A lot of wheel for not a lot of money is the first thought that springs to mind when it comes to Fulcrum's new Racing Quattro wheels, the latest addition to the Italian wheel manufacturers line-up.
The Racing Quattros slide in between the Racing 3 (/content/review/53415-fulcrum-racing-3-wheelset) and Racing 5 in the company's range and manages to be both an affordable training wheel ideal for the winter or an aero racing wheel in its own right. The Quattros are pitched squarely as a durable all-round aerodynamic wheelset that doesn't break the bank at £299.99.
The Quattros most noticeable feature is the 35mm deep aero aluminium rim which with the oversized flange on the rear driveside hub keeps the spokes short - resulting in a strong wheelset. Their 1,787g weight (a little higher than the claimed 1,710g) isn't particularly light weight, but compares well with other similarly priced wheels.
The rim is stiffer radially than a traditional shallow box section rim which means less spokes can be used to build them up. There's 16 stainless straight pull steel bladed spokes up front and 21 in the rear wheel. They're held in place at the rims with smart red nipples and laced radially at the front and use the company's '2:1 Two-to-One' lacing pattern in the rear wheel.
With two spokes on the drive side for every one spoke on the non-drive side, the tension in the spokes can be higher and evenly distributed. The spokes are held in the flanges using an anti-rotation system that means during the build, or spoke replacement, that the aero spokes are orientated in the correct way.
Considering their price, they are exceptionally well made and have stood up to many months of hard riding without showing any signs of stress. I've been running these wheels on my long-term Cannondale Evo test bike and while they obviously lack the immediacy of a lighter wheel, once up to cruising speeds they roll along well.
Are the 35mm rims of the Racing Quattros more aero than the Shimano RS80s, a conventional box section rim wheelset, they replaced? Not significantly, if my experience is anything to go by you'll be hard pressed to notice the difference. On back-to-back testing on familiar roads I detected only a smidgen of difference. The reality is that it would be hard to come to a reasonable conclusion on their aero performance without getting a wind tunnel involved in the test procedure.
One downside of all that radial stiffness is that on some of the rough roads of my test circuit they made for an occasionally harsh ride. They're fine on anything smooth but along a road where the top layer of Tarmac is breaking away, they can be a touch jarring. They're impressively strong though... I've battered a few potholes on night time training rides and they show no signs of dents or dings, nor have they deviated from true.
Slinging the bike around reveals that while acceleration is limited due to their weight, that once up to speed they roll along with good pace. They're nicely responsive when weaving the bike through fast corners and feel solid under heavy sprinting and sudden change of directions don't faze them either.
So, a very tough and strong wheelset with reasonable aero speed, they look good with smart decals and they're very durable with the bearings still running smooth. For the money, we're prepared to overlook the occasionally harsh ride and enjoy their fast ride performance.
The Quattros have all the hallmarks of a perfect training wheelset that will survive some hard riding as much as they're well suited to a reasonably fast set of wheels for racing in the summer.
A lot of wheel for not a lot of money. Fast and durable, a great all-rounder
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Make and model: Fulcrum Racing Quattro wheels
Size tested: Shimano
Tell us what the product 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?
The Racing Quattro Wheelset boasts a deep section clincher profile of 35mm, probably the best value aero wheel available. Not only are these wheels aero but Fulrum have managed to keep the weight of the wheelset down to just 1710g, that's better than many similarly specced shallow section wheels. The Quattro's come with straight pull aero spokes and red anodised nipples, coupled with stealth decals to finish off an impressive wheelset. Offering everything from an aero profile to Fulcrum's legendary durability and a competitive weight these are a leading all-round road and triathlon wheelset
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
35mm alloy aero profile clincher rim
16 stainless steel, straight pull AERO spokes on the front and 21 on the rear.
New aluminium antirotation system hub with adjustable industrial bearing.
Fulcrum's very durable fully sealed cartridge bearing hubs
Mega Drive hub flange for excellent power transfer
Great looking graphics and red alloy oversize spoke nipples
They're solid and very well built and haven't needed any attention in a couple of months hard riding. Spokes still true and hubs still smooth
They're a little harsh, a result of the stiff 35mm rim, and their aero performance is difficult to assess. But based on seat of the pants feel, they perform great
There are lighter wheels but at this price they strike a good balance, and importantly you don't really notice the weight all that much when riding
The stiff 35mm rim means a harsh ride on rougher roads
All things taken into consideration, they're an extremely attractive set of wheels at this price
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Performed very well with more pros than cons
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Solid and durable despite some tough riding, hard roads and horrible weather. They look great too
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Harsh ride is sometimes jarring
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? yes
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
These have all the hallmarks of an ideal training wheelset that will survive some hard riding as much as they're well suited to a reasonably fast set of wheels for racing in the summer.
Age: 31 Height: 180 Weight: 67
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, touring, mtb,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.