Flo 60 [2016] Wheelset Review

Flo has become famous in the game of affordable, well-designed aero wheels. Not only do my Flo 60 [2016 revised model] aluminum+carbon wheels check all the boxes on my wishlist for a set of race-day wheels, they also bring some nice surprises to the table as well.

  1. Affordable – at under half the cost of new big name carbon aero wheels, this set is comparatively a bargain. I opted for the aluminum rimmed version which are $100 cheaper per wheel compared to FLO’s fully carbon version. Although the aluminum version takes a slight penalty in aerodynamic testing and weighs ~380 grams more, I’m content with the tradeoff for cost, as well as not having to swap brake pads between training and racing wheels (yup, I’m that lazy). The aluminum brake track comes anodized black, and will wear off after use. I’m starting to see fading after 5 races, and I’m looking forward to more wear as a badge of use.
  2. Stiff – I opted for the Clydesdale build on these wheels. That entails 28 bladed, Sapim CX-ray spokes instead of the standard 24 spokes on the rear wheel. I’m right at the border on the recommended weight (<198 lbs), and I do not regret going for the heavier duty version. Under load during climbs and sprints, there is no brake rub or disconcerting flex from the wheelset. For reference, rider weight is at 190 lbs and max power output is just north of 1400 watts.
  3. Mid-depth aero at 65mm – They are slightly deeper than my previous race wheels (Campagnolo Bullet 50s), but handle better in cross winds. There is feedback when crosswinds pick up, but nothing sudden or unpredictable. I have Continental GP4000s II 23mm up front and 25 mm on the rear, both at 100 psi under usual conditions. The front is 23mm because FLO optimized their rim shape using that configuration, while the 25mm rear gives me more compliance and suffers less aerodynamic penalty.
  4. Stays true – After hitting some unavoidable potholes at race speed, I was nervous that I would find the usual wobbles upon inspection later. However, I am pleased to report that both front and back are straight as the day they came to me. It is a nice load off to not have to worry about the strength of the build during a race.
  5. Width – These rims are 19.4mm wide internally, which means that when mounted, my 23 and 25mm tires come out to be more like 24.5 and 27mm respectively. This is in line with the recent trend towards wider tires for rolling resistance benefits.

Bonuses:

  1. The sound – The sound of these wheels rolling at race speed is “fear inspiring”. I have had multiple racers come up to me after races and comment on the sound that they generate. It is a very distinct and audible whoosh altogether very different from the Campy set I raced before.
  2. The hubs – The quality of the hubs were a nice surprise. They spin up and hold speed very well. I will update over time how well they last.

In closing, I am very happy with my choice. For the price they charge, it is a perfect combination of weight, aerodynamics, and stiffness. If you want to spend some more for the full carbon versions, I’m sure they will not disappoint either. These wheels have served me well for the race season this far, and I look forward to putting more miles on them.

 

2016 Gunnar Roadie Review

After having put about 500 miles on this build I thought I would give some quick thoughts about my Gunnar Roadie. The frame is a size 58 and replaced my Giant Propel Advanced that was also a size 58. After having been around the cycling scene for any significant amount of time, one is bound to hear the line “steel is real”. I’m not going to be arguing that steel is better than carbon or vice versa. Instead, I’m going to highlight the qualities of steel and the Roadie that surprised me the most.

Ride – The ride of steel has a very distinctive feel. I would describe carbon as smooth, aluminum as edgy, and steel as a median between the two. Accelerating under hard efforts is rewarded with a little pushback from the frame, whereas pushing against aluminum felt like a wall. Full out-of-saddle efforts do not create any excess motion in the bottom bracket area nor result in any tire rub. This is pretty impressive given that I easily push 200+ lbs with full riding kit.

Weight – This is another area that generates constant questions from riders. The conception is that steel is much heavier than carbon or aluminum. The final weight of the bike with bottle cages and pedals is around 17.5 pounds – exactly the same weight as my Giant Propel had been. Most of the parts were transferred over from the propel with the exception of the non-aero seat post on the Gunnar. For a full list of build components please see the end of the review.

Finish – The people at Gunnar bikes have done a marvelous job at painting the frame. The spray is very consistent, and the striping very even. They were incredibly flexible with my request to add the stripes that flank the logo on the down tube and the seat tube. The clear coat has a very deep shine to it that I expect will be very durable. Worst case scenario, Gunnar offers a refurbishing service to repaint the frame when you feel like you need a refresh.

Racing – I’ve raced this setup now in a road race and a criterium, to 3rd and 2nd place finishes. There were a lot of full accelerations throughout the course of both races, and I was never left with the impression of excess flex in the rig. Another much better racer in my league also has been racing the Gunnar Roadie with great success. I’m eager to tackle more coming races on this machine.

Overall, I would summarize my experience with the Roadie with one word – Zen. Despite the lack of aero shaping compared to my Propel, I have not felt any slower. For those of you on the fence about modern steel race bikes, I would highly recommend giving the Gunnar Roadie a try. Thank you Baltimore Bike Works for helping me get my hands on this!

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