Having been around a while, and with it's last overhaul in 2016, can the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels prove that age and experience can still offer a sprightly ride and upgrade your bike?
To Fulcrum fans out there, the Racing Quattro has become a classic wheelset by now. It’s been around since 2013 and over time has been developed, with 2015 being the last overall of the carbon clincher version.
To the uninitiated, the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels are badged as all round racing wheelset, which plug the gap between Fulcrum’s (and sister brand Campagnolo’s) top end and the aluminium rimmed wheels, and has done so very well.
In terms of peers, the wheels sit more or less with the £1k wheelset bracket, at just at £99.99 more than the magic thousand pound price point. You’ll likely to see them up against the likes of the Token C45R wheels and the Vision TriMax.
At 40cm deep, the full carbon wheels are also on a par with the Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon SL UST, and weighing just 14g more for the pair at 1504g (822g from the rear and 682g for the front), for nearly £500 less, the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels put up an impressive fight on paper.
Fulcrum have constructed the Racing Quattro Carbon wheels using uni-directional (UD) full carbon construction with a 3K braking surface. In layman’s terms this means that it uses carbon fibre that all runs in one direction with the braking surface using what’s considered the workhorse of the carbon work as it’s light, relatively stiff, and scores highly on elongation before failure. The braking surface has gained Fulcrum’s 3Diamant treatment which is said to eliminate imperfections to create a consistent and controllable braking surface, which the Italian company says brings the braking performance close to that of an aluminium rim.
The inside (claimed) rim 17mm and 24.5mm external measurements make the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels ideal for running wide rubber, with my 25mm Continental Grandsport Race tyres coming up as 25.26 at the rear and 26.34 with 100psi in both, which is not far off the Token C45R wheels.
Hub wise the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels use a standard Aluminium one with over sized flange, while the 18 front and 21 rear spokes are a straight pull Aero stainless steel with a 2:1 ratio pattern.
There are two major notables with Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels, and they contradict each other in that they are both fast and slow at the same time. ‘What?’ I hear you cry ‘she writes nonsense’ – but it’s true.
A wheel weight is the sum of it’s parts, and unless we start braking the wheels down, which I’m pretty sure Fulcrum might be miffed with me for if I return the wheel in its constituent parts, we’ll never really know where the weight is carried.
But riding the Racing Quattro’s I’ll hazard a guess that it’s in the rims. It’s standing starts are the give away, with the wheels slow to get rolling and on a 30km ride with 616m of climbing, they weren’t exactly what I would call zippy.
I had to really lean on the pedals to get the out of first gear, as they sort of slowly wound up the pace, a bit like the delayed transmission response you get from an large automatic diesel estate car.
But here’s where the weight in rims becomes your pal, and the slow but fast bit makes sense. Once up to speed, the wheel inertia is incredibly noticeable, they do the work for you, almost swinging your legs in perpetual motion (until you hit another steep up hill section).
Point the wheels on a flat TT course and you’ll be laughing all the way to the PB bank (assuming these are your first foray in to a wheel upgrade and you’re not already running a fancy disc at the rear). Even on some of the most exposed elevation on the testing rides the 40mm rim wasn’t at the mercy of gusty winds, with the wheel holding me on my intended line throughout.
Throwing myself down some of the somewhat steep lanes of the Peak District gave me the benefit of testing that 3Diamant treatment rim brake, and I have to say that although probably not quite as responsive as the Token C45R wheels, the supplied brake pads were on the job, with both car altercation on one of the narrowest dry stone wall call lanes and then an April showering testing both the stopping time response and wet weather braking well.
Being the older rider in the peloton has it pros and cons, you have the benefit of time served experience, and are somewhat respected for that, but with younger legs all around you, it can be tricky keeping up. There’s a lot of things I really liked about the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels, with the trusty well known and made manufacturer name at the top of the list. But I can’t help feeling that they’re getting a bit left behind and I feel like they’re missing a unique selling point. It’s not bad value for money, just there’s better out there for around the same amount.
A good set of wheels that once up to speed will ensure a rapid ride, but slow out the blocks and sluggish on the steeper climbs. Not bad value for money, but it's a really competitive price bracket and there's faster wheels out there for the money.