There is hardly any other bike upgrade that will affect your performance as much as a new pair of wheels. At the same time, we all know that this can be one of the priciest upgrades too. Therefore, when thinking about upgrades, we must ask ourselves if a new pair of carbon wheels is the best upgrade you could invest in. We were glad to have received a wheelset from FAR to test it around the mountains of the Black Forest and the flats of the Rhine Valley. We hope to offer you an extensive overview of what to expect from the FAR Ventoux C5 wheelset, especially which aspects are outstanding and which can be improved.
FAR promises to offer high quality carbon components whithout breaking your bank account. It is a China based carbon wheelsets and parts manufacturer who has proven its commitment to high quality and customer satisfaction since its foundation in 2008. To ensure that their products are long lasting and enjoy low rolling resistance values, they have partnered with CeramicSpeed for the development of their own hubs. Besides their own hubs, FAR offers their wheelsets with DT Swiss or Tune hubs while all spokes they use in their wheelset portfolio come from Sapim directly.
The wheelset we tested was the Ventoux C5, which is the allrounder wheelset of FAR with a 45mm deep rim up front and 50mm on the rear combined with 18/24 spokes front and rear respectively. FAR claims 1495g (+-5%) for the rim brake and tubeless ready Ventoux C5 wheelset which we’ve tested. Their allrounder should be the perfect option for flat and hilly stages. It has a 19mm inner width and is compatible with Shimano 11-speed, Campagnolo 11/12-speed as well as SRAM XDR cassettes. Those specifications make the wheelset comparable to the Tune Schwarzbrenner 45, Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon UST and DT Swiss ERC 1400 wheelsets. Below you can find a more detailed specification sheet of the wheelset.
Hubs: FAR– Aluminum body, steel bearings
Spokes: Sapim CX-Ray and Sapim CX-Sprint, black, Straight-Pull spokes
Nipples: black, external
Number of spokes (front/rear): 18/24
Size: 100mm QR front, 130mm QR rear. 622mm (28” wheels)
Rim Material: Carbon – UD finish
Profile depth: 45mm front, 50mm rear (2,5mm offset)
Rim inner width: 19mm
Rim outer width: 26mm
Tubeless ready rim: Yes. Rim base without spoke holes, tubeless ready without need of a rim tape!
Hookless Design: No
Maximum tire pressure: tubeless: 7 Bar (105 psi), clincher: 8.5 Bar (125 psi)
Freehub body compatibility: Shimano 10/11-speed but there are also a Campagnolo 11/12-speed and a SRAM XDR options available.
Braking surface: “CERAMED” braking surface. This is FARs brake surface technology, which means that the brake track is covered by a layer of glass like fiber, solid and with high density. FAR promises this increases the braking performance, while remaining it’s wear resistance, which should result in a significantly improved rim lifetime.
Color finish: UD finish, three white “FAR” decals placed every 120°
Weight: claimed 1490g, tested: VR: 658g HR: 874g, VR-QR: 57g, HR-QR: 62g, Valves: 9g, Set: 1532g
Weight Limit: no rider weight limit
FAR offers the Ventoux C5 as a disc version as well as a version with CeramicSpeed bearings. While the disc brake versions are only available as clinchers, the rim brake versions are also available as tubular. FAR claims that the tubular version of the Ventoux C5 is 190g lighter than the clincher version, independent of the bearing option that you choose.
General thoughts beforehand
Some of you might be wondering how FAR guarantees the quality of their wheels and if they offer warranty on their items or a crash replacement service. To be frank, we did not do any destructive tests on the wheelset and believe that the general antipathy towards Chinese products is ill-founded, especially when looking at premium products. Nevertheless, FAR offers three (3) years warranty coverage.
Testing conditions and comparison wheelsets.
To be honest with you folks, I am comparing the FAR Ventoux C5 rim Brake wheels to my old and trusty Mavic Aksium rim brake wheelset as well as to my newer Fulcrum Racing 66 Disc brake wheelset. Moreover, while the Ventoux C5 were mounted on Starbike’s full carbon test bike, my other wheels were mounted on my personal winter training bike (heavy aluminium frame) and my road bike (lighter carbon frame). This is important to keep in mind when I talk about my overall experiences with the FAR wheelset. Still, we were lucky and had a competitor’s carbon rim brake wheelset in our store which I could mount on our test bike and directly compare the Ventoux C5 to.
The test rides took place in the perhaps most beautiful part of Germany, the Black Forest. Consisting out of a combination of steep mountain roads, rolling hills and flat bike roads, that were blended with some gravel and dirt every now a then. Luckily the weather was good on most of those test rides, so I had to wait for more demanding weather to be able to fully grasp the “all weather“ capabilities of the wheelset. Therefore, the test rides stretched from the mid August to mid November.
General Build Quality
So, without further ado, lets get to the actual wheelset review itself.
The overall build quality of the wheelset is what you would expect from a wheelset in this price segment. The wheels were true out of the box and remained true even after being used far off their intended range of use (gravel and some quite nasty cobble roads), which is almost impossible to bypass when you are riding through the small towns of the Black Forest or perhaps on your week-end ride too.
I tested the wheels for their spin out of the box. The hub axles showed no evident of greater resistance than most wheels when turning them by hand. The freehub spins smoothly when spun by hand or up to speed on the work stand. Although it is difficult to quantify the effect of rotation drag in real world riding, the wheels did not feel slow or sluggish, neither when spinning them on the work stand, nor when riding outside.
While the wheelset features high quality components, the quite heavy quick releases included in the delivery are not quite what you would expect from such a wheelset. Additionally, the wheelset does not have the fastest engaging freehub. It is not a big issue, but since I’m coming from a mountain bike background, the engagement lag was distinct and sometimes disconcerting. On the other hand, what the rear hub did have, was a very noticeable coasting sound (Below you can hear it yourself). I like hubs which have a nice “buzz” when coasting but this might definitely bother some people, even though the noise intensity will decrease after the wheels have been “broken in” (after a full season).
The wheels come with a beautiful UD-Carbon finish. On our version FAR placed their standard decals which were a wonderful addition since the three white decals on each side of the wheel are also reflective, creating useful side visibility for when the rides went for longer than expected.
The wheels are advertised as tubeless ready and they indeed are tubeless compatible and do come with tubeless valves hence you could have a tubeless setup almost right out of the box. However, we had some trouble fitting the wheels with Schwalbe’s Pro One 25-622 tubeless ready tires. This is not surprising, since tubeless tires in general can be quite cumbersome to install when the tire and rim don’t have a perfect fit. This is not different from most other tubeless setups. This means that you must have a systematic fitting approach. (Here are some quick tips: If you are using a floor pump to fit the tire, try installing an inner tube first. Make sure both beads snap into place. Then, unseat one bead and remove the tube. Next, install the tubeless valve and try to seat the open bead as much as possible. Inflate the tire without any sealant and add sealant after both beads snapped into place.)
We tested the rims with the included Swiss Stop Race Pro carbon rims pads on the steep mountains of the Black Forest and the braking performance was impressive. The brake performance was comparable to my reliable disc brakes. The wheels make you feel comfortable in braking late, so that you are able to carry a lot of speed into the turns, at least in dry conditions. The brake pads do wear off quite fast, even when tested only in dry conditions. Therefore, you will want to keep an eye on them before you go out for a hilly ride. In wet weather the braking power diminished noticeably, and I did not feel very confident to ride down steep roads and stick to the flats instead.
The wheelset is very stiff. Although I am not a heavy rider (74kg), and most certainly not a sprinter either, I did experience some wheel rub. I set up the brakes so that they were quite close to the rims, because I like the brakes to bike fairly early. I usually don’t feel any brake rub on my other bikes, so this was quite disturbing. Especially when riding in wet conditions, similar to the ones in our test ride, hearing the brakes rub off whenever you get out of the saddle for a brief sprint out of the corner or up a hill can be exceptionally annoying. However, when using the competitors set of carbon wheels, I also experienced some brake rub when full on sprinting or climbing out of the saddle.
Nevertheless, I had the feeling that my power was being transferred directly into forward motion, especially when on the saddle. This created an incredibly responsive and joyful ride which kept me motivated and less fatigued particularly when climbing steeper hills. I think riders, who like me do not get out of the saddle that much when climbing or sprinting, will have a very good experience with this wheelset.
It probably wasn’t primarily the reduced wheelset weight that led me to beat all my personal bests on Schauinslandkönig, but rather the reduced drag and quick acceleration of the wheels. I remember smiling at the end of the steepest ramp of the Schauinslandkönig segment. That is what really matters, this joy motivates and creates moments of success as a positive by-product you get to beat your PB or KOM. No matter what, even if you don’t see an improvement every time you go for a ride, I am sure that you will still have a great time riding these wheels.
Despite not being used to ride relatively deep wheels like the Ventoux C5, I had no problems handling the wheels even on slightly windy days. The Ventoux C5 felt good on longer stretches of flat road and were able to hold the pace. I guess there is a reason why Fabian Cancellara went for deeper wheels when riding Paris-Roubaix or Milan-San Remo. The deep section rim is evident when riding, however not distinctly disadvantageous, especially not when comparing it to its direct competitor. As a matter of fact I was surprised how agile the wheel remained on cross winds.
As already mentioned above, the wheels transmit a lot of confidence. I believe that this was by large due to the agility it presented not only on the flats but also at high speeds. I was able to turn into corners fast and change direction very quickly. The combination of the wheels with the Schwalbe Pro One tires really is a good one. At the same time, when riding downhill, I had no hesitance in braking late into the turns and carry as much speed as possible, leaning hard into the corners on the way down.
Finally, lets quickly revise the main pros and cons about the Ventoux C5 clincher tubeless ready wheelset.
The wheel presents very high quality and remained true over all the testing period. Additionally, it is equipped with superior components such as the hubs that were developed in collaboration with CeramicSpeed and the wonderful Sapim spokes. The wheelset is also compatible with all new group sets out there, coping with Shimano/ Campagnolo and SRAM 11-speed as well as with SRAM and Campagnolo 12-speed group sets. It showed great braking performance in dry conditions as well as incredible agility and quick handling. The low rolling resistance and direct power transmission made me enjoy riding up ramps and rolling hills.
On the other hand, the slow engagement of the freehub body and the quite heavy quick releases included in the delivery highlight that FAR had to handle some trade-offs when designing the wheelset. I would place the poor braking performance in wet conditions as a general rim brake trade-off, especially for carbon wheels. The difficult tubeless setup could be improved by finding a tire that fits the rims better than the one we used. So, there is no direct critique on the rims here.
Overall the Ventoux C5 is a wonderful set of wheels that offer a good price–performance ratio. We are glad to have had the opportunity to test those wheels and would recommend them, particularly for people looking for an upgrade from heavier and shallower wheels.