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review

Fulcrum Speed 42 wheelset

8
£1,999.99

VERDICT:

8
10
Superb wheels that balance aerodynamics with lightweight performance – one of the best options, if you look after them
Light
Super-quick tubeless setup
Fast in the straights and climbs, excellent in crosswinds
Beautiful design and aesthetics
Two-year warranty is limited
No crash replacement policy
Weight: 
1,420g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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As Campagnolo's in-house wheel brand, Fulcrum's product portfolio certainly has a premium feel about it. The Fulcrum Speed 42 wheels reviewed here are a case in point and have been built to 'offer the best performance in terms of aerodynamics, rolling resistance, lightness and handling, without compromising safety'. It's a bold claim, but I've been using them in a range of conditions and they really do live up to the hype. They're relatively light, carry momentum with ease, and relay all sorts of road feedback to you in spades. For the money, you're going to struggle to find a better all-round wheelset for racing, training, commuting or anything else for that matter.

You can check out other options in our guide to the best road bike wheels.

> Buy now: Fulcrum Speed 42 wheelset for £1,663.33 from Lordgun

The Speed 42s are one of the lightest disc brake options relative to their sub-£2,000 price point – there are lighter wheelsets but they'll cost you an extra £1,000 or more – and come in at 60g less than the Speed 40s they replace. Fulcrum claims they weigh 1,410g, and on my scales they were just 10g more than that (650g front, 770g rear), which is impressively close.

2024 Fulcrum Speed 42 fitted on bike profile.jpg

As well as being 2mm deeper than before, their inner rim width has been increased from 19mm to 23mm. The arch interface of the rim – where the spokes enter the wheel – has also been widened with a radius of 9.5mm. The external rim width is 29.3mm, which means the Fulcrum Speed 42s are bang up to date with contemporary wheel practices.

2024 Fulcrum Speed 42 laser-etched logo.JPG

The Speed 42s follow the same stealthy design principles as most Fulcrum products, and the result is a beautiful looking wheelset. They're made from a new composite mix of FF100 high-modulus unidirectional fibres, which is evident when the sun hits them. The rims are tattooed with laser-etched graphics that boast the various technologies used in their construction, with acronyms such as DSRC and logos about the USB ceramic hubs, 2-Way Fit System, MoMag technology and C-Lux Mirror Finish rim bed taking pride of place. This collection of glyphs together with the laser-etched Fulcrum logo and silver foiling detailing create a sophisticated and premium appearance.

2024 Fulcrum Speed 42 wheel logos.JPG

Like the Speed 25 wheels I reviewed last year, the Speed 42s use a two-way fit hooked system, so they play nicely with both tubeless or a conventional tubed setup. I fitted a new set of 28mm Vittoria Corsa Pros (Fulcrum designed the wheels around 28mm tyres), and setting them up was quick and easy, and carried out with a standard floor pump.

The rim bed uses Fulcrum's MoMag spoke positioning technology which, along with removing the need for rim tape, ensures the nipples are fixed below the sealed rim bed as opposed to drilled through the rim.

The hubs use ceramic Ultra Smooth Bearings, which are claimed to be 50 per cent faster rolling than standard bearings. The freehub body – available in Shimano/SRAM HG11, XDR, and Campagnolo N3W flavours – employs a 36T ratchet system, with a 10-degree angle of engagement.

2024 Fulcrum Speed 42 ceramic bearing  hubs.JPG

The wheels are laced together with 24 bladed spokes both front and rear. The front wheel has 16 spokes on the rotor side and eight on the non-rotor side. The rear wheel is built the opposite way, so the higher-count drive side can handle the forces of the transmission.

Performance and handling

The wheels are responsive and roll effortlessly. With the 28mm tyres, the ride quality can be tweaked by lowering the pressures, which heightens communication with the rider above. One word: telepathic.

Their low weight means they are brilliant in the hills and, I suspect, the mountains, too. We don't have much in the way of mountains here in the Surrey Hills but we do have some nasty inclines, and it's here where the Speed 42s impressed me, maintaining speed and momentum and flexing their muscles as all-rounders. In fact, if I didn't know any better I'd have thought these wheels were half their depth – that's how well they dismiss lumpy terrain and thwart crosswinds.

2024 Fulcrum Speed 42 action shot.jpg

The hubs are exceptional, too. Where the front spins like silk, the rear is pretty much inaudible, offering instant pickup and a light buzz when freewheeling thanks to the 36 points of engagement. There is no delay when you press on the pedals.

And what of the flats and the wind? Having raced the wheels at both Thruxton and Goodwood motor circuits, they hold speed with alacrity and just keep going. While I can't quantify the aerodynamic claims, they sure felt fast when manoeuvring through tight corners and chicanes and built up speed quickly again as soon as the lefts and rights unfolded into perfectly straight tarmac.

Both Thruxton and Goodwood are known for their exposure to the elements, and the Speed 42s handled everything thrown their way in terms of crosswinds and gusts. The 42mm cross-section does little to affect handling predictability and, instead, supplies you with confidence – this holds, even on fast sweeping descents and exposed roads where wind can destroy confidence.

Value

The Fulcrum Speed 42s are some of the best wheels available today. They are stiff and fast in a straight line and roll smoothly thanks to the ceramic bearings, but also balance comfort impressively well given their 42mm rim profiling. The all-round performance is so good I don't see a need to switch between climbing and deep-section crit racing wheels – the Speed 42s are quite at home in both scenarios.

2024 Fulcrum Speed 42 silver foil logo snd wheel detail graphics.JPG

As far as rivals go, they stack up well: the Zipp 353 NSW wheels that Stu reviewed in 2022, for example, are lighter (1,340g) but more expensive (£3,376) and are limited when it comes to tyre size and format given the hookless rim architecture.

And there's the Campagnolo Hyperon Ultra wheels that I reviewed last year. Despite the shared DNA with the Fulcrums, they are also significantly more expensive at £3,200, and though lighter at 1,240g a pair, they are also a little shallower at 37mm deep.

Conclusion

As far as all-round road racing wheels go, the Fulcrum Speed 42s are up there with the very best in class. In fact, having tested dozens of wheels over the past five years I'd go as far as to say these are my favourite set of all time. Of course there are fancier and more established wheel marques, but if you're serious about your riding I'd encourage you to consider the Speed 42s.

Sure, they are not what you'd call affordable, but they can be used every day and in all conditions without fear of ruining them – trust me, I tested them through one of the hottest summers and wettest winters on UK record and they've come out the other side as good as when they arrived for testing.

You would, however, expect wheels of this nature and at this price point to come standard with a crash replacement policy, so the lack of any comprehensive cover does let the package down a little – though there is a limited two-year manufacturer's warranty that will repair or replace any components deemed defective.

Apart from that, though, the downsides are limited. Where do I sign? I'll take a pair.

Verdict

Superb wheels that balance aerodynamics with lightweight performance – one of the best options, if you look after them

road.cc test report

Make and model: Fulcrum Speed 42 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?

The road racer looking for a balanced wheelset that can be used in myriad conditions and racing scenarios.

Fulcrum says: "The new Fulcrum Speed 42 are Fulcrum's step into a new era and dimension, the result of the fundamental synergy between form and function: Form, Function, Fulcrum.

"An evolution without compromises: the new rims - higher, wider, lighter and more aerodynamic - the new hubs and the new spokes come together in a perfect wheel system.

"The new wider rims, paired with 28 mm tires, provide a level of performance without compromises, with optimum aerodynamic penetration, rolling resistance and comfort.

"The rim is constructed with resins and fibres made to Fulcrum specifications where, unlike previous versions, we use a new composite mix of FF100 high modulus unidirectional fibres for the Speed 42. Through numerous experiments we have reached the perfect mix of fibres, which along with their correct layup and an extremely precise control of the resin, allows us to create a product that works in the correct elasticity field, guaranteeing hors catégory performance specifications and a superior ride feel."

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

The rim is constructed with resins and fibres with a new composite mix of FF100 high-modulus unidirectional fibres. The wheels are light, and come standard with ceramic bearings. The rims are 42mm deep and possess an internal width of 23mm.

Fulcrum lists:

TYRE TYPE 2-Way Fit™ (tube & tubeless)

TYRE SIZE 28"

DISCIPLINE Road

ASTM CATEGORY 2

WEIGHT 1410 g

RIM MATERIAL Full Carbon (FF100)

RIM MATERIAL DETAIL Direct Inmold Matt Finish (DIMF)

PROFILE HEIGHT Medium

RIM HEIGHT 42mm

RIM WIDTH 29,3 mm

INNER RIM WIDTH 23 mm

TYRE WIDTH from 25 mm to 65 mm

BREAKING SYSTEM Disc Brake

OBREAKING SYSTEM OPTION AFS™

FRONT AXLE COMPATIBILITY HH12-100

REAR AXLE COMPATIBILITY HH12-142

FRONT WHEEL SPOKES 24

REAR WHEEL SPOKES 24

SPOKES MATERIAL Stainless steel - Double butted

SPOKES PROFILE Aero, straight pull

NIPPLES Aluminum, Self-locking

FRONT HUB Aluminum, Low flanges

REAR HUB Aluminum, Low flanges

BEARINGS USB™ ceramic, Adj. Cup & Cone bearing system

OTHERS Real Axle Technology

WEIGHT LIMIT (SYSTEM) 120 kg

FWB OPTIONS XDR, HG11, N3W

Rate the wheel for quality of construction:
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for performance:
 
9/10
Rate the wheel for durability:
 
9/10

They dealt well with both summer and winter miles and are still running true and smoothly.

Rate the wheel for weight
 
8/10

At 1,420g (weighed on our scales), the Speed 42 wheels are well positioned in the segment.

Rate the wheel for value:
 
6/10

They are neither cheap nor super expensive when compared with their rivals. That said, it will still require some significant deliberation before outlaying £1,999.99 on these wheels, regardless of how good they are.

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

Yes, they stayed true, with no issues.

How easy did you find it to fit tyres?

Simple and easy.

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

The MoMag system means no rim tape is required. Tyres seated instantly with a standard floor pump.

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

Flawless. Nothing negative to report. Fast and predictable in the wind.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel

The stealthy design and faultless all-round performance.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel

Lack of comprehensive warranty and crash replacement.

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

While a premium option, the Fulcrum Speed 42 wheels are still far from the most expensive: the Zipp 353 NSW wheels that Stu reviewed in 2022, for example, are lighter (1,340g) but cost £3,376 and are limited when it comes to tyre size and format. And there's the Campagnolo Hyperon Ultra wheels that I reviewed last year. Despite the shared DNA with the Fulcrums, they are also significantly more expensive at £3,200, and though lighter at 1,240g a pair, they are also a little shallower.

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 42s are a great set of racing wheels at a reasonable price point. They come with all the bells and whistles, are easy to maintain, service and set up tubeless. The only things that let them down are a limited warranty and no crash replacement policy, which prevent them from scoring top marks.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

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

Aaron is the editor of off-road.cc. He completed his BA honours at the University of Cape Town before embarking on a career in journalism. As the former tech editor of Cyclingnews and Bike Perfect, digital editor of Bicycling magazine and associate editor of TopCar, he's travelled the world writing about bikes and anything with wheels for the past 17 years. A competitive racer and Stravaholic, he’s twice ridden the Cape Epic, raced nearly every mountain bike stage race in South Africa and completed the Haute Route Alps. He's also a national-level time triallist and eSports racer, too - having captained South Africa at both the 2022 and 2023 UCI Cycling eSports World Championships. 

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6 comments

Avatar
cdamian | 1 month ago
0 likes

Thanks for the review. I know wheel reviews are tricky ("roll effortlessly", I surely hope so! "Telepathic" ?).

I am planning to get these.

I am pretty happy with my current Fulcrum wheels and was looking for an upgrade.

It is true that for some reason I have to replace the bearing regularly, but I am pretty quick at it by now. Though, my current wheels come with cartridge bearings and not the cone and not the cone and cup ones like these.

The selection of nice, light, wide, and hooked wheels is sadly not that great at the moment.

You can get these for around 1500 Euro on-line by the way. I wouldn't like to pay the full price.

Avatar
🐸 | 1 month ago
0 likes

These front hubs have an issue on the non-rotor side. When you ride in the rain, water flows directly to the bearing through the spoke holes in the hub. This leads to faster wear on the bearing.

Avatar
dreamlx10 | 1 month ago
0 likes

Commuting ?

Avatar
Surreyrider | 1 month ago
0 likes

Odd review. "Superb" wheels (that aren't especially light - my Parcours at nearly half the price are about the same weight) get 8/10. And as hampsoc says no use if you can't buy them in the UK.

Avatar
hampsoc | 1 month ago
0 likes

That's great and all but we still can't buy the Wind 42 wheels that were introduced in September last year.  I expect these will be the same.  Have Fulcrum given up on the UK?  

Avatar
mark1a replied to hampsoc | 1 month ago
0 likes
hampsoc wrote:

That's great and all but we still can't buy the Wind 42 wheels that were introduced in September last year.  I expect these will be the same.  Have Fulcrum given up on the UK?  

Wind 42 in stock here:
https://www.tradeinn.com/bikeinn/en/fulcrum-wind-42-db-disc-tubeless-roa...

 

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