The FSA Afterburner wheels caught our attention when we first encountered them at the Sea Otter Classic this spring. With an internal rim width of 27mm, they’re wider than the widths that we previously were seeing as the “standard” but a bit narrower than the 30mm IDs we’re seeing from many other manufacturers.
We’ve enjoyed riding wide rims with big tires and the resulting traction in turns, but wider rims result in heavier wheels. FSA chose a middle path splitting the difference between wide and narrow and they’ve pulled off impressive specs. Afterburner WideR models come in at a listed weight of 1640g for 27.5/650b and 1720g for 29″ wheels.
I attempted to verify the claimed weight with my Feedback Sports scale, and with three tries, received three slightly different readings ranging from 1720 to 1800g. (close enough) With weights that minimal, you might expect the wheelset to come in a few hundo more than the asking price of $629. Assuming they hold up under aggressive riding, FSA has assembled a impressive package that competes with carbon wheels at a fraction of the sticker price.
The website copy on Full Speed Ahead’s page describes the wheels as an “ideal upgrade for fast mountain, cyclocros and gravel bikes”. That was exactly the sort of wheelset I had in mind to try on several of the bikes in the Bermstyle quiver, which include the Evil Following and several racey hardtails. (Kona Raijin and Kona Rove CX/ Gravel bike)
- Tubeless compatible kit includes hubcaps for 135mm QR and 142mm
- Hand built
- Compatible with cyclcross and gravel bikes
- Shimano or XD freehub options (we’re running Shimano)
- 24 Hole, straight pull double-butted spokes, brass nipples
Although the Afterburner is available in both Boost 148 and 142 spacing, we’ve held off at least one more season before shifting the fleet to Boost space for a simple reason: compatibility. The beauty of the 142/ 135 hub standard means full compatibility with XC hardtails and cyclocross bikes, which allows experimentation with different setups.
The Afterburner WideR wheels use a hookless bead system for lighter weight, improved durability and easier tire installation. As I’ve had quite the season of dinging and flat spotting rear rims this year, I turned to Clayton at WTB for tire recommendations to pair with the WiderR wheels and he dispatched a set of tires suitable for Pacific Northwest trail conditions.
I’ll be mounting these babies up this week.
Full Speed Ahead Afterburner Wider Wheelset lists for $629. Learn more at Fullspeedahead.com