Product Test: Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon DB

A Gucci wheelset from Italy

When Fulcrum’s latest carbon hoops rolled into the RBA office, we literally stopped what we were doing to take a closer look. In an office stacked with numerous carbon wheelsets, these are wheels that deserved a close-up inspection; they have the look and feel of something special. 

Fulcrum’s newest addition to the Racing Zero family brings disc brake compatibility in addition to being wider with improved tubeless interface. Fulcrum’s hand-built tradition carries through to the Racing Zeros. Although they are available in a rim brake version, we were excited to receive the new disc set. 

THE TECH

Fulcrum improved upon the previous Racing Zero line by following the modern trend of wider rims that are encouraging the use of wider tires (and the lower pressures that come with them). The Fulcrum Racing Zero Carbon DBs have a 30mm-deep profile, 26.5mm external width and a 19mm internal width (2mm wider than the previous model). 

Fulcrum claims the rims can handle running tires from 23mm to 50mm wide, but suggest 25mm to 28mm tires for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. The new Racing Zeros are 2mm deeper than the previous rim brake model as well. The blunt nose of the rim measure just 8mm wide. This, along with the new depth, creates a minimal aero advantage over shallower wheels.

Our test wheel hit the scales at 1488 grams, including the 23 grams of tubeless valves and lock rings for the rotors. Never mind the added weight due to the disc brake bits; the wheelset’s versatility-to-weight ratio is impressive. 

The Italian-made hoops feature 21 aluminum spokes in the front and rear in a two-to-one pattern, meaning 14 on the side bearing the most load with 7 opposite. For the front, you get 14 spokes on the rotor side, while the rear has the 14 spokes on the drive side. Each spoke hole in the rim has an additional carbon reinforcement on the exterior that is not only functional but aesthetically pleasing, too. Fulcrum calls this their ARC technology. It not only strengthens the rim around the spoke nipple, but it also uses the least amount of material required to efficiently reinforce the rim.

Beautifully crafted, Fulcrum’s Italian influence is strong.

The carbon rims are tubeless-ready with no spoke holes on the rim bed. The only hole is for the valve. This is also where a nipple can be fed through if a replacement is needed. Fulcrum’s two-way fit design allows the rims to be compatible with clincher tubeless and tube-type tires. 

The front hub has a carbon and aluminum shell and can be fitted for 12x100mm or 15x100mm thru-axles, as well as a standard QR skewer. The rear hub is all aluminum, and both wheels use USB ceramic bearings with a cup and cone design. The use of a ceramic bearing and the cup and cone design produces top-tier performance with minimal resistance, but also regular maintenance to keep the inners clean. The wheels both also use Centerlock rotors. The rear will fit with 12x142mm or 12x135mm thru-axles (and QR skewers) with a choice of HG11, Campy or XDR freewheels.

THE RIDE 

We ran tubeless tires, and the Fulcrums reacted responsively. Getting the wheels up to speed was quick. The USB ceramic bearings produced limited resistance, while the tubeless tires felt stable on the tarmac.

Hard, out-of-the saddle efforts provide direct feedback, thanks to the added lateral stiffness of the oversized drive-side flange. During the same efforts, there is not the flex and rotor rub that plague other lightweight wheels.   

Descending at speed brought a comfortable level of stability. Between the 28mm tubeless tires and wide rim, the added contact patch inspires confidence to lean through corners at high speeds. The jarring effect of cracks and bumps is noticeably reduced thanks to the lower pressure required in the tires. 

Most of our time was spent riding on asphalt, but when we ventured off to our local car-free fire roads, the Racing Zeros performed with equal measure. Accelerating up steep grades, the wheels felt balanced. Thanks to the new technologies built into the Racing Zeros, they performed better than any other Fulcrum wheel we’ve ridden off
the asphalt. 

THE VERDICT

Not only do the Fulcrums look like a performance-oriented wheelset, but they perform as such. Their tubeless compatibility; predictable, responsive handling; and disc brake-specific hub work together to make the Racing Zeros a versatile top-tier wheelset. While the hubs will require consistent maintenance, nearly every ceramic bearing-equipped hub does as well. Shipped with a Fulcrum identification card, you can be sure the Racing Zeros were hand-assembled at Campagnolo’s Fulcrum factory in Italy.

PUNCH LINES

• Versatile and lightweight

• Finally, Fulcrum carbon with disc brakes

• Simply beautiful construction

STATS

Price: $2529

Weight: $1488 grams

www.fulcrumwheels.com

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