New Wheels: Fulcrum v Dura-Ace v Hand built v something else

Abingdon77 Posts: 56
edited March 2011 in Road buying advice
Please help before I go mental…

I’ve been using a set of Fulcrum Racing Zeros for around 2 ½ years as my best/ summer wheels, backed up by an older set of Racing 3s as my training/ winter/ occasional commute wheels.

The Racing 3s have finally given, so I’m looking to get a new ‘best’ wheelset, relegating the Racing Zeros to training/ winter wheels.

My main target for this year is to hit Gold, or close to it, in a number of Sportives (Dragon, Magnificat, Southern Sportive, etc.) and then potentially take on a European event in 2012.

With climbing being the area where I need the most help, I’m thinking light and stiff are my two biggest priorities. This has led me to look at the Dura-Ace 7900 C24 CL or a new set of Racing Zeros.

Does anyone have experience of riding both? I love the stiffness of the Racing Zeros, so would be good to hear if the Dura-Ace match them.

I am looking to do the cycling leg of at least 3 ‘team’ Triathlons this year too and could easily be seduced by something aero, and then hope my existing Racing Zeros keep going strong for the next couple of years….

Budget is ideally £500 - £800 but getting the right wheelset is most important, so could go higher. They will be joining a LOOK 585 with SRAM Red.

Any suggestions, before I lose it and just throw the bike in the canal, would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.


  • fleshtuxedo
    fleshtuxedo Posts: 1,853
    Go aero, but lightweightish. It's counterintuitive, but my quickest rides on hilly loops I ride regularly are on heavier, more aero wheels. Even hilly rides have downhill and flat bits, don't discount the gains to be made. I noticed these advertised on here, but now on ebay (if you don't mind used): ... 4cf4958b3c

    These are 1600g, so by no means lardy at all.
  • Evil Laugh
    Evil Laugh Posts: 1,412
    What about these, very light and aero. ... =5&t=79577
  • Pretre
    Pretre Posts: 355
    Dura-Ace 7850 CL's re the best value for around £500 IMHO - the 7900 CL's are going to be around £700+ IIRC
  • Mccaria
    Mccaria Posts: 869
    Not sure price difference 7850 to 7900 is going to be that much. Merlin are showing the 7900 c24 as being in stock priced at £600. With their current 10% discount the 7900 come out at £540 - so not such a high premium to the 7850.

    I have a set of the 7850 and really like them, I think the 7900 are 50g lighter and they have made some changes to the hub. Marginal gains if you already have the 7850, but worth considering if not.
  • fleshtuxedo
    fleshtuxedo Posts: 1,853
    Evil Laugh wrote:
    What about these, very light and aero. ... =5&t=79577

    And very tubular. I take it the OP wants clinchers?
  • Thanks for the feedback, although I'm not sure even more options was what I was looking for!

    I think clinchers and an Alu brake track are preferable.

    Interesting thoughts on the Aero option. Yes, I'd seen the Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLR on here. But with a lot of climbing on the agenda, and my own limitations meaning a fair amount of this is out of the saddle, would something like the Mavics or maybe the Dura-Ace C50 be as rigid as the C24 CL/Racing Zeros?

  • ... ncher-pair

    would be no brainer for me, considering these myself.
  • These are light, lighter than my pair of EA90SL's. that cost the same...
  • pastey_boy
    pastey_boy Posts: 2,083
    at the moment im considering a pair of these. they look good, weigh nothing and are a good price ... heels_Pair
    also considering these too. might even buy a set of each as they are both keenly priced and can be had for cheaper than the prices here ... heels_Pair
    Viner Salviati
    Shark Aero Pro
    Px Ti Custom
    Cougar 531
    Sab single speed
    Argon 18 E-112 TT
    One-one Ti 456 Evo
    Ridley Cheetah TT
    Orange Clockwork 2007 ltd ed
    Yeti ASR 5
    Cove Hummer XC Ti
  • 58585
    58585 Posts: 207
    Your goals are sportives and triathlons, so I don't think you need to get too worked up about minimal savings of aero wheels or a couple of hundred grams of wheel weight.
    I wouldn't let the obsession with upgrading components get to you, unless you actually enjoy that aspect...
    Zero's are great wheels so I'd be more inclined to get a set of 32 hole hand builts for training which will last a lifetime and put the money saved towards a trip away with the bike.
  • galatzo
    galatzo Posts: 1,295
    Anyone know the exact weight of the DA 7850 cl24 versus the new 7900 c24 cl ?
    New ones must be real light as I heard the 7850 were just under 1400gr

    She's gonna be angry whichever ones I buy !
    25th August 2013 12hrs 37mins 52.3 seconds 238km 5500mtrs FYRM Never again.
  • owenlars
    owenlars Posts: 719
    58585 wrote:
    so I'd be more inclined to get a set of 32 hole hand builts for training which will last a lifetime and put the money saved towards a trip away with the bike.

  • Here's my tuppence worth.

    I run Mavic Krysium SSC SLs, my specific set weighing in at 1543 gms.

    I am 87 kg. I ride sportives and like hilly excursions.

    I considered Fulcrum 1s or Zeros, but decided that good though they must undoubtedly be, were too similar to the Mavic's to add anything of material difference (ie reasonably stiff, wide blade aluminium spokes, similar rim profile, similar weight +/- 30 gms per wheel).

    I looked at a range of different lighter alu options (HED Ardennes, Rolf Vigors and Elans, as well as handbuilt wheels using IRD and related semi profiled rims sub 400 gms) I discounted all of these on the basis of robustness for a 87 kg rider - based on seller/ manufacturer input on the phone. For example HED won't warrant my weight on the Ardennes without going to the 'butch' build, whilst Rolf Elans are thought to be too delicate. I am also a little put off by hidden nipples that would require rim tape to be ripped off. Obviously one hopes that a wheelset will stay true, but the reality is there's no guarantee to say wheels will always hold perfect alignment against deeper potholes and ruts.

    I also looked at RAR-wheels' Tempo wheel set which looked great but was a bit more money.

    So I eventually settled for the Shimano Dura Ace 7900 C24 CLs. Easy to maintain, apparently now easier with a new hub design vs the 7850s. The new wheels give 5 grammes away to the older set, meaning something that has been changed weighs a sparrow's fart more.

    These have an advantage of having very light, sub 400 gram rims, which along with thinner spokes means that there's more weight in the hub than in the outside of the wheel vs the competition - which is exactly how you want the distribution of grammes to be.

    They also appear to be a more comfortable, absorbing ride than the stiff Fulcrums, while, I am guessing, giving nothing away in climbing prowess given the measly rotating weight.

    Talking of the 7900 C24 rims, people say that they won't last because the wall thicknesses are so wafer-thin. Well, the braking surfaces are thicker, it's only the alu surface that the carbon wrap is fused onto that is milled down so fine. Clever use of materials to lose weight where it counts most without losing strength.

    All in all, for £556 delivered, it felt like the Dura Ace was a good choice.
  • Wamas
    Wamas Posts: 256
    Get a set of handbuilt wheels
    IRD Cadence on Royce Hubs.

    If you fancy aero go for these: ... D39.001%26

    If you want climbing wheels go for these: ... D36.001%26
  • abingdon - i own a pair of CLs and have owned fulcrums (though not the zeroes) and have ridden the zeroes. and had a 585 fwiw - great bike

    so, I'd recommend the DAs. they are actually more like 1440g with the rime tape installed but they are comfortable and have great hubs (as have fulcrums i know). A bit smoother riding than the fulcrums. Perhaps marginally less stiff and marginally more aerodynamic FWIW but not much in it.

    the mavic carbones are a decent shout as an alternative as they hold speed very well - better than the DAs. for hill sportives, not quite such a big issue, but definitely useful on flat long runs.
  • wicked
    wicked Posts: 844
    You need to make a decision really. What is important to you from a wheelset?

    If its bling looks and pose value at the cafe then buy some factory wheels. If however you would like a wheel that is as light for cheaper, more reliable, easily fixed and built just for your requirements but looks 'more plain' then its handbuilts.

    I have been in this position and am now really cheesed off with crap factory wheels that look great but have very little to back it up. Then a spoke breaks and it takes 3 months to get a new one and its £5 each ,in the meantime you have an unusable pringle shaped wheel because of the ultra low spoke count.

    I now have handbuilts on both my road bikes and I know if anything goes wrong I can get if fixed immediately at LBS and not be off the road. That far outweighs fancy stickers and funky hubs made of cheese. I also used to DA CL's and they went back to the shop twice before a refund, never again although I do seem to be a minority here. Try £250 for a DA rim for size also (not forgetting that on a lot of factory wheels the rim is not even replaceable so you are truly screwed :roll: )

    Still want expensive factory wheels?
    It’s the most beautiful sport in the world but it’s governed by ***ts who have turned it into a crock of ****.
  • LoL at the handbuild fundamentalism!

    If you had that much bad luck with factory built wheels I can understand your strong feelings.

    Guess the rest of us got lucky!
  • Galatzo wrote:
    Anyone know the exact weight of the DA 7850 cl24 versus the new 7900 c24 cl ?
    New ones must be real light as I heard the 7850 were just under 1400gr

    She's gonna be angry whichever ones I buy !

    So the wheelset weight goes UP by 10 grams..

    ..even though the rear wheel weight goes DOWN. Changes relate to adjustable bearing load which isn't affected by how tight you set your quick-releases (unlike last year's model), new internals that make the freehub smoother rolling, and a slightly stiffer unit.

    The front wheel increases by up to 20 grammes, as a result of the axle increasing in diameter by 1mm, in order to improve handling further on descents.

    The weight of the new wheels excl. rim tape is 1395 gms, so I guess averaging around 1425+ including the tape.
  • nickma
    nickma Posts: 6
    Got the new DA C24 clincher wheels from Merlin, and took them out for their first proper ride today, a hilly course over 50 miles, including a 12% climb and lots of 8% gradients.

    I am used to Mavic Ksyrium SSC SLs (2006) and Harry Rowland's beautifully handbuilt Mavic Open Pros.

    I ran the DAs with Michelin Pro 3 Races and their lightweight tubes.

    My strongest impression is that the DAs are incredibly smooth riding. The country lanes were still covered in winter debris, drying but sticky around the many farms along the route. Surfaces were very variable. The DAs floated over all of them, my most comfortable ride ever. Whilst the wheels seem stiff, with no flex I could discern when out of the saddle climbing, they are a world apart from the chatter/ vibrations you get from the bombproof Mavics. The DAs are also significantly smoother riding than the Rowland Open Pros, which is impressive.

    My second strongest impression was just how grippy the braking surfaces were. Night and day compared with Open Pro rims and needing a bit more respect than the easy to modulate Ksyrium rim surfaces which can take some firm braking without locking up. Occasional gentle feathering of the DA rims was enough to feel in complete control on all of today's descents.

    The DAs are great climbing wheels as well, unsurprising given their ultra light 380 gm rims (plus 15 gm per rim tape) and stingy slim steel spoke count. Whether they were much easier up steeper ascents than the Mavics is hard to say, but I very rarely used my lowest few ratios. Both are certainly very good.

    Overall, albeit on the basis of a single good ride, I couldn't be happier with the new wheels, which feel like a really classy upgrade on the Ksyriums.
  • eh
    eh Posts: 4,854
    I'd do like others have suggested and buy handbuilts for training on, then use the Fulcrums for 'race' use only.

    Be a bit wary of deep sections they can be harsh and hard to handle in cross winds.
  • satanas
    satanas Posts: 1,303
    Another possibility is to use the new Alpha 340 rims from These are claimed to weigh 350g each, can be run tubeless, and are a bit wider than most rims, supposedly giving more air volume and being more aero. They can be had as low spoke count built wheels or as rims only (18, 20, 24, 28 and 32 hole drillings), so could also be built up with your choice of hubs, spokes and builder. Spare rims aren't too stupidly expensive either ($120US), and they're alu so the brakes should work.

    I'm considering these for an audax bike with CX-Rays and Dura-Ace hubs. The wider rims should also be happier with wider tyres like the Challenge Parigi-Roubaix than many others. The result should be light, comfy, easily-repaired wheels, with no hideously expensive parts, and quiet, reliable hubs. They wouldn't be the blingiest things out there but IMHO that's a benefit!
  • rc856
    rc856 Posts: 1,144
    For someone with limited knowledge, this has been an interesting read for me.
    I've been running my Campag Zondas for 6 or 7 years now.
    I've never changed much between 76-78 kgs but with the rear wheel only having 21 spokes, they still run true.
    Weigh about 1550g and cost £300 odd IIRC.

    Looking at wheels for about £500, the first thing I look at is the weight...I'm just a club rider....but was surprised to see 'better' wheelsets weighing more which made me think 'no way'.
    Can't quite get my head round spending more for heavier wheels? Ok....maybe 'very' limited knowledge!!
    As I like the G3 spokes, Campag Shamals would be near to £600 for 125g saving.

    I do like the look of the Ryde Carat at 1345g but don't know the company and the IRD Cadence with Hope hubs seem to come in at 1163g (minus spokes???)

    Didn't think it would be this confusing!
    It's not all about the weight then? but couldn't imagine getting 'quality' wheels that weighed 1700g etc.