With the singular goal of increasing performance for the climbs, Fulcrum engineers have revamped their lightweight climbing series with a new offering, the Speed 25. It’s on the high-end of Fulcrum’s line and draws inspiration from Fulcrum’s Racing Light XLR with a selection of modern improvements.
Dimensions include a 21mm internal rim width, a 26mm profile (to blend in a bit of aero gains, according to Fulcrum) and a measured weight of 1291 grams (w/ valves and an XDR driver). With all of those numbers we’re not sure why they’re the “25s”, maybe because they’re optimized for 25-28mm tires but wouldn’t Speed 26 be more fitting?
Fulcrum’s Two-way Fit ensures tubeless and tube compatibility. The hooked-rim design has been a mainstay in Fulcrum’s catalog for years and tubeless setup remains fairly predictable and simple. We were able to mount 30mm Panaracer Agilest tubeless tires with a standard floor pump. The solid rim-bed design catalyzes the process as well since there is no need for rim tape.
Fulcrum uses a proprietary matte finish to cut down on excess weight from paint treatments. Although they claim a 1285g wheelset weight, our XDR spec’d wheels read 1291g with valves. It’s a competitive weight and in the same realm as Roval’s $2650 1239g Alpinist wheels, Enve SES 2.3 $2850 1197g wheels and Hunt’s $1500 1213 gram 32 Aerodynamicists.
An asymmetric front rim is paired with an asymmetric rear rim to minimize weight and balance the added forces applied to the rear wheel. Both wheels feature a U-shaped construction with the rear wheel offset to the non-drive side to improve spoke tension.
Fulcrum specs USB ceramic bearings inside the aluminum hubs to add a premium touch to the build. 24 straight-pull stainless-steel bladed spokes add a bit of aero flair. They’re laced in a two-cross pattern and held in place by aluminum nipples.
We hit some of our steepest local climbs to put the 25s to the test. Like most climbing wheels the benefit of the weight savings comes with the acceleration from each pedal stroke. Uphill the wheels felt stiff and springy. We noticed the quick feel of the rims as we had been testing Hunt’s aero-focused 1700g Limitless Aero Disc wheels previously. Anyone making the switch from a heavier, deep section wheel may notice the high responsiveness the wheels have on the climbs. The 25s feel like they are pushing the rider forward rather than feeling sluggish in the apex of a switchback.
Descending, responsiveness remains high and the performance matches but there is a noticeable lack of momentum that a mid-depth or deeper-rimmed wheel provides.
The wheels are ideal for riders looking to capitalize on their climbing performances that don’t mind the trade-off of minimal aerodynamic features.
At $2762 the Speed 25s are on the higher end of hoop pricing. Those looking for a premium wheelset now have another option to consider. Given the ceramic bearings, simple tubeless setup and subtle aesthetic, Fulcrum has quite the bundle for a modern wheelset. Anyone looking for a value-focused package may want to look at more reasonably priced offerings but should note they likely won’t have all of the features Fulcrum has managed to pack into the Speed 25s.
We’ve only had the chance to get a few miles on the wheels ahead of the launch and will be conducting a long-term review in an upcoming issue of Road Bike Action Magazine.