Readers with long memories and/or a BMX background will be familiar with mag-style wheels, the Skyway Tuff being the seminal example. Although looking a bit like forged magnesium alloy wheels off a motorbike, Skyways and their ilk were made of injection-moulded nylon.
You may have noticed that BMX bikes generally have spoked wheels these days, moulded plastic wheels having somewhat fallen out of favour. But a new company has revisited the idea, taking advantage of a healthy couple of decades of progress in plastic technology to turn out wheels that really have almost nothing in common with the BMX wheels of old except a passing physical resemblance.
These, then, are TAG FRX5 wheels, made from a “high impact reinforced composite material” and moulded in one piece. Unlike the old-school wheels, the five “spoke” FRX5 hoops are hollow inside thanks to the use of lost-core moulding – the composite material is moulded around a low-melting-point metal mandrel which is then melted out to leave the voids inside. At the centre are DT Swiss 440 hubs – reliable and servicable.
With a 36mm outside rim width (21mm bead width) and through-axle front hub, the FRX5s are clearly pitched at gravity riding – TAG has had test sets out with 13 North American bike parks under both professional riders and (generally clumsier) members of the public. Apparently no-one has ever broken one or even slightly damaged it – the TAG warranty department is big on thumb-twiddling, it would seem. Unlike aluminium rims, the top edges of the TAG rim are wide and flat, which should reduce pinch flats, and having the whole wheel as one moulded piece means that it basically can’t go out of true.
If it all sounds too good to be true, well, there is a downside – weight. TAG is very up-front about this, happily posting claimed weights of 1,828g front and 1,928g. That’s the sort of heft per wheel that we’re used to for a pair, but we can’t blame TAG for getting the “indestructable” part down first and then working on the weight. And even as they stand, we can see a big potential market for zero-maintenance wheels – we don’t know off-hand how much time the mechanics on big bike-park rental fleets spend truing wheels and replacing crushed rims, but we suspect that it’s quite a lot.
TAG FRX5 wheels are $949 – UK distribution and pricing is being worked on right now. Take a look at www.tagwheels.com for more details.