We’ve written volumes on selecting great cycling wheels and what you need to consider. In this article, we are going to talk specifically about our own products and why they need to be the next wheels you ride. Enjoy!
It is true that more bikes ship with carbon wheels now than at any point in history, but there are major differences between OEM wheels and what we offer with our All Sport wheel line.
Designing A Wheel As A System
To make a wheel faster, most wheels you find will be designed to have a deeper profile, however there hasn’t been much thought beyond the concept of a deeper rim. At FLO, we design our wheels as a system. Outlined below are the individual components that we use in algorithms to develop great cycling wheels.
Part 1: Tire Selection
In order to develop a great wheel, you need to consider a tire that pairs well with that wheel. In our opinion, tires are like a three legged stool—a great tire must strike a balance of aerodynamics, rolling resistance, and durability. At FLO, the tire that best represents these three legs is the Continental GP 5000. For our All Sport wheels, we chose to optimize our rim shapes around a 28mm tire, which provides excellent rolling resistance and great aerodynamics.Wider is faster when it’s done right.
Part 2: Rolling Resistance
The FLO All Sport wheel line was the first wheel line in the world to include rolling resistance as a design parameter. We performed advanced on-road testing to prove that a rim could lower rolling resistance, then incorporated the results into the design of the rim. We learned that by widening the internal rim width, we could lower the overall rolling resistance. Also, wider tires lower rolling resistance. After we settled on a 28mm Continental GP 5000 and a 21mm internal rim width, we aerodynamically optimized the rim shape to match up perfectly with this tire and internal rim width.
Part 3: Aerodynamics Depth, Width, & Stability
With the tire and internal rim width selected, we used an advanced CFD algorithm we developed after collecting more than 100,000 on-road measurements to develop a rim shape. Most people think that the deeper the rim, the faster it is. That is not always true. A great rim profile will blend aerodynamics and stability in the wind by striking a balance between the depth and width. This is exactly why our new FLO 77 AS (77mm deep) is faster than our original FLO 90 (94mm deep).
When we develop a wheel, we give our algorithm a range of wheel depths to create the rim’s shape. As the algorithm gets more advanced over time, we find that shallower wheels tend to settle on the upper limit of the depth range, but deeper wheels do not. For example, the FLO 49 AS had a range of 40-49mm and settled at 49mm, the FLO 65 AS had a range from 55-65mm and settled at 64mm, and the FLO 77 AS had a range of 70-95mm and settled at 77mm.
Developing a wheel with the lowest drag value does not always produce the fastest wheel. You must also consider the stability of the wheel in wind, especially when looking at the front wheel. When you experience a crosswind, the front wheel wants to twist. This yaw torque can make a wheel very challenging to ride. To make a wheel fast, you want it to feel stable, producing a confident rider who can stay in the most aero position and not have to fight the front end to stay on the road.
Part 4: Carbon Layup & Pressure Charts For Vibration Management
Great wheels are not only really fast, they also feel great and produce a riding experience that increases your confidence when riding. We’ve spent a large amount of time studying vibration and how this affects the wheel and cyclist. Increased vibration reduces your grip on the road, making for a rougher ride and slowing you down considerably. To combat this, we use a carbon layup that allows the rim to act as a leaf spring to absorb some of the vibration, offer pressure recommendation tables to optimize your tire pressure so that you are avoiding the impedance break point, and use a wheel build that transfers your power effectively and efficiently to the wheel.
Watt & Time Savings
Wheels are the number one component you can upgrade on your bike for most time saved. Well-designed wheels will make you faster. The reason a wheel makes you faster is because it lowers the number of watts that are required to roll the wheel forward. We wrote a great article that shows the math behind this here.
Watts can be reduced in several areas. The first way to lower the number of watts required to roll a wheel is to lower the rolling resistance. This is managed by rim design, tire selection, and tire pressure optimization. The FLO All Sport wheels are the first wheels to manage all three to save you watts.
Another way to lower the watts required to roll you forward is by lowering the aerodynamic drag produced by the wheel. Our aerodynamic optimization process discussed above accomplishes this.
Finally, there are several mechanical elements that go into reducing the watts required to move you forward. Smooth bearings, strong components, and a great wheel build allow you to transfer power effectively and efficiently. Below is a table to show how much time the FLO All Sport Wheels can save you vs. a standard OEM wheel set. The time saved here is much greater than our previous line of wheels that only took aerodynamics into consideration.
Our Company Commitment To Engineering Excellence & Refinement Creates Truly Unique Wheels
At FLO, first and foremost we are an engineering company. Our belief is that great engineering creates great products that people love to ride and produce great results. Engineering has been at our core since our beginning. As we develop each new wheel line, we conduct research and refine our technology further to produce a better product. The FLO All Sport wheel line is the first wheel line in the world to develop a rim that is proven to lower rolling resistance while incorporating aerodynamics to work as a system.
We don’t use rims from open molds. Every product we produce is uniquely ours and we push the limits for each wheel we develop. At FLO, this will not change.
All Sport Versatile Design
More than ever cyclists do not want to be limited by the roads they choose to ride. Road cycling is getting more hazardous, and gravel cycling is growing rapidly in response. The FLO All Sport wheel line is developed to take you where ever you’d like to go. From pavement to gravel roads, the FLO All Sport wheel line has you covered.
The FLO All Sport wheels can take a range of tires from 23mm and larger. As long as your frame accepts a larger tire, the FLO All Sport line can handle it. Transition from pavement to gravel with confidence on your FLO All Sport Wheels.
Each Wheel You Buys Does Good
As engineering has been with us since the beginning, so has our commitment to give back to our community and our planet.
Bike For A Kid was started with the intent of allowing kids in need to experience the joy of riding a bike. 1% of all sales go towards buying bikes and helmets for children. In our existence we have given more than 3,000 bikes to kids all across the USA. The use of a bike produces more confidence, better grades, increased health, and more joy in the children that receive them. Know that while you are enjoying your new wheels, there is a child who is experience the joy of riding a bike for the first time thanks to your purchase.
We have one planet that we must pass on to our future generations. At FLO, we are committed to offsetting our carbon footprint and reducing waste. For each wheel that we ship, we plant a tree with our partner American Forests. We also have developed boxes that are free from plastic, and use 100% recycled cardboard and environmentally safe inks. As you fill you lungs with air on your next climb, know that your purchase of FLO wheels made that air a little bit fresher by reducing the C02 in our atmosphere.
More than ever, wheels have the ability to make you faster. The wheels we produce today are complete wheel systems that integrate multiple elements to produce a faster and more enjoyable product to ride. Don’t settle for open mold carbon wheelsets. You’re missing out on something really great that will put you at the front of the pack.