New wheels - in a quandary

by Tjuice   May 31, 2012  

Have some Fulcrum Racing 5s (which I like a lot) on my BMC, but have been hankering after an upgrade for a while (more from a desire perspective, rather than need).

There are some pretty good deals on at the moment. Struggling with deciding on approach:

1) Do I upgrade one step and get some Fulcrum Racing 3s (which I would then feel happy to use for daily training)?

2) Do I go for a big upgrade, pay twice as much and get some Fulcrum Racing Zeros (but then would I be daft to use them for daily training, rather than saving for racing/events)?

3) Do I get equivalent Mavic/other?

I can afford to go either way, although obviously if I bought the 3s and dinged them somehow, I could buy a whole new set and in total have only just hit the cost of one pair of zeros. And I do not race all that frequently - just a handful of events a year - so if I saved the zeros for racing, I would not get much use from them.

Opening the floor for perspectives. What do people think?

15 user comments

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2) <- What would be daft is for you to get a set that sits wrapped in a wheelbag to protect it from moisture and direct sunlight.

Wheels are meant to be ridden, get the best set that your conscience feels comfortable to do the majority of your riding on, otherwise you'll have gained little more for your upgrade than a shiny pair of new wheelbags in the corner of the room.

Just my two cents Smile

posted by Zee [83 posts]
31st May 2012 - 10:46

1 Like

Fulcrum 5's aren't that bad are they?

Just get something deep and carbon and use it on sunny days and for races.. (when its not too windy).

or Ksyrium SR, they're the flippin' taste. Smile

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
31st May 2012 - 11:32

1 Like

I agree with Zee and Raleigh. Keep the Fulcrum 5s for winter/poor weather and use the new bling if/when the sun comes back and for racing. I'd do the same when I get the chance to upgrade from my Fulcrum 5s.

posted by Sadly Biggins [271 posts]
31st May 2012 - 11:42

1 Like

Ive heard great things about the Smart/ENVE 6.7s. Big Grin Depends on your budget, ££££££££££££££s !! Surprise Having said that I generally agree with the above comments Smile If you race say twice a week then i'd go for the nice upgrade, otherwise its a waste of money. Confused

samjackson54's picture

posted by samjackson54 [60 posts]
31st May 2012 - 15:40

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Hmm. Hadn't considered carbons - looked briefly at Mavic/Zipp/Fulcrum carbons and figured they'd be out of my budget, but I see that Planet X deep carbons are pretty affordable.

Didn't need more added to my quandary!

Racing 5s are not bad in any way - that's why I'm happy to stick with Fulcrum! Would almost certainly keep them no matter what, and may put them on my winter/poor weather bike which currently has Pro-Lite Como's (which I'm not convinced I like - feel really hard work / heavy despite well maintained and good spinning bearings)

Ksyrium SRs look great, but they're £90 more than the Zeros, and I'm not sure I get any extra benefit for that money.

So now the quandary is more like Zeros vs. Mavic (SL/SR/Elite) vs. Carbon

posted by Tjuice [157 posts]
31st May 2012 - 15:41

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You need to make two decisions:
1) I'd go Mavic SR or Fulcrum Zeros as your first decision to decide which of the two you would go for if it was them. (as they have similar characteristics and price)


2)Then your second decision is the SRs/Zeros against Carbon, taking into account exactly what you would use them for, aero, weight, stiffness etc Smile

Well thats what I would think anyway! Thinking

samjackson54's picture

posted by samjackson54 [60 posts]
31st May 2012 - 16:02

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I reckon the decisions are probably the other way around! If I decide carbon, I don't need to make decision #1 Wink Anyhow, on 1, it's probably the zeros - may as well save myself the £90.

On 2),
a. Much of my riding is solo training
b. I would be buying wheels for summer/race bike
c. Mostly I race duathlons (so no drafting)
d. My cruising speed on the flat on training rides is around 23mph
e. I am a big fan of stiff wheels (and bike for that matter)
f. Looking for something with low rim weight that will accelerate quickly and get me up hills fast
g. I like to put a lot of power down (particularly on short uphills/acceleration/sprint situations)
h. I weigh 75kg (11st10)

So a-d point towards carbon aero; e-g: not so clear which way these direct; h suggests I'd be fine either way.

Only other question is whether I get the same quality of wheel/bearings (I like a fast set of bearings) in a carbon for under £600.

posted by Tjuice [157 posts]
31st May 2012 - 17:04

1 Like

I am no expert, but agree with your a-d points. Yeah, 11 stone is easily OK on most carbon wheels (im 99% sure on this) ...e, f, and g these are my thoughts:

e) you get more stiffness on aluminium, although carbon designs are getting stiffer and stiffer.
f) Carbon tends to weigh less, although aero rims may weigh a little more, although a good set of aluminium hoops won't weigh a whole lot more.
g) Putting the power down matches you liking stiffness as powerful riders exert more pressure and therefore flex, which leans towards non-carbon.

In all I would suggest a pair of carbon rims with about 5mm depth, so quite shallow, so wouldnt weigh too much and you probably wouldnt feel too guilty riding them alot, and you get the obvious aero benefit. If you decide to stay shallow rimmed then i'd take the fulcrum non-carbon zeros. Smile

You probably knew everything I have suggested anyway, but thats how I see it! Big Grin

samjackson54's picture

posted by samjackson54 [60 posts]
31st May 2012 - 17:30

1 Like

Decisions, decisions... Plain Face

There is a weight compromise:

Racing zeros: 1435g
Cosmic Carbone SL: 1740g
Planet X 52mm: 1796g
[All clinchers - if I'm going to be riding these day in, day out, clinchers will be way easier]

Carbones: a bit more expensive than zeros and 300g heavier
Planet X: £500, so a bit cheaper than zeros, but 360g heavier

Racing 5s are 1760, so I guess I wouldn't really notice the weight difference vs. what I have today with the carbons, but I really notice the difference between my racing 5s and the Pro-lite comos (2100g), so am wondering whether I would then feel a massive difference between the 5s and the zeros...

Getting towards end of day, and not sure I've got much further on this!! Confused

posted by Tjuice [157 posts]
31st May 2012 - 20:44

1 Like

its interesting. Fulcrum 5s seem like a kind of halfway house then. Hmm. Carbone vs Planet X would you pay £100 for 60g? although having said that, whats the point in buying new wheels that arent the best of all the similar models. Thinking At least you have narrowed it down to 3. I don't know anything else that may be helpful, I dont have any experience of any of these wheels. Confused Good Luck.

samjackson54's picture

posted by samjackson54 [60 posts]
31st May 2012 - 21:08


Close to crunch time:

I am down to:
Fulcrum racing zero clinchers - 1435g - ~£550-600
Planet X R50 (50mm) aero carbon TUBULAR - 1345g - £400 (down from £600)

R50s at that weight and price looking seriously attractive, even if I then have to buy more expensive tubs and learn to use them (can't believe it's beyond me given the amount of bike maintenance/building I do).

My only concern: am I giving up too much wheel stiffness by choosing the R50s over the zeros?

posted by Tjuice [157 posts]
1st June 2012 - 13:05

1 Like

Shimano 7900s?

(Choose front and rear from this search:

posted by Dr_Lex [209 posts]
1st June 2012 - 13:10

1 Like


posted by Dr_Lex [209 posts]
1st June 2012 - 14:01

1 Like

C35s: More expensive, heavier (1635g), less aero at 35mm than the R50s. Think I'd rather not bother with aero wheels and choose the zeros rather than getting only limited aero benefit, and little weight saving vs. current wheels.

On the other hand, these get stellar reviews, and at that price, a truly amazing bargain. Would probably choose C35s at that price over the Carbones, but not yet convinced I'll add them into my current decision process...

posted by Tjuice [157 posts]
1st June 2012 - 14:29

1 Like

Planet X R50s are great!

With many thanks to all contributors above, but with particular thanks to Raleigh and samjackson54.

I decided to make the jump to carbon tubulars and bought the Planet X R50s.

Initial observations (although with very few miles on the clock):

* They are very light. I weighed them like for like with my Fulcrum racing 5s (incl. tyres and cassette), and I save 500g across the wheelset.

* They feel nice and stiff. Or at least, I do not feel they are any less stiff than the Fulcrums they replace. When I get out of the saddle and hammer hard up short hills or really put the power down on the flats, I do not feel any shortage of response.

* I have ridden them in slightly windy conditions and not experienced ANY of the expected cross-wind handling problems. Feels like it will need to blow pretty hard before I find these problematic

* I love the feel of the tubulars. Pumped rock hard, I get much more road comfort than I did with clinchers pumped quite a bit softer

* I really enjoy the faff of dealing with tubulars. Any bike tinkering is a little bit like therapy for me (my wife's not sure which I enjoy more: riding or building/tinkering)

* Entirely unscientifically, they feel very fast. This could come down to any of a number of factors:
- Aero effect
- Reduced weight
- Better/longer running bearings
- Lower rolling resistance
- New kit excitement
I have clearly not done any like for like testing, but anecdotally, despite being mostly out of action for the last 12 weeks with a knee injury, I appear to be quicker than I was beforehand. And on-the-flat cruising speeds in excess of 23mph (and sometimes quite a way north of that) seem to be quite straightforward now.

* They sound great - deep carbons have a pretty distinctive sound on the road.

All in all, I am really happy with my decision. I have not test ridden the other aluminium clinchers I was originally considering, but I do feel like I have made a significant upgrade that achieves what I wanted to achieve. So a good result.

I am a very happy recommender of the PX R50s.

posted by Tjuice [157 posts]
25th July 2012 - 0:44