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Flo Disc Review–”Thunder” Version

April 30, 2013 4 comments

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I really really love love love Disc wheels. But I also really really love love love being solvent so haven’t been able to afford a really good one.

Let’s review. From various online sources here are some examples:

Zipp Disc Super 9 is $2500 USD (wow)

Fast Forward Carbon Disc $1266.00 USD (considered cheap)

HED Stinger Disc Wheel $1500 USD (average price)

You get the idea. They look cool, do give you a mental and a physical boost and will make you faster. But $1k++?? I can’t justify that. But I sooo wanted one still.

I heard about Flo Wheels from a magazine. Started by twin brothers (which is confusing when you start watching the company videos then the light bulb comes on..ahh they are twins) it’s a common start up story. Sell popular item X, at price y-50% to customers efficiently. In this case there has to be a better way to get cheap, well made carbon wheels into cyclists hands.  There was quite a back story of their woes and design but in early 2012 they finally started shipping.

Head over to their site and you can see they put a lot of science behind these wheels. They are carbon covers over aluminum wheels, so maybe a bit of a compromise, but they work and look great. I worry a bit about what happens if a spoke breaks but seems like everything was thought out, then thought out some more. If you follow the story you will see times where, despite cost and anguish, they stopped going in one direction and went into another.

And who doesn’t like a plucky startup taking on the big dogs.

I did a lot of research and finally decided to buy a Flo Disc as the price was right. I also knew I wanted red accents. You can’t just buy a set however, you have to pre-order and wait a bit. Pre-orders sell out fast when they are opened so a bit like getting tickets to your favourite band. You have to be ready for when the window opens. I was prepared and got into pre-order 2.

The Flo Disc starts at $599(awesome) and you can get into pre-order 6 here, which should ship in June. Only option is ceramic hubs which I am dubious of value there so I didn’t go for them.

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Once bought it looked like I might get mine for the 2nd half of my 2012 TT and Tri season. Unfortunately there were delays and I didn’t get it until well after summer. However there was lots of communication from the lads and I didn’t feel too put out.

Finally it arrived and I had it in my hands.

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Wheel was well packed and nothing was scratched or broken in shipping. A+ there.

You also get an fairly individual letter from the founders which did give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

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Considering the amount of work that went into these wheels I don’t feel like an early adopter but I do appreciate what it took for these wheels to arrive at my house!

The wheel out of the package is much as you would expect. It’s a disc wheel. The graphics are a bit understated and you have options to do even more stealth and you can remove the stickers altogether. Comes with skewers and rim tape.

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I bought a new Michelin Pro4 tire and man, it was hard to get it on as it’s a bit harder to grasp the wheel.  But in the end it was on. Slapped it on the bike and this is how it looks.

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I have since learned that you are supposed to tape over the air hole to make it a complete disc…Doh. Again things everyone thinks you know but you don’t. Supposedly carpet tape works best.

Alright…why do I call these the “Thunder” version. They are LOUD. They shudder like a tin can when you move the bike around and when you are out riding you certainly know its there. Bothered me for about 5 minutes then you get used to it. Except when I move it around or put it on at the staging area of the time trials. Cringe a bit when it dings and bangs.

This did cause some questions and Flo have made changes as per this forum post. So you can’t get the “Thunder” edition anymore. I don’t really care but just know that anything I say about noise does not apply to new Flo discs.

“It’s funny that you bring that up. The FLO DISC is a little on the noisy side. Some like it, some don’t. To limit the number of people who don’t, we have worked with our factory over the last couple months to try a few minor modifications to quiet things down a little bit. And… well… thin sheets of foam between the spokes and the carbon fairings was our solution. In all honesty, I’ve never seen a Hed Jet Disc and I find it interesting that we both came to the same conclusion. There will be no performance changes to the new FLO DISC wheels and the old FLO DISCS are still perfectly functioning wheels. After one last test round (which should be any day now) all new FLO DISCs will come with thin sheets of foam between the spokes and the fairings.
Chris Thornham Flo Cycling”

Full discussion is here http://forum.slowtwitch.com/gforum.cgi?post=4238446;

So if you want a “Thunder” edition tough luck.  Maybe these will be worth something in the future if Flo goes on to dominant the landscape.

Alright..enough of the basics…how does it ride.

The Time Trial series I partake has their 1st round on Good Friday. Packed up the Cervelo and headed to the course. I had a good year last year and got a very late starting position. Gulp.  I had not done enough training so was a bit worried.

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This is a pretty serious TT series. A lot of elite guys including Aaron Fillion who has been Canadian National TT champ attend. I also am still a bit fat, so was slotted in amongst a lot of really skinny people.

I lined up and away I went. These things are pretty hard to quantify but considering my fitness level I got going fairly well. I was seeded #4(!) and was passed twice including by Aaron but things seemed to be going much better than I expected. Skinny/Fat/Tall/short time doesn’t care and my time was looking good. Could this have been the wheel. Hmm..hard to tell.

Anyways soon it was all over and I ended up 12th out of 67 and 3rd in my age group with a speed of just a bit over 38kph on a windy day. Don’t believe me here are the results. I was chuffed as they say and very happy.

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Last year I did a TT over 40kph but that was in July at peak fitness, for an early season TT this was awesome in my books. Time will tell as the season progresses. BTW Aaron clocked a 19:15 with an average of 46.75kph!

So there you have it. I still have limited use of this disc, one race and some rides, but its works, it looks cool, its cheap compared to anything else out there, the founders are dedicated and they have other options if you don’t want a disc.

I will add updates here as my 1st season with the Disc progresses.

Update #1

Did my first Tri with the Flo Disc. 2013 Smiths Falls Classic Sprint. Bike was 21 kms and out of about 100 competitors got the second fastest bike leg at 32 minutes and over 38kph!

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And also had a 15k TT at 22:35 and average of 39.8 so going faster.

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Update #2

Had a strong finish to the year with the Disc. Personal Best of 22:18 and 40.36 KPH in the final 15k TT of the year!

Personal Best

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Doug Davis Vet B M

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22:18

40.36

5

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