It would be wrong think that the assembly of a hub, some spokes and a rim is forever simple and unchanged.
While many wheels still on the road are exactly the same as they were 50 years ago, some companies like Full Speed Ahead are finding ways to improve their wheels, and therefore enhancing the riders experience. Features like asymmetrical lacing patterns, deep rim profiles and reliable drive systems have separated FSA from the rest of the pack. The GRID wheels aim to be the holy trifecta of desired properties; light, stiff and strong—and to top it off, they are entirely hand built. It might seem irrelevant, but it’s something I’m starting to appreciate more and more these days.
FSA caters to cycling enthusiasts across all conceivable riding disciplines. I found the Gravity GRID wheels to be a well-balanced medium of ultra-light vs DH bruiser strong. The wheel set is feathery enough to pedal yet stout enough when the downhill lines became burly. The rim is beefy, with a 27mm internal width and 25mm depth and is tubeless ready. FSA builds the wheels with double-butted, stainless steel spokes that thread into a brass nipple. I liked the idea of the brass nipples to keep the indestructibility factor high. Engagement consists of a 4 pawl aluminum drive body that can accommodate either Shimano or SRAM drivetrains. Switching the driver body is simple, all you need is a good crescent wrench or a 17mm cone wrench. The hubs have a standard 6 bolt disc rotor pattern with cartridge bearings inside, meaning replacing them is easy.
The high-speed corners were easy to control with the ultra-stiff, asymmetrical construction of the GRID wheel set. The extra stability was welcomed when approaching heavily textured, chattery corners that delivered considerable side load feedback. When leaning in hard, the front and rear wheels gobbled up roots and rocks in a predictable nature. No longer was I worried about bouncing wheels yielding undesired lateral flex. When the tires bit into the dirt again after each millisecond of hang time, the high tension, stainless steel spokes kept the wheels directly under the rider. This laterally stiff wheel set was confidence inspiring to say the least. Simply put, the GRIDs go exactly where you point them.
The stiff design also led to little wasted wattage. When getting on the gas, the hoops snapped into action quicker than a teenager raids their parent’s liquor cabinet when they leave for vacation. The simple 4 pawl hub ensured consistent, quick pedal action with a quiet roll.
The same stiff and responsive cornering characteristics proved equally as enjoyable when pointing the bike downhill. I tested the GRIDs rigorously, choosing burly jump and downhill trails on the regular. The wheels are still true after 75 hours of use; with less than 1mm recorded lateral movement in the wheel stand. Stable, strong, modestly light, and well-built right out of the box.
There wasn’t any touch up maintenance with the spoke wrench to mention. I enjoyed the idea of opening the box, installing the wheels, tires, rotors, and forgetting about them. Hub engagement worked perfectly throughout the test period and the drive system never made even the slightest clunk. FSA’s stainless steel bearings kept things rolling along smoothly and the seals for the axles and drive system successfully kept Mother Nature from getting too close.
The only thing I did notice was a little squeak in the rear hub seal, but that was easily fixed with a little lubricant. I didn’t experience any unwanted bearing drag or malfunction, even after burying the bike in the mud a few times.
After lots of abuse and a few ejection-style crashes, the GRIDs proved their durability continually. Maintenance is practically non-existent, but if something were to go wrong, FSA has built the wheels in a way that makes it easy to replace components. Overall, I loved the wheels; they’re a strong, light, responsive and durable option at an extremely competitive price.
Weight: 1,930 grams/pair
See more at www.ridegravity.com