FANFARE GRP FRONT DJ WHEEL REVIEW
Words & Photos by Andrew Villablanca
The mountain bike scene is one of the fastest evolving product landscapes out there. In only a couple of seasons, the shiny, new bike you bought is looking antiquated and out of date. With the advent of do it all enduro rigs and e-bikes, things have only sped up. 26” wheels are a distant memory and it seems like dirt jumpers vanished along with them. Yeah remember those things? It wasn’t long ago that everyone I knew had a dirt jumper or slope bike so they could (attempt to) ride like Cam McCaul or Brandon Semenuk. These days 26” hard tails have been all but forgotten by the bike industry. Thankfully there’s a few brands that still care about us dirt jump rats, so when Fanfare Cycling asked us if we wanted to test their dirt jump specific front wheel and hub, it didn’t take much to have us say yes!
Fanfare Cycling Endeavors is probably not a name you’re familiar with. That’s because they typically work behind the scenes as consultants, engineers and product developers for other bigger name brands and think of themselves as more of a research group. Of course they find themselves with a little extra time now and then to work on their own pet projects. They started on the GRP front hub design five years ago after seeing that there was a lack of quality products in the DJ market.
As a fun easter egg, motorsports or car enthusiasts might notice the Group B or Touring Car inspired elements on the hub, like a flange that mimics the iconic BBS wheels of era, or the threaded end caps that are designed after the single lug race cars of the 80s and 90s. Looks only get you so far though, so they backed up the wide flange hub with high quality oversized bearings and options for disc and non-disc wheel set ups in a range of 15mm, 20mm, or 9mm thru axle sizes. Our front wheel set up was a 32 hole hub laced to a Fanfare labeled front rim.
Sure a front dirt jump wheel doesn’t have to be much. If it’s low weight, strong, and rolls it pretty much meets the necessary requirements. I have to say though that this is one of the best rolling wheels I’ve ever seen. In a highly scientific wheel bearing spin comparison test, this wheel with a lightweight dirt jump tire would spin longer than almost any wheel I pitted it against– even high end wheels with heavier tires on them.
I was also very happy with the stiffness of this wheel. On pumptracks, dirt jumps and street spots, the front end was planted and cornered like it was on rails. When it comes to dirt jump bikes the stiffer the better, and this wheel definitely got it done. This wheel also had no complaints from things like 180s, which are typically pretty hard on hubs and wheels with the sudden and sharp change in wheel rotation. It even survived unscathed after taking a full impact during a fall on the jumps that broke my hand and elbow.
While the world seems to have forgotten about dirt jump bikes, it’s nice to see a company putting in the effort to make an ultra high end part. Is a $300 price tag for a dirt jump hub steep? You bet. Especially since most dirt jump bikes (mine included) are built with old hand me down parts from the garage. That said, I can definitely say this hub rolled better than any front wheel I’ve put on my slope bike! My other complaint is that there’s no matching rear hub option, or complete wheels listed on their site, but if you want the best front hub possible for your neglected dirt jump bike, look no further!