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22 August 2014

Fulcrum Racing 5 Road Bike Wheels (2014): TWO broken spokes within 8 months of purchase.

Well, no equipment is perfect and failures can happen to anyone anytime, regardless of how expensive or cheap is the product.

I had my first broken spoke ever about 3 months ago. I have been into cycling since 2010 and I have changed several wheelsets since then: From Alex Rims, into Shimano, into Pro Lite and then into Fulrcum. I bought my first ever Fulcrum wheels in Dec. 2013, after shop's recommendations and friends' suggestions.

But, about 6 months after purchase a Fulcrum rear wheel spoke broke. At the worst place and time: During a 200km Brevet cycle race with about 50km to go when I also had a good ranking (within top 40 out of about 200 cyclists).

I was left in the middle of nowhere with the sun burning on top of my head at 36+ degrees in a very remote location (50km outside Theva, Greece). I was very lucky to have a race support car picking me up, as it was left to the athletes to deal with their emergencies according to race regulations. It was the first time I realised how a broken spoke sounds.. and the flatness your mind receives when it realizes that you no longer can pedal. My rear wheel lost its symmetry. It went into an 'egg' shape. I tried to open the rear break as much as possible, but still nothing. THAT spoke was fatal. I had to quit the race.

After the repair, the bike shop assumed that these things happen to everyone and it's normal. I accepted this.

4 weeks ago and about 2 months after the first ever spoke breakage on the Racing 5 wheels, another spoke on the same rear wheel broke. Again.

It was a different spoke from the one repaired before and it happened when I was about 25km away from home base in the middle of a road going through dense forests. I couldn't believe it. This was insane. Another spoke in fault again.

When I went back to the shop to repair the 2nd broken spoke on the same wheel, I asked whether this was normal and if it could covered by the warranty. 2 broken spokes within 3 months and in less than 8 months of purchase was too much I felt. I know that no shop likes to hear the word 'warranty', but I gave my squeezed and hard earned money to them to buy these wheels. So, I felt it was right to demand an explanation.

But, the explanation was: Spokes are not covered by the warranty. Fair enough I said but, "what about 2 broken spokes within 3 months?". No answer. At least my local shop was kind enough to offer me a free spoke and wheel truing service for the second spoke breakage. But, I now can't trust these wheels anymore.

In my opinion, these wheels are either faulty or cannot support my 100kg body weight.
I've emailed Fulrcum in Italy twice with my concerns, but I've never received a response from them.

For anyone out there thinking to buy Fulcrum Racing 5 (2014) wheels, here are my experiences:
1) I read on forums that these wheels are 'good' for riders up to 80kg. Only if I knew this before I buy these wheels. And the shop knew it. And they knew I was 100kg too.
2) The number of spokes on the 2014 model compared to that in 2013 has REDUCED by 6. Two less spokes in the front wheel (from 20 down to 18) and 4 (yes, FOUR) less spokes (from 24 down to 20) in the rear wheel. In my opinion that's a lethal mistake by Fulcrum. These are entry level wheels and there is no point to do this. Durability should go first, performance after. Heavy weight riders pay the price. Like I did with the 2 broken rear wheel spokes.
3) On the rear wheel the oversized hub on the cassette side and the radial spoke arrangement on the opposite side of it makes no sense: Too much force concentrated on one side of the wheel in my opinion and the radial arrangement offers no real power transfer at all (for the front wheel is ok, as power is applied differently: Fork pushes the wheel).
4) Installing or removing a tire was a nightmare: Very frustrating procedure, I thought my tire lever would break from the force I had to apply in order to fit tires. I realised this with Bontrage R2 and R3 tires. But, I had always managed to install these tires on other wheel set without a problem.
5) It's ridiculous to realize that no spoke was covered under the guarantee when it appears that these pair of wheels are possibly faulty. When will a 3rd spoke brake again?! In 3 months or 4 months. For sure before by the end of this year..(about 4 months or so before New Year from period).

I say goodbye to Fulcrum wheels forever. Sorry, but you've put me down.

Below, are shown the horror moments of my 2nd broken spoke (I missed the first 'episode' as I was in the middle of a race with my mind all around).


derailleur said...

This is exactly my experience and I am well below 80kg. The new Fulcrum R5 rear wheel is absolute shit. Fulcrum customer service a total shit.

My rear wheel went untrue after 420 km when I was pushing it!!

I have posted on

Kostas P said...

Yes, it's a very frustrating issue. I gave away these wheels for half the price to get rid of them, I couldn't trust my rides on them anymore.

Dora Cyrus said...

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João Martins said...

I've been riding the R5's 2015 model since July, I weigh about 76kg.
Since then (5 months) I broke 3 spokes always on the rear's driveside!!!!

I sent the wheels for Fulcrum's costumer service once and had to wait one month for them....when they got back the flat spokes were misaligned and the wheel slightly out of true....

I've exposed my situation to their costumer service and they didn't care at all.
The response was just some textbook BS.

Bottom line if you're looking for a pair of cheap training wheels don't buy Fulcrum 5's because they will give you headaches.

Unknown said...

I stumbled on your post when I searched for broken spokes on fulcrum wheels. I've had mine on my bike for just a few months...I've got seven bikes, so no wheelset gets excessive use.

A little background...I've been a serious rider for 30 years who logs between 6-8,000 miles a year. I weigh about 85 kg. I've worn out rims usually long before I've broken anything. But after 500 moles or so I've broken a spoke. Folks, I've broken two spokes in my riding career.

These wheels are not built for the long haul, especially for heavier riders. I'm replacing these ASAP. Shit product IMHO.

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