Farsports Carbon Wheels Initial Review
There are few bike upgrades that will have as much impact on your performance as a quality set of carbon wheels. For Time-Trialists and Triathletes, deep-section carbon wheels can save a considerable amount of time when compared to their alloy counterparts. The primary drawback however, is the cost. A nice set of carbon wheels from a major manufacturer can set you back $2000 or more. In terms of dollars spent per second saved, carbon wheels turn out to be one of the poorer investments towards free speed.
I, being unwilling to spend an arm and leg on some wheels, began looking for alternatives. I found a wide variety of wheels being made by Chinese manufactures with much more reasonable prices. Now, like with anything made in China, there are varying degrees of quality and reliability. Since I was choosing bike wheels, there was no way I was going to settle for inferior build quality or reliability. I needed something that would be not only dependable, but especially needed something that wouldn't catastophically fail on a 45mph+ descent.
I found plenty of carbon clinchers on eBay and Aliexpress, but these seemed questionable. It was sometimes hard to tell who made them and there wasn't always a lot of info on them. They're certainly cheap, but personally, I think that's a little too cheap. Eventually I discovered a brand called Farsports. They had an actual website, and even a Facebook page. All the information I could find about their products seemed to be generally positive. Furthermore, they had a warranty program, and seemed to genuinely value the satisfaction of their customers. This seemed like a company from which I could confidently purchase a pair of carbon wheels.
In April 2018 I placed my order for a pair of 25mm x 88mm carbon clinchers with Bitex hubs for around $600. A couple weeks later they arrived. They were packed very well, and upon opening them I did a thorough inspection and couldn't find any manufacturing defects, dents, scratches, nothing. Furthermore, they were true right out of the box. They looked great and I couldn't wait to get them out on the road! They came with a set of skewers and a pair of Swisstop brake pads. I was blown away by the quality of the skewers - they are extremely lightweight and low profile - it would be hard to find something more aero than these that doesn't require a tool to undo.
I bought these wheels with the intent of using them almost exclusively for racing, so I didn't immediately begin racking up the miles on them. Instead, I used them on a couple of training rides to get a feel for them and make sure they would hold up for my upcoming race - Ironman Victoria 70.3.
From the moment I did get them out on the road, I was blown away by their performance. These things are fast! They are incredibly smooth rolling and are exceptionally stable both at high speeds and around corners. They give you a sense of confidence and seem to urge you to go faster. They feel very light when climbing and accelerating, despite weighing nearly the same as my aluminum training wheels.
I used the wheels in Ironman 70.3 Victoria at the beginning of June, and was very much enjoying the speed boost from my new wheels until I got two flat tires at the same time and was forced to wait over an hour for a support vehicle. After the race I inspected the wheels to see if there was any damage that may have caused the flats, or been cause by it, but nope, I was just unlucky enough to run over something my tires didn't like.
I used the wheels again at Ironman Canada at the end of July. Anyone who's done the new course can probably attest that this course is one where aero equipment isn't going to offer a huge benefit. You're either pushing big wats uphill, or descending - that's it. That being said, they certainly didn't hinder my performance on the many climbs, and I did notice the extra speed on the few "flat" sections. There were a number of long, fast descents throughout the course and the braking performance was good - about as good as anyone can expect with carbon wheels. Even after all that, the brake track has hardly any wear on it. Canada wasn't very windy, though there were a few stiff crosswind gusts throughout the day. Even with 88mm rims, those crosswinds never felt like more than a gentle nudge. A little more experience in the wind on my end and these wheels would probably be fine in ultra-windy races like Cozumel or Kona. (Farsports uses a deep U-section for their wheels, which is much better at managing crosswinds than the older V-section rims.)
I enjoy the wheels very much and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone. For ~$600 these things are a steal. You'd be hard pressed to find anything of this quality for this price. It's certainly possible that a pair of comparable wheels from a major manufacturer are better, but I doubt they're $2k better. Even if these wheels were to break, I could buy 2 more pairs and still not have spent as much as if I bought 1 pair from a major brand. I think the question then isn't so much if Farsports' wheels are worth their price, but if those wheels from the major brands are really worth their price...
So far I have about 300 miles on these wheels, I will update my review as I put more miles on them.