The Fulcrum Racing 5 Road Wheelset are great wheels for training, and even racing and triathlons, but I did experience a couple of minor quality issues with my wheels.
I purchased my Fulcrum Racing 5 Road Wheelset from Cell Bikes. As usual, they were very prompt with the dispatch and delivery. Customer service at Cell Bikes informed me that the rims came without rim tape. However, my Fulcrum Racing 5 Road Wheelset did come with rim tape, as well as quick release levers for front and rear hubs. The wheels came well packed in their cardboard carton.
The Fulcrum web site states that these wheels weigh in at 1760 grams. The wheels have their 2:1 Two-to-One™ Spoke Ratio, Dynamic Balance™, aero rims, oversize hubs, sealed bearings, 20 radial spokes on the front wheel and 24 spokes on the rear wheel. Yawn, but what does all this mean on the road?
I have fitted my Fulcrum Racing 5 Road Wheelset to my Fuji Absolute 3.0 flat bar road bike (bike tag here). These wheels replace my Easton wheels, which I was very disappointed with (see my comments).
Before you knock the bike, I rode it (using the trashy Easton wheels) in the Brisbane to the Gold Coast Cycle Challenge last year. According to my GPS, I rode 102 km in 3 hours, 11 minutes at an average speed of 32.1 km/h — non stop. My fastest 20 km on the ride was completed in 34 minutes 14 seconds. That’s 35.05 km/h! I regularly pass drop bar road bikes twice the price of my bike. The Fuji Absolute 3.0 is quite a capable bike, it just happens to have flat bars — and now a great set of new wheels!
I have shod the Fulcrum Racing 5 Road Wheelset with Vittoria Rubino Pro clincher tyres. Value for money, these are great tyres (my tyre comments). I have fitted a Vittoria Rubino Pro slick to the front wheel and a standard treaded tyre to the rear wheel, both in 700 x 23C sizes.
Reading internet reviews, it seems that Fulcrum has been criticised in the past for their LOUD freehubs. A riding buddy of mine has a set of the Fulcrum Racing 5 Road Wheelset that are about three years old and his freehub is very loud. In fact, coasting down hills, I do not need to look over my shoulder to see how far behind he is — I just listen for his freehub! I am not sure whether Fulcrum has responded to the criticism, but my freehub is significantly quieter. It started out super quiet, but over the last 200 kilometres since new, the freehub has developed a nice tick-a-tick-a-tick-a sound when coasting. Not too loud; just right.
Part of the reason that I purchased these wheels is because my 100 kg riding buddy has abused his and they still run true. He has crashed his bike, in the process knocking the front wheel out of alignment with the forks. He has also pounded his bike over the bumps on the Brisbane River Loop for a couple of thousand kilometres. That is a lot of punishment, and still his wheels are performing well.
The rear wheel of my wheelset came out of the box perfectly aligned. The front wheel was slightly out of true, but it is so small that I would probably make it worse if I tried to pull it out! I have ridden a couple of hundred kilometres on these wheels so far, and they are still running as true as when they came out of the box.
Some people on the internet have criticised Fulcrum for their graphics. It appears that it will be relatively easy to remove the graphics from my wheels. As these wheels are fitted to a flat bar roadie, I like to fly under the radar a little. When I pass people, I like them to think that they are being passed by an old fat guy on a daggy bike — little do they know that I am running some quality gear, including the Fulcrum Racing 5 Road Wheelset.
I found some minor quality issues with my wheels, but I will keep it brief:
- Small nick in the rear wheel rim. There was no obvious damage to the box, so I can only assume that this occurred at the factory, not in transit.
- The front wheel does not stop evenly under brakes — there is a distinct grab-point somewhere on the wheel rim.
- I am not sure if this was the fault of the cassette or the hub, but the cassette and outer two cogs were difficult to slip onto the freehub. I managed to jiggle them into place, but one of the single cogs required a little more persuasion. Given that the cassette fitted perfectly to my Easton wheels, I suspect that the problem was with the freehub body.
While I have fitted my Fulcrum Racing 5 Road Wheelset to a Fuji Absolute 3.0 flat bar road bike, they really are intended to replace OEM wheels on much more expensive drop bar road bikes. Fitted with the Vittoria Rubino Pro tyres, these wheels roll nicely and have a pleasant road noise hum. Overall, these are great wheels and I am looking forward to putting in some more kilometres on them.