The Fulcrum Red Zone Carbon wheelset has found a solid foothold in the cross-country mountain biking race scene and, after some serious time underneath the world's fastest riders, the brand has used rider feedback and in-depth analysis to create the Red Zone Carbon+. This wheelset brings performance to the next level through asymmetric spoke beds and a fancy carbon layup to shed weight by four to five per cent.
Helping to achieve a lighter weight than before, Fulcrum's new Red Zone Carbon+ rims are built using a mix of resins that are new to the brand and FF100 unidirectional high-modulus carbon fibres that have been made especially for this wheelset. However, it's not just about fancy carbon as the rims get an excellently named NIP(PLE) FORCE asymmetrical profile.
This profile provides the rim with double asymmetry with spokes at 6mm on one side and 3.5mm on the other. While this may sound overcomplicated, the result Fulcrum states, is uniform performance and resistance to lateral stresses – in other words, greater stiffness.
One of the asymmetries has been placed for the best dish of the spokes on the non-drive side which copes with the most torsions. On the other side, the asymmetry is important for proper spoke positioning that "passes as close as possible to the centre of the geometrical section, decreasing the torsional moment typical of asymmetrical MTB rims."
Close to the nipple holes, there's a plastic support system, dubbed DRSC or Directional Rim-Spoke Coupling tech, which adds even more stiffness by keeping the nipples seated correctly at all times. Fulcrum says that this ensures perfect alignment of the spokes between the rim and the hub and consistent distribution of forces.
There's a 28mm internal width that's been chosen to work best with 2.2in up to 2.4in tyres. Notably, the rim doesn't have any spoke holes to help with tubeless setup and in a bit to further increase stiffness.
The wheels rotate around conical hubs with a flange that's machined into the bearing caps to offer the best possible seating of the spokes and we're told that this again increases stiffness. Included are aerospace-grade aluminium axles and the hubs roll on Ceramic Ultra Smooth Bearings.
Fulcrum has even given its ratchet-free system some love. As before, it uses the three ratchet operation with 46 teeth but there's a new steel insert that sits close to the seating of the ratchets to provide more solid, and more durable engagement.
Fulcrum claims this new 29er wheelset weighs 1,385g. If a fresh set of mega techy XC wheels is high up on your list, these will set you back £1,970 with an XD freehub and £2,000 with a Microspline freehub body. Wheelsets are available from December 2023.
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