Fulcrum has a new version of its super-lightweight XC wheelset out, with fewer spokes and a look sure to get mechanics twitching for the spoke key
Fulcrum’s new Red Zone Carbon+ wheelset uses an odd-looking assymetrical rim profile that makes it look buckled. We certainly thought so, watching the Buff-Megamo team riders riding the Red Zone Carbon+ at the Cape Epic this year.
Turns out though, it’s supposed to look this way, thanks to something called Nip Force. Fulcrum says offsetting the spokes in this weird way makes the wheel stronger, and better able to compete with the best mountain bike wheels on the market.
Fulcrum Red Zone Carbon+ need to know
- Red Zone Carbon+ is 60g lighter than the original Red Zone Carbon, now 1,385g for the set
- Funky asymmetrical profile is designed to give the wheel greater resistance to lateral stresses
- XC race wheels, costing £1,969 with SRAM XD driver body, or £1,999 for Shimano Microspline
- Modest 26mm rim profile height, and slimline 28mm inner, for 2.2in to 2.4in XC tyres
Red Zone Carbon+ Rim
If you’re familiar with the Red Zone Carbon’s you’ll know they have a funky looking rim profile, which Fulcrum call the NIP(PLE) FORCE. This asymmetrical profile has returned on the Red Zone Carbon+ wheels, as it’s claimed to give the wheel greater resistance to lateral stresses. This is achieved by the double asymmetry of 3.5mm on one side and 6mm on the other. Essentially this asymmetry is done to help rebalance the spoke tension as well as to make sure the spoke positioning passes to the centre of the geometrical section as possible. Thus you get truer wheels and funky looking rims: win-win.
The rim is constructed using a mix of resins and “FF100 unidirectional high modulus fibres” which Fulcrum says maintains and improves the wheel’s structural characteristics. We’re not entirely sure what FF100 fibres are or if they’re yet another acronym for the sake of an acronym, but according to the brand, they reckon these fibres and resins have improved the handling and reactivity of the wheels by 9.5% and 10% respectively, when compared to the Red Zone Carbons.
Ready for two more acronyms? We’ve got MoMAG and DSRC up for you now. MoMAG refers to the technology that essentially means the inner rim channel has no holes. This makes it better for tubeless applications and can increase the stiffness of the rim compared to a traditionally drilled rim. DSRC stands for Directional Rim-Spoke Coupling, and is a plastic support that’s sunk into the carbon near the nipple holes.
OK last acronym we promise…this one is DIMG and stands for Direct Inmold Matt Finish. In this case, it refers to the matte finish on the rims, which also have new graphics and laser printed logos to give them that “modern and aggressive look.”
For the stats lovers, the rim profile is 26mm and the inner channel 28mm. This means tyres between 2.2in and 2.4in will fit nicely.
Red Zone Carbon+ hub and freewheel
There’s only really one other big part to a set of wheels, and that’s the hub. Fulcrum has stuck with a 3 ratchet operation with 36 teeth, but has upgraded the HT+ bodies to include a steel insert close to the seating of the ratchets. This, they claim, will provide longer lasting engagement. The bearings have also been upgraded from Cup & Cone to Cup & Cone Ceramic USB bearings. These, Fulcrum claim are up to 50% smoother than sealed bearings.
The Red Zone Carbon+ wheels also use four less spokes than the previous generation. There are still 24 on the front, but now there are 24 on the rear wheel compared to 28 previously. All of these technologies, acronyms and developments has led to the new wheels weighing 60g less – and only for just under £700 more. Perhaps it’s key to remember that these aren’t wheels that are designed to be ridden at the local bike park every other weekend. They are pure racing pedigree and as such, the price reflects that. Fulcrum even went as far as to say that the development of the Red Zone Carbon+ “is a significant statement of Fulcrum’s commitment to returning to top-flight competitions on the global MTB racing stage.”
They will be available in December 2023 with an MSRP of £1,969 for the XD version and £1,999 for the MS12.