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Fulcrum Red Power XL 29er Wheelset

Fulcrum Red Power XL 29er wheels reviewed over a mountain bike holiday season with Basque MTB.

Fulcrum Red Power XL 29er Wheelset Review

I have just finished testing Commencal´s new 29er mountain bike, the Meta AM 29, which came with Fulcrum´s Red Power XL 29er wheels. Read on to see how these Fulcrum wheels lasted up to 10 weeks of use and abuse during the Spanish mountain bike holiday season.

Fulcrum Red Power XL 29er Wheels: Weights and Measurements

Model tested: 142 x 12mm rear and 15mm front. Front : 877g Rear: 1128g Internal Diameter: 19mm Rim Depth: 25.3mmm Approximate Cost: £259.99

Fulcrum Red Power XL 29er Wheels: Design

The Fulcrum wheels feature what they call the “2:1 Spoke Ratio”, basically meaning that the spoke patterns on each side of the wheel are different to take into account the fact that the forces on each side of the wheel are different. In addition, the front and rear wheels also experience different stresses so those too have a different spoke pattern. Here are the patterns of the spokes:
WheelDrive SideNon-Drive Side
Front3 Cross, 16 SpokesRadial, 7 Spokes
Rear2 Cross, 14 Spokes2 Cross, 14 Spokes
The Fulcrum Red Power rims are non-tubeless ready which means if you want to run tubeless, like I do, then you´re going to have to look at using a rim strip which is far from ideal in my experience. I didn´t even bother trying to set these wheels up tubeless and just ran them with tubes for the whole test period. There are a few key features which Fulcrum uses in these wheels. I won´t go into details because what really matters is how the wheels perform but in the interest of completeness I will list these here:
  • The hubs run on sealed industrial bearings.
  • Self tightening nipple system, designed to maintain spoke tension.
  • 20mm aluminium pin.
  • Oversized hubs
  • High tension steel spokes.

Fulcrum Red Power XL 29er Wheels: In Use

The Fulcrum Red Power wheels look great on the bike with good looking graphics and the distinctive spoke patterns. The Commencal Meta AM 29 though is a bike that loves to be ridden fast, ideally over rough ground, and that is what I did. Very quickly I was aware of some flexing in the wheels, they don´t seem to track true and the spokes ping continually. After the first day riding the Commencal AM the wheels were already buckled. I trued the wheels frequently, however they always lost their true quickly. I even took the wheels into a bike shop to true a couple of times, in the hope that this would last longer but it didn´t. It isn´t all bad news for the Fulcrum Red Power XL wheels though, the bearings lasted really well and still feel perfect after almost a full season of guiding in the Basque mountains. The freehub has been faultless and when I opened it up at the end of the test it was remarkably clean, indicating a well sealed unit. Inside the freehub it uses three pawls, operated with a single metal spring that goes around the whole freehub. This could be a point of weakness because if this one spring breaks you are going to be walking home, unlike other 3 pawl systems I have seen  here there are 3 seperate springs, thus giving some redundancy.  The freehub seems pretty robust though and I had absolutely no problems with it during my test period. Another plus point for those of you who like peace and quiet is that the Fulcrum freehub is totally silent. The freehub body on the Red Power rear wheel has a groove machined into the center of each spline to save weight, a really nice touch on a wheelset at this price. The body was also totally unmarked by the cassette after the test period, meaning the cassette slid off easily. Chris King and Hope take note! The other thing in the favour of the Fulcrum Red Power XL 29er wheels is that the rims are pretty much undented at the end of the test period and each time I have trued the wheels they came back into shape easily. I also have only broken one spoke during my test which is less than I would have expected.

Fulcrum Red Power XL 29er Wheels: Conclusion

These really are Goldilock wheels; not too heavy, not too expensive, not too strong. If you ride fast on rough terrain then look elsewhere, however if you are a light rider or ride less rocky terrain then these could be the wheels for you. At £259.99 for the whole wheelset you really are getting a lot of wheel for your money.

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