I finally feel like I’ve put enough miles on my Flash-Point FP60 carbon wheels to give them a proper review. Keep in mind the following:
- I’m a 150 lb Cat 4 cyclist
- Have an FTP of ~300 watts
- Live in Fort Worth, so most of the terrain is rolling or short steep hills (no long, sustained climbs)
- I’ve previously owned/ridden Mavic Ksyrium SLs, Shimano Ultegra wheels, Easton EC70 wheels and my current everyday wheels are Shimano WH 7850SLs (which I ride tubeless with Fusion 2 tires).
- The Flash-Points have Continental GP4000 tires (which is my tire of choice for the last few years).
I haven’t raced on the FP60s yet (hard to believe I’m a “racer” and haven’t done a race this season and it is JUNE), but I have used them on long solo training rides, fast groups rides and some local 100K rally rides (also known as “T-Shirt Races” in Texas).
Here where my hopes when I purchased the wheels:
- They would be faster at speed (north of 23-25 mph) and that the difference would be noticeable on a solo attack, riding at the front or in a small break-away.
- The extra weight (the wheels weigh ~1,800 grams) wouldn’t slow me down on the climbs.
- The deep profile of the rims wouldn’t be a problem in crosswinds (since we have a lot of wind in N. Texas).
- They would be stiff, but not beat me up on a 75+ mile ride.
- They would be durable enough to use for racing and training.
So far I have been happy on all 4 points.
- SPEED – These wheels are noticeable faster at speed. They are made by Zipp and basically have all the technology of the Zipp 404 rims, sans the dimples. The hubs are incredible smooth and just spinning them in the work-stand gives the feeling of “speed.” During fast group rides and rallies I felt like I wasn’t having to work quite as hard at the front. However, it is hard to know how much is the placebo effect or maybe just better fitness on my part. So I did a pseudo-scientific test (nothing like my VO2 Max testing at TCU). I have an out-and-back training loop that I do regularly out to Cresson, TX. Since the winds predominately come out of the South, the first half is into a headwind – giving the benefit of the tailwind coming home. Normally if I push it hard, I can average 19.5 mph on this 66 mile route (there are several hills, traffic lights, stop signs, etc. on the way). On my “test” ride with the FP60s I was able to average over 20 mph for the first time on this route. The wind was very average (10-15 mph) so I’ll say that these wheels were 0.5 mph faster. Using some rough calculations, these wheels probably save 20-25 watts when riding in the wind. This may not seem like much, but that is a huge difference.
- WEIGHT – Didn’t notice the extra weight of these wheels on the hills. Most of the experts say that unless you are climbing Mt. Ventoux, you are always better off choosing aerodynamics over weight – I tend to agree.
- CROSSWINDS – This is something I was really worried about. We get some pretty nasty winds (regularly 25-30 mph with gusts in the 50 mph range) so as I lighter rider I was worried about being blown all over the road. This hasn’t been a problem. In fact, I would argue that I felt similar effects from crosswinds on my Mavic Ksyrium SLs with their bladed spokes. I don’t know if crosswinds are less of a problem because of the Zipp-designed toroidal shape of the rim. . . but I’ll take it.
- COMFORT – These wheels are stiff, but not uncomfortable. Unlike Mavic Cosmic Carbonnes, these are truly carbon wheels with a aluminum braking surface as opposed to an aluminum rim with a carbon fairing. With the right tire pressure (for my weight I run them 95-100 psi up front and 105 psi in the rear) I would say that they are as comfortable as any other clincher.
- DURABILITY – I have had zero problems with the wheels. One of the benefits of the extra weight of these wheels (versus their Zipp 404 cousin) is that they are extremely durable. Haven’t had to true the wheels once yet and they just feel beefy with the bladed spokes. My local wrench said that he sees lots of problems with Zipps, but hasn’t had a customer with Flash-Point issues yet (granted there are many more Zipps on the road).
I’m very happy with the wheels. I would be happy with them at the MSRP of $1,300, luckily I got them for even less on eBay – so I’m very happy with my purchase.