We put the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels through six months of testing
If you’re looking to upgrade to carbon-fibre wheels, then it can be tempting to go for either something really lightweight for climbing, or some deep section wheels for aero gains. However, the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels provide a good middle ground if you want the best of both worlds.
The Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels have been around for a little while now, but have been updated for 2016 to bring them more up to date with modern wheel trends. The biggest change here is that they have been given wider rims, with a 17mm internal width and a 24.5mm external width.
What that means is that the rims have been designed to work perfectly with wider tyres. According to the European Tyre and Rim Technical Organisation (ETRTO), the minimum width of tyre that you should use with a 17mm rim is 25mm, while the maximum is a whopping 52mm. Good luck finding a road bike with enough tyre clearance for those!
I ran the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels both with my usual 25mm Continental GP4000S II tyres and with 27mm Challenge Paris-Roubaix tyres (which were more like 29mm or 30mm tyres when mounted), and was impressed whatever my choice of rubber. Having the wider rim not only means a slight aerodynamic advantage as the sidewalls sit flush against the rim, but also means that you can have a greater volume of air in the tyre at any given pressure, meaning a more comfortable ride, especially when compared to some other carbon wheels.
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So these are comfortable wheels, but, let’s be honest, if you’re blowing a grand on a posh pair of carbon hoops, you should be demanding more than just comfort. Thankfully the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels deliver the goods.
With a 40mm deep rim, these can best be describe as mid-section rather than deep section wheels, but I still felt a slight aerodynamic benefit when cruising along north of 20mph, having to put in that little bit less effort than if I had been using shallower rims.
Of course if you’re after a full-on race wheel, then it might be tempting to go for a deeper rim that will offer better aerodynamic performance. However, I felt that the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels provided a more balanced option as they performed well when the wind was behind or in front of me, but, despite being quite a light rider, I never struggled to control the front end when riding in crosswinds.
I was also impressed by the stiffness of the rim. Sharp accelerations and sprints were handled with the greatest ease, and even when running the brakes incredibly close to the rim and using these wheels on bikes with the stiffest of rear ends, I never suffered from any sort of brake rub.
The final thing to discuss with the rims is the braking. As is the case with most of Fulcrum’s high end offerings, the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels feature the “3Diamant” braking surface treatment technology, which the Italian company says brings the braking performance close to that of an aluminium rim.
And I have to say the braking is excellent. It’s not quite yet on a par with the best aluminium rims, but it’s not far off. There’s pad doesn’t grab at the rim as is sometimes the case with carbon braking surfaces, and performance in the wet is also very impressive with the Fulcrum pads supplied.
While many wheel manufacturers make the rim themselves before lacing it up to a hub bought in from the likes of DT Swiss, the hub on the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels is all Fulcrum’s own doing.
Lots of companies are beginning to use ceramic bearings in their wheelsets around this price point, but Fulcrum has decided to stick with steel bearings with these wheels. For some this might be a negative, as ceramic bearings do offer a slight performance improvement. However, ceramic bearings generally wear out quicker, and I’d personally prefer to have to put out a couple of extra watts with some steel bearings and not have to deal with worn out bearings if I choose to use these wheels year-round.
The spokes of the rear wheel are laced in a “2:1” pattern, which means that there are twice as many spokes on the drivetrain side as there are on the non-drivetrain side, while other end is held in place using magnets, with external nipples still in place to make maintenance and adjustment nice and easy.
The final thing to consider is the weight of these wheels, which is the only thing that lets them down. All in with skewers, the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels hit the scales at 1575g, which seems a little on the high side for a pair of mid-section carbon clinchers.
This means that you can certainly find better climbing wheels for your £1000. If you’re trying to break free out of a group or close a gap when climbing, then the accelerations could be a little quicker, especially on steeper gradients. However, I certainly wouldn’t go as far as describing these wheels as sluggish, and considering all of the other positives that the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels, this is not as much of a problem as it would be on other wheels.
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At 1575g for the pair, there are lighter carbon clinchers out there, but everything else about the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels is outstanding. The wide rims works perfectly with wider tyres to give a smooth, comfortable ride, the 40mm rim give a slight aero benefit, and they're an absolute doddle to maintain too.