Fulcrum have firmly established themselves in the world of road racing and, more recently, cross-country mountain biking, sponsoring Olympic and world champion Julien Absalon. The three Italian aerospace engineers have now turned their focus to the ever-expanding freeride and downhill markets, and the Red Fire wheel is their flagship for this venture.
Both front and rear wheels maximise strength by using through-axles, 20mm up front and 12mm on the rear. The rims have been milled to save weight, and asymmetrically drilled for better spoke pull. Designed using Ultra Fit Tubeless technology, they have been manufactured to produce the ultimate cohesion between rim and tyre.
At the centre of all this are the anodised red hubs, each straight-pulling 32 black stainless steel spokes, and without a bend in sight. As with most mountain bike wheels these days, the Red Fires are disc brake compatible and make use of a six-bolt mounting arrangement.
The importance of a good wheelset can sometimes be overlooked and the difference they can make to the ride characteristics of a bike is no less than dramatic. From the get-go, the Red Fires feel stiff and strong, thanks to a combination of the bolt-through axles, straight-pull lacing and the 150mm rear hub.
Throwing them into rough and rooty turns proved to be no problem at all and the steering remained precise and accurate no matter what terrain lay beneath. When it comes to accelerating, the pick-up on the rear hub is near-instantaneous but the almost silent freehub may annoy riderswho prefer something a little more vocal.
The cross-section of the rim (approx 23mm internally) produces a well rounded tyre profile, utilising every millimetre o fthe tyre’s tread, and helps maximise traction no matter how hard you carve the turn.
The Ultra Fit Tubeless system keeps the tyre seated snugly on the rim, even when running super-low pressures and after weeks of thrashing, they still remain problem free.
As a pair, the Red Fires weigh in at 2,200g, a mere 40g heavier than the established market leader Mavic Deemax for around the same cost.
Fulcrum have done a good job of creating a light and stiff wheelset which is constructed to a very high standard. The Red Fires will be an asset to any downhill or freeride ride rig, and above all they come in at a competitive price.