Fulcrum Racing 3 Clincher Wheelset
  • Total rating
4.5

Summary

An exceptional wheelset for training and endurance rides, the Racing 3 incorporates the most advanced aluminum wheel technologies resulting in a lightweight, smooth rolling, and bomb-proof pair of road performance wheels.

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Pros

  • Remarkably well built, stay true longer.
  • Lightweight milled aluminum rims.
  • Smooth-rolling bomb-proof hubs.
  • Easy to mount and dismount clincher tires.
  • Fit up to 30 mm wide tires.
  • Rim tape is not needed.
  • Excellent value for money.

Cons

  • Can’t compete in weight and aesthetics with carbon wheels.
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Specifications

  • Rim material: Aluminum (6082, T6 Pre-Aged), R2-Milling.
  • Rim width: 22,5 mm.
  • Rim height: 25 mm (front), 30 mm (rear).
  • Tire width: 25-30 mm.
  • Spokes count: 16 (front), 21 (rear).
  • Spokes Material: Stainless steel, aero profile.
  • Hub material: Aluminum.
  • Bearings: Cup and cone.
  • Weight: 1560 g (without quick-release skewers).
Source: chainreactioncycles.com

The Fulcrum Racing 3 sits in the mid-range of aluminum clincher wheelsets. With a remarkable compromise between weight, rolling performance, and durability, it’s probably the first upgrade I would recommend to replace the factory wheels of practically any road bike under $2,000.

Born as a spin-off brand of Campagnolo, Italian-based Fulcrum has been dedicated exclusively to the development of wheels since 2004. According to them, with the Racing 3 model, you cannot go wrong. It is a wheelset aimed at 2 types of cyclists: those looking for a sturdy and reliable pair of training road wheels that can still offer a great feel on the road, and endurance riders that look for comfort and versatility.

Priced at around EUR 500/US$ 600, the Fulcrum Racing 3 incorporates technologies that trickle down from more expensive models in their range such as the 2:1 Two-To-One™ patented spoke ratio on the rear wheel, 4 mm wider rims that perfectly accommodate 28 mm tires, differentiated rim heights to improve stability at the front wheel and power transmission at the rear, and their MOMAG™ technology that allows building the wheel without making holes on the inside part of the rim, thus forfeiting the need for rim tape.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the components of this wheelset and its performance.

Rims

Source: chainreactioncycles.com

As with any aluminum wheels aiming for lightweight, the Fulcrum Racing 3 features a shallow rim profile. At first glance, the most distinctive about these wheels is the differentiated rim height between the front and the rear. The front is almost as shallow as it can get, with 25 mm. According to Fulcrum, this improves handling while also reducing weight.

There are obviously no aero gains with such a shallow wheel depth but they do feel very snappy and accelerate fast, especially uphill. The rear wheel is slightly beefier to gain stiffness and help with power transmission, but still, 30 mm is a very low profile compared to carbon wheels.

Another feature of the rims is Fulcrum’s characteristic milled profile. This further reduces the weight and the rotational mass of the rim without affecting the stiffness, making them very reactive.

The polished aluminum braking surface is wide enough to fit comfortably even the most worn-down brake pads. This comes in handy when self-servicing the bike: there’s more margin of error when it comes to aligning the brake pads with the rim.

My two favorite features of these rims are the lack of holes in the upper bridge (say goodbye to annoying rim tape!) and the wider channel (inner rim width) that allows for extremely easy tire mounting and dismounting.

Spokes

The low spoke count is one of the premium features of this wheelset that make it look sleek, stylish, and certainly more expensive than they are.

There are just 16 stainless steel aero-shaped spokes in the front wheel and they feature an anti-rotation system. This convenient technology keeps the wheel perfectly true for a longer time. I can vouch for it since I’ve been abusing my pair of Fulcrum Racing 3 for over 2 years and I’ve never had to re-center them.

The rear wheel mounts 21 spokes with Fulcrum’s patented 2:1 Two-To-One™ spoke ratio. This technology doubles the spoke count on the drive side to avoid flexing and power loss.

Hubs

Source: chainreactioncycles.com

Both front and rear wheels feature an oversized hub body in aluminum that increases lateral stiffness while remaining relatively lightweight. I especially love the look of the spokes neatly integrated into the black minimalistic front hub. The rear wheel hub also features an oversized flange on the drive side to further increase the torsional stiffness.

The hubs incorporate the bearings with a system of cup and cone that guarantee maximum smoothness. It also features an adjustment ring to eliminate the lateral play of the wheel once mounted on the frame. This system is absolutely boom-proof, I’ve been riding them for over two years in all sorts of conditions and I still haven’t had to service the hubs yet.

Durability

I’ve owned the Racing 3 for over 2 years and they are my absolute favorite training wheels in part due to their extreme durability.

I haven’t had to service the hub, change a spoke or even true them for a good 20,000 km!

And it’s not like I’ve been riding only in dry conditions and flat terrain. I’ve ridden under some serious tropical downpours and nothing in the wheels has gotten visibly rusty or made squeaky noises.

Furthermore, I often have to deal with 20% downhill ramps and the brake surfaces are holding up fantastic, proving the high strength and great heat dispersion of the aluminum rims.

On The Road

I ride a direct mount caliper bicycle and I strongly recommend trying these wheels on that type of frame. The braking power is almost on par with discs without all the nonsense, problems, and extra weight.

If you just upgraded your wheelset, the first thing you’ll notice on the road is the fast acceleration of the Racing 3 compared to the factory wheels that came with your bike. This, however, poses a drawback: the lower rotational mass that makes them more reactive also makes them carry less momentum downhill. This added to its mid-range hubs and bearings will result in not-so-high top speeds.

One advantage of the Racing 3 over carbon wheels is the higher shock absorption due to lower stiffness. That’s why these are ideal for gran fondo rides and long-distance trips.

Verdict

The Fulcrum Racing 3 is a robust aluminum road wheelset ideal for endurance riders or as dedicated training wheels.

If you are looking for mid-range road performance wheels in the market, the Racing 3 won’t stand out for cutting-edge aesthetics or top-notch materials, but they’ll be hard to beat in terms of durability and value for money.

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