Dutch brand Fast Forward, founded in 2006 by Henk Schipper (formerly of SRAM), is a company whose wheelsets have recently become a popular choice among pro peloton riders for their durability and aerodynamics. In fact, one pro team claimed to have put more than 80,000 miles on their Fast Forward wheels without so much as a broken spoke—a rumor (printed in Peloton Magazine) so impressive we decided to take a look for ourselves.
With the new F4R FCC (full carbon clincher) ready to roll on one of our test rigs, we tested it on every type of terrain to see just how well these wheels hold up to the hype.
The Specs1 of 7
Weight: 1,640 grams (set) Rim Depth: 45mm
Rim Material: High Tensile TC35
Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray; 20 front, 24 rear
Hubs: FFWD (a DT Swiss 240 upgrade is also available)
The Ride2 of 7
Built by hand in the Netherlands, FFWD uses its signature dual arc (DARC) rim shape on its 45mm-deep carbon rim, which claims to improve airflow speed and reduce drag. The F4R gets up to speed quickly and handles with more stability in crosswinds than most other rims at this depth.
The Ride (cont'd)3 of 7
While the 1,640-gram weight for the set is on the heavy side, the F4R responds like a lighter weight counterpart. It has good acceleration uphill and won't hold you back unless you hit sustained gradients above 7 percent. The new and improved brake track is layered with a special compound that improved performance compared to previous models and was nearly on par with the stopping power of aluminum brake tracks. Paired with Swiss Stop brake pads (included in purchase), the braking power during a light rain was the best we've seen in a pair of all-carbon clinchers—undoubtedly due to FFWD's extensive testing in the damp regions of the Netherlands.
The Ride (cont'd)4 of 7
One of F4R's more impressive qualities is its lateral stiffness, which makes performance in sprints and high-speed cornering on par with the best wheels available.
The wheel's durability should also be noted. The F4R maintains its speed over rough surfaces and rolls along comfortably without a sound—a trait that is quite impressive for carbon wheels, which are notoriously noisy.
The Verdict5 of 7
The craftsmanship and stiffness of the TC35 carbon separates the F4R from other wheels in its class. While it can be hard to tell just how aerodynamic a wheel is unless you take it to a wind tunnel, these wheels feel fast—a detail that becomes even more evident as the roads get rougher or when the turns become sharper.
While we aren't big fans of the big flashy logos under the clear coat (which also increases wheel weight slightly, and perhaps unnecessarily), there is an alternative all-black logo option that is less abrasive. The 1,640-gram weight is also a negative for a wheel priced at $2,200, but the F4R doesn't feel that heavy while in motion. If you're searching for an all-out climbing wheel, this may be a concern.
The Verdict (cont'd)6 of 7
On the flip side, the F4R is an extremely versatile race wheel that is one of the only full carbon wheels we'd feel comfortable racing over sections of dirt and gravel. This level of durability makes it an appealing option if you're looking for a wheel you can both train and race on without having to worry about ruining a wheelset that costs more than $2K. If you're going to spend this kind of money on a set of wheels, you might as well be able to enjoy them.
Who they're for: Any cyclist looking for a durable, all-around race wheel that delivers top-notch performance in sprints, criteriums and time trials.