By Stefan Abram
This latest edition brings a carbon rim to Fulcrum’s Rapid Red gravel wheel range for the first time. Borrowing technologies from the brand's other ranges, the Rapid Red Carbon wheels are intended to be light and reliable enough to comfortably handle the full spectrum of gravel riding, from racing to exploring.
With an internal width of 25mm and a depth of 30mm, on first glance the profile appears pretty typical for a modern gravel rim – but there is quite a bit more to these ones than that.
In the pursuit of greater weight savings, many brands have made the switch from hooked rim profiles to hookless – but at the sacrifice of compatibility with certain tyres. Fulcrum has forged a third way with what it’s calling “mini-hook” technology, which still offers weight savings over hooked, but also increase tyre choice over hooked.
To further increase the strength of the wheels, Fulcrum’s combination of resins and unidirectional carbon fibres has enabled the rims to be made without requiring any cuts or drilling – the holes for the nipples are created directly in the mould.
This has the added benefit of allowing you to fit tubeless tyres without rim, as the bridge hasn’t been drilled. On the other hand, it does mean that you need to use a magnet to seat the nipples in the rim holes.
The hubsets roll on cup and cone bearings, which are becoming more of a rarity these days. This system is straightforward to service with a cheap and simple set of cone spanners and so is arguably more user-friendly than seal cartridge bearings, which require a bearing press and some form of bearing puller when they do wear out.
All of the three major freehub body standards are offered, with Shimano’s HG11, SRAM’s XDR and Campagnolo’s N3W all available. The drilling is for 24 spokes front and rear, while the spokes themselves are round, straight-pull items with aluminium nipples.
The claimed weight is 1,490g for the set and they are available from all Fulcrum dealers. The Shimano HG11 freehub version will cost £1,399.99 / $1,975. This does put the Rapid Red Carbon wheels at the more premium end of the gravel wheel market. For context, the Hunt 35 Carbon gravel Disc X-Wide hookless wheels come in at £829 / $1,179 and have a 35mm depth, 25mm internal rim width and a claimed weight of 1,465g.
Starting off riding mountain bikes on the South Downs way, he soon made the switch the road cycling. Now, he’s come full circle and is back out on the trails, although the flat bars have been swapped for the curly ones of a gravel bike.
Always looking for the next challenge, he’s Everested in under 12 hours and ridden the South Downs Double in sub 20. Although dabbling in racing off-road, on-road and virtually, to date his only significant achievement has been winning the National Single-Speed Cross-Country Mountain Bike Championships in 2019.
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