The Fulcrum Racing Speed 40C Carbon wheels are the company's high performance offering. They offer buttery smooth ceramic bearings, stable rims and brilliant braking. The only thing I don't like is the price.
- Pros: Strong, predictable braking; stable in high winds; seriously quick on the flat and on climbs
- Cons: Two grand is an incredible amount to invest in wheels
First off, I'll say that I've absolutely loved testing these wheels. They are a joy to ride, spinning up effortlessly, handling well on windy days and stopping better than any other carbon wheel that I've tried.
If you go and drop two grand on these, you do get everything that you need. Excellent brake pads and skewers are provided along with two wheel bags to protect your investment.
The rim has been built with an internal bead width of 17mm. This gives a good profile to 23 and 25mm tyres and I was happy to run 70psi out on the rough local B-roads for extra cushioning. There's no need for a rim tape because there are no spoke holes in the rim bed, but these are not tubeless-ready; only Fulcrum's 'Two-Way Fit' wheels are certified to work tubeless.
A 40mm depth makes these feel fast and light out of corners. The shape isn't as blunt as other wheels I've tested, but these gave me no issues in windy conditions.
The spokes are no-nonsense double-butted straight-pull stainless steel. They have an aero profile and are common enough to make sourcing replacements easy.
That's not saying I've had any issues: our test pair have been spinning beautifully true. The front radial lacing of 18 spokes keeps the weight down, while the rear gets 21 spokes with Fulcrum's 2:1 technology (basically, a two-cross pattern of 14 spokes on the drive side, seven on the non-drive side).
The hubs are one of the best features of these wheels. Fulcrum shares this hub design and the internal parts with Campagnolo's Bora Ultra wheels. What you're getting here is a pair of easily serviceable cup and cone bearing hubs with fancy ceramics inside. Parts are again readily available and easy to install with the correct tools.
I had no maintenance to do but I'd be tempted to pop a dab of grease on the pawls. They started out being silent but have bedded into a gentle buzz. If you like a noisy hub, look elsewhere.
The rear hub features a pretty large drive-side flange which deals very well with the added forces on that side of the wheel. As you'd hope with such an expensive wheel, there is no tangible movement laterally when stomping up a hill.
The carbon braking surface has been constructed with AC3 technology (All Conditions Carbon Control). That's the grooves in the carbon. It's meant to improve braking, especially in the wet.
During a race in Wales, I got to thoroughly test this feature. While screaming downhill, I found that while the braking power is still down on dry performance, there is no sudden grab once the water has cleared. This makes everything much more predictable.
It's a feature that we're seeing pop up on other wheelsets too. The Bora Ultras have it, as do the new Zipp Firecrests. For me, it's a welcome feature that also makes a cool noise.
For your cool £2,009.99, you get the wheels with ceramic bearings, wheelbags, brake pads and a spacer for running a 10-speed cassette. The pads are from Campagnolo and are really nice. They're soft, allowing for good power modulation, and have lasted surprisingly well. Skewers are also provided. I didn't notice them while riding so I'd say they've done their job well.
The price will be a sticking point for many, but, if you're considering these, then you've probably got the cash. Having just tested the Giant SLR 0 wheels at £1,549.98, I can see where the extra money is going. It's a classic case of diminishing returns, but the braking is better, the hubs are slightly better and I also found tyres were easier to fit to the Fulcrums. Direct comparisons at this price couldn't get much closer than the Campagnolo Bora Ultra. It's essentially the same wheelset with different decals (and different rim depth options). Personally, I prefer the look of the Bora, but that's rather subjective.
These expensive performance wheels deliver a beautiful ride with excellent acceleration. If you've got the cash, I'd highly recommend them.
Go-faster wheels that back up the price with perfect performance and brilliant braking
road.cc test report
Make and model: Fulcrum Racing Speed 40C Carbon Wheelset
Size tested: Rim height: Front and rear 40 mm Rim width: 24.2 mm Tyre Width: From 25 mm to 50 mm
Tell us what the wheel is for
"SPEED 40C is designed for those seeking a winning set of wheels, built with the same technology chosen for the World Tour but even more functional thanks to the clincher tyre. The 40 mm profile makes the most of aerodynamics and the flywheel effect while remaining balanced, easy to handle and quick on the climbs thanks to a balanced and reactive rim."
So, we've got a pro-level wheelset with the ease of clinchers. I'm not a pro, but I'd be very happy to spend a year racing on these. They handle very well, the braking is very good and they provide a wide profile for the tyre to sit on.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
TYRE TYPE Clincher
TYRE SIZE 28"
WEIGHT 1420 g
RIM MATERIAL Carbon
RIM MATERIAL DETAILS Full carbon, "Twill" - carbon fiber finishing
RIM HEIGHT CATEGORY Medium
RIM HEIGHT Front and rear 40 mm
RIM WIDTH 24,2 mm, ETRTO 17C
TYRE WIDTH From 25 mm to 50 mm
BRAKING SYSTEM Caliper
BRAKING SURFACE/BRAKING OPTIONS "Twill" carbon fiber braking surface. AC3 treatment on braking surface
FRONT AXLE COMPATIBILITY QR
REAR AXLE COMPATIBILITY QR
FRONT WHEEL SPOKES 18 (9 left + 9 right)
REAR WHEEL SPOKES 21, Two to one
SPOKES MATERIAL Stainless steel, double butted
SPOKES PROFILE TECHNOLOGY Aero, straight pull
FRONT HUB Carbon, Aluminum flanges
REAR HUB Aluminum, Aluminum oversize flange
BEARINGS USB ceramic bearings. Adjustable Cup & Cones bearing system
OTHERS Plasma treated HG freewheel. Aluminum Axle
WEIGHT LIMIT 109 kg (Cyclist)
FWB VERSION HG11, Campy
Being constructed with no rim holes is a very good move. It might make it harder to change a broken nipple, but that rarely happens and is vastly outweighed by the benefits it gives when mounting clincher tyres with tubes. The rest of the build is also top notch. Those hubs are beautifully made and easy to service.
Having done a lot of racing on these, I can say that they're the perfect combination of straight line speed and acceleration out of corners and up climbs. A deeper wheel can feel sluggish out of tight corners. There's none of that here.
So far so very good. And the combination of the lack of brake track wear and the availability of replacement parts would reassure me that my money is well invested.
For me, 1,420g is an excellent weight for a functional wheelset. Yes, you can go lower, but that compromises stiffness and results in a slow-feeling wheel. The tubular version at 1,213g is seriously light and shows that tubs are still the way to go if you want the lightest wheels.
I've gone for 8. I think these are expensive, but at least they back up the price tag. There are cheaper wheels that don't justify theirs.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Zero issues here. External nipple as well. Thank you Fulcrum!
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
So much better than the Giants they replaced.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
No rim tape required. Skewers close nicely and lock securely. The wheel bags are nice for storage and the brake pads are great. Top marks to Fulcrum here.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
I've used these for hilly races and crits. They feel very fast, helping me out in sprint finishes.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
I was all ready to say the hubs, which are beautiful, but that braking is just excellent.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
The price is representative of the performance they give, but it still alienates the majority of riders.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Loved them.
Would you consider buying the wheel? I don't have the money, no.
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes. If they have deep pockets!
Use this box to explain your overall score
High-performance wheels that do everything exceptionally well. You do pay for it, but at least you can see where the money has gone.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 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, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. Liam spends his time plodding his way through cyclocross races, very busy not winning. As an advocate for perfectly clean chains, he can be found cleaning his bike instead of training. A shop mechanic, Liam has many helpful skills, such as being able to identify 'cross tubs by the tread pattern alone. If you bump into him, he'll probably be eating.