Fulcrum Racing 5 CX Review
The grizzled, mud-splattered cyclo-cross veteran would tell you that the proper cyclo-cross wheel is a tubular. They’d tell you that a good tubular can be run at an extremely low tyre pressure, good for adhesion in treacherous conditions. They’d tell you with a grimy smile, that running a clincher at the same pressure would run the risk of a pinch flat.
They’d tell you that tubular tyres are a larger volume tyre than most clinchers, resulting in a smoother ride across mixed terrain. Finally they’d point to the complete domination of the tubular at the highest level of competition as the proof of tubular superiority. The only World Championship victory on clinchers was Chris Kelly’s victory in 1999 in the Junior World Championship, a fairy tale victory for a host of reasons beyond wheel and tyre choice (if you’re interested read more here).
Here’s what they don’t tell you: as well as several identical bikes, the top level pros bring a quiver of wheels to every race with different wheels for every conceivable condition. Tyre choice really matters and tubulars can’t be changed in minutes. The local cyclocross expert also forgets to mention that a good pair of tubular ‘cross tyres can cost as much as a wheelset.
The Fulcrum Racing 5 CX comes with very tasty white hubs.
Handmade Dugast and Challenge tyres can cost up to £130 per tyre; clincher equivalents cost less than half as much and can be repaired in 1/100th time. The ease of clincher tyre ‘swaps’ compared to the pain of glueing on tubulars (see ‘How to glue on a tubular tyre’), combined with the number and cost of tyres, make clinchers the cost-effective choice.
So some manufacturers recognise the potential of the clincher market: they’re building specialised clinchers just for ‘cross. One example is Fulcrum’s new Racing 5 CX.
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