as compared to the 101s. Same tires, tubes and tire pressure. They do feel more responsive when sprinting as if there was less give. The spoke setup of 18f/20r on the Zipp 101 vs. the 20f/24r of the Flo 30 may contribute to that. I don't think there is as big of gap in price as many claim as new 101's can be had for $1k. Yes, it's still twice the price, but not 3x. The finish on my set of Flo 30s were only okay. I noticed some areas that were much rougher than others due to the extrusion process. The seam area on the wheels was also not the cleanest. Jon at Flo addressed these concerns and said it was normal. I also found a small dent on the rear wheel. Overall, I'm very happy with them as compared to my previous set of wheels.

These went onto an S-Works Tarmac SL3 and SRAM Rival brakes with no issues. The front brakes are completely open in order to fit however.


Aeolos

Jul 8, 13 0:29

Post #25 of 115 (12590 views)
Re: Flo 30 Wheelset First Impressions [chewgl] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Thanks for this! My set of 30s has been in the hands of the Dutch postal services for well over a week now, for customs clearance... Next time, no more USPS for me, as Dutch postal services, who handle things from the border on, are hopeless. Hope they arrive in time for my race next weekend, but I guess it'll have to be done on my stock wheels.

Looking forward to trying the 30s on my road bike, first proper upgrade on it. Excited!

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Ironman run shoe weight
When you race an Ironman, what weight class do you think is most appropriate for you? A sub-6-ounce shoe is a pure racing flat. A 7.5 - 8oz shoe would be a Saucony Kinvara or Hoka Clifton. A 10-11oz shoe is a lightweight trainer.
5.5-6.0oz
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