New Fulcrum Red Power HP Wheels – Stiffer isn’t Always Better

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As a somewhat recurring theme in mountain biking lately, Fulcrum is one of the latest companies to decide that stiffer isn’t always better. In the case of the new Red Power HP wheels, Fulcrum collaborated with the Merida Multivan team to fine tune the new wheels. Fulcrum points to the fact that what works on the road is very different to the experiences off road which is why the Merida team members felt that slightly less rigid wheels actually improved their performance.

Building in a bit more compliance to the wheels allowed the pros to push harder through certain sections providing them with a feeling of improved handling. Rather than bouncing or vibrating off uneven bits of trail, the wheels rode over rough terrain better without hindering acceleration. The result is an aluminum rimmed wheel in 27.5 and 29″ that supposedly rides better than its predecessor the Red Power XL, while still coming in at almost 200g less.

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In addition to the improved handling of the wheelset, the Red Power HP wheels use an all new rear hub that is compatible with all major axle standards. The axle can be switched out to run QR 135, as well as 142×12 and 135×12 and will have freehub bodies for Shimano/SRAM 9 and 10 speed and SRAM XD. Laced with 28 stainless double butted spokes front and rear, the nipples are brass nickel plated for durability and to keep the price accessible.

Weights are listed at 1751g for the Red Power HP 29″ set, and 1681g for the 27.5″ version. Pricing and availability is TBA.

Fulcrum Red Metal HP Power

Comments

Ailar - 08/21/14 - 5:17pm

I feel sad that Merida team has to ride these heavyweight wheels…

groghunter - 08/21/14 - 5:33pm

While I understand their idea: force absorbed into a mechanism is force that’s not counteracting your forward momentum, & the only rigorous study I’ve seen on this, related to bikes concluded the same(the study was on the rolling resistance of tires based on pressure: the tires with less tire pressure won, because they were absorbing the upward force of the obstacles rather than trasmitting that force to the bike & rider.) I’m skeptical that more compliant wheels will make a substantial difference compared with suspension & high volume tires, while I’m fairly certain that a more compliant wheel will affect power transfer through the drivetrain.

I’m not buying it.

fluffernutter - 08/21/14 - 6:01pm

Not quite buying into this… as a point of comparison, a stock Stans Arch wheel set comes in right around the same weight with 32 spokes and alloy nipples. From Fulcrum, we get a narrower rim, eyelets and brass nipples, both of which put additional weight at the rim right where you don’t want it. 28 spokes, eyelets, and brass nipples, doesn’t sound like a great spec to me… and obviously this is nothing like the wheel sets world cup riders from Merida are actually riding on. Lets not forget that world cup racers are operating on a completely different level than 95% of the population. In the suspension setup series by BR it was brought up that those racers notoriously have their suspension compression set up very stiff to begin with and might not be a great point of reference for the normal crowd of riders/racers. I’ll agree with groghunter that suspension setup and tire pressure are better at tracking the wheels and taking up some of the minor rough stuff. I personally want a wheel that is fast moving, durable, and stiff, with emphasis on durable. I realize that brass nipples and eyelets may be towards this end, but I’ll take my wider rims and more spokes. This feels like its a wheel set that will come spec on bikes. People aren’t going to go flocking to these wheels for aftermarket upgrades….. long winded…

DJ - 08/21/14 - 7:52pm

Am i ready this correctly ID 19.5mm, if so get with the program 21mm at least! weight not to heavy if these are entry level wheels, some how i doubt these are what Merida are racing on.

Velo - 08/21/14 - 8:17pm

Compliance? Are we talking 0.5 mm or 1 mm?

Dork - 08/22/14 - 12:37am

Jeeze…. if you need a marginal amount of compliance that badly, drop your tire pressure! In wheels, stiffness equals strength… and compliance equals work-hardened breakage-points in your spokes! Wheels cannot be a good place to try and absorb those forces. This seems to be a backwards idea, unless the PR/marketing explanation of this idea is using a buzz-word incorrectly….

If you want, read that scientific paper on spoke tension by H P Gavin, and maybe supplement it with some Jobst Brandt.

Someone might’ve fallen for that old sales tactic, wherein the customer looking for a smooth riding bike is given a cheaper bike with overinflated tires and has a terrible test ride, and then is given the more expensive option with proper tire pressure and has a great time.

Wider rims are probably the only thing improving handling here. Wheels only need to be durable (see: stiffness=strength) to do their job, which is supporting your weight, and transferring forces that aren’t fully absorbed by your tires onward to your legs, where you should be able to finish the job. Aside from geometry, tires are probably the majority of what you feel in a bike’s handling, don’t you think?

fast foreward freddie - 08/22/14 - 1:41am

Fulcrum is a joke, as is the (insulting) marketing behind flexy wheels… narrow rims mean higher tire pressure which will have a much bigger effect on compliance than any rim… The whole point upgrading a wheelset is tire performance, stiffness, and weight in that order… derby or ibis rims F…T…W!!!

dislivello - 08/22/14 - 2:45am

I am sure. There wheels are stfness similar or more than ztr..but price is good..

Antoine - 08/22/14 - 3:25am

I don’t really get the stiffness story but N. Vouilloz said he was running very low spoke tension when he was competing at world cup level.

thinskin - 08/22/14 - 3:36am

If Fulcrum will make Red Metral 3 wheel in 29″ with 15mm/12mm axles , UST rim profile and under 1700g I will buy them.

If the Red Power HP isn´t tubeless ready I´m not interested in any other specifications

Dauber Jenkins - 08/22/14 - 10:16am

FUlCrUM. Just my personal opinion. They have been reacquired by Campy after been sold off by them a few years back. Customer service won’t be up until sometime in September. A representative of BTI told me anonymously that they are dropping them because of their poor relationship with them. QBP will be FORCED to take them on because of their relationship as a Campy service center.

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