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Verdict: 
Lighter for 2018, this is an excellent wheelset with (some) tubeless compatibility
Weight: 
1,640g
Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake wheelset
8 10

Fulcrum Wheels is a subsidiary of Campagnolo and makes a very popular range of wheels that encompasses inexpensive OE-fit models and high-end carbon bling. The Racing 5 is a well-established wheelset, available in both disc and rim brake configurations. The 2018 disc brake model has been fairly comprehensively redesigned, shedding weight, and is a decent choice for a first upgrade.

  • Pros: Well built, competitive weight, tubeless-compatible
  • Cons: Not supplied ready-taped for tubeless, restrictions on tubeless tyre compatibility

Within the Racing range, the 5 is the general-purpose road wheelset. They're a reasonable weight for the money – we weighed them at 1,640g compared to a claimed 1,610g – which makes them competitive with similar-priced wheels from Hunt and Kinesis, and usefully lighter than Mavic's Ksyrium Disc wheelset.

> Find your nearest dealer here

The rims are asymmetric, which Fulcrum claims "improves rim tension, balancing the forces from brakes and sprocket cassette". If you're after more aero benefits, the similar-priced Racing 4 has a deeper rim, while the Racing 7 is now targeted at all-road use, with a wider rim profile and a higher weight.

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - rim.jpg

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - rim.jpg

The Racing 5 has a 26mm deep rim, which is 21mm wide – wider than wheels were traditionally but not as wide as some. Fulcrum says (per ETRTO standards for a 17C wheel) that it'll take tyres between 25mm and 50mm, making it an option for cyclo-cross too, although it is marketed primarily as a road wheelset. If you are thinking of a mix of on and off-road use, you'll be glad of the fact that these are now officially suitable for tubeless tyres.

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - rim bed.jpg

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - rim bed.jpg

Fulcrum calls it "2Way - Fit™ Ready", meaning that they are suitable for use with or without tubes. That seems perhaps redundant, since – as far as I am aware – all tubeless wheelsets can also be used with an inner tube. But hey, marketing. There's a leaflet in the box that explains about how you fit tubeless tyres, although disappointingly neither tubeless valves nor rim tape are included.

Tubeless tyre choice

As with most bicycle instruction leaflets, there's plenty of "risk of serious injury or death", which – if you're anything like me – you skip past pretty quickly. But there's also a section which explains tyre compatibility – and that might be more offputting to you. In essence, Fulcrum will only certify that these wheels are tubeless compatible if you use one specific tyre and one specific rim tape. The tyre is at least a good one – the Schwalbe Pro One TL Easy – but what if you want to use something different? No deal. "Any other type of Tubeless and Tubeless Ready tire is forbidden," says Fulcrum.

Reader, I disregarded this. I had some 35mm Schwalbe G-One tyres and some DT Swiss tape so I used them. And it went more or less okay. The tyre bead wasn't super-tight on the rim, and to begin with there was a some air squeezing out here which would probably have been cured by adding another layer of tape. It has to be said that this was done with a compressor – my days of trying to get tubeless tyres inflated with a track pump are happily behind me. Over time some more air gradually leaked out – a bit more than I've experienced with some other combinations of wheels and tyres, but this wasn't a major problem. It would have been nice if the wheels were supplied ready-taped for tubeless – the cost of doing so is so minor that I can't understand why Fulcrum hasn't done this.

As mentioned, Fulcrum doesn't include a tubeless valve, and I think it should have, for the simple reason that the asymmetric rim shape means the valve hole exits at an offset to the crown of the rim profile. One thing I liked about the American Classic Argent wheelset was the included valves with a little concave plastic washer to fit to the inside edge of the rim. If you just use a normal valve nut to hold the valve tight into the rim bed on these wheels, you'll be winding it up against only one side of the surrounding rim, which isn't that nice.

Quality hubs

The hubs are quality affairs as befits a sub-brand of Campagnolo. They've got sealed bearings and Campagnolo's signature way of reaching them, via a collar with a tiny pinch bolt. They come with various adaptors to suit different axles, from 15mm thru-axle down to a standard QR, and they can be swapped pretty easily as they're just retained with an o-ring friction fit. I'm a fan of hubs that spin silently, and the freehub on the Racing 5 hub is close to silent – no angry bees here. Further reviewer approval here for the choice of the Shimano Centerlock brake rotor standard, although once again, other companies often include adaptors for 6-bolt rotors and there are none here.

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - rear hub 2.jpg

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - rear hub 2.jpg

The Racing 5s are built with butted, round, straight-pull spokes, 24 front and rear. The front wheel has twice as many spokes on the left to cope with braking forces, and the rear wheel has twice as many on the right to cope with pedalling forces. Is this necessary? Hard to say. There are plenty of perfectly good wheels that have the same number of spokes on each side, so my feeling is that the hub body is probably stiff enough to cope without needing to bias spoke count one way or the other.

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - front hub 2.jpg

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - front hub 2.jpg

As with a lot of modern wheels, aluminium nipples are used here. This isn't a popular choice round these parts as they can and do corrode over time, and the weight penalty of using brass nipples is pretty small.

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - rim 2.jpg

Fulcrum Racing 5 wheelset - rim 2.jpg

Fulcrum quotes a rider weight limit of 109kg; if that's too low for you then you're probably looking at something with a higher spoke count than here. For 2018, there's a new set of graphics for these wheels, and I think Fulcrum has done a cracking job of it. These are classy-looking wheels. I would say they look notably more expensive than last year's design, provided that the red details don't clash with the rest of your bike, of course...

On the road…

Out on the road, I found the Fulcrums were solidly built, reasonably stiff and generally easy to live with. I've used them for my commute along a bumpy towpath without any issues, so I'd say they're well built. A lot of disc brake bikes around the £1,000-2,000 bracket will come with relatively heavy wheels as stock, often around 2kg; you'll see a lot of entirely serviceable but quite weighty wheels such as Mavic Aksiums, own-brand hubs with Alex rims and so on. Switching to something lighter like this can save 400-500g; that won't transform the bike, but is enough that you'll notice the difference.

> Buyer's Guide: How to choose new road bike wheels

There is plenty of choice on the market for road disc wheelsets nowadays; we've tested competitors – such as Alexrims' CXD4, Shimano's RX31, the Cero ARD23s, Kinesis Racelight Discs and DT Swiss R32 Spline DBs – and I would say that the Fulcrums fare well in comparison to the competition.

My only complaint is the lack of valves and pre-taping of the rims, plus the rather off-putting strictures on tyre choice if you do want to go tubeless, although my experiences with a different tyre (albeit from the same brand as the recommended choice) suggests this isn't really much of a problem. You can find the new 2018 model of these for less than £300 if you shop around, and at that price, I'd say they're a really good wheelset.

Verdict

Lighter for 2018, this is an excellent wheelset with (some) tubeless compatibility

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website

road.cc test report

Make and model: Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake wheelset

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the wheel is for

From Fulcrum:

Racing 5 DB is a bicycle wheel that is all about substance and it certainly is brimming with it thanks to a series of key technical features that give this model versatility.

This aluminium wheelset begins from solid foundations that are brought up to date with the latest trends: The 17C groove is a perfect fit for the 25 mm clincher tyres, while the low asymmetrical profile of the wheels gives them agility and adds responsiveness, combined with almost effortless steering.

In addition to all this, R&D has included some technical details that are trademarks of Fulcrum's products: aside from asymmetry, which is important for balancing the forces exerted by the hubs, the discs and the cassette, these aluminium wheels have the added benefit of a straight head spoke structure for increased stiffness, reactivity and power transfer.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?

Fulcrum lists:

tyre type 2-Way Fit Ready

tyre size 28"

weight 1610 g

rim material Aluminum

rim material details Aluminum, asymmetric

rim height category Low

rim height Front and rear 26 mm

rim width 21,8 mm, ETRTO 17C

tyre width From 25 mm to 50 mm

braking system Disc Brake

braking surface/braking options AFS

front axle compatibility QR/HH15-100/HH12-100 (no skewers incl.)

rear axle compatibility QR/HH12-142 (no skewers incl.)

front wheel spokes 24 (16 left + 8 right)

rear wheel spokes 24 (8 left + 16 right)

spokes material Stainless steel

spokes profile technology Rounded, Straight pull

nipples Aluminum

front hub Aluminum, Aluminum flanges

rear hub Aluminum, Aluminum flanges

bearings Sealed cartridge bearings

others /

Weight limit 109 kg (Cyclist)

FWB version HG11 optional: Campagnolo, XD

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
8/10
Rate the wheel for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheel for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheel for weight
 
7/10

Decent weight for this price.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
8/10

Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?

No issues.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

Given that I didn't heed the warnings, it was fairly straightforward.

How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?

None provided.

Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

I'm a sucker for a near-silent freehub. Nice new graphics for 2018 too.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

It would have been nice if rim tape and valves for tubeless setup were included. The warnings about using a different tubeless tyre are a bit offputting, but I risked it and all was fine...

Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes

Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

They really didn't do much wrong and they are competitively priced and a decent weight. If you're happy to risk fitting a 'forbidden' tubeless tyre – what's not to like?

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 37  Height: 188cm  Weight: 78kg

I usually ride: On-one Bish Bash Bosh  My best bike is: Rose X-Lite CRS

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking

Jez spends his days making robots that drive cars but is happiest when on two wheels.  His roots are in mountain biking but he spends more time nowadays on the road, occasionally racing but more often just riding. 

14 comments

Avatar
ShinyBits [11 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Yes, the new graphics look far better than the old ones. I wonder if we'll see a similar aesthetic on all Fulcrum rims going forward. Some of the older models look very dated now (e.g. the Racing Threes that I've been eyeing up).

Avatar
mike the bike [1096 posts] 9 months ago
2 likes

 

Just in case anyone is unsure of their pedigree, my five-year-old Racing 5s (rim brake) are in daily use, have never felt a spoke key and are on the original bearings.  I can still spin the front wheel, wash and dry my hands, boil the kettle and put milk in the cup before it comes gently and silently to a stop.

Avatar
kevvjj [422 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

Why would anyone purchase a wheel set from a company that isn't at all confident in its own manufacturing tolerances? So, what happens when Schwalbe stop making that specific tyre? This is not a tubeless ready rim in any way shape or form - an own goal on Fulcrum's behalf given the plethora of wheel sets available in this price bracket that are genuine tubeless compatible and no doubt every bit as good (if not better, Hunt for example).

Avatar
Sub4 [72 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

DT Swiss also do a tubeless valve with asymmetric grommet. 

Avatar
DrG82 [244 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
mike the bike wrote:

 

Just in case anyone is unsure of their pedigree, my five-year-old Racing 5s (rim brake) are in daily use, have never felt a spoke key and are on the original bearings.  I can still spin the front wheel, wash and dry my hands, boil the kettle and put milk in the cup before it comes gently and silently to a stop.

Are yours cartridge bearings or cup/cone?

My ~18 month old (I think) racing 5 LGs have the worlds shitest sealed bearings that were complaining after very little use. And no, i never use a power hose to wash the bike and I don't use degreaser or strong detergent near the hubs.

When I replaced some bearings I noticed that the grease in them was really crap thin stuff.

From reading old reviews I see that the older ones were cup and cone, a far more reliable system IMO.

Hopefully the new ones are better.

Avatar
mike the bike [1096 posts] 9 months ago
1 like
DrG82 wrote:

 

Are yours cartridge bearings or cup/cone?

 

 

They are cartridge bearings and I have never had cause to disturb them.  Like you I am very happy with cup-and-cone bearings as I enjoy fettling them on quiet Sunday mornings, but I cannot complain in any way about the Fulcrums.  I would certainly buy from them again.

Avatar
hawkinspeter [2364 posts] 9 months ago
0 likes

One problem with Fulcrum wheels is that it can take forever to get a replacement spoke. I broke a spoke on the rear wheel of the previous non-tubeless version of these wheels and it took the factory 2 weeks to send a spoke. Unfortunately, they sent the wrong one (there's 4 different spoke sizes in the rear wheel) so it took another couple of weeks to get the right one.

Avatar
2old2mould [79 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
mike the bike wrote:

 

Just in case anyone is unsure of their pedigree, my five-year-old Racing 5s (rim brake) are in daily use, have never felt a spoke key and are on the original bearings.  I can still spin the front wheel, wash and dry my hands, boil the kettle and put milk in the cup before it comes gently and silently to a stop.

 

...and for balance, my 5LGs blew a spoke after 200 miles and it's had a change of rear bearings after about 600 miles of spring riding. My alloy Quattros however are proving pretty solid but are pretty hefty.

 

 

Avatar
ShinyBits [11 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes
ShinyBits wrote:

Yes, the new graphics look far better than the old ones. I wonder if we'll see a similar aesthetic on all Fulcrum rims going forward. Some of the older models look very dated now (e.g. the Racing Threes that I've been eyeing up).

 

Answering my own question, Racing 3s with new graphics can be seen on the Fulcrum website:

http://www.fulcrumwheels.com/en/wheels/road-bike-wheels/racing-3

Avatar
Mathemagician [32 posts] 8 months ago
0 likes

I think this is an obvious question, but can anyone explain- why the need for rim tape? I always thought rim tape was there to protect against puncture and leakage via spoke holes...but the rim bed is solid/continuous. In which case, why the need for rim tape to set up tubeless?

Avatar
steady lad [31 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Mathemagician wrote:

I think this is an obvious question, but can anyone explain- why the need for rim tape? I always thought rim tape was there to protect against puncture and leakage via spoke holes...but the rim bed is solid/continuous. In which case, why the need for rim tape to set up tubeless?

 

I have exactly the same question.  Hope somebody answers.

Avatar
Joshpeck [2 posts] 7 months ago
1 like

I bought a set of these after reading this review and finding them at a price that worked for me, with the intention of running them as a second wheelset for riding road on my cross bike.

There is one very disappointing detail left out of this review: the rotor mounting system is not the ceterlock standard. Sure, you can run centerlock rotors, but because the lockrings are threaded for the outside of the hub body rather than the inside like EVERY OTHER CENTERLOCK MOUNT, you CANNOT USE THESE WITH 6 BOLT ADAPTERS. It's unclear why Fulcrum would do this. Perhaps they are dodging paying to use the patented tech. Either way they are doing a real disservice to their customers.

This oversight not only prevents you from using less expensive rotors that you may already have lying around, but also makes it impossible to shim rotors for brake alignment between two wheelsets. Most centerlock hubs can be shimmed using parts from Mcmaster Carr, but the surface that the backs of rotors will abutt are much smaller, and don't offer enough material to shim.

 

Waiting on a set of centerlock rotors to arrive and hoping they don't sit inboard of the rotors on my other wheelset (in which case I am screwed).

 

 

Avatar
Joshpeck [2 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
steady lad wrote:
Mathemagician wrote:

I think this is an obvious question, but can anyone explain- why the need for rim tape? I always thought rim tape was there to protect against puncture and leakage via spoke holes...but the rim bed is solid/continuous. In which case, why the need for rim tape to set up tubeless?

 

I have exactly the same question.  Hope somebody answers.

 

They are tubeless compatible wheels. To run tires tubeless you need tubeless tape that will seal the spoke holes, but also provide a snug fit for the bead of the tire to properly seat.

 

Are you sure that the rims are not drilled through? I think they come with a rim strip instead of rim tape.

Avatar
Mathemagician [32 posts] 7 months ago
0 likes
Joshpeck wrote:

They are tubeless compatible wheels. To run tires tubeless you need tubeless tape that will seal the spoke holes, but also provide a snug fit for the bead of the tire to properly seat.

 

Are you sure that the rims are not drilled through? I think they come with a rim strip instead of rim tape.

 

I guess you'd know better than me since you bought a set? From the picture in the article above (2nd picture down in the article, 8/8 in the slide show), the rim bed definitely looks solid/unbroken to me. 

 

I recently bought a set of Campagnolo Zonda Disc wheels, which also have the 2 way fit thing going on...the rim bed is continous with no spoke holes. I set these up tubeless with no rim tape. Haven't used the wheels yet as I haven't built the rest of the bike but after a week of being inflated with no sealant, the tyres haven't lost any pressure. I believe the Fulcrums are constructed in a similar way to the Zondas, so I'm still not sure why rim tape is needed on these wheels.