FLO Cycling G700 Wheel Set: Checkpoint – by Guitar Ted
Aero wheels and gravel riding may not be the most natural partners to one’s mind at first, but after some consideration, I think one will arrive at the conclusion that they make sense. The trouble is, there are not really any aero wheels designed for the purposes of gravel riding. Until now, that is.
Yes, the FLO Cycling G700 wheel set may be the only aero wheel set specifically for gravel riding/racing now. But I do not think that this will be the last you see of aero wheels for gravel riding. Not if what I am experiencing is a common result for most folks, that is. I’ll get on to that in a minute.
First, as promised in the introduction to the FLO Cycling G700 wheels, there is a Riding Gravel Radio Ranch podcast with FLO Cycling’s Jon Thornham which covers a lot of the reasons for an aero wheel set for gravel and you can click that link to hear more about that. I encourage you to do this, as Jon does a great job of making the science make sense.
Ride Performance: In the introduction, I hinted at the aerodynamic advantage to these wheels and that continues to be felt at times, but this is hard to quantify without a lot of expensive test equipment. That said, there are other reasons to consider when looking to get a FLO Cycling G700 wheel set. One of these reasons may seem counter-intuitive, and that is comfort. A deep section wheel is comfortable? Yes. In this case it is. Very……
In fact, this characteristic of the wheels was the very first thing I discussed with FLO Cycling’s Jon Thornham the first time we connected over the phone. The last thing I wanted to test was some wheel that had aero benefits but was so stiff that I was going to get jack-hammered into a numb state afterward. Jon immediately assuaged my concerns with a perfect explanation of why this wasn’t going to be the case with the G700’s, saying that their deep section rim was designed to take this vibration effect of gravel riding into account. (Jon does a great job of covering this in the podcast, by the way.)
The result I found with the G700’s was so opposite of what I expected that it was shocking. These may be the most comfortable wheels on gravel I have ever ridden. I know the tire has a huge effect where rider comfort is concerned, but I know the Teravail Rutland well enough by now that I feel this statement about the G700’s is a valid one. Rider comfort with these wheels is definitely enhanced. Forget the aero benefits for a second. If deep section carbon rims can do this for the ride feel, why wouldn’t you want them? Add the aero benefits and it starts to be an easy decision to make in favor of having deep section carbon rims on gravel bikes. This is why I don’t think FLO Cycling will be the only brand in this space in the future.
That said, there are other things I have found that I really have enjoyed about these wheels. For one thing, they seem to have a snap and acceleration which is nice to have underneath you on climbs and when coming around other riders or out of corners. I would assume this has to do with the shorter spokes having less ‘wind-up’ and that deep section rim providing a nice foundation for power transfer.
These wheels coast really well also, but that’s probably no surprise considering the aero effect. The bearings in the hubs are really smooth though, and so far, the dust baths I have subjected these wheels to does not seem to have deterred the G700’s bearings from spinning freely.
Another surprising benefit of the G700 wheels is their lateral stiffness which keeps these wheels from oscillating due to off camber/off center inputs. Gravel is supremely uneven, and not only that, it can move underneath the tires momentarily, or even get squeezed out from underneath a wheel as you ride. These uneven inputs can vibrate a wheel laterally. (Watch the leading edge of your front wheel in rough gravel- if you dare – and you can see this effect.) Since the G700’s are much less prone to being set up in a vibration by the uneven surface of a crushed rock road, they ride much ‘quieter’ and stay on line better. I’ll delve into this a bit more in the final update.
So Far… The aerodynamic effects of the FLO Cycling G700 wheels is definitely there. Crosswinds and headwinds are cut through with no weird handling traits at all. However; the best thing I feel right out of the gate is how smoothly these wheels roll over coarse gravel and how damped the ride feel of the G700’s are. It is really quite remarkable considering the deep section carbon rims. However; the ‘leaf spring’ effect of the carbon in this rim does work as advertised.
I’ll be ‘A-B’ testing these FLO Cycling wheels against another wheel set to see if I can find a discernible aero effect for the final update on this review. Until then, I expect to find miles of smooth, damped feelings from the G700 wheels. Stay tuned…..
NOTE: Riding Gravel received the G700 wheel set from FLO Cycling for test and review at no charge. We were not paid, nor bribed for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and views throughout.