Testing Our Metal

Stuff We Sell

Product management never ends here at November Bicycles.  For the past several weeks I've been charged with getting the new FSW 23 and FSW CX wheel sets up and ready for show time.  Good times, good times. 

First part of the job is getting them built up and confirming spoke lengths and just generally making sure that they go together right.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy with these ones, the spoke length calculator got it bang on all the way around.  Building on the new rims is like building on carbon rims, in that they're very radially stable and they're stiff enough side to side that corrections can be made across several spokes.  This makes it many more easier to get the spokes all balanced.  They also take a nice high spoke tension really well. 

We decided to go 24/28 for stick with a 28/32 option for the new look FSWs.  To us, this makes a lot of sense.  The weights stayed in line with the previous FSWs, and stability goes up.  So they're still light enough to use in whatever race you'd like, and you can literally used them every other day of the year with absolute impunity.  Bigger dudes and cross racers can get their freak on with the extra spokes and that just works out brilliantly there.  I don't know maybe we've got a little "low spoke count" weariness going on (actually I know I do, it's out of hand how lustful a lot of people are for low spoke counts), but I know I'm responding like a bastard to the like kind of classic utilitarianism of these things.  They're Freaking Sweet Wheels, that's for sure.  I dig em.  Bad. 

When you're me, and you literally have an embarrassment of carbon wheels to choose from for any road ride you might want to do, it's pretty hard to get up for a set of aluminum wheels.  Normally aluminum wheels sort of lose me when I pick them up - they have a "not tight" feel that I couldn't describe in 1000 words.  Our FSW 27s come close to not having this (good thing because I actually use them all the time since my wife stole the 38 clinchers which I really liked for daily use), but the FSW 23s and FSW CX have it not at all.  Got to be the width.  It's a pretty neat aluminum wheel that actually makes me say "gee I can't wait to get on these."

Job number two is to get them proofed in use.  For this I took a bit of an interesting tack.  Since my mountain bike's front rim couldn't hack life as a mountain bike front rim, I decided to build a mountain bike wheel based on the spokes and rim from the new FSW23.  This actually had two points other than just to beat the living snot out of most of the components.  First is that we want to test the tubeless setup, and second is that we want to test our spokes and rims as a disc brake setup.  We're really pretty sure that discs are going to become a bigger thing, and we want to be ready for it. 

So how is life treating this wheel?  Wonderful, thanks for asking!  I let a wet root take hold of it at about 30mph on Saturday, going a bit too rapidement down some part of Morning Choice in Patapsco.  The bike and I apparently did a full somersault (wife was behind, already dialing 911 when I landed) and landed in a heap on two logs and under two others, including one that will now be named Vlad The Would-Be Impaler.  Front wheel?  100% fine.  Back wheel?  An unholy mess (but not nearly as much of a mess as my right hip and butt cheek).  Score one for the A23. 

Tubeless testing has gone well too.*  I'm currently set up with one layer of yellow tape and a 29er rim strip.  The 29er rim strip is W I D E R than the CX rim strip and really helps prevent the burps.  The tire is a Geax Saguaro 2.2, non-tubless variety.  Inflation with a compressor was instant.   The only hiccup in getting it to hold air was that the sidewalls of these suckers are pretty porous, so it took a lot of the old shake and bake routine to get the sidewalls sealed.  After the beads were set, I inadvertantly removed the valve core and as you can imagine it deflated instantly.  Reinflating with a regular floor pump was no sweat.  I don't yet have enough miles on it to pronounce an unqualified success, but it's a solid showing so far.  Typical inflation pressure for me on this is just shy of 30 pounds.  I'll try lower since that relatively high pressure has held so well. 

Next step is to get the cross bike built up and glue on some tires to the one set and replicate my tubeless setup from the mountain bike with the other set.  Tires in all iterations will be Challenge Grifos.  I'm a bit concerned about the porosity of the Grifo sidewalls for tubeless, but that's why we test these things isn't it? 

We'll have photos of them up in the next couple of days, and they're already in the old shopping cart deal (clinchers) and the other one too (tubies).  You can also get them with a Powertap for a song, since the current model Pro+ and SL+ Powertaps are getting blowed out for the next year's model.  You have to contact us for the lowdown on that.  It's one of those deals. 

*If you have absolutely no idea what any of this drivel is, fear not.  It wasn't too too long ago that I didn't either.  And once we get the tubeless deal all pinned down as well as we want it to be, we'll set yours up for you. 


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  • Dave on

    specq – I've got ten thumbs. "Stick" should be "stock," which of course makes the whole thing make a lot better sense. Harder to stick with a lacing you've never offered before. DefinitelyNotGus – Nice. I think we'll have to sell that as an option – "he went and bought the whole embarrassment."

  • specq on

    "We decided to go 24/28 for stick with a 28/32 option for the new look FSWs. To us, this makes a lot of sense"It probably made more sense before you wrote it.

  • DefinitelyNotGus on

    So is the collective for carbon wheels really "an embarrassment of carbon wheels?" Trademark it.


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