[This article was last updated November 14, 2017]
Fulcrum wheels are immensely popular, both as original equipment on complete new bikes and when bought after market. The range is broad and a little complicated so here’s our guide to navigating it.
Fulcrum is a sub-brand of Italian component manufacturer Campagnolo. It makes wheels that are compatible with Shimano/SRAM systems as well as with Campag’s own products.
This isn't a test, although we do reference our reviews where relevant. This is simply an overview of the range to tell you what's what and help you decide what's most suitable for you.
Prices are for wheels with Shimano/SRAM-compatible freehubs
The Racing 7 LG is Fulcrum’s most affordable wheelset, at an RRP of £189.99. It comes with machined aluminium rims that have a 23mm external width and a 17mm internal width, suitable for tyre widths of 25mm to 32mm.
The rear rim is 27.5mm deep while the front one is 24.5mm, the idea being to add extra stiffness at the back without affecting the handling at the front. The rear rim is also asymmetric, designed to allow the better balancing of spoke tensions between the driveside and non driveside. The driveside hub flange is oversized to add more rigidity.
The wheelset weight is a claimed 1,763g.
The Racing 7 CX (£129.99) is similar but it comes with double seals to protect the ball bearing seats from the water and mud associated with cyclocross.
Like all Fulcrum wheels, these are available with either a Shimano/SRAM or a Campagnolo freehub.
Buy if: You’re after a reliable, no-frills wheel for everyday riding and training.
When we reviewed the Racing 5s (RRP £269.99) we said, “They're strong and not too heavy, and have shrugged off months of wet miles with nary a whimper.”
Rather than round spokes, the Racing 5s come with double-butted steel spokes that are aero profiled – in other words, they’re flattened to reduce drag. They’re also straight-pull – there’s no bend.
A CX version is listed, with double sealing to protect the bearings, but we've been unable to find anywhere that has the Shimano version in stock.
A £249.99 disc brake version of the Racing 5 (RRP: £349.99) is also available. As well as the ability to take rotors (6 bolt or Fulcrum’s AFS – Axial Fixing System – design), the wheels have disc-specific rims with a 24.5mm external width for the easier fitting of 25mm tyres.
Buy if: You want solid commuting or training wheels that roll well and don't cost the earth.
Racing Quattros (RRP: £329.99) have deeper rims than the cheaper Fulcrum wheels: 35mm. The idea is to improve aerodynamics and “increase torsional and lateral stiffness compared with a conventional profile, for improved high speed stability.”
The 21 rear spokes are arranged according to what Fulcrum calls its 2:1 Two-to-One system, with 14 on the driveside and 7 on the non-driveside. Fulcrum says that this limits the loss of rim tension when you pedal.
“Slackening and torsion are limited and the transfer of the athlete’s power is much more effective,” it says.
Fulcrum claims a wheelset weight of 1,725g.
When we reviewed the Racing Quattros we said, “A lot of wheel for not a lot of money. Fast and durable, a great all-rounder.”
Buy if: You’re looking for something that’s strong and durable with a little extra rim depth.
Racing 3s (RRP: £480) are quite a lot lighter than Quattros (the claimed wheelset weight is 1,550g) partly because of shallower rims – the front is 26mm, the rear is 30mm. They’re narrower too, with an internal rim width of 15mm and an external width of 20.5mm.
At £479 the Racing 3 is the cheapest of Fulcrum’s wheelsets to be available in a 2-Way Fit (RRP: £600). That means you can fit either standard clinchers or go tubeless because there are no holes in the rim.
When we reviewed the 2-Way Fit version on road.cc, we called it, “A good wheel choice if you're taking the tubeless plunge – responsive, strong and well-made. Stylish too.”
Buy if: You’d like stiff and responsive wheels for training, sportives, and even racing duties.
It’s a large step up in price to the Racing Zero (RRP £799.99), but this is a high-level aluminium wheelset with a 25mm-deep front rim, 30mm-deep rear rim, carbon front hub body, and USB ceramic bearings. Fulcrum claims these are 30% lighter, 40% more resistant, and 50% smoother than standard steel bearings.
The Zero wheelset is lightweight at a claimed 1,440g. The £650 2-Way Fit (RRP £824.99) version is 20g heavier, but it does give you the opportunity to ditch your inner tubes.
“The Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation process both hardens the metal, increasing its resistance to wear, [and creates] a surface that improves braking performance in both wet and dry conditions,” says Fulcrum.
Buy if: You’d like a lightweight aluminium wheelset and are prepared to pay for a high performance.
The Red Wind wheels are an aero lineup with structural carbon rims and an aluminium braking surface, which is always better than braking on carbon.
The most basic Red Wind wheelset (RRP £924.99) comes with 50mm deep rims and so does the £1,100 XLR 50 (RRP £1,399.99), the difference being that the more expensive wheels come with Fulcrum’s CULT (Ceramic Ultimate Level Technology) bearings. These use corrosion-resistant steel races and no grease in order to keep the rolling resistance low. Weight of the Red Wind XLR 50 is a claimed 1,590g.
The Racing Quattro Carbon wheelset (RRP £999.99) is designed to be aerodynamically efficient and reasonably light, weighing a claimed 1,555g. It has 40mm deep carbon-fibre rims that are 24.2mm wide to support tyres from 25mm to 32mm.
As with Fulcrum’s other non-disc carbon-rimmed wheels, the Racing Quattro Carbon has a 3Diamant surface treatment on the braking tracks. This is machining that, according to Fulcrum, “Eliminates the imperfections caused by the non-homogenous resin deposits and allows the brake pad to work directly on the woven carbon fibres.” The idea is to improve the braking performance in both wet and dry conditions.
The Racing Quattro Carbon is also available in a disc version (£937.20, RRP £1,199.99). When we reviewed them we described these wheels as “Light, fast, stiff and strong, and very, very versatile.”
Buy if: You’re after lightweight and stiff wheels in a versatile depth.
The Racing Zero Carbon Clincher combines 30mm-deep/24.5mm wide carbon rims with aluminium aero spokes and carbon bodied hubs. The bearings are USB ceramic. The wheelset has a claimed weight of just 1,358g but the pair's supposed to cost a hefty £1,799.99.
Buy if: You want high-quality carbon wheels in a shallow depth.
The Racing Speed (RRP £1,499.99) is a very light tubular wheelset (a claimed 1,260g) that comes with 35mm deep full carbon rims. That makes this a highly versatile race option, suitable for climbing and fast-paced riding on the flat.
The Racing Speed XLR 35 is built with the same rims and the same aero, straight pull spokes, but it has carbon rather than aluminium hub bodies and CULT ceramic bearings rather than standard steel ones. That drops the weight by a claimed 25g but raises the price to £1.999.99.
Buy if: You want light race wheels for a variety of situations.
Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over 20+ years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for eight years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.