Canadian Cycling Magazine
FSA Afterburner Wider 29"
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)