Fulcrum are Campagnolo’s in-house wheel brand and being Campy owned they're all about quality and performance; two attributes we all want but also have to pay for. This 29er wheelset, based on the 26in version, isn’t cheap, but then better and budget never made great bedfellows. That said, the experience of riding will tease open the wallet.
We rode with these on back-to-back laps of the Mountain Mayhem course in Herefordshire, and it was on the tight downhill switching singletrack that we began to get a feel for these wheels’ extra muscle over the Stan’s Crest rims we'd been running.
Leaning hard on the front wheel in those turns it stuck to the 3in wide piece of trail between two 6in deep ruts like its review on BikeRadar depended on it. Hitting the fast and bumpy downhill into the arena we felt conﬁdent enough to throw the bike sideways into a maximum load turn. Instead of ﬁghting understeer the bike changed direction and took off like a scalded cat.
The convertible 9mm/15mm front wheels were useful when we swapped from a rigid fork to our Fox F29 and we like the international six-bolt rotor mounts. We’d set the wheels up tubeless using some Bontrager tubeless-ready tyres and apart from a bit of help from Team Scott’s compressor, they went up and stayed up and have still not needed topping up.
We’ve used XL1s in 26in format for well over a year and never had any spoke issues, though spares are available (from Fulcrum importers i-ride.co.uk in the UK) along with all other spares you might need. If you’re a heavier rider or like choosing tough trail lines on your 29er, and especially if you’re on a full-suspension 29er, which doubly beneﬁt from this stiffness, you’ll appreciate the XL1s.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine.