Chris and I have always know that we wanted to offer a great training wheel at FLO. For over a year now we've made mention of the FLO CLIMBER. The FLO CLIMBERl was included in our wind tunnel testing and has been on our store page listed as "coming soon" until now. Today we are excited to announce that we've completely redesigned a new wheel and the FLO CLIMBER will become the FLO 30. Here is a little history on the FLO CLIMBER and how we changed direction to develop the FLO 30.
History of the FLO CLIMBER and FLO 30
All of our carbon wheels use carbon fiber fairings. This means that carbon is bonded to an aluminum rim. When we originally designed the FLO 60, 90 and DISC, the shape of the aluminum rim profile was not important because it was to be covered by the carbon fiber fairing. What was important, was the width. All of our CFD work pointed to a width and ultimately our rim selection for the FLO 60, 90 and DISC.
Our original rim was a cyclocross rim that met our parameters. During our original prototyping stage, Chris and I were building the wheels here in Las Vegas and ordered all of the components in Asia. Once we realized that our original carbon factory was incapable of producing our wheels (you can read about it here , we had to go back to the drawing board. In that process we ended up custom designing the rim shape to improve the bonding surface for the carbon fiber fairings that would be connected to the FLO 60, 90 and DISC. This rim is now a proprietary shape that is used exclusively for our product line.
When we went to the wind tunnel we took our original cyclocross rim (the FLO CLIMBER) to test. The results were good but using an open mold rim went against the grain for us. We knew there was a better design out there and that's how the FLO 30 came to be. A few months ago we sat down to design the FLO 30 and today we are going to walk you through that process and give you a sneak preview.
When we asked ourselves what we wanted in a training wheel, the first thing that came to mind was the Swiss Army Knife. We wanted a wheel that was capable of it all. A great climber, stable on descents, stiff yet compliant, and fast.
Here are the tools we wanted our Swiss Army Knife to come with, followed by how we tackled each one.
- Very Aerodynamic
- Built with Quality Components
- Lightweight and Quality Build
- Ease of Use
- Very Affordable Pricing
1. Very Aerodynamic
The profile of our FLO 60 and 90 have a unique shape at the bottom where the spokes meet the carbon fiber. This rounded shape was designed to make our wheels very symmetrical front to back when a tire was installed. From past experience, we know that this shape provides great aerodynamics and has excellent cross wind stability (if you are interested in learning more about wheel aerodynamics you may like this article). The trouble when designing the FLO 30 was fitting this unique shape into a wheel that was only 30 mm deep. Standard parallel brake tracks are about 10 mm deep which gives you only 20 mm of space to apply your design. After many failed attempts we simply couldn't fit the round symmetrical FLO shape into 20 mm of rim. To solve this problem, we changed the brake tracks. We designed the brake tracks for the FLO 30 to have a slight angle. This allowed us to widen the profile of the wheel and fit the round symmetrical FLO shape into only 30 mm of rim. Here is a comparison of the new FLO 30 shape vs. the original FLO CLIMBER shape.
|FLO 30 vs. the FLO Climber Profile|
The FLO 30's brake track starts at 24.00 mm and reaches 25.82 mm at the bottom. The max width of the wheel is 25.96 mm with an overall depth of 30 mm.
We tested a number of profiles in CFD to find the shape we were looking for. We then compared the old FLO Climber profile to the new FLO 30 profile. The results were quite staggering.
|CFD Results of the FLO 30 vs. the FLO Climber|
It should be pointed out that the CFD was performed without the hubs and spokes. The test included the rim profiles above with a 23 mm tire attached. The picture below shows the FLO 30 in the CFD environment.
|FLO 30 in the CFD Environment|
To make things even clearer, here are the test parameter we used when running the CFD Analysis.
|Physics Details fo the CFD Testing|
We are very happy with the results and are very excited to test the wheel at the A2 Wind Tunnel in North Carolina once we get our first prototypes.
We wanted a wheel that was bombproof. Sun, rain, winter conditions, pavement, cobbles, chip seal, etc. In short, we wanted a wheel that could handle it all. This is one of the reasons we chose an all aluminum rim made from 6066 Al. 6066 Aluminum is stronger and lighter in weight than 6061 aluminum. Additionally, it performs better when welded. Owing to the fact that all of our rims, including the FLO 30 are welded, 6066 Al was the clear choice.
3. Built with Quality Components
Great rims don't mean much if you are lacing them with poor quality spokes and using hubs with bad bearings. Our FLO 60, 90 and DISC use industry leading Sapim CX-Ray spokes (Laser's on the DISC) and Japanese EZO stainless steel or TPI ceramic bearings. We chose these because we feel they are the best. For this reason the FLO 30's will also be built with Sapim CX-Ray Spokes and Japanese EZO bearings. We will also offer a ceramic bearing upgrade option that will support our Bike for a Kid Program.
To learn more about our components and our Bike for a Kid Program, you can follow the links below.
Spokes: CX- Rays
Stainless Steel Bearings: Japanese EZO
Ceramic Bearings: TPI
4. Lightweight and a Quality Build
We wanted to develop a wheel that was lightweight and withstood the rigors of everyday riding. To accomplish this we will be using the following build specs and aiming for the target weights below.
Front Wheel: 20 Spokes, Radially Laced
Rear Wheel: 24 Spokes, 2 Cross Lacing on Drive and Non-Drive Side
Target Set Weight: 1,585g
Rider Weight Range: up to198lbs
Front Wheel: 20 Spokes, Radially Laced
Rear Wheel: 28 Spokes, 3 Cross Lacing on Drive and Non-Drive Side
Target Set Weight: 1,625g
Rider Weight Range: up to 242lbs
The build specs above have worked incredibly well with the FLO 60, 90, and DISC which is why we are choosing use them for the the FLO 30.
5. Ease of Use
Adjusting Brake Calipers
It's no surprise that wheels are getting wider. One of the biggest requests we've had regarding the FLO CLIMBER (now the FLO 30) was to make the brake track width compatible with our current FLO line-up. Adjusting brake calipers when you want to swap wheels is a pain. With the new design of the FLO 30, you will not need to adjust your brake calipers when you swap between your FLO wheels.
At FLO we are strong believers in clinchers. The advances in clincher tires over the last few years have made them comparable, if not better then tubulars tires. As a training wheel, we think it only makes sense to offer clinchers. There's no need to glue, flats only cost a few dollars and they are just easier to deal with.
Another very common request was to make the wheels tubeless ready. Tubeless road options are quickly picking up steam. If you have a keen eye you will notice that the profile of the FLO 30 above has a tubeless ready design. All of the FLO 30's will come tubeless ready.
6. Very Affordable Pricing
Our motto at FLO has always been to charge what we have to. From day one we've been open about designing and selling wheels at affordable prices. Even though our FLO 60 and 90 sets retail for $898, we realize that this is still a lot of money. With the FLO 30, we wanted to offer something that was even more affordable than our current product line. Here is our estimated pricing below. We are pretty excited about this.
Front FLO 30: $224
Rear FLO 30: $274
Rear FLO 30 Clydesdale: $274
Front FLO 30 C (Ceramic): $324
Rear FLO 30 C: $374
Rear FLO 30 Clydesdale Ceramic: $374
This brings the set pricing on the stainless steel bearing options to $498 and $698 for the ceramic version. All of the wheels will be sold individually which means you can pair them with the current FLO 60, 90 and DISC. If you wanted a Front FLO 30 and Rear FLO 60, you would reduce the $898 (for a set of FLO 60s) price to $698. The option to mix and match creates versatile wheel sets and pricing options. As a final note, to our knowledge, this is the first set of aero wheels that have been designed from the ground up with CFD for under $500.
Anticipated Release Date
We plan to release limited quantities of the wheels in the first quarter of 2013. We are currently waiting for the mold to be completed and will then move to a prototype stage. We will be sure to keep everyone up-to-date as things progress.
The FLO 30's will come with the same 18 color options as the FLO 60, 90 and DISC.
In closing, we are very excited about the FLO 30. The FLO CLIMBER never felt right and we are glad we are taking the steps to offer a product we are proud of. This is the Swiss Army Knife of our line-up and it pairs very well with our existing products. We've learned a lot during the development and we hope you like the new FLO 30. Please leave your comments below. We are excited to hear what you have to say about the FLO 30.