Fulcrum’s carbon Speed aero road bike wheelsets get a ground-up redesign with deeper, wider & lighter rims that build up into faster wheels with better overall handling characteristics. Now with 42mm & 57mm deep options, the new Fulcrum Speed tubeless road wheels are more versatile than ever, and get new low-key stealth graphics that will look great upgrading any road bike…
Fulcrum Speed 42 & 57 aero carbon road wheels
On paper, the new Fulcrum Speed aero road wheels are just several incremental upgrades over the previous Speed generation. But all of those improvements really do add up – deeper rim profiles, wider inner & outer rim widths, faster hub engagement, lower profile hubs, new aero spokes, lighter weight, and new low-key finishing to boot.
In fact, it is that new finish that Fulcrum hopes will help drive more cyclists to their wheels as a viable upgrade for their current bikes – leaving behind flashy graphics, logos & carbon weaves, and replacing them with matte finishes, laser-etched graphics & subtle logos designed to match any bike’s paint job.
These new Speed wheelsets are technically much improved over the last generation, and are said to be the “start of a new era” of Fulcrum wheels to come, with better handling and reactivity.
What does improved Handling & Reactivity mean?
A big part of Fulcrum’s presentation to us about their new Speed aero wheel, focused on a measured improvement compared to the previous Speed generation in their handling- the 57s are 17% better & the 42s are 7% better – and in their reactivity – the 57s are 10% improved & the 42s are 3% more reactive. I wanted to know more how Fulcrum claimed to quantify such a subjective ‘feeling’, so I pressed them on it. And Fulcrum responded with a good explanation of their “new parameters in the pursuit of the perfect formula“, a way of making ‘ride feel’ an objective data point:
After extensive research by the R&D department with specific wheels, tested through a dynamic analysis of riders with different physical characteristics in numerous riding conditions, we have defined two performance indexes: HANDLING and REACTIVITY.
The physical quantities used to define these indexes are mass (kg), rotational inertia (kg/m2), flexural stiffness (N/mm) and torsional stiffness (Nm/rad), whilst the joule (J) is used to measure the energy dissipated.
HANDLING considers the energy dissipated by the wheel during a change in direction. The less energy is dissipated the higher the performance index. The handling assessment considers the flexural deformation based on rolling and inclination.
REACTIVITY considers the energy dissipated by the wheel during a sprint, therefore the flexural deformation and torsional deformation based on the translation, rolling and inclination energies. In other words, the rider’s pedal stroke deforms the wheel and the energy absorbed for the deformation is not transferred to the ground to move forward. The greater the amount of energy absorbed the lower the reactivity and therefore the performance of the wheel.– Federico Gardin, Fulcrum
Fulcrum’s concept was to try to establish a way to illustrate characteristics in each generation of wheels, and to help riders better differentiate their wheels. Simply put, a wheel can either be Reactive or Comfortable, but NOT both. “A higher flexural stiffness results in greater reactivity, whilst low stiffness is synonymous with comfort.” Stiffer isn’t necessarily better, so Fulcrum set out to better quantify the ultimate characteristics they feel define that ideal balance for a certain rider and riding style.
So what all is really new?
First off, both new Fulcrum Speed wheels are 2mm deeper, now coming in 42mm & 57mm depths. Then, they are 4mm wider inside, now with a 2-Way-fit 23mm hooked tubeless bead that can be used with tubeless or tube-type tires. That makes them just under 3mm wider outside with a widened blunt nose, for a max 29.3mm outer width that is designed for optimized aerodynamics with modern 28mm or 30mm tires.
They also feature classic Campagnolo MoMag rim construction tech, which means no holes are drilled for spokes in the rim bed (the external nipples are guided into place with a magnet during wheel building) so the rims do not require tape to be set up tubeless.
Then, they get new low-profile alloy centerlock disc brake hubs with upgraded 3-pawl internals, and full-length alloy axles. The hubs still spin on cup & cone USB ceramic bearings, but get updated with 12% faster 36T / 10° engagement rings. And now Fulcrum builds the Speeds with double-butted, aero-bladed stainless steel straight-pull spokes, laced 2:1 for balanced tension (24 front & rear) with alloy self-locking nipples and composite spacers between the nipple & rim to prevent galvanic corrosion.
These new Fulcrum hubs are all made in Italy, while their carbon rims are made in Romania together with sister Campagnolo wheel manufacturing.
In the finishing department, the Speed wheels now get a ‘Direct Inmold Matt Finish’ like premium Campy wheels that means they come out of the precision molds just like you see them, with no need for painting or protective clear coat. That allows Fulcrum to laser-etch the stealth logos and their new graphics highlighting the key tech featured in the wheels, and just add a single water-transfer chrome logo at the valve that reflects whatever color your bike is painted.
The end result, Fulcrum says the wider, deeper wheels reduce head-on drag by 10% and are noticeably lighter. The new Fulcrum Speed 42 has a claimed wheelset weight of 1410g (60g less than the old Speed 40), and the new Fulcrum Speed 57 has a claimed wheelset weight of 1495g (85g less than the old Speed 55).
Fulcrum Speed 42 & 57 – Pricing, Options & Availability
The new 100% made-in-Europe Fulcrum Speed aero carbon road wheels sell for $2700 / 2265€ for a pair with either Shimano HG11, SRAM XDR, or Campagnolo N3W freehub bodies, all for 12mm thru-axles.
The lower-depth Speed 42 wheels are available today. The deeper Speed 57, and a mixed depth 42/57 pairs will both be available starting in June 2023.