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Fulcrum's Speed 40 CMPTZN DB wheelset combines stunning looks with impressive performance. Their light weight means they're massively responsive, but they maintain plenty of stiffness for powerful or heavy riders – although those of the latter persuasion will need to keep an eye on that 120kg all-in weight limit.
Fulcrum wheels normally have a bit of red somewhere to reflect the company's logo, but for these Speed CMPTZN everything has gone a little bit stealth, and I like it.
The black/grey logos on the woven carbon fibre finish look the business, but there's no point looking awesome if they don't perform – thankfully, Fulcrum hasn't dropped the ball there.
On our scales they come in at 1,560g, a little heavier than Fulcrum's claimed 1,460g, but nothing to really write home about. Most of our weights include rim tape, but thanks to Fulcrum's 2-Way fit that has a rim bed with no spoke holes, that's not needed here so can't be blamed for pushing the weight up.
Out on the road, things still feel lively – after all, just over 1,500g is in no way shabby for a 40mm-deep set of wheels.
Acceleration feels lively and there are no issues with lateral stiffness. Out-of-the-saddle efforts show plenty of tightness throughout the build from both the front and rear wheels.
There's a slight aero advantage from the depth of the rim, although they don't feel as fast as wheelsets such as the Hunt 44 Aerodynamicists at 44mm deep, or the 45mm-deep Zipp 353 NSW wheels I was testing alongside the Fulcrums.
It does mean the Speed 40s are a good choice as a fast all-rounder: quick enough on the flat and descents without getting battered around by crosswinds, while still being light and stiff enough for hilly rides.
Fulcrum has used its CULT ceramic bearings (Ceramic Ultimate Level Technology) in the Speeds' hubs and regardless of whether you think the extra cost is worth it, they roll super, super smoothly.
Rolling resistance in the wheels is absolutely tiny, and I could barely detect any drag when spinning them in mid-air. In fact, Fulcrum claims savings of 3.5 watts per pedal stroke compared with traditional bearings.
When it comes to the build, the rims are 40mm deep but their shape isn't quite as bulbous as some models on the market; it's more a traditional 'V' shape with a rounded edge.
The inner width is 19mm, again narrower than some of the opposition, but that at least means the wheels work well with narrower race tyres like 25mm and 28mm. The outer rim is 26.5mm wide so you get a smooth transition between the rim and the tyre's sidewall in those sizes.
In fact, Fulcrum says that you can run tyres from 23mm to 50mm, and I tried them for size with a 40mm gravel tyre and they worked fine, without too much of the 'light bulb' effect.
The Speeds use hooked rims, which means they'll work with both tube type clinchers and tubeless options.
Fitting some 25mm tubeless tyres wasn't quite as straightforward as I'd hoped. I've fitted the same tyres to other wheels without issues, but here, first using a standard track pump – which works around 50 per cent of the time – it didn't, so I had another go with an Airshot. That almost worked, but I couldn't quite get the tyres to give that satisfying pop onto the rim. A slathering of soapy water on each side of the tyre did the trick in the end, and the Airshot got everything sorted.
Trying again with some 28mm tyres, they popped on first time with just the Airshot. It could just be a bit of a compatibility issue between certain brands, I guess.
I've already mentioned the CULT ceramic bearings. They're a cup and cone design, which means easy maintenance and the ability to adjust them should you find any lateral play in the hubs.
Both the front and rear hubs have oversized aluminium flanges, though they differ in terms of the body material. The front is carbon fibre while the rear is aluminium. This could give the wheels a bit of a mismatched look, but the disc rotor and cassette hide the rear hub from view – though the bling front carbon one is there on full display.
Brake rotors are fitted using the Center Lock system.
The wheels are set up to accept 12mm thru-axles, and a Shimano HG11 or SRAM XDR freehub. Even though Fulcrum is part of Campagnolo, you have to pay extra for its N3W freehub.
Both wheels use 21 stainless steel spokes laced in a two-to-one pattern. The rear wheel uses 14 spokes on the drive side, seven on the non-drive side, while the front wheel has 14 spokes on the rotor side, seven on the other.
The nipples are aluminium and sit externally, ideal for a bit of roadside repairs if needs be.
Fulcrum has placed a 120kg weight limit on these wheels and that includes rider, bike and any additional luggage.
Priced at £2,599.99, these are very high quality and the attention to detail is excellent, but there is some very tough competition out there.
Black Inc's Forty Five wheelset has 45mm-deep rims and CeramicSpeed bearings, and are a similar weight, but we thought those were expensive at £2,200, while the 50mm-deep DT Swiss ARC 1100 Dicut 50 DB wheelset weighs just 1,468g and comes with Sinc ceramic bearings and an asking price of £2,299.98, up £100 since I tested them in 2020.
The Fulcrums are a very good set of wheels to ride, very smooth rolling and stiff, and the build quality is very high. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives out there, but if you want a great looking set of wheels that also offer great performance, they are definitely worth considering.
Pushed hard on price by others, but a beautiful looking set of wheels that deliver a great performance
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Fulcrum Speed 40 CMPTZN DB
Size tested: 700 C
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?
Fulcrum says, "The new Speed CMPTZN DB wheels have been designed to provide the most exacting cyclists with the same levels of performance that Fulcrum reserves for World Tour athletes.
As soon as you set your eyes on them you can see why the Speed CMPTZN DB are different. The new models share the same Black Label graphics of the Racing Zero CMPTZN family.
The true challenge lay in trying to improve the superlative Fulcrum Speed 55 DB with which the Speed CMPTZN DB wheels share certain technical aspects, such as the full carbon rim with 'Twill' finish and the 2:1 spoke pattern.
But this time we wanted to optimise a top of the range product, by improving its rolling resistance and lightness.
The obvious choice was our CULT™ bearings that allow us to save weight (10 grams less than the Speed 55 DB) and achieve unequalled levels of rolling resistance by up to nine times compared to traditional solutions, with a saving of up to 3.5 watts per pedal stroke.
Along with the considerable improvement in terms of mechanical performance, the new hubs of the Speed CMPTZN DB have also undergone a matt black restyling, to complement the black on black graphics of the rims.
The new models are available in the 2-WAY FIT version, which lets you choose whether to run them tubeless (for lower rolling resistance and greater puncture resistance) or with clinchers (for traditionalists).
The inner rim width of 19 mm gives you additional freedom in terms of the tyres that can be fitted."
This is a high quality set of wheels with a great ride quality.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
TYRE TYPE 2-Way fit (for clincher and tubeless)
TYRE SIZE 28"
ASTM CATEGORY 2
WEIGHT 1460 g
RIM MATERIAL Carbon
RIM MATERIAL DETAILS Full carbon, "Twill" carbon fibre finish
PROFILE HEIGHT Medium
RIM HEIGHT Front and rear: 40 mm
RIM WIDTH 26,5 mm
INNER RIM WIDTH (CHANNEL) 19 mm
TYRE WIDTH From 23 mm to 50 mm
BRAKING SYSTEM Disc brake
BRAKING SURFACE/BRAKES OPTIONS AFS
FRONT AXLE COMPATIBILITY HH12-100
REAR AXLE COMPATIBILITY HH12-142
FRONT WHEEL SPOKES 21, Two-to-one (14 left - 7 right)
REAR WHEEL SPOKES 21, Two-to-one (7 left - 14 right)
SPOKES: MATERIAL Stainless steel, double butted
SPOKES: PROFILE Rounded, straight pull
FRONT HUB Carbon, Oversized Aluminium flange
REAR HUB Aluminum, Oversized Aluminium flange
BEARINGS Ceramic CULT bearings, cup & cone system, adjustable
OTHERS Plasma treated HG freewheel. Aluminum Axle
WEIGHT LIMIT 120 kg (rider,bike, equipment and luggage)
FWB OPTIONS HG11, XDr, Optional CAMPY N3W
Lateral stiffness is very good.
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Some 25mm tyres I tried to fit were a struggle, but a different brand of 28mm worked fine.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
They came with tubeless valves that worked fine.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A very well built set of wheels that are good all-rounders on the road.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
Built to a high quality.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
Quite a price outlay.
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
They are more expensive than quite a lot of offerings on the market.
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
On the pricey side against some, and not even just the direct-sale brands, but in their favour they are very well made and give an excellent ride quality.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
With 20 years of road cycling and over 150,000 miles in his legs it's safe to say Stu is happiest when on the bike whatever the weather. Since writing his first review for road.cc back in 2009 he has also had a career in engineering including 3D-CAD design and product development, so has a real passion for all of the latest technology coming through in the industry but is also a sucker for a classic steel frame, skinny tyres, rim brakes and a damn good paintjob.
His fascination with gravel bikes is getting out of control too!