Renowned Dutch wheel brand FFWD has pulled off a number of neat tricks with its new RYOT (pronounced ‘riot’, not R.Y.O.T.) range. Before we get to the details of the aero geekery, let’s acknowledge the most impressive feat: FFWD is simultaneously going with the flow and rebelling against the zeitgeist.
The new RYOT wheels are all-new, wind-tunnel proven, developed in-house using proprietary technology and research, and they roll at the front of market trends for broad aero rims designed for wide, tubeless tyres. Yet, at the same time, when paired with FFWD's high-end hubs, even the most expensive is under £1,500.
That’s not a riot, it’s a revolution.
Four depths are available – 33, 44, 55 and 77mm – and they share the same 21mm internal and 30mm external widths. Blunt as a butter knife, the rim shape is optimised for 25-28mm tyres, which will inflate to 28-30mm and combine into a highly effective airfoil shape. FFWD calls this Laminar Airflow Wing Technology, or LAW Tech.
The benefits of going wide are well known by now, but they bear repeating: faster rolling, improved aerodynamic speed and stability, more comfort, higher grip, greater safety, increased confidence, and fewer punctures. That sounds like a few grams very well spent.
The progression of tyre and rim widths, enabled by the advent of disc brakes, has blown apart old ideas of what makes wheels fast. Whereas it was once more about slicing the air with a thin tyre as the leading edge of a traditional looking airfoil (google what that looks like), it is now well understood that widths can be pushed out dramatically so long as the tyre and rim are smoothly integrated. This is the key concept behind FFWD’s LAW Tech.
LAW and Yaw
Laminar airflow describes air that is ‘attached’, meaning it is moving smoothly over an object rather than breaking away and becoming turbulent, causing much greater drag. Maintaining laminar flow through a range of wind angles and speeds is a primary goal of aerodynamic R&D.
FFWD began development in CFD (computational fluid dynamics, a simulator) with six rim shapes and a focus on effective wind angles of 0-10˚. These angles were selected based on research conducted for the 2015 white paper by Catalyst Cycling (The Mathematical Model of Yaw Angle Distribution for Bicycle Wheels) which showed these angles to be far more prevalent – the debate around the most realistic yaw angles a rider faces is one that rages amongst aerodynamicists. One rim shape stood out for its performance and was selected for wind tunnel testing. This rim became the RYOT55 and in wind tunnel tests at multiple speeds and angles against its key competitors it proved to be between 1.5 and 2.7W faster.
Aside from all of this technology, FFWD has another valuable development tool at its disposal – the famously windy Dutch weather. Niek Geerts, Technical Product Manager, says, “The wind tunnel showed that the LAW Tech profile works in aerodynamic performance, but when it comes to handling in the real world we trust the feedback from our test riders who spend many kilometers fighting the gusty Dutch winds. The RYOT wheels are much more stable in windy conditions than other brands or our previous models.”
To help make you faster in your garage as well as on the road, FFWD kindly pre-installs tubeless tape, making the RYOT range ideal for anyone going tubeless for the first time. What’s more, hooked rims allow for clincher as well as tubeless tyres, and ensure compatibility with every tyre brand. That’s something that is an issue for some hookless wheels. Far from hedging its bets on tubeless, FFWD took this decision to make the transition easier, as Geerts explains:
“We know that the majority of riders are not yet riding tubeless and not all tyre manufacturers are making tubeless tyres for hookless rims. We would limit ourselves and the customers if we would only offer hookless rims. We feel that the tire size will settle at 28mm labelled size, or 30-31mm inflated on RYOT rims. Looking at the competition, we have the most future-proof spec.”
Although the rim depths between models are closely stacked, each has a role to play and reflects both customer demand and the outcome of aero R&D, as Geerts tells us: “We set out to develop replacements for our most popular models, the 45mm F4 and 60mm F6. During the development of the LAW Tech rim shape, the optimal depths came at 44 and 55mm. We decided to make the F3 successor, the RYOT33, 33mm both to continue the pattern and make them more suitable to use in combination sets with either of the deeper rears.”
FFWD has increased its focus on its own high performance hubs, which feature a 2:1 spoke lacing pattern which increases lateral stiffness. The hubs offer a little more rigidity and a considerable cost-saving compared to a DT Swiss 240 hub, for an overall weight penalty of 105g. For the weight weenies out there, though, there's the option to upgrade to DT Swiss' 240 hubs for £300.
Best tool for the task
FFWD's RYOT33 is the lightest in the range
The RYOT33 is the lightest, 1560g, and focused on climbing performance and crosswind stability, while retaining some aero performance. If you measure your rides more by the accumulated ascent than by kilometres, these are for you.
The RYOT44 is perhaps the ultimate all-rounder, merging a low weight of 1610g with highly effective aerodynamics to be ready for anything. If your Strava looks like the middle week of the 2021 Tour de France – rolling terrain, fast and flat blasts, big climbs – the 44 is your ideal partner.
Riders whose bartape gets dirtiest in the drops will love the RYOT55, the most aerodynamic of the range. At 1700g, there’s only the smallest trade-off in weight against watts, so rolling terrain will hold no fears. Only last week FFWD launched a brand new RYOT77 wheelset, and at 77mm depth it will likely prove a favourite for time triallists and triathletes, if a little deep for most road riders.
The FFWD RYOT55 is the most aerodynamic in the range. Photo Credit: FFWD
While nailing all the key trends – wide, tubeless, disc-specific – FFWD also found time to address a much-overlooked metric: stiffness. “In a sprint, or a big climbing effort, the force on the rear wheel is massive,” says Geerts. “A stiffer wheel will help you go forward. For this reason, we put slightly thicker spokes in the rear wheel. The weight penalty is only 25 grams and lateral stiffness is increased by 18%.”
Geerts says that no one can predict whether road bike tyre sizes will ever go beyond 30mm. On the other hand, choosing the highest value and most contemporary wheel of this moment puts us on much safer ground. I predict a RYOT.