Ridden: Fulcrum Red Metal 29 XL

The Fulcrum hoops responded as quickly as a 29" wheel ever has for me

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MSRP: $1070

Fulcrum, the Italian components brand owned by Campagnolo, bills the Red Metal 29 XL as its top-end tubeless clincher wheelset. At 1750 grams a set, and with Fulcrum’s Two-to-One spoke design and hot, jet-black aesthetics, the hoops certainly look and feel that way out of the box.

The milled rims and Fulcrum-built, oversize-axle hubs caught my eye immediately. Upon further inspection, the MoMag magnetic spoke nipple placer is an interesting solution to the Red Metals’ unique spoking system. With time at a premium, we mounted WTB Nano 2.1″ clinchers and made a quick rotor installation to get the wheels rolling.

All-told, I put in a shade under 50 miles on the wheels, mixed between sloppy, early-season alpine riding, two short track cross country races and a few trail rides.

Fulcrum claims its 2:1 spoking makes for a snappier, more reactive wheel. Perhaps it’s an instance of comparing apples to oranges — or rather, watermelons — but the Fulcrum wheels were much quicker than the AlexRims SX44/SRAM 506 setup I’d been running for two months prior. Whether dicing (and I use the term loosely) technical singletrack above Fort Collins, Colorado, or grunting out a local STXC race at New Belgium Brewery, the Fulcrum hoops responded as quickly as a 29″ wheel ever has for me.

As far as durability is concerned, while I only put in 48 miles on the wheels, seven of them were on some of the sharpest, choppiest rock in northern Colorado. Even running low pressure and seeing two rim hits, there was no rim denting and the wheels were as true when I pulled them off my BAMF Rear Naked Choke as the day I put them on. One particular ride was on a somewhat sloppy day at high elevation (yes, I’ll be donating a day of trail work to even out the karma) and with a gentle washing, the freehub didn’t take on any added friction or sound.

I would be curious to undertake a spoke change with Fulcrum’s MoMag device. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I didn’t have an opportunity to test a shop or field repair.

The one issue I did have with the wheels came at the six-mile mark of my second ride (16 miles total) when the rear tire unseated. I was running pressure within the recommended range from WTB and am unsure if the problem was user error or an issue with the interface between rim and tire. I reseated the tire in the rim and didn’t experience the problem again.

Overall, the Red Metal 29 XL wheelset provided a good ride. In fact, I wish I’d had more time on them, but such is the life of a web editor. Fulcrum is just months away from introducing a new lightweight 29er wheel, and I look forward to checking out the Italians’ next step in race-worthy off-road wheels soon.

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