A highly versatile wheelset; FSA Afterburner components are at home in the park, on the trail and racing cross-country. For 2018 the Afterburner wheelset received a makeover with wider rims and boost spacing being the most notable. Coming in at a reasonable $629 and weighing in at 1640 grams, they are an excellent upgrade for many trail, cyclocross and cross country riders.
Up until recently, the Afterburner was only available in “standard MTB” spacing using end caps to work with 135mm to 142mm rear spacing. The times and spacings are a changing and so has the Afterburner. FSA introduced the Afterburner wideR late 2017 and the wheelset has quietly gained popularity amongst racers and gravel explores but still has the adaptability the Afterburners are known.
The most notable update for the Afterburner WideR is the rim width and boost compatibility. At 31mm wide (27mm inner bead) and 25mm deep, the asymmetric aluminum rim is built for hard riding and training abuse. Black anodizing finish, and black spokes and black brass nipples give the Afterburners a murdered out look and match by all black Top Fuel correctly. The build is beefy but classy with 24 straight-pull spokes in a two-cross pattern. The 24-spoke rear hub boasts a 6-pawl aluminum freehub for instant engagement and runs on a double row of stainless steel bearings; ready for abuse. Brass nipple and straight bladed spokes are a nice touch to serviceability, as nothing is worse than riding a wheelset all winter and shearing off an alloy nipple trying to true them.
Multiple end caps are included to convert the front hub to a 9mm QR or 15mm thru axle and the rear to 135mm QR or 142mm. These end cap options make this a truly versatile wheelset for many bike builds. The sturdy build, proper weight and price are what drove me to the FSA Afterburner Wider as a training wheelset. A wheelset that can take a beating, won’t break but still has a good ride quality is hard to find.
Out of the box, setup was to the point; tape the rim (tubeless tape included) install cool asymmetrical valve spacer, install tire; done. The thick, asymmetric aluminum rim, which the company calls a near-square design is responsive but not overly rigid on the trails. The frosted rims do hold dirt when rolling through the mud but they also seem to repel dings, scratches, and gouges.
On the road and trail the Afterburner WideR performed great; easy to spin up, held speed when rolling and felt sharp in the corners. The engagement from the freehub is dependable and fluid even well below freezing temperatures. 27mm of internal rim width offers a nice mix of traction and cushion. Having installed 2.35mm and 2.10mm tires both mounted easily and optimized by the wider rim. I opted for the 2.10 for most of my training as I was impressed with the feel and grip.
After many miles in snow, dirt and everything I could throw at them the FSA Afterburner WideRs are true as they came out of the box. The bearings have developed a bit of grit but that could be from multiple washes.
If you’re looking for a wheelset that will fit nearly every bike in your stable and offer high-end performance at a reasonable price, FSA’s Afterburner Wider needs to be on your list.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Price: $629.99 (Available in both 27.5 and 29)
More info: www.fullspeedahead.com