Fulcrum are adding two new 29in mountain bike wheelsets to their range for 2012: the top-end Red Power 29 XL and entry-level Red Power 29 SL. The XL is based on the 26in Red Power XL, with 19mm rims made from lightweight milled aluminium, straight-pull stainless steel spokes and oversize, sealed-bearing hubs.
The front wheel uses Fulcrum's Two-to-One lacing pattern, with twice as many spokes on the drive side as on the non-drive (16 crossed vs 8 radial). The Italian company reckon this "keeps the spoke tensions in balance at the moment in which the rider transfers power to the wheel". At the back, there are 14 on each side.
The front hub is available with a quick-release skewer or 15mm through-axle (an adapter kit allows you to swap between the two), while there's a choice of quick-release or 12x135mm at the rear (a Syntace X-12 142mm converter is available). Claimed weight is 1,915g for the pair, both of which come with six-bolt disc mounts. There's no word yet on pricing but the 26in wheelset costs from £250.
The Red Power 29 SLs have been designed with an emphasis on sturdiness and reliability over light weight, and come in 300g heavier, at 2,120g the pair. As with the XLs, the rims are 19mm wide and 25.3mm high, with an anodised black finish. However, there's no fancy milling going on here and the joint is pinned rather than glued to keep costs down.
The front wheel is laced more conventionally, with 14 spokes on each side, and the rear wheel is quick-release only. The 26in version costs £190; we'd expect the 29er option to cost slightly more. For more information, visit www.fulcrumwheels.com.