Carbon fibre automatically comes to the minds of most riders these days when they think of tubular road wheels but many pros still rely on aluminium rims for especially brutal events like the upcoming Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix – after all, aluminium is more likely to bend than crack on impact and also provides more predictable braking in the wet relative to carbon fibre.
For those of you who don't have a suitable custom builder to rely on – or if you just want something a little more tech-laden – Fulcrum's Racing Zero tubular offers pro-style benefits in a ready-to-run package.
Relatively shallow 26/30mm-deep front/rear rim profiles lend a more comfortable ride on rough ground while the machined inner walls also help shed unnecessary weight for faster acceleration. Bladed aluminium spokes and proprietary alloy nipples are used front and rear for a little extra speed with the rear wheel also sporting Fulcrum's trademark 2:1 lacing pattern for more even tension between the two sides.
More alloy is found in the machined spoke flanges while carbon fibre makes a guest appearance in the hub shells. Interchangeable freehub bodies can configured for use with either Campagnolo or Shimano/SRAM cassette standards.
All of this rotates on Fulcrum's ceramic Ultra Smooth Bearing system with low-friction seals and easily adjustable preload.
Total weight for our test set is 1,494g - (624g front, 870g rear) and retail price is US$1,600 for the pair, including quick release skewers, wheel bags, a proprietary spoke magnet and truing tools. If all goes well, we'll be using these on Saturday when we reconnoitre the Vlaanderen course for ourselves. Wish us luck!