Fulcrum has added two new wheelsets to its cross-country/marathon wheel range. The Red Zone Carbon is aimed at being the Italian brand's best mountain bike wheels for XC racers, marathon and downcountry riders, while the alloy Red Zone 3 focuses on versatility covering all types of riding from bikepacking adventures to racing cross-country on a budget.
Both wheelsets share the same hub construction and will only be available in a 29in size and feature Boost width hub spacing. The hubs use Fulcrum's Adjustable Cup and Cone bearing system which Fulcrum claims to guarantee a high level of smoothness. The hubs use flanges sunk into the body that are geometrically linked, which means all the spokes are the same length, making fitting spares a little simpler. The freehub features a 36T ratchet using three pawls to give 10-degrees of engagement. The hubs are laced with 24 spokes on the front and 28 on the rear and are available with Shimano HG11, 12sp Shimano Microspline and SRAM XD freehub options.
Fulcrum Red Zone Carbon
Where the wheels differ are in the rims. The Red Zone Carbon wheelset features a full carbon rim that is fully produced in Europe, with the majority of parts manufactured in Italy. Fulcrum has taken an asymmetric approach to the rim design, using what it calls NipForce (short for Nipple Force – no sniggering at the back!).
Looking down on the rim there is a wave profile where both the drive side and non-drive side spokes are offset 3.5mm from the center. Fulcrum says that this double asymmetry optimizes the dish and tensioning of the wheel by creating a similar spoke angle on each side, as well as reducing twisting stress that Fulcrum has identified as a potential cause of failure with other asymmetric MTB rim designs.
Fulcrum has borrowed the MoMAG technology from its sister brand Campagnolo which uses a magnet to locate the spoke into the nipple, the result is a solid rim bed that should be structurally stronger than a drilled equivalent and make tubeless setup a breeze, as there is no need to tape the rim.
The rim itself is hookless with a 28mm inner diameter which Formula says has been designed to run between 2.2in and 2.4in tires, right on the money for modern XC or downcountry duties.
Overall the Fulcrum Red Zone Carbon wheelset weighs in at a claimed 1,445g, which is pretty svelt. Pricing starts at $1,717 / £1,299.99 and will be available from March 2022.
Fulcrum Red Zone 3
The Red Zone 3 wheelset uses an alloy rim which dramatically reduces the outlay and aligns them with the best budget MTB wheelset if you are looking for a more affordable performance boost.
Fulcrum has focussed on versatility stating that the Red Zone 3 has been designed for a wider range of riders who seek an affordable yet robust wheel option. It has a relatively shallow 19mm rim profile and an inner rim diameter of 25mm allowing it to be used on burly Boost spaced adventure gravel bikes and cross-country mountain bikes alike. Unlike the Red Zone Carbon, the Red Zone 3's use a standard nipple arrangement, however they come pre-taped for easy tubeless set up. The CNC machined rim features a subtle double polished-matt surface with laser-etched graphics which should look great on any bike too.
Despite its alloy construction, the weight is still pretty impressive at a claimed 1,610g and pricing is equally as competitive, retailing at $760 / £599. Fulcrum says that the Red Zone 3 wheelsets should be available shortly.
We have been riding a set for a few weeks now so check out our full review of the Fulcrum Red Zone 3's.