Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fulcrum Racing 3 Wheelset

I've had these wheels for around 7 years now. Bought them to go with my Felt F3 (which is another love story I'll write about elsewhere), and haven't cared to ride much else since - especially in the hilly rides which make up 100% of my riding when in Malaysia.

Not the top of the Fulcrum range, and already getting long in the tooth, I can't find anything that would replace them in my life...except maybe another pair. Good news since they are relatively inexpensive.

I love these wheels. They are super strong and, at just over 1.5kg, reasonably light. For me there has to be a trade-off between these 2 factors. I'm suspicious of wheels where the manufacturer puts a rider weight limit, Not that I'm particularly heavy, just that how can a wheel that won't take a 90kg guy pretend to be able to take the kind of torque anyone will put into it going up a 15% climb without flexing? Or from braking hard coming down the same hill? I'm still open to persuasion but please show me the wheelset lighter than this one that does what this one does.

They roll better than any other wheel I've ridden - by far. The sweet sound of a Campag freewheel buzzes away on fast descents that feel like I'm on rails - even on a relatively twitchy frame. I have never had to true them once, nor replace the bearings - which I've put a fair amount of mileage into.

I have never had a wheelset that plummets downhill with such gusto. I'm not sure what it is that does it. They say that mechanical drag is second only to aero drag when it comes to impeding speed - well these must have way less mechanical drag than most other wheels because they're not very aero. If I use the front one with my powertap 32-spoke wheel, it feels good and stable, but if I use both...woohoo!....literally on another level!

I've talked to several real wheel-geeks about these wheels and apparently the balance of weight rim-to-hub is perfect, which might help explain why they feel so good. I am also informed that they outshine all other wheels in the Fulcrum range for the above reason - but I haven't ridden the others so can't comment.

Of course I'm always looking around for something that can do it all: light, aero, stable, bomb-proof, great braking surface, but so far I haven't found anything that convinces me. The only thing these wheels lack is the aero aspect and perhaps a few grams knocked off somehow. Aero usually means carbon, which usually means problems in braking: reduced effectivity and/or overheating. Lighter usually means weaker.

Bottom line for climbing wheels for me is how confident I am in the fast and/or technical descents. With this wheel I can go full-gas down the scariest slopes, fully confident that they won't give out on me, and that I can control the speed if needed. For that I'll happily sacrifice a bit of free-aero-speed and a handicap of a gram or 2 in the ascent.

Road Test - Wheels

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