Fulcrum has been designing wheels in Italy for a long while, throwing their hat in the mountain bike ring several times over the years. Today they have some fully redesigned wheels on offer with the Red Zone Carbon and the alloy Red Zone 3. If you’ve ever raced XC or marathon you likely have an internalized sense of what Red Zone means, and those are precisely the disciplines these hoops were designed for.
Both of the new rims will have a 28mm width to suit 2.2- to 2.4-inch wide XC tires while creating the preferred tire profile for the application. Like most new rims, nipple holes on the front and rear rim are asymmetrically offset by 6mm to create a more balanced build. The carbon rims alternate the offset by 3.5mm with a wave pattern in the material that Fulcrum calls NipForce.
Fulcrum says that the alternating asymmetry “is used to achieve a spoke pull that passes as close as possible to the center of the geometric section. For large channels, such as those found on MTB wheels, excessive asymmetries can render the forces applied (spoke pull) misaligned in relation to the geometric center of the section, generating a rotation moment that stresses the structure of the carbon. This second asymmetry is therefore specifically designed to decrease this twisting moment typical of asymmetric MTB rims.” That’s a lot of words that seem to say that the less-offset nipples reduce twisting stress on the carbon rim.
Red Zone Carbon wheelsets use uniform spoke lengths to cut down on the number of spares you need to stock, and with 24 front spokes laced two-cross and 28 rear spokes laced three-cross, they weigh a reported 1,445g. Fulcrum’s centerlock hubs come with any of the three modern freehub options, are Boost spaced only, and use a similar bearing preload system to that found on Shimano hubs. The freehub encases three pawls with 36 teeth to bite against for 10° of engagement. It’s a bit surprising to see a wheel company opt for slower engagement like this while many others are shooting for less than 6° of engagement.
The Red Zone 3 aluminum rimmed wheels use the same boost hubs, and forego the wavy drilling with their 24 front and 28 rear spokes. The internal rim width is narrower, at 25mm, and the set reportedly weighs 1,610g.
Your local Fulcrum dealer will have Red Zone Carbon wheels available in March, retailing between $1,717 and $1,734 depending on the freehub. Aluminum Red Zone 3 sets should be available sooner, proceed at $760 to $779.