Rachel’s been testing some value-oriented carbon mountain bike wheels from a UK-based company called Blue Flow Wheels. How did they hold up? Over to Rachel for the review!
I first came across Blue Flow when researching carbon wheel crash replacement schemes (see our ‘Ten Best Carbon Wheel Crash Replacement Schemes’ story). Based in Nottingham, it’s one of a few small UK companies that hand builds its wheels using sourced carbon rims and dependable hubs to produce competitively priced wheels.
Blue Flow’s component choice has been designed to provide a strong and reliable no-nonsense wheelset for a variety of difference riding styles. Rims are constructed from unidirectional Toray T700 carbon fibre and are available in 27.5in and 29in sizes, across four models:
- BF30/24: 24mm internal width for tyres up to 2.2in wide
- BF37/31: 31mm internal width for tyres 2.2-2.6in wide
- BF42/35: 35mm internal width for tyres 2.3-2.8in wide
- BF50/43: 43mm internal width for tyres 2.8-3.25in wide
All the rims are asymmetric to equalise spoke tensions, which increases the stiffness and strength of the wheel. When compared to an alloy rim the profile of the carbon rim is noticeably different. The 3.25mm thickness of carbon on each side of the hookless rim makes for a beefy looking and strong profile.
Wheelsets are hand built to order onto Hope Pro4 hubs using either DT Swiss Competition or Sapim CX Ray spokes. Opting for the CX Ray will give you extra reliability and a weight saving of around 90g per wheelset but cost you an extra £70. Brass nipples are used as Blue Flow favour strength and durability over cost and a little extra weight. All that remains is for you to choose the hub width, its colour and the colour of your decals too.
Blue Flow BF37/31 Carbon All Mountain Wheel Specs
- Rim // BF 37/31 (37mm outer width, 30.5mm inner)
- Hubs // Hope Pro4 32h
- Spokes // Sapim CX Ray
- Tubeless // All rims come with Stans rim tape
- Front // 15x100mm
- Rear // 12x142mm
- Total weight // 1704g (including tape)
- Price // £825 (as built)
- From // Blue Flow
Of course one of the big downsides of upgrading to carbon rimmed wheels is that if you do give it a mighty ding it’s not going to be possible to straighten it out with a pair of pliers. Given the higher initial purchase cost, buying a replacement will hurt that little bit more and puts many people off investing in carbon unless there’s access to some kind of discounted replacement.
Showing its faith in its parts and build quality Blue Flow offers an excellent crash replacement scheme that goes far beyond a standard two-year manufacturer’s warranty. If you do break your wheel, even if it’s your fault, Blue Flow will rebuild your hub onto a new rim for £180. This cover is offered to the original owner for the lifetime of the wheel and to subsequent owners at Blue Flow’s discretion. Alternatively, for £35 you can buy two years’ insurance, which covers the £180 replacement cost.
The BF37/31 is priced well for a carbon wheelset, costing £755 for the base model with DT Swiss Competition spokes (rather than the Sapim CX Ray spokes tested).
The most apt comparison would be Sixth Element – a fellow UK brand that also offers hand built wheels using Asian-made carbon fibre rims laced to Hope Pro4 hubs. Sixth Element sells the comparable Classic SE38.32 wheelset for £977, so they are a little dearer, though Sixth Element does have a better best crash replacement scheme.
The other wheelset that sidles up against the Blue Flow BF37/31 is the Bontrager Line Pro 30, which costs more at £899 and goes for Bontrager’s own hubs rather than a set of blingy Hope Pro4s. However, it does have the excellent TLR tubeless system, along with the backing of a much larger brand (Trek). Check out the Bontrager Line Pro 30 review here.
Our test wheels were built to replace the stock alloy Rovals on my Specialized Enduro (non-boost, 650b). A discussion with Blue Flow Wheels’ main man Stuart confirmed my choice of the popular BF37/31 rim to accommodate the 2.3-2.35in test tyres. The internal width of the Blue Flow rims is only 2.5mm greater than what I had before, but it was enough to round out the shape of the tyre and stick the side knobs out further, to provide more grip when leaning into corners. Because my bike is non-Boost and is limited on clearance, I’ve not tried to run anything bigger than 2.35in, though the rims will accommodate a tyre up to 2.6in.
I was happy to see there was no choice but to have the excellent Hope Pro4 hubs. Though not the lightest, they are strong, reliable, easily serviceable with easy to source spare parts, and have end caps that are easy to swap out to switch between different bikes if necessary.
The wheels definitely look the part. The stealthy matt carbon rims with their subtle graphics, black CX Ray bladed spokes and nipples all laced to the shiny in-your-face red Hope Pro4 hubs really complete the bling look – I’m glad Stuart convinced me that black hubs was a far too conservative a choice.
The total wheelset weighed in at 1,704g (front 794g, rear 910g including rim tape).
The wheels come with yellow Stan’s tape already installed but not valves; I used a set of Stan’s valves which nicely fitted into the valve hole without any leaks. Tubeless tyre set up was straightforward too and there was no need for superhuman thumb strength to persuade the bead of both Schwalbe (Magic Mary) and Specialized (Butcher and Slaughter) tyres onto the rim. With the addition of some Stan’s sealant and valves, inflation was achieved easily with a track pump.
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Want to see what other options are available? Then check out our group test of ‘6 Carbon Wheels Under £1500‘!
|Brand:||Blue Flow Wheels|
|Product:||BF37/31 All Mountain|
|From:||Blue Flow Wheels, blueflowwheels.com|
|Price:||£825 (as tested)|
|Tested:||by Rachel Sokal for 5 months|