By: kiritozhang Translator: alanyu
It has been three years since Farsports released their first self-branded wheelset, and now they have updated their third generation.
The new products are still under the Ventoux series, but they are higher level “S series” instead of “C series”, which may remind you of Mercedes-Bez. The difference between S series and C series is similar to that of Zipp NSW and Firecrest.
Let’s open the box—-emmh, well, it’s putting back them into the box for Instagram. The wheelset doesn’t come with the tires. The package is quite large as each wheel is put in an individual carton parallel to each other, which can avoid the collision between the spokes.
It’s the tubular version this time and this is my third pair of Farsports’ wheels. I’m always a fan of tubular, but there is no tubular version choice of Farsports’ second generation wheelset, Ventoux C series, which makes me a bit disappointed.
What’s the advantage of the tubular weight? Actually, it has no weight and rolling resistance advance compared to the tubeless and the top-class clincher, and it’s also complicated to mount.
However, the tubular rim is lighter than a tubeless/clincher rim by several dozens of gram, which is not a small difference considering the momentum of inertia, and thus it can brings a better feeling of acceleration.
The cross section of Ventoux S series is the same with C series, but the rim height is different. The C3 is 35/40 combo and the C5 is 45/50 combo, while S series is the same height between the front wheel and the rear wheel. You get more choices of the S3/S4/S5, which are 35/45/56. The subdivided rim height can be considered as climbing/all-round/flat.
S series is different with C series more than the carbon spoke.
The most attractive one must be the carbon spoke. Self-designed carbon spoke in China is really rare, and the general riders usually can be a bit afraid of that. S series is different from the crazy fully integrated full carbon wheels such as Lightweight. The carbon spoke is very fragile when it’s crashed laterally, and the fully integrated wheels is almost impossible to repair a crashed carbon spoke. S series is still a traditional wheelset with the separated hub, spokes and rim, but equipped with the carbon spokes instead of T302 stainless-steel spokes. Thus, it’s much easier to replace a broken carbon spoke and re-true the wheel.
Other Chinese factories has also produced carbon spokes before, whose carbon body and alloy nipple (hub side) are jointed by the resin. This kind of carbon spokes has a risk of the separation due to the aging of the resin, so it’s not promoted. The carbon spokes of Ventoux S series don’t use any resin. Instead they use a tapered surface on both spoke end and nipple. Theoretically it will be a very solid joint under the tension lancing on the rim and the hub, and is almost not aging. The carbon spoke of CADEX wheelset uses the similar craft, but Giant doesn’t talk a lot on this point.
What’s the advantage of the carbon spoke? Yeah, all brands are telling you that the carbon spokes are lighter, which is definitely the truth. Farsports claim that it’s 34% lighter the traditional steel spoke, but keeps the secret of which steel spoke. Moreover, the tensile strength of carbon spoke is much higher than T302 spoke due their nature. Almost no stainless-steel spoke can survive 2000N tension, and some steel spokes are only stretched longer without being more laterally stiff under a certain high tension. In comparison, the carbon spoke can survive more than 3000N tension with much less tensile deformation. All these physics nature of the carbon spoke will make you feel lighter and stiffer when pedaling, which I’ve already felt when trying the UNAAS carbon spoke wheelset.
The improvement is much more than the carbon spoke. Talking about the rim, it’s more surprising. They have a new treatment on the rim surface and the logo which let them use the decal for the first time, instead of the sticker used before. The ceramic brake track treatment has been upgraded to the second generation, and grooved like Campagnolo’s AC3. It is a comprehensive upgrade on braking performance in both dry and wet, and also the life time of the brake track.
The nipple (rim side) is too large for the non-hole structure on the rim bed due to the fat carbon spoke, so you will need the tape for the tubeless version. The groove for the tubular is optimized for mounting. You don’t need to spend a lot of time on mounting and truing the tubular. A bit of inflation after mounting will make the tubular easily to be trued itself.
The hub has a new shape and lancing: front 16 and rear 21.
The rear wheel of S series is 21 spokes lancing by 2:1 while that of C series is 24 lancing by 2:1, and also the pattern is slightly changed. The style of the rear hub is haler. The factory code is laser-printed on the non-drive side flange, which will be used when you need a customer service.
The non-drive side of the rear hub and both sides of the front hub are protected by a fully sealed cover, hiding the alloy end of the carbon spoke, making a good appearance and reducing the possibility of being polluted by dirt. You need to tune the nipple at the rim side when the wheel needs to be re-trued, so the sealing structure won’t bring any difference.
Some riders have reported that the waterproof of the freehub of the old Farsports’ wheels is not good, which is actually a common problem of the hubs designed and made in China mainland and Taiwan. They simplify the sealing structure of the freehub to shave down the weight. Thus, the new freehub is designed to have a much higher waterproof level by introducing the maze waterproof structure.
Although the freehub has the anti-biting steel piece, it will still be bitten slightly after a long time using, which won’t bring the function problem. On the anti-biting aspect, a steel freehub is much better than an alu freehub, at the cost of weight. I’m wondering when they will release a titanium freehub.
The flange of the hub is thicker than before due to the fat carbon spoke, resulting in a smaller WR. The rear rim of S series is not the asymmetrical one used by C series, so the lateral stiffness would be less if it was equipped with steel spoke.
Riders may be annoyed by the creaking caused by the collision between the valve and the rim if using the tubular. Then a cheap but ugly piece of 3M tape, or an expensive but beautiful piece of valve cover can solve your problem.
Ventoux S series, the flagship of the Farsports, comes with only a few accessories, including a pair of skewers, two pairs of pads and a spacer for 10s. The tubeless version includes a pair of tubeless valves while there is no valve cover for the tubular version, which disappoints me. IMO the accessories are too simple. The big brands’ wheelset at the same price will include a manual (but who will read it thoroughly?) and some stickers.
Ventoux S4 tubular, whose 45mm rim height is similar to C5’s 45/50 combo, but the weight is much less. The S4 tubular version is claimed to be 1205g and my trustful scale tells 1190g to me, while theS4 CS (Ceramic Speed bearings) tubular version is claimed 1175g, not too much difference. The S4 CS tubeless version is 1365g while the C5 CS tubeless version is 1490g which I have tried before.
Though there is no much weight difference between the tubular and the tubeless tire, the hub of the S series is heavier, which means the weight reduce of the rim and the spoke is more than 300g from the C5 CS tubeless to the S4 tubular.
Such a huge momentum of inertia difference makes the S4 tubular much better than the C5 CS tubeless when accelerating. When climbing, the S4 tubular is livelier. It feels like I can go one or two steps to the smaller cog. It’s a big difference that the 45mm height wheelset can make you feel better than a 35mm height wheelset when climbing. If you can keep a high output, there is no any problem for climbing with the S4 tubular, which makes it a good all-round wheelset.
I have once lent my S4 tubular to my friend whose FTP is less than 200W. He was surprised that he can ride steadily on his saddle to climb the small hill where he needed to stay out of saddle with his own C5.
The lively feeling brought by the S4 can make you pedal faster or switch to a smaller cog, but it needs a good output to supply yourself, or you will exhaust yourself quickly. IMO, if you are not living in the mountain or the slope is no more than 10% in your climbing route, there is no problem for S4 tubular, or S3 can be a better choice. If you are keen on flat criterium, keeping above 40 kph and short sprint a lot to over 50 kph, then S5 is more suitable. It’s like ZIPP 303 and 404. (It’s funny that ZIPP claims its 404 as the all-round, which who has ridden on all knows that they are noodles.)
Ride fast, then it needs to brake well, or you may wake up in a hospital. As to Ventoux S series, the improvement of the braking performance is the most outstanding one. The roughness can be easily felt by hand on the second-generation ceramic brake track, combining with the laser etched groove, makes the brake performance high in both dry and wet.
Talking about the braking performance, only the new ENVE and ZIPP is better than Ventoux S series among the wheels I have tried. I have remarked that UNAAS wheels’ braking performance is good in dry but just OK in wet, and now Ventoux S4 is another step beyond UNAAS. The Farsports claims that the second -generation ceramic treated brake track has a longer life time, and during my ride including rainy days and sandy roads, there is no significant scratch.
In rainy days, the water can be accumulated on the brake track (centrifugal phenomenon). Now the groove works as a drain, make the track less wet and improving the friction between the pads and the track. The deeper the groove, the more effective the drain, and also the longer the life. The groove of Campagnolo’s AC3 is much shallower that that of the S4.
You can take off the freehub of the C series without any tools like DT. It’s simple but it’s a too loose fit of the Farsports’ hub and you will take off the freehub together sometime when you want to dismount the cassette. Now you need two 5mm Allen keys to dismount the cover and the freehub of the S series. I prefer this structure, which is also simple for maintenance. You need a 14mm Allen key, which is not a common size for a set of Allen keys (1.5-10mm), to fully dismount the hub. The hex groove in the axle is shallow, so be careful with it, or you can damage the groove easily.
After some rides in wet and rainy days, the grease inside is still fresh. The waterproof has a good improvement comparing to the old Farsports’ hub, but it doesn’t mean a free-maintenance. However, be careful when you take out the freehub, there is no limitation of the pawls and they can drop off themselves.
There is no drain hole on the rim of Ventoux C series which I have reported before, and it has been under debate up till now. Some big brands don’t have the drain hole such as Campagnolo and Zipp, while others such as DT Swiss, Vision and Shimano have. It has been a rainy season recently, and I was riding and training in the rain as I don’t like to ride on the smart trainer in house. Thus, I weighed my wheelset again after washing my bike after riding in the rain, it was around 15g weight gain: the front 796g > 799g and the rear 939g > 951g. (The weight includes the tire.) 15 grams is not much, but may be critical enough for a weight weenie.
Due to the higher tensile strength of the carbon spoke, all the carbon spoke wheelsets give you a same feeling: bumpy! Though it’s not a fully integrated carbon spoke wheelset, the Farsports doesn’t claim the tension of the spoke, and I can’t measure it by my tension meter as the material is different. I have Continental Competition tubulars on this wheelset and inflated to 90/100psi. It feels harsher than GP5000 on other wheelset with the same pressure. There is no problem on flat, but I feel a bit too much bumpy when descending and thus I don’t have a high confidence in cornering. I suggest a tubular with latex inner or tubeless version to filter the vibration.
Ventoux C5 CS tubeless I have tried before sells at USD 1199, whose price is similar to Ventoux S4 tubular. If I had to choose one, it would definitely be the S4.
The S series is like Honda Civic Type R, while the C series is like Civic 1.5T. The CS bearings is just like adding a set of over-priced speakers to 1.5T, and it has only little improvement. For example, Campagnolo bora one and bora ultra have a different set of bearing balls but their price difference is more than USD 400. With a limited budget, the improvement on the rim and spoke is way more noticeable.
Pros: excellent acceleration, good braking performance, low weight.
Cons: fragile carbon spokes, harsh feeling, few accessories.
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