FSA After­burner Wider 29"

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - IN DEPTH -

FSA has been pro­duc­ing some pretty sweet wheel of­fer­ings on the road side un­der the Vi­sion ban­ner. The com­pany has taken what it’s learned from the pro pelo­ton and passed along some tech­nol­ogy to the fsa moun­tain bike wheels. The After­burner Wider wheelset is aimed at ag­gres­sive trail and en­duro rid­ers and boasts some pretty cool tech.

The wheels come shipped with rim tape and tube­less valves that have a pretty stan­dard in­stal­la­tion. The 27-mm in­ter­nal width, hook­less rim is easy to seat tires on. The hubs will ac­cept both sram XD and Shi­mano gear clus­ters. One of the first things I no­ticed about th­ese wheels was their lac­ing pat­tern. The After­burn­ers use a two-cross pat­tern and have only 24 spokes. For a wheelset in­tended to take a beat­ing, this setup is slightly un­usual. fsa, how­ever, says that its asym­met­ri­cal rim de­sign bal­ances the spoke ten­sion bet­ter than other wheels and of­fers up to 20 per cent more lat­eral stiff­ness. You can re­ally feel this ef­fect when rail­ing cor­ners. The After­burn­ers feel very planted. You also feel con­nected to the trail sur­face in the cor­ners. I found it easy to judge when I was about to lose trac­tion and could ad­just ac­cord­ingly.

The After­burn­ers’ hubs have a few nice fea­tures, in­clud­ing bear­ing ten­sion col­lars. You can ad­just the bear­ing ten­sion to en­sure zero drag on any frame or fork. The wheels are also avail­able in sev­eral axle con­fig­u­ra­tions de­pend­ing on your needs, but only in a six-bolt disc mount. The rear hub has nice quick en­gage­ment. It’s built with six pawls in a 27-tooth ring. The ar­range­ment pro­vides you with 54 points of con­tact. Even when rid­ing in wet con­di­tions, I did not ex­pe­ri­ence any is­sues with the hubs as they spun freely the en­tire test pe­riod.

When charg­ing through rock gar­dens, the After­burn­ers re­ally give you con­fi­dence to smash through the rough stuff with­out wor­ry­ing about flat­ting or dam­ag­ing the rims. While test­ing, I bot­tomed out once or twice, but there was no need for tru­ing or ten­sion­ing af­ter­wards. None of the spokes touch each other, which seems to elim­i­nate any spoke noise. That si­lence might have added to my con­fi­dence in th­ese wheels through rock gar­dens. I never seemed to pay the price for lazy and rougher line choices.

The After­burn­ers are a great of­fer­ing from a com­pany that’s fairly new to moun­tain bike wheel pro­duc­tion. With a wide range of axle and rim sizes, you’ll find a setup that will work with your bike. I look for­ward to putting some more time on the After­burn­ers and re­ally find­ing their lim­its, which may re­quire gnarlier trails. ($629, full­speeda­head.com)

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