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Fulcrum Racing 5 DB review

A venerable first-upgrade wheelset

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £399.00 RRP
Fulcrum Racing 5 DB road wheelset

Our review

A great all-round every day wheelset
Pros: Everything needed for tubeless is included; build quality; ride feel of a more expensive wheelset; subtle logos
Cons: Could be a little wider
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This latest revision of Fulcrum’s venerable Racing 5 DB (disc brake) wheelset brings multiple welcome updates over its predecessors.


External and internal rim widths have increased, while rim depth has decreased. Outright stiffness has been toned down, all in aid of boosting ride ease and comfort.

Bearing in mind the near entry-level pricing, the Racing 5 DB is pitched ideally for newer riders looking for a first upgrade of their wheelset, along with those needing an all-day, all-weather training wheelset.

Fulcrum Racing 5 DB wheelset specifications and details

The Racing 5 DBs are hand-assembled and finished in-house, in Fulcrum’s Italian factory.
Ross Grimmett / Our Media

Fulcrum says this latest-generation wheelset has 20mm internal and 25mm external rim widths. The profile has been shallowed to 24mm.

Listed as compatible with tyres up to 700 x 28c, this is a desirable increase over the previous generation‘s ability to run a maximum of 25mm-wide tyres.

Having said that, I could argue even wider rims would guarantee a greater level of future-proofing when it comes to tyre widths.

The rims have an asymmetric profile that helps create spoke clearance for the disc caliper and rotors to run in, while keeping the rim dished correctly. Fulcrum says this better balances braking and pedalling forces.

Specifically, both wheels feature 24 rounded, stainless steel, straight-pull spokes, attached to the rim via alloy nipples. The front has 16 on the left and eight on the right in order to brace against braking forces.

The rear wheel has eight on the left and 16 on the right, this time to resist the forces applied to the drivetrain.

As part of what Fulcrum calls the ‘2 Way Fit System’, the Italian wheel brand uses a hooked rim for both clincher and tubeless compatibility.

The wheelset is supplied with Fulcrum rim tape.
Ross Grimmett / Our Media

Rim tape comes pre-installed, so the wheels are tubeless-ready out of the box when used with the supplied alloy valves (and matching asymmetrical washers).

Like many brands, Fulcrum provides an identification card that includes ID codes for the wheels (useful in the event of a warranty claim), plus a signed quality control checklist. If nothing else, it’s a nice reassurance of the Racing 5 DB wheelset’s handmade credentials.

Out of the box, the axles in the hubs are 100x12mm front and 142x12mm rear, making them ready for pretty much all current road bikes.

Fulcrum has designed its own Axial Fitting System (AFS) to hold the disc rotors. Handily, though, it’s Center Lock-compatible.

My test wheels came with a Shimano HG 11-speed compatible freehub body installed. A 9- and 10-speed spacer wasn’t included.

A SRAM XDR freehub is also available separately, along with Fulcrum’s N3W freehub, which will handle 11, 12 and 13-speed Campagnolo cassettes too.

Fulcrum has opted to install additional shielding around the sealed cartridge bearings, which should help prolong their service life.

Weight is given by Fulcrum as 1,660g for the pair. My scales tipped at 1,736g (808g front and 928g rear), including the rim tape and lockrings.

The hubs have preload adjustment via collars on the axles. These are locked off by a 2.5mm Allen bolt.

A simple complete anticlockwise turn of this Allen bolt permits the preload collar to be adjusted freely, enabling you to dial out any play that creeps into the bearings as the wheels wear in.

Fulcrum has ensured the bearings are fully sealed, which should help prolong their service life.

It’s also worth noting the graphics on the rims are laser-etched into the anodised surface, rather than conventionally applied decals. In my experience, many decals start to lift over time and look scruffy, so it’s a premium touch here.

The only applied decal on the rim is the thin red band that’s been positioned cleverly to cover the welded joint in the rim.

Fulcrum Racing 5 DB wheelset performance

The 24 straight-pull spokes attach to the rim with alloy nipples.
Ross Grimmett / Our Media

Reassuringly, my trusty measuring calipers confirmed all of Fulcrum’s claims regarding rim dimensions, while a quick spin on the truing stand showed the lateral and vertical run-out to be well under +/- 1mm.

The 3mm internal-width increase over the previous version of the wheelset brings with it much needed compatibility with today’s widening road bike tyres.

The neatly factory-fitted rim tape is an excellent effort-saver and represents a cost saving over installing my own, which I really appreciated.

Fulcrum has also punched the hole in the tape very cleanly. Such detail can be missing on road bike wheels far more expensive than the Racing 5 DBs and helps ensure a secure valve fit.

I think the AFS Center Lock-compatible disc rotor makes for the cleanest and most sleek-looking of all rotor-mounting options. The splines occupy much less bulk on the hub shells in comparison to the six-bolt system, while the included lockrings are slight in design yet made from tough steel.

Locating and fitting the wheels into my bike’s dropouts was a breeze, with no serrations, oversized axle end caps or ridges inside the hub to snag on.

Happily, I didn’t need to adjust my brake calipers – the rotors sat perfectly in the middle of the pad gap on first installation.

That said, I needed to tweak my rear derailleur’s limit screws and cable tension to get the indexing spot on.

Initially, I fitted some Specialized Turbo 25mm-wide clincher tyres onto the rims. I’m a practised hand, but this was an easy task – I didn’t have to reach for tyre levers.

With a track pump, the tyres snicked positively into place, and once up to my preferred 75psi they sat evenly.

I also ran 28mm-wide tubeless Pirelli P Zero Race TLR tyres with Orange Seal sealant. These also fitted nicely into the rims, and inflated and locked into place easily.

The newly designed Axial Fitting System fixes the disc brake to the hub.
Ross Grimmett / Our Media

Once out on the road, the Racing 5 DB wheelset felt very free-rolling and sprightly.

Under hard efforts that put lots of lateral load into a wheel, not a single ping of a spoke or nipple settling in place could be heard, even on my initial outing where this is most likely to happen.

I couldn’t detect any excess drag through the rear hub when freewheeling, indicating a smooth and efficient design.

The clean ticking of the freehub when coasting was very restrained, but it isn’t overly muted and (potentially) questionable in its positivity of engagement. It feels and sounds reassuring.

The wheels the Racing 5 DBs replaced on my bike were both heavier and tougher (an allroad-style wheelset), and the notable performance boost to how my bike rode certainly made me smile.

While seated, the Racing 5 DBs wound up to speed very responsively under bursts of power.

When riding out of the saddle deep into a climb (or when sprinting for the next sign), the rear didn’t squirm noticeably as a lot of entry-level and original equipment wheels can.

The front wheel feels stiff, even with my weight really pushed over the front of the bike.

Coming back on to the power after a pause for a corner, the freehub engagement was clean and quick, too.

I got caught out in heavy rain with very blustery winds on one ride, but I never once felt the wheels being buffeted by crosswinds, even when passing by gaps in hedges and fields.

The test wheelset was supplied with a Shimano HG 11-speed compatible freehub body.
Ross Grimmett / Our Media

Overall, the wheelset offers a level of compliance that can be very welcome on longer rides, without sacrificing much rigidity.

The Racing 5 DB didn’t cause any more fatigue than I would otherwise expect.

Chatter could be felt from the coarser tarmac sections on my rides. However, I found this served to inform me about the road surface rather than feeling especially tiring.

You get the feedback and confidence you need to ride keenly, for example when taking a corner at pace.

I could feel the wheels tracking through the corner, following my chosen line, which inspired confidence.

Many more entry-level wheels struggle to hold their line because their ‘softness’ results in a vague feeling, but there was no vagueness with the Racing 5 DB wheels.

Fulcrum Racing 5 DB wheelset bottom line

The Racing 5 DB is an impressive upgrade on the wheelset’s previous generation.
Ross Grimmett / Our Media

Overall, the Fulcrum Racing 5 DB wheelset has impressed.

Fulcrum has done a great job in bringing the wheelset up to date, with tangible improvements.


For a relatively modest outlay at £399, it offers solid, smooth performance and is equally well suited to riders looking for a first upgrade wheelset, or those after dependable training rolling stock.

Product Specifications


Price GBP £399.00
Weight 1,736g (700c) – as tested - (claimed 1,660g)
Brand Fulcrum


Features Axle: 12mm x 100mm & 12mm x 142mm thru
Width: 25mm external
Brake type Disc
Freehub Shimano (with SRAM and Campy versions available separately)
Rim depth 24mm
Rim internal width 20mm
Rim material Aluminium
Spoke count 24 front, 24 rear
Spokes Double Butted, Stainless, Round, Straight Pull, alloy nipples
Wheel size 29in/700c