INTERVIEW WITH FSA’S MTB PRODUCT MANAGER, PATRICK ZUEST
HOW LONG HAS FSA BEEN IN THE MTB WHEEL GAME?
FSA started manufacturing MTB Wheels in 2014 with the original WideR MTB wheel, which featured the same 4mm asymmetrical offset we still use today. We’ve been developing and testing MTB wheels for nearly a decade at this point.
HOW MANY MODELS OF MTB WHEELS DOES FSA HAVE?
FSA has seven models of wheels available from Enduro to XC / Trail and eMTB. Two things you will find across 90% of these models is our signature wheel system which includes the 6-pawl signature FSA PRA Hub and our keystone 4mm rim offset.
WHAT IS ASYMMETRICAL OFFSET? WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Asymmetrical offset is one the best features to increase overall strength of a wheel system. You will hear FSA reference wheel system many times because having a strong wheel system is more than just rim width and spoke count. Many consumers today think spoke count is the main factor in overall wheel stiffness, and although it does play a factor, there are many other things to consider when evaluating your next wheel purchase. Because the bicycle is driven from one side (drive side) the wheel experiences torsional flex on the drive side first. It then must transfer that force through the rest of the wheel (non-drive side) in order to get it moving. That sounds minimal and happens almost instantaneously, but when you set out to make the best products possible, accounting for even the smallest drive side flex means we must make the drive side stiffer to increase overall strength. If you look at our wheels you will see that the drive side is more of a straight wall. However, on the non-drive side, it’s more of a traditional rounded rim shape. This offset increases rim stiffness by nearly 18% alone! So, if someone tells you the spoke count is too low, remind them spoke count is not the only thing that creates a strong wheel. If you develop the rim shape correctly for the intended application, you can save weight by reducing spoke count from 32 to 28H and still have the same stiffness as a 32H Symmetrical profile wheelset but with good weight savings.
WHY 4MM OFFSET?
4mm was the perfect balance to complete the wheel system we set out to create. More offset could have produced an overly rigid feel and less offset could have flexed more than we desired. We strive to find the perfect balance of weight and strength to maximize the performance and value to our customers.
WHAT IS RIM DEPTH? WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Rim depth is the measurement from your rim bead to the top of the rim itself. Rim depth is essentially the height of your rim shape. Like offset, rim depth helps us find the perfect balance between stiffness and weight. In many non-MTB applications deeper rim depth can also become faster as the wheel has more surface area and becomes more aerodynamic.
WHAT IS RIM WIDTH?
Rim width is exactly how it sounds, the width measurement of your rims outside to outside or inside to inside on the bead hook. There are two different rim width measurements, inner and outer, so be sure you are finding the right measurement you are after. Most MTB riders are concerned more with inner rim width than outer, because this is where the tires are seated and largely effects the shape of the tire when inflated. A wider rim can produce a more “squared” tire profile which is great for stability but could lack in cornering ease. A narrower rim width could give you more of an “ice cream cone” rounded shape which could have drastically different cornering ability. Preference depends on the rider, so we aimed to hit the sweet spot which we believe is 29mm inner rim width for eMTB.
WHY DOES SPOKE COUNT MATTER?
Spokes are the main structure supporting the rims. Spoke count can impact weight and stiffness and be used together to produce the perfect blend and ride quality in wheels. Much like the other examples, spoke count influences stiffness. However, spokes are often a maintenance item on bicycles meaning if you are riding a lot, you should be checking spokes often.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHECK MY SPOKE TENSION?
We recommend checking your spoke tension after the first 50 miles and then every 100 miles after that. Checking spoke tension with your hands sets a good baseline, but if you find loose spokes in any wheels, you should consult your local bike shop.
WHAT IS THE WARRANTY?
WHO IS RIDING FSA MTB WHEELS?
Dan Wolf – Polygon, Alex Volokhov – Rocky Mountain, Andrew Taylor – Norco, Conor Macfarlane – Commencal, KHS Pro MTB, Sunn Enduro Team (EWS), Josh Wilson aka Daily MTB Rider to name a few.
WHAT IS SPECIFIC ABOUT EMTB WHEELS COMPARED TO OTHER WHEELS IN THE LINE UP?
Our eMTB wheels have a steel axle which increases internal strength drastically. Because eMTB bikes are ridden harder we needed to increase longevity and strength, the axle freehub were great places to start. Our eMTB’s are the complete wheel system featuring 4mm Asymmetrical offset, WideR Rim Shape, 28H hubs and spokes, Hookless Carbon Rim Profile, 29mm inner width rim complete with a 30mm depth rim. The FSA eMTB wheels are a great option to lighten up your eMTB or increase the stiffness of your bike. These wheels went through the highest level of testing to ensure their durability and we are very proud to announce them to the world!
TELL US ABOUT FSA’S WHEEL FACTORY.
FSA is one of the only companies manufacturing nearly everything on our wheels. For this reason, we built our own carbon wheel factory in Taichung, Taiwan. FSA’s wheel factory features state of the art equipment and testing and also boasts the ability to design, implement, and test our own products in controlled settings within our own factory.
WHAT GOES INTO WHEEL DEVELOPMENT?
We do all of carbon layup by hand, and test and re-test until we are ready for rider feedback. The wheels are then test ridden internally and then given to athletes for further feedback before hitting production. Our last round of wheels are athlete tested in Whistler on EWS courses from years past by some of our fastest athletes.
HOW LONG DOES DEVELOPMENT TAKE?
Generally, about a year to two years.
ANY FUTURE PLANS FOR THE WHEEL LINE?
We are working on new rim widths for eMTB and MTB. Also, we are offering our eMTB wheels as singles moving forward so we can accommodate the growing mullet rider needs.
DO YOU SELL RIM ONLY?
We do sell carbon rim only in 28H and 32H spoke counts. These can be used for Enduro or eMTB application.
CAN WE GET COLORED WHEEL STICKERS?
Yes! FSA offers stickers in Red, Blue, Green, Black and Oil Slick.