FSA AGX Wheels: Getting Rolling – by Grannygear
Still good after all these years: Back in the days of 29″er reviews, I obtained a set of FSA Afterburner 29″er wheels. They were not the lightest or the most expensive, but they were very solid wheels that I could not hurt by using them on typical XC rides. The biggest hit was the inner width of 21.5mm which was out of step by the time they got to market. By then, 29″er rims and rims in general for MTB were getting wider and wider.
I actually ended up using them on my first gravel bike and there they stayed for at least 2 full seasons of painless, reliable use. Never touched a spoke…bearings still smooth. I still have them.
Now I say that because these ‘new‘ AGX wheels are pretty much a re-badged Afterburner wheel. That might seem to take the ‘blush off of the rose’ for FSA, but not so fast. It also means that these wheels have history, at least in my experience, and good history at that. That is not a bad thing and if you are looking for a well built, low cost wheel to upgrade your stock boat anchors, the ones with the self-destructing hubs, then read on.
Lets see what the FSA website has to say about these:
• Asymmetric, 25mm depth x 26.1mm wide alloy rim • Tubeless compatible • Available in 650B (27.5”) and 700C (29”) • Alloy P. R. A. hubs for direct pull spokes • ISO 6-Bolts rotor mount • Front hub with QR/TA-15 axle compatibility • Rear hub with QR/X-12 axle compatibility • Cartridge bearings • 2-cross double butted spokes with brass nipples • 6-pawl aluminum for SMN 9-11 sp or SRAM XD 10-12 speed freehub • Artisan built, entirely by hand • Includes Alloy QR-65, tubeless valves (1 pair), FSA tubeless tape and spoke protector • 700C (29”) is compatible with cyclocross and gravel bike (With the appropriate frame)
I still think that 21mm-22mm is a good width for a gravel bike wheel…not too heavy that way and plenty of support for a 34-42mm tire. The AGX wheels are 21.5mm wide and I weighed them at 835g front and 978g rear with tape and stems. An 1800g wheel set is not going to wow weightweenies.com, but if you consider that the stock wheels on the Topstone were well over 2000g, well 1800g is not bad. And consider this…retail is $629.00 for the FSA AGX wheels. That is very reasonable for a hand built wheel.
There are a couple of things that are a bit out of step, showing the age of the wheels. One is the stock 15mm front axle configuration, but I was sent a 12mm axle kit with the wheels. Swapping was pretty easy, but included the use of cone wrenches. Cone wrenches? Who uses those anymore? I have some beat up ones in my tool box from days gone by, but I do wonder how common that is in most garages. As well, the hubs are 6 bolt rotor mounting. Now that worked great for the Topstone as that was what the stock wheels used, but that is a bit rare. Most bikes come with Centerlock rotors meaning you would be buying new rotors or searching though old parts boxes for some 6 bolt 160mm rotors.
Mounting them with the Hutchinson Overides was simple and floor-pump rated.
So far they have been what I remembered them to be…solid performing wheels. Pick up is not the snappiest thing I have felt, but I am comparing them to wheels 300g lighter and almost twice as much money. Compared to the stock wheel set, they are like pulling off logging boots and stepping into sneakers.
I have several rides on them on mixed roads and I will continue in that vein for the future. I bet that, based on my past experience, they will quietly be doing the job at test’s end.
NOTE: FSA sent over the AGX wheels for test and review to Riding Gravel at no charge. We not mot paid, nor bribed, for this review and we will always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.