Full Speed Ahead (FSA) has embraced a do-it-all approach with its wheels for a number of years now. In recent years, we have seen the SL-K MTB 29er designed for trail and cyclocross riding and the SL-K intended for cyclocross and gravel.
FSA's new alloy NS wheelset also takes the multi-use approach, targeting cyclocross and gravel.
In recent months, we have looked at a number of high-end carbon cyclocross and gravel wheelsets, which are not an option for many of us on a budget. At $425, the FSA NS wheels are a price-point alloy option similar to the Alex Boondocks and Crankbrothers Zinc 3.
Cyclocross Magazine recently received a set of FSA NS alloy wheels for review. This In Review spotlight takes a first look at FSA's new NS wheelset. Stay tuned for a full review after we put them to work during the cyclocross season.
FSA NS Alloy Wheelset
FSA offers several series of wheels—the list includes the SL-K and K-Force we have looked at—designed primarily for off-road riding. The NS stands for "non-series," putting it apart from the other lines of wheels.
The aluminum tubeless-ready rims have welded seams and an asymmetric profile. The rims are 25mm deep and have an internal width of 21.5mm. The wide profile puts them in the gravel and high-volume cyclocross wheelhouse. FSA ships the wheels with 25mm rim tape and two tubeless valves.
We immediately noticed the asymmetric design of the NS rims and wheels.
The wheels have 24 double butted, J-bend spokes laced 2x front and rear to Centerlock disc-only hubs. The front Centerlock hub has high-low flanges and the spokes are lined up to one side to increase spoke tension. The rear rim is laced with the spokes offset to the left side to create an even bracing angle with the dish required for the cassette on the drive side. The freehub is an 11-speed Shimano/SRAM steel design.
The disc-only wheels come with end caps for quick release, 12mm and 15mm front thru-axles and quick release and 12x142mm rear thru-axles.
The FSA NS wheels check in at a total weight of 1,768g—822g front, 946g rear. The best comparison of wheels we have recently reviewed is the $330 Alex Boondocks wheels that weigh 1,709g and the $700 Crankbrothers Zinc 3 that weigh 1,708g.
With the FSA NS wheels in hand late in the summer, we have already mounted up some gravel tires for some pre-cyclocross-season miles. Out of the box, the wheels were true and spoke tension was even.
The pre-taped helped save a step during initial setup. We used a Bontrager CX0 TLR 38mm tire on the front and a 38mm Schwalbe G-One Tubeless Easy on the rear. The G-One seated with a compression, although a tubeless charger pump would work. The Bontrager tire mounted with a floor pump and rigorous pumping.
The wheels have held true during our first few rides, and so far, burp-free. Sure, they're not the lightest hoops we've taken for a spin, but still likely 200-300 grams lighter than your average OEM wheelset.
Stay tuned for in-depth impressions after we put them to the test between the course tape this fall.
For more on the FSA NS wheels, see the specs and photo gallery below.
Zachary Schuster and Cliff Lee contributed to this report.
FSA NS Cyclocross/Gravel Wheelset Specs
Price: $425 USD
Weight: 822g front, 946g rear, 1,768 total (actual)
Rim: aluminum alloy, disc-only, tubeless-ready, asymmetric design
Rim Width: 21.5mm internal, 26mm external
Rim Depth: 25mm
Freehub: Shimano/SRAM, 11-speed
Spokes: 24 double butted spokes, laced 2x
Hub: FSA, Centerlock disc, high-low flanges on the front
Axles: Axle caps available for quick release, 12 and 15mm front thru-axle, 12x142mm thru-axle and quick release rear
More Info: fullspeedahead.com