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review

Fulcrum Racing 5 DB Wheelset

6
£399.99

VERDICT:

6
10
Solid training wheels but not the lightest for the money
Handle well
Decent stiffness
Supplied taped and with tubeless valves
Rear arrived out of true
Lighter wheels for the money
Weight: 
1,760g

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The Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake wheelset is strong and durable, designed for year-round miles. The new wider rims pair nicely with on-trend wider tyres, and they now also come taped ready for tubeless and with valves to boot. They have gained some mass over previous iterations, but they ride and handle well.

Fulcrum's Racing 5s have a solid history of being durable and dependable training wheels, and these new ones aim to continue that tradition. The new wheelset sees a fair share of modifications over the previous iteration that we tested back in 2017, including a new lower-profile 24mm (down from 26mm) U-shaped rim, whose internal width has grown by 3mm to 20mm, with an external width of 25mm.

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This represents a sizeable increase, and results in better pairing with wider tyres, which will be common seeing as the wheelset is designed for 'endurance' riding. I tested the wheels with a set of 28mm rubber which didn't balloon like on skinnier wheels, and the extra rim width should give even wider tyres more support, enabling control at lower pressures.

This seems like a sensible decision from Fulcrum, and brings the width in line with other endurance disc wheelsets.

Out on the road, the 24mm-deep rim is about as unaffected by crosswinds as a wheel could be. The recent storm Arwen provided plenty of opportunity to get blown about and these were as stable as you like.

2021 Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake Wheels - rim 1.jpg

Like on previous models of the wheelset, the rim is asymmetrical, which is claimed to improve rim tension and balancing the forces from the brakes and cassette.

The wheels are fairly stiff without feeling harsh, so a good balance has been found here. I've been very happy with them for winter training and commuting.

Fulcrum says these wheels weigh 1,660g for the pair, a 50g increase from the previous iteration thanks to that extra width and the accompanying material. On the road.cc Scales of Truth they weighed 1,760g with the tubeless tape and valves installed, which is in line with Fulcrum's claims but still rather disappointing given the shallow depth, even for an entry-level wheelset.

2021 Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake Wheels - rim 2.jpg

The similar width and depth Mason X Hunt 4-Season Disc wheelset, for example, aimed at the same sort of use, weighed 1,593g (167g lighter) on our scales in a comparable setup, despite being £50 cheaper (now £349).

It's a positive that Fulcrum now ships the wheels taped ready for tubeless use and also includes the tubeless valves and a little concave washer so that they pair nicely with the asymmetrical rims, so thumbs up for that.

You'll find 24 spokes both front and rear, and heavier riders will be glad to see that the weight limit has risen to 120kg. The rounded, straight-pull spokes are laced to the rims with aluminium nipples. I would like to have seen brass nipples for increased longevity, but in fairness to Fulcrum this does seem rare at this price point unless you are custom building.

2021 Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake Wheels - spoke nipple.jpg

Unfortunately, upon pulling the rear wheel out the box I discovered that it wasn't running true, wobbling laterally by about 8mm, and with no damage to the quite robust box I can only assume that these exited the factory like this. It's an easy fix if you know what you're doing and have the necessary tools, but isn't what you expect from any new wheelset, even if this was a one-off.

On a more positive note, I am a fan of the new laser-etched graphics, which all the new Racing wheelsets feature – no more peeling stickers!

2021 Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake Wheels - rim 3.jpg

The hubs are quality affairs and have sealed cartridge bearings which have survived plenty of abuse and rubbish weather. There's still the collar with a tiny pinch bolt to access them, in classic Campagnolo fashion, and the hubs come ready to fit 12mm thru-axle bikes, 100mm front and 142mm rear.

2021 Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake Wheels - front hub 1.jpg

The rear hub has a steel freehub body available in either HG11, XDR, N3W varieties and is made of steel which will resist biting from the cassette better than a lighter aluminium one. If you're a fan of wheels that spin quietly then the Racing 5s won't disappoint: the freehub is almost silent and certainly no louder than the wind noise when out riding, perfect for skiving turns on the front unnoticed.

2021 Fulcrum Racing 5 Disc Brake Wheels - rear hub 2.jpg

At £399.99, the wheels aren't overpriced, but it's a very competitive sector. As I mentioned earlier, those Mason X Hunts are £50 less and lighter, and have never caused us any durability issues.

> Six of the best bike upgrades

I also reviewed the Scribe Race-D wheelset, which seriously impressed. They're also lighter, in my opinion ride better, and have even survived escapades off road – and they're £30 less.

Conclusion

Overall, the new Racing 5 DBs include some welcome modifications such as the wider rims and inclusion of tubeless tape and valves. Looking past the trueing issue from the factory, these are durable and solid wheels that will make a decent upgrade to many stock wheelsets. They'll see you through the entire year with their decent bearings, good ride quality and easy handling. On the negative side, they're both heavier and more expensive than the outgoing generation of the wheelset, when competition from other manufacturers has only got stronger. It's not a bad wheelset, it just wouldn't be my first pick at RRP.

Verdict

Solid training wheels but not the lightest for the money

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road.cc test report

Make and model: Fulcrum Racing 5 DB Wheelset

Size tested: 700C

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?

They're general-purpose endurance and training wheels, and tubeless compatible.

Fulcrum says: "The new Racing 5 DB wheels are the perfect choice for endurance bikes. The lower aerodynamic resistance and decreased stiffness, achieved with the lower 24 mm U-shaped profile, makes them the ideal technical choice for long rides without having to worry about climbing, rain or wind, with a consequent saving in energy and increased comfort.

"In this case to the aluminium rim has seen an increase in the inner channel width, up to 20 mm from the previous model's 17 mm, and the addition of the innovative 2 Way Fit system, to comfortably fit 25-28 mm tyres, both clinchers and tubeless (tubeless tape installed and valves included)."

They're solid wheels, comfortable to ride and handle well. There are lighter wheels available for this price but I am glad to see that tubeless tape and valves are now included.

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

The Racing 5 DBs feature a number of Fulcrum design ideas:

Anti-rotation system – keeps the nipples from unscrewing so the wheels can't lose tension

Axial Fixing System – spline-and-lockring mount for disc brake rotors, akin to Shimano's Center Lock

Disc-Specific Rim – no sidewalls for rim brakes

Asymmetric Rim – spoke bed is offset to reduce wheel dish and difference in spoke tension between left and right spokes.

2Way - Fit Ready – compatible with both tubeless tyres and standard clincher tyres. Just like every other tubeless-compatible wheel

TYRE TYPE: 2-Way Fit™ Ready (Clincher/Tubeless ready)

WEIGHT: 1660 g

RIM MATERIAL: Aluminum

RIM HEIGHT: Front and rear 24 mm

RIM WIDTH:25 mm

INNER RIM WIDTH (CHANNEL): 20 mm

FRONT WHEEL SPOKES: 24, Left 16 - Right 8

REAR WHEEL SPOKES: 24, Left 8 - Right 16

SPOKES: PROFILE TECHNOLOGY: Rounded, straight pull

NIPPLES: Aluminum

BEARINGS: Sealed cartridge bearings, adjustable

WEIGHT LIMIT (SYSTEM): 120 kg

FWB VERSION: HG11, XDR, N3W

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
5/10

The rear wheel arrived out of true. Other than that they were fine, but when building wheels it is quite an important bit.

Rate the wheel for performance:
 
6/10

They perform well; stiffness is good while retaining plenty of comfort. The U-shaped rim performs well in crosswinds and should be slightly more aero than a box section rim.

Rate the wheel for durability:
 
7/10

Bearings have taken a beating and still going strong, weight limit now up to 120kg, and they've hit plenty of potholes/craters and survived.

Rate the wheel for weight
 
6/10

It's not horrific but it's definitely not class-leading either.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
4/10

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

After I sorted out the back one, yes.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

No issues.

How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?

Taping is done nicely, valves work as they should, and nice to see they're included.

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

They performed well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

The laser-etched graphics are pretty nice and will go with most bikes.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Rear arriving out of true.

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

At rrp, there are better buys out there. They're priced well to contest with wheels to replace stock ones, but the price has grown since the last iteration and other wheels for the same price (or less) are lighter.

Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes

Would you consider buying the wheel? No

Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? They wouldn't be my first suggestion, but I wouldn't tell them to immediately return them.

Use this box to explain your overall score

Overall, I think this wheelset is quite good. The extra width means they pair nicely with wider rubber, and they ride well, but there are lighter options for less money. The rear arriving out of true, which is a bit of a wheel basic, is less than ideal, but would be sorted for free if you weren't able to do it yourself.

Overall rating: 6/10

About the tester

Age: 23  Height: 6ft  Weight: 74kg

I usually ride: Specialized venge pro 2019  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Under 5 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, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb,

Jamie has been riding bikes since a tender age but really caught the bug for racing and reviewing whilst studying towards a master's in Mechanical engineering at Swansea University. Having graduated, he decided he really quite liked working with bikes and is now a full-time addition to the road.cc team. When not writing about tech news or working on the Youtube channel, you can still find him racing local crits trying to cling on to his cat 2 licence...and missing every break going...

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