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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Lighter for 2018, this is an excellent wheelset with (some) tubeless compatibility
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake wheelset
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the wheel is for
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?
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
front hub Aluminum, Aluminum flanges
rear hub Aluminum, Aluminum flanges
bearings Sealed cartridge bearings
Weight limit 109 kg (Cyclist)
FWB version HG11 optional: Campagnolo, XD
Decent weight for this price.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
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?
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
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?
About the tester
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.