FFWD Outlaw XC MTB – stiff Dutch downcountry wheels

How do these new Dutch downcountry wheels compare to the best in an increasingly busy category?

FFWD Outlaw pair of wheels
(Image: © GuyKesTV)

Bike Perfect Verdict

The Outlaw’s are literally a solid choice for riders who want a stiff, light, easy to set up wheelset with a free trial option. Crash warranty is limited though and the supplied valves aren’t insert friendly.

Pros

  • +

    Stiff but not punishing ride feel

  • +

    Easy tubeless setup

  • +

    Sapim spokes and brass nipples

  • +

    Lefty front hub option

Cons

  • -

    Inserts can block valves

  • -

    Adequate not amazing freehub engagement

  • -

    Relatively high price

  • -

    Crash replacement isn't free

Why trust BikePerfect Our cycling experts have decades of testing experience. We\'ll always share our unbiased opinions on bikes and gear. Find out more about how we test.

Dutch road and gravel rollers FFWD are back in the MTB wheel game with a tough, stiff, and lightweight XC/Marathon wheel. So how’s it made, how does it ride and how does that compare to the best of the rest in this super competitive category? 

Design and build

FFWD haven’t had an MTB wheel in their range for a while so everything here is new. The 29mm internal (measured) 37mm external width hookless rims have a stout cross-section and 26mm height. The sidewalls are relatively broad at 3mm wide, with a flat top to protect tire sidewalls too. They’re supplied taped and valved ready for tubeless inflation too.

The wheels are built up with a top-quality mix of Sapim CX-Ray and CX-Sprint bladed, straight pull spokes (28 in each wheel) and brass nipples are used to reduce the chance of corrosion.

While FFWD offers DT hubs on some of their Drift gravel and road wheels the Outlaw’s use FFWD own straight pull design. They also fit their own Ratchet freehub with a 10-degree engagement in Shimano HG, Shimano Microspline, and SRAM XD versions. While they don’t offer oversized Torque Caps for RockShox forks they do have a dedicated Lefty front hub option which is rare these days.

FFWD Outlaw rim detail

Around 30mm internal with a broader rim wall is the sweet spot for fast but tough rims right now (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Performance

Inflation is always the first part of the performance and the FFWDs gave me no trouble at all popping into place with either Maxxis or Hutchinson tires. The supplied valves have a flush top with no side exits though so inserts can potentially close them off.

At 1600g the Outlaws are in contention if not at the front of the pack when it comes to weight too and the freehub pick-up speed is adequate rather than amazing. 

They feel stiff and positive when they’re connected though so they’ll suit riders who push hard through the pedals or the corners. Despite the drive stiffness and depth of the rim, they’re not punishing either. The broad rim top meant I had no issues with sidewall splits despite several contacts that made me flinch and fear the worst.

The two-year warranty is extendable to three years if you register your wheels but it only covers manufacturing defects. The crash warranty offers reduced-cost replacement on a case-by-case basis rather than the increasingly common free replacement deals of some manufacturers.

FFWD Outlaw hubs details

Straight pull hubs are FFWD own brand but the spokes are top quality Sapim with brass nipples for corrosion resistance (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Verdict

FFWD has definitely got itself into contention when it comes to the performance of the Outlaw wheels. Especially if you want a stiff, accurate feeling wheel in an arena where compliance and obvious smoothness are becoming the fashionable focus. They’re a rare option for Lefty fork riders too.

The valves aren’t insert friendly though and pricing is similar or higher than comparable stat wheels such as the Roval Control and HUNT Proven XC Carbon with better warranties and/or genuine DT Swiss hubs too.

FFWD Outlaw valve detail

Hookless rims make set up easy but the flat topped valves can be blocked by an insert resting on top (Image credit: GuyKesTV)

Tech specs: FFWD OUTLAW wheels

  • Price: £1349 / €1499
  • Sizes: 29er only
  • Options: Shimano HG, Shimano Microspline and SRAM XD free hubs. Lefty front hub 
  • Weight: 1610g
Guy Kesteven
Technical-Editor-at-Large

Guy has been working on Bike Perfect since launch in 2019. He started writing and testing for bike mags in 1996. Since then he’s written several million words about several thousand test bikes and a ridiculous amount of riding gear. To make sure he rarely sleeps and to fund his custom tandem habit, he’s also penned a handful of bike-related books and talks to a GoPro for YouTube, too.

Current rides: Cervelo ZFS-5, Specialized Chisel, custom Nicolai enduro tandem, Landescape/Swallow custom gravel tandem

Height: 180cm

Weight: 69kg