The new Swiss Side Franc wheel set is beautiful. You can tell at first sight. The attention to detail is exquisite and they’re finished like a fine instrument, but don’t mistake the high quality alloy hubs for ivory. With 18, 4 mm wide spokes front and rear, the wheels feel tight to the touch and at 1533g (set excl. skewers) the oversize spokes seem well proportionately laced to the alloy aero rims. The lines are simple and clean, the colour is pleasing and most importantly, they look fast: Formula One fast.
The Francs are the top model wheelset from Swiss based company Swiss Side and have been created by Australian industrial designer George Cant and Swiss engineer Jean-Paul Ballard. The wheels are manufactured in Taiwan but are far from stock-standard, this is a purpose designed wheel set. They also come nicely presented in a wheel bag with a spoke tool and a magnet for your speedometer. And when it comes to the look, the Francs you have something a little different to the rest of the peloton.
While I wanted to put them on my bike I had a better candidate to test them: Andy. Andy rides a lot, he rides hard, he weighs in at 80 kg and he loves climbing. Having just blown two front spokes on separate mornings he was ripe for something new, and stronger. I set Andy up with the Francs and told him to ride.
“My first impressions of these wheels? – They look strong, aerodynamic and have bloody smooth hubs. I was damn surprised to see that the rear weighed the same as my Dura-Ace 7900 c24’s.”
To really give these wheels a solid test, I left Andy out on the road for four months before I got him back in for his verdict.
“Riding these wheels…well, they just worked. They felt as fast as my Dura-Ace wheels; a little stiffer and very predictable around corners. The hubs did their job like everything else. They are a good wheel set, one you don’t even think about! I noticed when I took them off that they where as true as day one. Negatives – the bike computer magnet doesn’t fit the spokes.” [The bike magnet issue has since been rectified (a magnet is included with the wheels)].
The Francs have ridden well, but as a young and relatively unknown brand in the world of Mavic, DT Swiss, Zipp, Fulcrum and Shimano, would Andy recommend these wheels?
“I would happily use these wheels instead of my Dura-Ace 7900 c24’s and am confident I’d get plenty of years out of them. So yes, I will recommend this brand to others for two reasons:
– They work and;
– I want to support a local supplier; they have a far easier support process than buying wheels online from overseas.”
Swiss Side wheels retail online and, as they are sent from overseas, this saves you some of the overheads of buying the wheels locally. Swiss Side do, however, provide local support for service and warranty. My only gripe with them was that I found that the quality of the skewers was average and would certainly upgrade them to titanium.
In terms of value for money, Andy said that he would pay over $1000 for these and found the $879 price tag very attractive.
At the time of publishing the Swiss Side Francs are sold out, however new stock is coming soon, so keep an eye out for them online at au.swissside.com/shop/franc-wheelset