Back in May I wrote about purchasing Race Wheels and my thoughts on Flo Cycling. Well, I took the plunge and bought a set of Flo wheels in their June sale. Since I’m not a technical expert on wheels, I’ll leave that review for others. Instead, I want to share my experience with Flo Cycling and provide a review of the purchase process.
As I discussed in my May post, Flo Cycling has an online sale process in which you sign up in advance to be included in the sale. On sale day, it is first come, first served to purchase the wheels of your choice. I was a little anxious about the process. Once I had made the decision to buy, I did not want to be disappointed if I got shut out on sale day. I must say the whole process was extremely well organized. After I had signed up for the sale, I received regular email updates with information on the pending wheel sale. I was able to create an online account in advance and enter all of my information (e.g. address, contact information, etc.) so that I was all set to go on sale day.
As the sale day got closer, I received email alerts reminding me of the sale date and start time. The sale was to start promptly at 10 AM. I was on a work assignment on the East Coast, which meant I needed to be in front of a computer at 1 PM local time ready to go. I meticulously organized my schedule so I could be ready 10 minutes early. I logged in and watch the timer on the Flo website tick down to zero. I had done my research on the wheels and I knew the wheel sizes I would order. Flo has a very cool interactive website that allows you to build your wheels with custom colors. I had already played with several color schemes and decided on the best combination to match my bike (and my personality). I would go with the Flo 60 front wheel and the Flo 90 rear wheel with the black and white color combo.
When the timer hit zero, I calmly went through the screens and carefully made my selections being ever conscious of the ticking clock. How many others were vying for my wheels? I worked my way to the order confirmation screen, took one final quick review, and hit the “confirm” button. Order confirmed. I did it! I got my order in. I would be receiving additional shipping information shortly. I was a little surprised that I made it in, but I was very happy with my decision.
I have to give Flo Cycling 5 stars for communication. Just as I did during the pre-sale, I received regular emails providing me the status of my order. In addition, I received email correspondence with very useful information including instructions and links to videos for what I should do after receiving my wheels. The wheels arrived at my doorstep on or about the date promised. They were securely packaged and in perfect condition when I opened the boxes. Accessories including quick release skewers, rim strip, and valve extenders were all accounted for in the packaging.
Assembling the Wheels
I am very much a novice at most types of bicycle maintenance and repair. For example, I had never removed and/or installed a cassette on a rear wheel. I could have easily just gone down to the local bike shop and handed the task over to the experts. But I started watching some of the Flo Cycling “how to” videos and thought “hey, I think I can do this.” The front wheel was pretty simple. I just followed the video to put the rim strip onto the wheel, added the valve extender to the tube (video here), and put on a new tire (one of the few things that I knew how to do).
The back wheel was going to be a little more work. First I had to purchase a chain whip and cassette tightening tool, which were relatively inexpensive (~$30 for both). I then had to remove the cassette from my old wheel. The Flo video was extremely helpful and I accomplished the task with ease.
I recommend cleaning the cassette gears prior to installing them on the new wheel. Yes, I found yet another video on how to clean cassettes (in this case there was not a Flo video, but you can find pretty much anything on YouTube). With a nice shiny cassette in hand, I followed the video to assemble cassette onto the Flo rear wheel.
I then added the rim strip, valve extender, and installed the back tire. Everything looked right but the real test would be out on the road. If nothing else, in my opinion, I now have a very cool looking tri bike.
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t say I really got a test ride. I had finished the wheel installation a day before a race. I know, that is a terrible idea, but I really wanted to race with these wheels. I did take my bike for a short spin around the neighborhood the evening before my race. Everything seemed to be working.
The next morning I proudly showed up in transition with my bike and fancy new Flo wheels. My transformation to triathlete wannabe was finally complete.
My race was an Olympic distance so the ride was relatively short. I did not expect to see a dramatically faster bike leg, but I will say that the wheels felt great and I did a very respectable time (given that it was summer in Texas). And I managed to eke out an age-group podium finish. It had to be the wheels!
I will say that I was extremely happy with my overall experience in dealing with Flo Cycling. From the point that I signed up for the wheel sale through the final delivery and installation of the wheels, I had no problems or complaints. Flo was spot on with their products and support. Chris and Jon at Flo have done an amazing job of bringing their concept through a very challenging product development process and to the market. They have made high quality race wheels available and affordable for age-groupers like me. Based on my experience, I would highly recommend Flo Cycling when you decide to upgrade your wheels.