Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon

CHARLES LEE | 26th April 2016 | BIKE REVIEW

Being a mountain biker with a special interest in free-riding and down-hilling, weight is seldom a key consideration when it comes to purchasing a new bike or component.  In contrast, the heavier the bike or component, the better it is.  In the context of riding road bikes, the opposite is true.

So, when I was told that a pair of light-weight Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels have arrived at the office of togoparts.com for a product review, I must admit that I was overwhelmed by the excitement of deviating from the usual rumble and tumble of rough-riding in the dirt.  Although I owned a road bike with fairly-good components, road riding was never a regular affair for me.  Taking on the assignment of assessing the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon wheels had somewhat re-ignited my interest in road-riding.
Installed on a Colnago ACR, the Fulcrum Racing Quattro Carbon is a mid-level 700C wheel-set which are compatible with the majority of modern road bike models.  Designed, built and assembled in Italy, the Quattro Carbon sports a traditional arrowhead profile.  The rim is pre-dominantly created using Uni-Directional (UD) carbon fibre, which is known to be stronger and lighter than woven carbon fibre.  The rim surface, however, is made of 3K carbon.  Not every component in the Quattro Carbon is made of carbon fibre.  The hub and the nipples are constructed from aluminium whilst the straight-pulled spokes are made of stainless steel to ensure optimal tensile strength and durability.

Due to the molecular nature of carbon, black stays as the reigning colour of the Quattro Carbon.   With a moderate profile of 40mm, the clincher wheel-set has the flexibility to accommodate tyres from as thin as 25mm to as wide as 32mm.  Compatible only with caliper-braking system, the Quattro Carbon is one of the lightest carbon fibre wheel-sets in the market, despite its position as a middle-class member of the Fulcrum family.  At 1555g, the Quattro Carbon sits comfortably between the Shimano’s Dura-Ace 35mm Carbon Clincher wheel-set, which is a little lighter at 1488g, and the Dura-Ace 50mm Carbon Clincher wheel-set, which is weightier at 1672g.

Detaching and affixing the Quattro Carbon from the Colnago ACR was an easy affair, thanks to the adoption of the Quick Release clamp.  Because of Quattro Carbon’s raised rim profile, the bike looked sleeker in every sense.  The stylised wordings that are plastered on both sides give the rim a racer-boy outlook.  Because it is pre-dominantly black, the Quattro Carbon retains the colour versatility to match any type of livery on a road bike.

As a novice road biker, I was awed by the fact that a road bike could be so much lighter when fitted with carbon rims.  Although the frame and other major components contributed towards the overall weight of the bike, the rims exert the greatest influence on a bike’s balance, ability to accelerate quickly and overall weight distribution.  The Quattro Carbon upheld this principle very well.

The ease of moving off was the first thing that I noticed and I was pretty sure that the Quattro Carbon felt lighter than what they really were.  At cruising tempo, I was pleasantly surprised that the bike continued to gain speed and I had to increase my pedaling cadence to keep up with the bike.  Some industry experts that I spoke to explained that the Quattro Carbon’s feather-weight characteristics is the main driving force that made the bike go faster.   Others contended that its ability to accelerate the bike is due to its blade-like rim profile and double-butted spokes, both of which are aerodynamic-centric.  Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear – the Quattro Carbon is light and fast.

Talking about aerodynamics, the Quattro Carbon lost some marks on the scoring sheet when it comes to stability during crosswind encounters.  Because of the raised rim profile, the tendency to be swayed by strong side winds increases and there were a number of times where the bike was “derailed” from its line.  Although Fulcrum assured us that crosswinds will not compromise safety, some riders may not be comfortable with the idea of being steered from side to side.  Ultimately, this is a matter of personal preference.

Conventional carbon-constructed rims are more fragile and delicate than alloy-made rims.  Backed by UD carbon technology, the Quattro Carbon offered the opposite of what typical carbon rims can achieve: stiffness, durability and direct transferability of power from the crank to the wheels.  During the test ride, the hand-made wheel-sets felt sturdy.  “Indestructible” would be an apt term to describe the Quattro Carbon because the long stretches of jaggy tarmac along Changi Coast Road seemed to fail to break it down.  There was also no sign of flex when I got up from my seat to do a few sprints.  Lower-grade carbon fibre wheel-sets are known to flex and give way under sudden acceleration.

Slowing the Quattro Carbon down was a breeze as well.  Thanks to the application of Fulcrum’s 3Diamant Treatment technology on the braking surface, hard braking felt smooth and modulated.

There was an interesting observation regarding the allowable width of the tyre used with the Quattro Carbon.  In the specifications, it was stated that the Quattro Carbon will not be able to accommodate tyres that are narrower than 25mm.  However, the Vittoria tyres that were fitted on the Colnago ACR were merely 23mm.  And it took me by surprise that the tyres performed exceedingly well.  Hard cornering was not an issue at all.

Overall, the Quattro Carbon did well in every respect.  Apart from its physical characteristics as a light, strong and stiff wheel-set, the Quattro Carbon is well-regarded in the cycling community as a quality bike component from Fulcrum.  Although there is no lack of alloy wheel-set models in the market that can rival the Quattro Carbon, those who are intending to leverage on carbon fibre technology should seriously consider the Quattro Carbon to be part of the winning formula.

 

Fulcrum Quattro Carbon is priced at $1995, and is exclusively distributed by Rodalink Singapore