Weighty for the price, but really well-built, silently smooth, wide tyre-friendly wheels with DIY servicing longevity
- Silently smooth
- Useful rim width
- Handbuilt quality
- Serviceable bearings
- Balanced rims
- Both wheel sizes
- Stealth reflectivity
- All tyre compatible
- Slightly weighty
The Fulcrum Rapid Red 3 gravel wheels feature an aluminium rim built to a gravel-friendly width, employ spoke tech from Fulcrum's E-bike range, and are built with the brand's Two-to-One build pattern onto its proven adjustable bearing hubs. Together, that creates a smooth, durable and almost silent wheelset for all road and gravel riders. But how do they compare against the best gravel bike wheels on the market?
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- Best budget gravel bikes: Gravel grinding on a budget
The internal rim width is a fat tyre-friendly 24mm (23mm between the rim hooks) which matches the height of the hoop. The inner face is machined away between the spokes to reduce weight without undermining strength and the rim is also weight-balanced against the valve for a perfect spin.
Fulcrum’s ‘specific nipple housing’ tech was debuted on their E-bike wheels and uses a rounded spoke cradling eyelet to give optimum alignment of the straight-pull spokes. The wheel also uses a two-to-one ratio spoke-lacing pattern so there are double the number of spokes on the drive side. All Fulcrum wheels are hand-laced into the straight pull Monoblock hubs (and come with an ID card to prove it) and we had zero issues with spoke twang or any settle-in de-tensioning, despite bouncing them off random cobbles in the dark.
The width gives plenty of support to tyres up to 45mm and as it’s a hooked design, none of the best gravel tyres are off-limits. It comes taped as standard with the tubeless valves supplied in the spares wallet and we had an instant catch and inflation even when we didn’t use sealant.
The hubs use traditional cup-and-cone bearings, with an Allen key-clamped lock nut for easy DIY adjustment that prolongs their lifespan significantly if you know what you’re doing. The front hub can be adapted to take a 15mm axle if you’re running older wheels or a suspension fork. Meanwhile the freehub gets a reinforced steel rib to stop separate cog cassettes gouging into it, and the internals spin almost silently for stealthy coasting. They’re available in all freehub formats including the latest Campagnolo N3W 13-speed compatible.
While they’re heavy for an alloy wheel at this price point, and they’ve got no aero benefits on their side, the smoothness of the build and the tyre volume-boosting width gives them an easy, momentum-extending roll once they’re up to speed. They’re great at nursing low-pressure tyres too, whether that’s from slow punctures or because you’re deliberately hunting a hovercraft feel.
The black anodised finish is holding up well even after rocky trail use with regular rim-outs and the black logos are actually reflective for an extra flash of visibility in traffic.
- Sizes: 650B and 700C
- Width: 23mm internal
- Weight: 1820g (700c with valves)
- Price: €605-613 depending on freehub
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