Gravel wheelset experiences

Does anyone have any experience with the Fulcrum Rapid Red 3, and perhaps can compare to DT Swiss GR 1600 25 Spline? I am in between those two wheels at the moment, but not sure which to choose.
The weight is the same, the inner width is the same, but the hubs are different.
Fulcrum have a cup and cone system, while dt swiss run with their amazing 350 and ratchet system.

Any help would be appreciated.

I would go DT Swiss even though I don’t have any experience with either. I have friends who run the GR1600 and GR1800 and love them. I’ve held both in hand, and can attest to how nice they “feel”.

FWIW, I just picked up an Easton EA70AX wheelset and its fantastic. 35mm Gravel Kings are measuring at 38mm on the 24mm internal diameter rim.

I have a pair of DT Swiss ER 1600, which are great on my endurance bike. They are a great pair of wheels, but so is Fulcrum to my knowledge, since they are part of Campagnolo.

I have also considered the EA90AX, but they seem to be a bit pricier than what I’d like to pay right now, as in the same price ranger I can get a similar wheelset with the dt swiss 240 hubs, which are fantastic as far as I know. Also, the panaracer tires tend to get quite wide on wider rims, whereas schwalbe stay closer to their size.

I have DT Swiss GR1600 and have been super duper happy with them, running a pair of Pathfinder Pro 47mm on them and they have been flawless.

I upgraded and gave the GR1600 to my girlfriend, and got myself a pair of GRC1400s, and honestly, I cannot tell the difference.

Tires make all the difference in gravel!

That sounds great. I dont intend to run wider than 40mm, due to clearance and personal preference, and I dont see the point of high profile as I do not race on my gravel at all. So I guess I am interested in some info and experiences on the Fulcrum Rapid Red 3 as well, to get all the wheelsets and decide based on experiences with them.

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I think the biggest reason to go for DT Swiss is their hubs. They are exceptional!

Also, I wanted faster engagement, so just swapped the 18 tooth ratchet for the 36 tooth one, 5min job. Small things that make the big difference :slight_smile:

Go DT :wink:

Only difference between the 350 and 240 is weight, same freehub and ratchets so save the money over the 350s if you can. Cup and cone is great if you know how to adjust them and want to do your own maintenance otherwise cartridge bearings are better to just keep running and swapping when they die

Yeah I am on board with the DT 350 hub with a ratchet upgrade to 36t. However, as I know that Fulcrum are part of Campagnolo, I am sure that some, if not most of their tech is used in the Fulcrum wheels, which begs the question, whether the Fulcrum wheels are on par quality wise. Also, Fulcrum wheels are hand built, which ensures a high quality.

It is interesting that pretty much everyone knows more about the dt swiss than fulcrum.

I had the G1800 wheelset, the budget version of the GR1600 and the R32 (P1800 now). I had a lot of miles on on the R32 wheelset and it was flawless after a lot of abuse (and I’ve broken road wheelsets). The G1800 has a fairly flexible rim vertically (I think), but I believe the GR rim is stronger because of the different joint.

The 350 hub is going to be near silent or silent (with the 18t ratchet). This is awesome. The G series wheels use a heavy duty 2.3mm “wide” version of the road aero spokes, so they’ll be stronger than the Fulcrum 2.0mm round (DT Competition equivalent) spokes. The similar CR wheelset is a touch narrower and would also be a great choice if it’s cheaper (doesn’t come with an XD driver though).

The fulcrum’s machined rim by the nipples looks cooler.

A few things you might not have considered -
-(If you don’t buy these wheelset from Merlin)- these will come with about $80 in adapters you can sell on ebay (end caps, XDR driver, 6-bolt disc adapters). List here - DT Swiss GR 1600 Spline® 25 28" Disc Wheelset | Wheel Sets Shop
-The DT Swiss hub is super common, doesn’t require any tools to remove the cassette - this means you can EASILY share a cassette / freehub between two wheelsets if you have more than one. The hubs, being super common, make it easier for the discs/cassette to line up between the sets.
-With a 28mm tire, the DT wheelset will be somewhat aero. The Fulcrum, not so much.
-Dont bother with the “Upgrade” ratchets. They make more noise, cost money, and only make a difference if you’re going really slow. The engagement difference is minuscule in any normal gear. Not worth the money or noise tradeoff.

I can get the CR 1600 for about 80 euro’s cheaper, but the difference is 2mm inner and outer width loss.
These wheels will be used for a gravel bike with 40mm tires, so the 28mm will not be considered, nor will they be used to swap around. This is a pure gravel/adventure wheelset, which I want to ride comfortably and nicely on. I already do own an ER 1600 wheelset for my endurance bike, and so far, it has been great, but if I do get another DT wheelset, the ratchet will be upgraded, as I like a faster engagement.
Both the Fulcrum and the DT GR 1600 are 24mm inner width and 28/29 outer width. I think the only difference here likes in whether the Fulcrum hubs are of high quality, their point/angle of engagement and sturdiness. Another wheelset I have considered is the CR 1400 Dicut, which comes in 200g lighter than the GR 1600 and with their 240 hubs with a 36t ratchet, but I am not sure whether 200 euro is worth 200g in saving weight on a gravel bike. On the other hand, the ratchet upgrade costs 70 euro, so I guess its 130 euro for 200g worth of weight saving, but 22mm inner width.

Cheaper and available is critical of course. $80eur is the difference in the XDR driver in the GR model. If you’re not running road tires as a 2nd job, the aero point is moot. If you already own an ER wheelset, getting the DT wheelset is a slam dunk. That’ll let you move cassettes around as your needs change and save money on cassettes.

Not sure what you’re full garage looks like, but if you just have the Endurance and Gravel bike, I’d put the ER on Gravel duty and get something more road-aero orientated - maybe the ER1600 32 at the $400eur or a LIghtbicycle wheelset at the $800 price point.

On the C vs G series 2mm topic - the 2mm interior /exterior width is totally meaningless here. Once the tire is wider than the rim, aero is out, so all that’s left is how round or oval the tread profile winds up and how the sidewall folds. 2mm difference on a 40mm balloon you’re mounting on metal clamp is nothing - that’s about a .5 - .6mm difference in resulting tire diameter (1.2%). They’re in the same neighborhood on a Gravel/MTB setup where you’ve got a tire 10mm+ wider tire than the rim (you’re talking about a sidewall cantilevered either 5mm or 6mm over the rim edge - either way it is cantilevered over the rim edge a moderate amount).

You can run a full MTB tire on either the C or G series width, it won’t make a performance difference in any capacity (cornering, ride, tire pressures, etc). The width here is only going to impact the tires shape when mounted.

Most MTB rims are narrower than these, so the reason for having the wider rim is to be aero-ish with the right tire (25c c-series vs 28c g-series) , marketing, and some crosswind performance. Vs a MTB rim, either of these will be heavier, need less spokes, hold more PSI, and handle crosswinds better.

BRR tested a few widths on their rig, and they saw some tiny differences under these conditions ( https://www.bicyclerollingresistance.com/specials/rim-width-test ). Pinkbike tried to test larger increments on MTB terrain and didn’t get a good repeatable test result - (7sec on a 180sec course with a ~6 second margin of error after he practiced) Comparison Test: Are Wider Rims Better? We Try 4 Different Widths - Pinkbike - the final tire shape on the rim was more important than the width. Anecdotally, I’ve gone from 24mm wide ext to to 32mm wide on the same tire and couldn’t tell you the difference.

I’d still not waste money on the noiser 36t ratchet, at 27kph at 90rpm on the pedals, you’re looking at a 4deg (25mm of free travel vs 12mm) difference between the 18th ratchet and 36t (that’s probably really a 2deg difference avg). 36t doesn’t get you down to zero and 18t isn’t anywhere near bad for most gravel riding. Not worth the noise tradeoff.

The difference is 20 euro between SRAM and HG Shimano driver.
So, what I am reading is that, I should get the exact same feel and riding experience, whether it be on 22mm or 24mm inner width rims? So, I should save my money and go with the CR option, because for some reason the GR 1600 costs about 50 euro more than then CR 1600.
How important is 200g on a gravel bike, if at all?

The GR comes with BOTH drivers (unless you’re looking at Merlin), but the CR only comes with one. If you don’t mind a bit of work, you can resell the extra bit you don’t need.

Which CR are you looking at exactly? I was just looking at the latest versions. The CR1400 is worth considering, but the CR1600 looks to have a more flexible rim (23mm deep and pinned/sleeved). If CR1400 v GR1600, get the whichever is cheaper or you want and don’t give it another thought - they’ll be unnoticeably different by any measure.

If CR1600 or an OEM build (“CR1650” or something ), these can be good too, but the rim is made to flex a bit like a MTB rim and air will leak out of the rim’s joint (where they made a stick into a hoop) if tubeless.

Yeah, I caught that, but I would not want to go through the trouble for a few euros to be honest.

I am looking at the CR 1400 Dicut version, which I actually just ordered. My reasoning is, that with a highend dicut 240 hub, I will be able to take the alu rims off in the future and add some good carbon rims if I decide that I want to do some racing. The hub should manage just fine, using dt spokes and a good set of carbon rims will provide a little bit of aero advantage and take off 200-300g.

I do not understand the last part about air leaking out, can you explain?

Cool! Note that spokes and hub are “matched” set. The “wide” spokes are too big for another DT Swiss hub (the CR1400 don’t look to be the WIDE spokes though, measure the round part before you make big plans - 2.6mm is non-std, 1.8 though 2.3mm are standard). The hubs use “T-head” spokes,which are not straight or j-bend. The t-head spokes are straight pull spokes that you flatten the head (bend two sides up) with a hammer or vise. If you want to reuse those spokes/hubs, you’d want to find a 24hole rim with a ~594 mm ERD carbon rim ~24mm deep or so (or 575mm and go internal nipples ~40mm deep carbon rim).

Economically, this is a great way to go if you plan ahead, because you’re looking at (minimum) $250 for a set of DT350 hubs and $150 in spokes for that grade of spoke. With those wheels, you’re at $575 and you can upgrade to top end for $400 while selling the existing rims for $100 and the other stuff for ~$60. I tried this with cheap set of g1800 and got screwed by the WIDE spokes. (I had good luck with lightbicycle, carbonfan, and EIE carbon rims BTW. They all seem to be over built. )

Rim joint

When they put a rim together, they either “pin” (rivet / sleeve) or weld the seam. The welded seam generally holds air fine. The pinned joint is not air tight, so you’ll deposit a lot of tubeless goo into that seam until it seals.

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Isnt that what the tape is for? Not familiar with that specific wheelset but I’ve set up plenty of pinned rims tubeless without issue

Hopefully! Tape on the sidewall/ tirebead interface is dicey in my experience. Especially after you remount a tire as it’s not a clean interface afterward.

That is some very helpful information that I had no idea about, thank you!
According to dt swiss, those should not be wide spokes, but just T-heads.
Is it possible to use other spokes than T-head spokes? Just normal straight pull, or are those hubs fixed for T-head spokes? Cause if its too much of a hassle to fit a good rim, then I guess I can change the spokes too, although that would be more expensive than expected. Perhaps my plan did not work out as I intended it, hah.

How much tubeless goo are we talking about? Cause I actually got the CR 1600 for the gf, the reason being she runs on a bike with 35mm clearance, and too wide inner rims might affect the tires and make them too wide, we went with Terra Speed 35mm for her.
I am running the ER 1600 tubeless on my endurance, and they seem to be holding just fine. Muc-off sealant and valves.

I don’t tape onto the sidewall as it interferes with fit and sealing, but I haven’t found the pin to be the weak point. when remount tubeless tires they have a tendency to leak in random spots around the bead until they seal but certainly not a ton and not any more likely at the pinned joint. While a welded joint is nice from a fit/finish perspective I don’t find it makes any difference in terms of reliability, especially if the rim is on a disk brake wheelset where the braking surface is not a part of the rim

The hubs require T-heads and cannot accept “nail head” round SP spokes. Can you use standard Straight pull in the hubs? yes. The biggest issue was estimating the nonstandard hub specs. I used the DT Swiss Technical catalog and estimated the spokes lengths based on the replacement spoke size for a few sample models.

You take a SP spoke and crush the head. I did this with a set of ARC/ SwissSide hubs and Sapim CX-Ray spokes. I was 48 for 48 spokes on getting it right. They looked just like the Swiss replacement spokes I bought and have lasted 1.5yrs now. I pre-bent the head to ensure I got the t-direction right, then just crushed the head with a big hammer / vise. You cannot (in practical terms) over-crush the head because the round part of the spoke is a good limiter - (Light) straightpull hubs with 16/21 holes - Weight Weenies

On the pinned rim? Some, plan on a bit of a mess as you set it with the provided tape. Maybe just put some lateral tape there to cross that spot. It’s a small gap, but you will test your goo.

With that tire, the tire runs narrow. It’s a 33mm tire marked as 35mm. I think this is because it is oval shaped and they wanted to get some OEM sales. It’s “33.2mm” on a 18mm rim. It’s about 1mm tire gain for every 3-4mm interior gain. You’re looking at 35mm mounted.