Fulcrum Racing Quattro wheels preview
Usability with performance and more
Posted 20 August 2012
Words by Richard Hallett
The Fulcrum Racing Quattro wheelset is that most sought-after of breeds, the complete all-rounder. That much is clear from the Italian manufacturer’s online brochure, which asserts that the model is “an aerodynamic wheelset that also offers exceptional ride quality, durability, as well as a responsive, smooth ride – both when climbing in the mountains and when aerodynamics are of supreme importance on the flats.”
What’s missing? Nothing of note; not even affordability. A pair of Racing Quattros will set you back a meagre £299.99, which places them neatly between the Racing 3 and Racing 5 models and which makes them as sensible a choice for commuting and training duty as for competition.
So, what do you actually get for your £300 minus a penny? First up is surely the 35mm deep aluminium clincher rim, which is said by Fulcrum to offer the optimal balance between aerodynamic efficiency, handling and weight. These three always demand a trade-off; a deeper rim can be made better at cutting through the air but is, inevitably, heavier than a shallow one. Weight here not only affects acceleration but steering response, so more depth means slower steering and ‘wind-up’. The Racing Quattro wheelset weighs 1710g per pair, which is in the ball-park for the price but not startling.
In any case, greater rim depth also means a radially-stiffer rim, which impairs ride comfort, but a rim able to offer long service life when built with fewer spokes, thus further aiding aerodynamics and overall wheel weight. As Fulcrum says, it’s a trade off. Here, it looks to be have been made in favour of slicing the wind.
The robust rim needs but 16 front and 21 rear spokes, with those at the front laced radially. 21 is an odd number at the back easily explained by Fulcrum’s excellent ‘2:1 Two-to-One’ spoke pattern. The company’s own explanation, something about how “the rotational force on the sprocket induces a slackening of the freewheel spokes with a consequent loss of rim tension”, seems a little dense. What is for sure is that, by matching each non-drive spoke with two on the drive side, spoke tension is kept high on both sides of the wheel. In a conventionally-built wheel, the non-drive spokes must be much less tight – somewhere around half the tension depending on flange offset – than those on the drive side to create the dish required to provide space for the multiple freewheel.
High spoke tension all round, here achieved through aluminium nipples anodised a fetching shade of red, is a near-guarantor of wheel durability. There’s more to the Quattro design; straight-pull bladed and blackened stainless steel spokes sit in elegant hub flanges and take advantage of a Fulcrum technology labelled ‘Anti-Rotation System’. This means the spokes are secured at the hub so they can’t be misaligned during the build and ensures that the bladed section is correctly aligned with airflow (in zero-yaw airflow conditions).
Moving to the hubs, we find one-piece forged aluminium construction with an oversized flange used on the rear hub’s drive side in a bid to ensure excellent power transfer. The hubs rotate on Fulcrum’s neat bearing arrangement, with any play in the bearings adjustable on one side by means of a threaded ring with pinch bolt. The hub spindles are aluminium.
Both adjustment and lubrication are straightforward, as is parts replacement in the event of excessive wear. The durable steel Shimano-pattern freehub body should help with longevity, so expect the racing Quattros to live up to Fulcrum’s claims for durability.
The wheels come with skewers that are a vast improvement on those supplied by Fulcrum in years past; they have a smooth and firm action when tightened and offer a distinct closure stop point as well as being pleasing to look at thanks to curvaceous lines and a sleek black finish.
The wheels are well-finished, too, although the rim decals look like they might suffer is subjected to the repeated cleaning usually inflicted on wheels used for training or commuting. Time will tell. Meanwhile, CTR took them for a spin around the Surrey Hills and enjoyed a fast and responsive but firm ride that bodes well for future expeditions.
Full ride review to follow – and here it is: Fulcrum Racing Quattro Full Review