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.
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 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.
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