October 29, 2012

FLO Cycling - The FLO 30 (previously the FLO Climber)


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.

Design Goals
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.

  1. Very Aerodynamic
  2. Bombproof
  3. Built with Quality Components
  4. Lightweight and Quality Build
  5. Ease of Use
  6. 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.

2. Bombproof

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.

Standard Build
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

Clydesdale Build
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.

Clinchers
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.

Tubeless Ready
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.

Color Options
The FLO 30's will come with the same 18 color options as the FLO 60, 90 and DISC.

Conclusion
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. 

Take care,

Jon

27 comments:

Dusty Holcomb said...

awesome job guys! I now have a FLO disc, and a set of 60's and these will be the next ones in the stable! I live in Charlotte and would love to buy you guys a cup of coffee when you come to the windtunnel. Keep up the great work.

Joel Pace said...

Sign me up. Just received my 60's and 90 and they re awesome. I'll order as soon as you will let me....

FLO Cycling said...

Thanks Dusty. The next time we are in Charlotte we will let you know. I really appreciate your support! - Jon

FLO Cycling said...

Thanks Joel. I am glad you are happy with the wheels. We'll be selling these as fast as we can. - Jon

Wenqi Zhang said...

Can you revel the rim weight? These wheels just prove how overpriced the Zipp 101's are

Dustin said...

You guys rock! Good work.

Skinewmexico said...

What about some 40-50s, for the non-tri guys?

Will said...

Looks great! Any ideas to offer the rims for sale individually?

FLO Cycling said...

Wenqi Zhang,

We do not know the exact rim weight at this time since the rim has yet to be produced. We have designed the shape and are currently cutting the mold to produce the rim. Once we have a few samples we will release the weights.

Thanks for the question,

Chris

FLO Cycling said...

Dustin,

Thank buddy! We are really excited about this wheel.

Take care,

Chris

FLO Cycling said...

Skinewmexico,

We will be releasing more wheels as time passes but each wheel takes a significant amount of time and money to develop. A 40-50mm wheel could quite possibly be in our line up in time.

Thanks for the input,

Chris

FLO Cycling said...

Will,

We will not be selling the rims by themselves in the beginning for a couple of reasons.

1. It's a new product and we want to control how it is built to help us identify any potential issues
2. If the FLO 30 is anything like the FLO 60, 90 and DISC stocking our own shelves could be challenging.

I hope that makes sense,

Chris

John K. said...

Keep up the good work guys, will the FLO 30 as well as the rest of the lines be compatible with the new 11 spd DA cassettes etc?

FLO Cycling said...

John K.

Yes, the new FLO 30 and all other FLO wheels are compatible with the new DA 11 speed group. You will need to purchase the 11 speed hub body. Our best estimates right now put that at $30. It's the same up-charge for a campy set up.

Thanks for your interest,

Chris

Jordan Oroshiba said...

In order to run tubeless will users need to install a Stan's esque tape? If not: how will nipples be installed? On the note of nipples... that rim shape doesn't show a section the aluminum rim for them to sit. Is this just not pictured or is the carbon going to be structural instead of costmetic on these?

FLO Cycling said...

Jordan Oroshiba,

Thanks for writing. See my answers below in bold.

In order to run tubeless will users need to install a Stan's esque tape?

Yes, a stan's valve kit will need to be installed.

On the note of nipples... that rim shape doesn't show a section the aluminum rim for them to sit. Is this just not pictured or is the carbon going to be structural instead of costmetic on these?

These rims are all aluminum. There will be no carbon fiber. The nipples will rest at the bottom of the aluminum rim body.

Take,

Chris

John K. said...

Thanks for the reply guys on the 11spd hub body, will we need to re-dish the wheel?
John

FLO Cycling said...

John K,

I'm assuming shimano built the 11 speed system to work with standard dishing so I don't see any need to re-dish.

Chris

F. Atalay said...

Hi, any updates on these? I need a new pair of training wheels soon and these look very attractive.

FLO Cycling said...

F. Atalay,

Thanks for writing. We hope to have our first samples in the next few weeks. Once we approve everything we'll be doing our first limited production run. I'm guessing (and it's definitely a guess) that these will be available in limited quantities near the end of the first quarter or early second quarter.

Take care,

Chris

George Carlisle said...

How do you guys define "tubeless ready" for these wheels? With an after market (Stan's or Bontrager) kit (rim strip, sealant, valve stem) they'll accept "tubeless ready" tires but not true tubeless tires(e.g. Maxxis Padrone)? Or something else? Since there really isn't any standard for road tubeless. Do you or any of your customers to date have experience running tubeless on any of your wheels?

FLO Cycling said...

George,

Good question. Tubeless ready means you will be able to use a Stan's kit an apply a tubeless tire. I haven't personally gone tubeless on our wheels but the Stan's kits are rumored to work very very well.

Let me know if you have any additional questions.

Take care,

Chris

David Carriere said...

Tubeless road conversion has been great - (a lot) less flats and more comfort. Over 4,000 miles in thorny AZ and pot holey CA with no issues at around 80psi on std width rims (Reynolds dv46). Use Orange seal or Stan's.

the ridge inside the flo30 should help reduce "burping" sealant and air pressure.

The trick to a happy tubeless experience is to match a tire to a wheel so you can remove and replace the tire IF need be while on a ride. The tubeless tires won't stretch - their bead is stronger.

Go flo go

FLO Cycling said...

David Carriere,

Thank you for your input. I personally do not have much tubeless experience so I appreciate your comments.

Take care,

Chris

andycaz21 said...

Hi, I've been looking at the Flo 30s for a little bit now and wondered what your opinion would be in using them for cyclocross racing. Just how bomb proof are they? I'm a college student trying to hit two birds with one stone using the 30s for road and cx racing. Have you heard of anyone using them for this? Also I am very impressed with all of your aero testing and answering consumer questions. Keep up the good work!

FLO Cycling said...

andycaz21,

We do not recommend our current builds be used for cyclocross. That said, we will be selling just rims in the near future. I am double checking specs with my factory as we speak to ensure we can recommend them for cross builds. I'll get back to you as soon as I know for sure.

Take care,

Chris

FLO Cycling said...

andycaz21,

You are ok to use our FLO 30 rims for cyclocross. Please make sure you use a qualified build and builder to ensure the wheel is safe for cyclocross use.

Take care,

Chris