We don’t much like blanket statements here at AeroGeeks HQ. There’s nearly always a whole mess of exceptions that we have to weasel around to make them fit. But there is a universal truth to cycling, and it goes like this: climbing sucks. Climbing really sucks. So anything that makes climbing suck less gets our attention and, if it really is as good as the claims surrounding it, our praise. FLO Cycling’s FLO 30 is firmly in the latter category, and the reasons may surprise you.
First, the 30 is not a deep-section carbon wheel. In fact, there isn’t any carbon fiber at all. The 30 is an all-aluminum wheelset with a comparatively shallow 30mm toroidal profile for what’s meant to be a go-fast setup for racing, but the 1,585g claimed weight [Editors Update: FLO let us know the claimed weight was 1,585g versus the 1,600g we originally stated] completes the picture here. The FLO 30 isn’t trying to be a flat-course wheelset; that’s what the 60, 90 and DISC are for. The 30’s are for when the course has a “percent grade” notation in the packet – these are for climbing and boy, do they.
Take the 30’s out for a spin on the flats and they perform exactly as you expect a shallow-section wheel to perform—with all the benefits of the toroidal shape to boot. They spin quickly, are snappy to sprint, don’t budge in the wind, and are reasonably speedy in a head wind while maintaining exceptional control in the cross winds. Dial up the grade from 0, however, and it quickly becomes clear that they are missing two-thirds of a pound of rotating weight versus the 60s. And every gram missing is a reason to smile while flying by other riders on the ascent. The stiffness of the aluminum construction is immediately evident when a string of curses does not accompany the mashing pedals, as is the smooth rolling of FLO’s hubs when that half-a-heartbeat pause in pedal stroke doesn’t drop the Garmin’s speed indicator into the single digits. This is what a good wheelset feels like.
All that said, it is worth noting that the FLO 30s, while still on a major diet from the 60s, are of a similar weight to a pair of Zipp FireCrest 404s. In addition, since the 30s maintain an aluminum braking surface, they do not require a deal with the devil on descents to come out rubber-side down on tricky switchbacks. The wide track also gives the 30s an excellent cornering ability and confidence on less than stellar roads where a narrower contact patch might end the ride with a puncture. However, the width never feels fat, per se. Indeed, there is such a minimum amount of fuss to these wheels that the level of confidence they inspire is almost unimaginable. You can get all this for under $500.
It is our opinion that this last point is the most compelling. There may be lighter wheels out there. There might be cheaper wheels. But the 30s strike a balance between the two that is intriguing from a value perspective. We’re going to put more climbing miles on them in the coming month, most notably attacking the only climbing worth mentioning in all of Florida – Clermont. The 30s tackle the rolling course and the minor climbs like champs, but time will tell if they can make the summit of a serious climb with the minimum of drama they have shown thus far.