Fulcrum Racing 5s are solid winter and training wheels that are just the ticket if you're saving your best wheels for sunny weather, or race days. They're strong and not too heavy, and have shrugged off months of wet miles with nary a whimper.
Fulcrum have done a bit of work on the Racing 5 since its last incarnation and there are some design points to note. The rear rim is now asymetric – moving the spoke holes away from the drive side to even out spoke tension. The rear rim is also a touch deeper than the front (27.5mm versus 24mm) to better cope with the stresses and strains of laying down the power.
Both hubs feature cup and cone bearings, and the rear drive side flange is enlarged which shortens the drive side spokes for better torsional stiffness under load. The Racing 5 doesn't use the 2:1 spoke ratio on the rear wheel that Fulcrum use further up the range: there are 18 bladed spokes in the front wheel and 20 to the rear, equally divided. Campagnolo and Shimano freehub patterns are available, both will take up to an 11-speed cassette.
Fulcrum claim a weight of 1,645g for these wheels; ours weighed in at 1,743g with the rim tape but without the skewers. They're not especially light, but neither are they heavy for a wheelset that you can buy widely for less than £200.
Out on the road they've proved to be reliable and well-made wheels, perfect for sticking on your bike through the grotty months while your posh wheels sit it out in the shed. If you have posh wheels.
For a commuting or training bike the spoke count is high enough that you shouldn't have many worries about them taking the hits out on the rough UK tarmac. Lateral stiffness at the rim is pretty good; I could push the rim into contact with the brake pad if I tried hard enough, but in the normal course of riding it was never an issue.
Our wheels arrived true. We had one issue during testing, which was a spoke that unwound in the first couple of weeks. Once that was sorted there were no further problems and the Racing 5s ran flawlessly for the rest of our test miles.
The hubs appear to be well sealed and we had no water getting to the bearings in spite of some pretty filthy rides. If you're planning to be especially hard on your wheels over winter then the super-sealed CX version might be a better bet. There's a bit of wear noticeable on the rim, about what I'd expect for the ride they've had.
Fulcrum call the Racing 5 a 'race ready' wheel and if you were doing a bit of racing on the cheap it'd probably serve you well enough. It's really a training and winter wheel though, and a very decent one at that.
Solid commuting or training wheels that roll well and don't cost the earth.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset (2014)
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The already best-in-class Racing 5 wheelset goes from high to higher performance thanks to its new design.
The same qualities that have made the RACING 5 such a popular wheelset in the past combine with new elements to make an affordable but race ready wheel.
The new 20 spoke design in addition to the asymmetric rear rim profile offers notable performance increases in terms of both increased lateral and torsional rigidity as well as increased reactivity.
The new design allows for more homogenous spoke tensions and makes for a sturdier, higher performing wheelset that weighs in at over 100 grams less than its previous version.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
DIFFERENTIATED RIM HEIGHT
24 mm at the front to provide optimal handling; 27,5 mm at the rear for transmitting all your power to the wheel.
NEW ASYMMETRIC RIM PROFILE
asymmetrical rear rim profile allows for better balancing of spoke tensions between drive and non drive side, giving better symetry to an asymmetric component. Increased efficiency and reactivity are sure to be noted.
DOUBLE-BUTTED STEEL SPOKES WITH AERO PROFILE
enable maximum aerodynamic penetration.
increase wheel stiffness and reactivity
HIGH GRADE, TOP QUALITY STEEL BEARINGS WITH CUP AND CONE CONSTRUCTION
reduce friction and ensure consistent performance over time.
OVERSIZED FLANGE ON THE DRIVE SIDE
provides greater torsional stiffness, increases reactivity at each change in rhythm of the pedal stroke.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Good all-round wheelset for winter and beyond
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Solid performance, well sealed hubs
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
One issue with loosening spoke
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes.
About the tester
Age: 41 Height: 190cm Weight: 102kg
I usually ride: whatever I'm testing... My best bike is: Genesis Equilibrium 853
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mtb, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track
Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.