Fulcrum's Speed 25 wheels are one of the lightest disc-brake options on the market, designed to improve climbing efficiency and all-round performance. They have the sort of quality that's right up there with the products in our best road bike wheels buyer's guide.
Employing a low-profile 26mm design, the wheels may not possess the belligerent facades of their deeper-section brethren, but Fulcrum has focused on stiffness and compliance rather than out-and-out speed.
The front and rear wheels share the same rim depth but differ somewhat in their design – the front is symmetrical for aerodynamic reasons, while the rear is asymmetrical for improved lateral stiffness and stability.
I fitted them to my Cannondale SuperSix Evo to test their feathery credentials over a variety of terrain and to understand their positioning within the best road bike wheels category.
A feathery ethos
The Speed 25s don't venture very far from Fulcrum's design ethos, using the same stealthy black-on-black design blueprint we've come to expect.
Inspired by the Fulcrum Racing Light XLR wheels, a solitary red Fulcrum logo takes up residence on the opposite side of the wheel to the valve and provides a contrasting design touch that complements an otherwise understated aesthetic. The red touches continue on both the front and rear hubs, which help marry the overall visual package.
In terms of the design specifications, the Fulcrum Speeds adopt a contemporary 21mm internal rim width, which translates to a 27.6mm external width, making the rim bed ideal for 25-35mm tyres. Fulcrum, however, has optimised the Speed 25s around 28mm-wide rubber, which is said to supply the perfect balance between speed, compliance and aerodynamics.
The wheels feature the company's two-way fit hooked system, which you can pair with a conventional inner tube and tyre, or you can set them up tubeless. Fitting tubeless tyres is a breeze and takes five minutes to seat and inflate. I fitted a set of Michelin Power Cup 28 TL Ready 28c tyres with a standard floor pump. The rim bed is fashioned using Fulcrum's MoMag spoke positioning technology, which ensures the nipples are fixed below the sealed rim bed as opposed to being drilled through the rim. This removes the need for rim tape.
Fulcrum has left no stone unturned in terms of delivering an ultra-premium product. The hubs use ceramic Ultra Smooth Bearings, which claim to reduce rolling resistance by 50 per cent over a standard setup. At the rear, the freehub body employs a 36T ratchet system, which provides a 10-degree angle of engagement and makes a rather impressive noise – though nothing too obtrusive. Both wheels are laced by 24 bladed spokes, and you can choose from Shimano/SRAM HG11, XDR and Campagnolo's N3W freehub bodies.
Regarding weight, Fulcrum claims 1,285 grams for a complete set. Our test wheels weighed 7g heavier at 1,292g – a roughly 0.54% different that really is princess and pea territory.
It's immediately evident during the first few pedal strokes how responsive these wheels are to your pedal inputs – acceleration is quick, and this ensures the bike gets up to cruising speed with little hesitation. This is largely the case in most settings, even on the flats. The low weight, coupled with their incredibly stiffness, ensures they make mincemeat of the steepest ramps – and we're talking double-digit gradients here.
On gentler slopes or draftable sections, progress is still pretty swift but don't expect to distance the deeper-section wheel brigade – it won't happen. The Fulcrums Speed 25s only really shine in uncomfortably steep situations and there are only a handful of hills that can provide that in the UK – and usually only for short distances. To truly unlock the full potential, you'll need a 20-minute climb.
The wheels handle predictably and are easy to control in the wind, even when it's gusting from the side. The low-profile 26mm section does well to fend off any interference, which helps to promote confidence on long, fast descents where crosswinds can be a frightening experience.
They also provide stability from the turbulence that comes from passing trucks, vans or cars. Of course, the shallow rim profile means you're not going to rack up the miles as quickly as you would on a more aerodynamic equivalent, but it doesn't ever feel like you're going any less fast – you just need to work a little harder to maintain the same speed.
Speaking of the rim profiles, the rear wheel is asymmetrical – the drive-side profile is identical to that of the front while the non-drive side features a concave shape to minimise lateral flex.
The hubs are exceptional. Pick-up from the rear hub is pretty crisp with little to no noticeable lag thanks to the 36 points of engagement. This allows you to confidently stamp on the pedals to keep your momentum into sharp gradient changes and dial in more power when necessary. No slowing down here.
The Fulcrum Speed 25s are great wheels, no question. They have a premium look and feel and are so easy to set up tubeless. The super-lightweight and stiff rim architecture reduces rolling mass and will confidently improve your riding experience on steep topography or in windy regions.
That said, whether or not they justify the £1,999 asking price hinges on where you live and the type of riding you do. Unless you're based in the Alps or have signed up for a mountainous race such as Haute Route or something similar, their true attributes will rarely come into play – as rims with double if not triple the depth will still outrun them in rolling terrain and gradients that are draftable.
Looking at some of the Speeds' rivals and it's clear they go head-to-head with the £2,500 Roval Alpinist CLX II wheels that Liam liked. The Rovals are very marginally lighter at 1,260g but £500 more than the £1,999 Fulcrum Speed 25s, and are probably better suited to Specialized bikes based on the brand association.
At the other end of the pricing spectrum are the Hunt 32 Aerodynamicist UD Carbon Spoke wheels that Liam also rated very highly.
At £1,199 they're significantly cheaper than both the Rovals and Fulcrums – matching them both on weight, too – and provide the same levels of performance. The choice is yours really.
If you're looking for a wheelset loaded with brand cachet and designed to deliver a rewarding and detailed riding experience, you can't go wrong with the Fulcrum Speed 25s. They're designed to be used every day – and in all conditions – but are probably better suited to fending off gravity in their natural mountainous habitat than barrelling along rolling topography. It's also worth mentioning the absence of any sort of crash replacement policy – at this price point, you'd expect that as standard fare.
A lightweight disc-brake-only wheelset that can compete with the best in the market
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Make and model: Fulcrum Speed 25 wheels
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?
Lightweight wheelset designed for climbing purists.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
The Fulcrum Speed 25s have a 26mm rim profile and 21mm internal rim width - this translates to a 27.6mm external width, making the rim bed ideal for tyre widths from 25-35mm.
Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
Rate the wheel for performance:
Rate the wheel for durability:
Rate the wheel for weight
Rate the wheel for value:
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
The wheels performed flawlessly throughout the test. No issues with truing or spoke tension.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Fitting tubeless tyres took all of five minutes, and it should be very easy for the home mechanic.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The wheels feature Fulcrum's MoMag spoke positioning technology, which ensures the nipples are fixed below the sealed rim bed as opposed to being drilled through the rim. A benefit of this setup removes the need to fit any rim tape.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
These were an absolute joy to ride over a hilly course – very responsive and eager to perform.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
The lightweight design is particularly impressive, weighing 1,292g for the set.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Nothing – though if anything I'd have liked the Fulcrum name to be a bit more more prominent. Otherwise, the wheels should match most bike colour schemes.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The price is pretty much on a par with similar wheels from the market's other big names.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? Yes
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Fulcrum Speed 25s are one of the best lightweight wheelsets around. They're fast, both in the hills and on the flats, thye're easy to maintain, service and set up tubeless and should go the distance regardless of whether you're using them as a training or racing wheelset. The only thing preventing them from scoring any higher is the lack of a crash replacement policy.
Age: 0 Height: 175cm Weight: 62kg
I usually ride: My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Novice
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, mtb, Gravel and Elite Cycling eSports
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