Fulcrum Racing 1 Review
by Clive de Sousa
In the search for the ultimate wheel set, the Fulcrum racing 1 is a real contender. Being good at everything sometimes means not being really good at anything. With Campagnolo hub technology and many of the better traits of the fabled Mavic Ksyrium there is not much in the negative column for these wheels. Yet they are not the lightest, not the fastest and reasonably pricey but if there was a way to rate wheels in all these areas and give a final score, the racing 1’s may just be the number 1 all rounder.
During my first group ride with these wheels I noticed I was rolling up on the rider in front of me. On a long decent, the racing 1’s seem to continuously pick up speed and you can feel the smoothness of the hubs. Fulcrum Racing 1 hubs have loose balls not cartridge bearings. The bearings are situated as wide as possible in the hubs front and rear which make the wheels feel stiff and tight when descending and cornering.
I tested the Racing 1's for four months, this is no indicator of reliability. But we have been selling Fulcrum wheels for 5 years and in this time we have had fewer than three broken spokes and no hub issues. With confidence I can say this is one of the most reliable wheel set on the market.
The 2009 model Racing 1 wheels were brutally stiff, Fulcrum have made a change to the Racing 1 in 2010. Spokes are thinner and the wheels are slightly lighter. The thinner spokes take some of the rigidity out of these wheels. Even with the thinner spokes these wheels are very stiff. They are just a fraction too stiff to be considered great training wheels for everyday use. The tubeless clincher version is better than the standard clincher in this respect. Tubeless runs about 10-20 lbs less pressure and feel a lot better than the standard clincher. Something to note the standard clinchers have a very small hole drilled in the rim bed - so they cannot be used as tubeless without purposefully blocking this hole. For Crit racing and out of the saddle climbing, the Racing 1’s are perfect. The front rim has a lower profile than the rear, making the front easier to control and the rear stiffer. The rear wheel also has 2 spokes on the drive side for every one on the non drive side, once again giving more stiffness than many of us might need.
Alloy spoke wheels do not perform well in aerodynamic testing. The spokes have a blade like shape but the spoke size and milled out rims displace too much air to be considered an aero wheel. Something you do not really feel when you do a group ride with the Racing 1’s, but something that will show up as unwanted seconds on the results list of a time trial.
Weight is 1485grams
Not the lightest wheels available but perhaps the top performer if weight/stiffness is measured. As climbing wheels the Racing 1 are fantastic, especially for shorter climbs or for heavier riders that might get a lot of flex when out of the saddle with more traditional climbing wheels like a Zipp 202.
Well balanced wheels feel a lot smoother at speed. If you took your bike and mounted it in a repair stand, churned the crank then let the wheel fly it starts to rock the bike back and forth. The weight of the extra material used to join the rim unbalances the wheel entirely. Racing 1 wheels do not do this or at least not as badly. Fulcrum have added counterbalance to the rim and it’s noticeable when you ride. This alone would be a good reason to look at Fulcrum and Campy before any other brand.
Could the racing 1’s be the perfect all round wheel?
I say yes, this is the one wheel set you can train on for years and still ride an important race with confidence. Once you have the one wheel that does it all you might find yourself looking for something more aero or more comfortable.
I know I did.
I know I did.