First Ride: Fulcrum Rapid Red 3 expands mixed surface riding with new alloy gravel wheels
Fulcrum broadens their backroad gravel riding line-up with the addition of more refined, wider Rapid Red 3 alloy gravel wheels. As more dropbar riders take to exploring the unpaved beauty of quiet B-roads, expanding the Rapid Red family yields more options – whether gravel means large volume 650b or 700c to you. We’ve gotten a couple rides in on the new alloy Rapid Red 3 wheels. And while they are not exceptionally lightweight, they seem like a reasonably-priced option backed by proven Fulcrum/Campagnolo tech.
Fulcrum Rapid Red 3 mid-range alloy gravel wheels
The all-new Fulcrum Rapid Red 3 wheels are a middle of the road kind of gravel wheels, adding a nice 24mm wide internal rim and just a bit of high-performance technology to create a solid wheelset for mixed on & off-road riding. But for riders looking to expand their horizons, especially those looking to scale up from lower volume tires and more narrow road/all-road width rims, the Rapid Red 3s are a pretty easy step to take without breaking the bank in a move to carbon wheels.
Even though the new Rapid Red 3 only looks to save a claimed 10g over the slightly more narrow but much cheaper $540/380€ Rapid Red 5 that launched last spring, these new wheels do seem to pack in more performance. And they get more premium looks to go with that new tech.
Rapid Red 3 – Tech details & Actual weights
It can be difficult to decide what are the best characteristics to prioritize in a gravel wheelset, but Fulcrum seems to have settled on some good choices with the Rapid Red 3.
Starting with a new high-strength pre-aged 6082-T6 alloy, they’ve rolled out an asymmetric 24mm internal hooked tubeless rim (2Way-Fit) with bead-lock shoulders – designed for 700 x 30-46mm or 650 x 40-60mm tires.
With a 29mm outer width and 24mm depth, they then went back to CNC-machine in between the spoke holes to shed weight, even machining a nice flat spot to create a better seat for the nut on your tubeless valve stem. It’s details like this that set the wheels apart, even if there are lighter alternative available.
At the heart of the wheels are forged & machined centerlock (AFS) alloy hubs spinning on high-quality steel adjustable pre-load cup & cone bearings. The aluminum thru-axle hubs are compatible with 12 or 15mm axles up front, with 12x142mm rear spacing.
They are offered standard with Shimano HG11 or SRAM XDR freehub bodies, with a Campagnolo body available separately. They are laced front & rear with 24 straightpull, double-butted round stainless spokes in a 2:1 pattern to balance spoke tension, with alloy nipples.
Fulcrum claims a weight of 1710g the 700c wheelset or 1640g for a 650b version that uses the same profile and wheel build specs. Our test wheels though came in quite a bit more than that at 1817g for the pair (actual weight 861g front & 956g rear with a Campy freehub).
Rapid Red 3 – Pricing & Availability
The new Fulcrum Rapid Red 3 wheels are available now for $755 / 605€ with a Shimano freehub or $766 / 613€ with an XDR driver, both including tubeless tape & valves. The new alloy wheels feature low-key black on black fulcrum logos with reflective decals, and are rated for a rider+bike+gear weight of 120kg/265lb.
Review: First rides on the alloy Rapid Red 3 gravel wheels
In the end, the new Rapid Red 3 provides a reasonably-priced aluminum wheel option, if not exceptionally lightweight, backed by the combined proven wheel quality & durability of Fulcrum and parent Campagnolo. At a tiny bit over 1800g, there are plenty of lighter gravel setups. But this new 24mm wide profile ha been a good fit to add a bit more volume for many riders, and the easy to set up 2Way-Fit hooked profile offers the most flexibility in tubeless tire choice.
So far, I’ve been riding the Rapid Red 3s with the latest Challenge handmade tubeless-ready (HTLR) Almanzo 33 gravel tires (essentially a classic Grifo XS cyclocross tread) and they measure out a real 35mm width on the new Fulcrum wheels. The wider alloy rim has given these tires an extra bit of volume, and with the secure bead has let me lower the pressure to get the most out the supple 260pi sidewalls.
The weight hasn’t seemed noticeable in my first few rides, but I haven’t really done much sustained climbing either. The newly higher rider weight limit though does reassure me about potential for durability. And so far the alloy wheels feel stiffer, maybe even more precise than Fulcrum’s lightest, more narrow carbon all-road wheels – promising a solid balance of performance and price.