review

Fulcrum Racing 3 DB Wheelset

8
£559.99

VERDICT:

8
10
A solid set of wheels that have a beautiful ride quality and respond well to any effort
Weight: 
1,690g

This latest version of the Fulcrum Racing 3 DB is absolutely lovely to ride on thanks to a solid build and a smoothness I've rarely felt from an alloy rim. It isn't the lightest for the money, but as a wheelset that has been developed for a little bit of everything, reliability is a higher priority.

  • Pros: Excellent ride quality, impressive durability
  • Cons: Tyres are a tight fit to get on and off

Although they are light enough to race on, the Racing 3 DBs have been designed more as a high-end training wheelset or as a long-distance audax/touring companion. They are even tough enough for a bit of gravel use.

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The 3 DBs use a 6082 grade aluminium alloy rim which incorporates Fulcrum's '2 Way Fit' well – they will accept both tubeless tyres and clinchers with an inner-tube. I tried it in both formats using the Pirelli Cinturato tyres which can be run with or without a tube, and apart from a bit of a struggle to get them on the rim they worked perfectly.

I tried a couple of other sets of tyres on the 3 DBs and they were all a tight fit, something worth bearing in mind if you're worried about trying to fix a roadside puncture especially in the wet.

The 19mm internal rim width isn't as wide as some we've seen, but Fulcrum says that they work ideally with 25mm and 28mm tyres. The 28mm Pirellis had a nice rounded shape to them once fitted, and measured closer to 29mm in reality.

Other little details to the rim include being 'weighted' opposite the valve hole to give a balanced weight when a tubeless valve or inner tube has been installed. Having out-of-balance wheels is rarely an issue at normal riding speeds, but it can rear its head on high-speed descents and we have had carbon deep-section wheels with weights supplied to counteract it.

> Your complete guide to Fulcrum road wheels

Fulcrum has stuck with its 2:1 lacing pattern, which sees the spokes grouped in seven lots of three on both the front and rear rim. It's quite a low spoke count for this type of wheel, but Fulcrum places two of each trio on the side of the wheel that sees the most load – the braking side on the front and the drive side on the rear – with the opposing side getting a single spoke.

The 3 DBs feel incredibly stiff so it obviously works, and to make sure spoke tension remains at its original setting the Fulcrum engineers have redesigned the spokes and the hub housings so the spokes can't twist or move.

The hubs use cup and cone bearings which are easily adjustable to take out any side to side play and run very smoothly.

Out of the box the wheels are set up for 12mm thru-axles but you do get adaptors for quick release and 15mm thru-axle.

The rear freehub is quick to engage and it's good to see the aluminium body has been plasma treated for increased strength. Many brands have a stainless steel bite guard fitted to stop the cassette carrier from biting in, but this approach from Fulcrum works very well. I have some other Fulcrum wheels of my own which have done about 7,000 miles and there is barely a mark on the freehub.

Freehub options are available for all of the big brands.

All this adds up to a wheelset that feels quality when you ride. They belie their weight and thanks to excellent stiffness are eager to go, especially when accelerating or climbing. They feel solid but not in a chunky overbuilt fashion, almost like that nice smooth feeling you get from a steel or titanium frame. Stiffness without the harshness.

I've ridden these wheels a lot over the last couple of months on a range of bikes and they really are good all-rounders; the only thing you are really sacrificing is aerodynamics at high speed.

Value

At first glance I thought £559.99 for a 1,690g wheelset was a bit excessive, but after living with these for a fair few hundred miles they justify it.

Even as training wheels they look the business on your best bike, and you really haven't got to worry about battering them against the edge of a pothole – they'll just shrug it off.

> Buyer's Guide: 34 of the best road bike wheels

Against some of the competition they fare well too. I really liked the Mavic Ksyrium Pro UST wheelset. They are a similar sort of wheel to the 3 DBs and without the included tyres they weigh 1,650g, just 40g less than the Fulcrums. But the Mavics will set you back £899 for the privilege, although that does include tyres and sealant.

The Miche Syntium DX Disc wheels are also a similar weight and while they are about £120 cheaper they have a much narrower rim than the 3 DBs and don't have such a good ride quality.

Overall, the Fulcrum Racing 3 DB is a really top quality wheelset that isn't all about the stats on paper.

Verdict

A solid set of wheels that have a beautiful ride quality and respond well to any effort

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Fulcrum Racing 3 DB Wheelset

Size tested: Rim Height: 30mm front and rear Rim Width: 19mm (internal)

Tell us what the wheel 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?

Fulcrum says, "How many times have you imagined a set of all-purpose wheels, excellent in the winter, agile and performing uphill, with no limits on less-than-perfect road surfaces, reliable and ready when you need to concentrate exclusively on your training, and a loyal companion when your goal is big mountain passes, great distances, and big adventures?

"Racing 3 DB is a concentrate of technology designed to raise the performance bar in a wide range of situations, setting new standards for satisfaction and reliability.

"The focus here was on substance and the R&D division at Fulcrum have taken everything to a higher level, choosing the most balanced, evolved a technical solution for every single essential component. Extremely smooth thanks to the cone and cup bearings and comfortable thanks to steel spokes that ensure 25% more shock absorption.

"The 19 mm wide well also ensures generous, robust, stable contact with the road.

"Versatility" for Racing 3 DB means making the difference whatever the context: as a training wheel, for long distances, and on gravel. It is also a high-class upgrade for those who enjoy cycling without any competitive intent."

I really rate the 3 DBs as a quality all-round wheelset.

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

From Fulcrum:

TYRE TYPE 2-Way fit Ready (for clincher and tubeless)

TYRE SIZE 28"

DISCIPLINE Road / Gravel

ASTM CATEGORY 2

WEIGHT 1660 g

RIM MATERIAL Aluminum

RIM MATERIAL DETAILS Alluminio (6082, T6 Pre-Aging), R2-Milling

PROFILE HEIGHT Low

RIM HEIGHT Front and rear: 28 mm

RIM WIDTH 23,8 mm

INNER RIM WIDTH(CHANNEL) 19 mm

TYRE WIDTH From 23 mm to 42 mm

BRAKING SYSTEM Disc brake

BRAKING SURFACE/BRAKES OPTIONS AFS

FRONT AXLE COMPATIBILITY HH12-100

REAR AXLE COMPATIBILITY HH12-142

FRONT WHEEL SPOKES 21, Two-to-one (14 left + 7 right)

REAR WHEEL SPOKES 21, Two-to-one (7 left + 14 right)

SPOKES: MATERIAL Stainless steel, double butted

SPOKES: PROFILE Rounded, straight pull

NIPPLES Aluminum

FRONT HUB Aluminum, Aluminum oversize flange

REAR HUB Aluminum, Aluminum oversize flange

BEARINGS Adjustable Cup & Cones bearing system

OTHERS Aluminum Axle. QR only with optional accessories

WEIGHT LIMIT 109 kg (Cyclist)

FWB OPTIONS HG11, Campy, Optional: XDr

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

Great all-round performance on a range of terrains.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for weight
 
7/10
Rate the wheel for value:
 
5/10

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

They stayed true throughout testing.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

Getting them on and off was quite a tight fit.

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

Fulcrum has designed this wheelset as an all-rounder and it is easily up to the job.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

Excellent ride quality.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Fitting tyres can be hard work.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

They kind of sit somewhere in the middle of wheels we've tested at this weight, although they perform very well against most of them.

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

A really good all-round wheelset from Fulcrum which I'd say is pretty much the sweetspot of its range. Pricier and heavier than some, but they balance that out on performance.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 40  Height: 180cm  Weight: 76kg

I usually ride: This month's test bike  My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components

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

I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed

With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!

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