04 May 2021
All For One: when perfection is a question of teamwork
Words by Fulcrum
Every component in Fulcrum’s wheels works together to create an exceptional system, which benefits performance and durability. Let’s see how.
All for One is not just a slogan but, most importantly, a product philosophy and working method. We live in times when the pinnacle of desirability seems to be customisation and made to measure unique items. Sometimes it’s difficult to think that a product made of various elements, like a wheel, can be created from standard components. And yet it can. We asked our engineers and technicians, who put in 110% every day in designing the various components of the wheel system, to explain what All for One means in practical terms and to reveal how long lasting performance and reliability are the result of design choices.
→ Which is better, a pre-assembled wheel or one put together with components from different brands?
It’s the wheel itself, in its shape and movement, that inspires the solution. The wheel as an object is a single element and it’s only when you know its weak aspects, that you can work to create a perfectly balanced product. The idea behind our approach is that every component must be designed to work with another component of the wheel, to achieve the complete performance. In fact a mix of spokes, nipples, hubs and rims not developed and designed at the same time can never compete, in terms of performance and reliability, with a complete wheel.
→ Not for nothing, balance is one of the objectives that is most sought after in a wheel…
Balance is an unescapable objective and to achieve it we must consider various aspects: torsion, bending, resilience, reactivity and inertia. All characteristics that must be measured and analysed.
→ Is weight the only important variable?
No, whilst weight is certainly an important aspect in a wheel, it’s not the only variable. We also consider bending and torsional stiffness. A wheel must be able to bend, because its stiffness must not be absolute, but this deformation must be minimal, in order to reduce the dispersion of energy to the minimum.
→ Does stiffness affect wheel performance?
The stiffer the wheel the more reactive it is. But reactivity is not always what we look for in a wheel. In certain situations it’s necessary whilst in others we require something else. This is why we have a full range of wheels designed for different situations: wheels for climbing and for the flats or wheels for perfectly smooth roads and others for rough surfaces.
→ Therefore weight and stiffness are relative concepts?
Yes. Components can be fundamentally divided in two types: moving and static. And when there is movement there is inertia. It’s better to have light wheels or pedals, therefore moving parts, rather than a light frame. If you compare two bikes that both have the same weight, the one with lighter pedals, wheels, crankset and cassette will achieve better performance levels, compared with one with a super light frame and handlebars and the rest of the components that are heavier.
→ Therefore is investing in a set of wheels to improve a bike the right thing to do?
In terms of improving bike performance, investing in the wheels is probably the best thing you can do. A middle of the range bike can be greatly improved with a good set of wheels and achieve a previously dreamed of riding performance.
→ How is weight divided up on a bike?
The individual numbers reveal a lot. A frame weighs between 700 grams and 1.7 kg, a groupset between 1.9 and 2.4 kg and handlebars between 200 and 500 grams. The wheels account for 1 to 2 kg per wheel. It’s obvious how the wheels can affect the total weight of a bike and why improving them is such a good idea.
→ Why are rims getting wider?
It’s a question of physics: by increasing the area of the rim section, you increase the moment of inertia of the section. A wheel with a wider section develops greater stiffness which in turns lets you use thinner spokes to reduce the weight. Moreover, the larger rim section results in a tyre with a wider tread, increasing the surface that comes into contact with the ground and the lower part of the tyre casing is less prone to necking.
→ Up to a few years ago tyres were larger than the rims. Is that still the case today?
Today things have gone the other way; we can install tyres that are narrower than the rims. This results in a sort of U-shape which has an interesting characteristic: increased stability and greater aerodynamics.
→ Is maintenance the same for all wheels?
We produce high-end rims without sealing adhesives on the rim bridge. These would normally require maintenance as over time the adhesive tape tends to come away from the rim due to humidity and must be replaced, after having carefully cleaned the seat of the rim. Moreover, considering that there are no holes in our rims, there is no deterioration of the adhesive tape. The lack of holes also makes the rim stiffer and stronger.
→ Which other elements affect wheel maintenance?
Certainly bearings, which in our case are calibrated within a very narrow selection class. Regardless of whether they are steel or ceramic, this results in greater precision and uniformity in the rolling performance of the balls, and consequently, a longer life.
→ And what about safety?
We don’t take any shortcuts in terms of safety. This is an extremely important aspect. You can’t talk about performance or technology if you don’t have safety first of all. For us it’s our top priority. After all we are famous for our severe testing. We run our wheels over 20,000 km before releasing them on the market.
All for One therefore means aiming for a high quality wheel that is created with a clear philosophy and identity. Each single component is part of a larger system, whose strength derives from the combined whole. By bringing together performance, safety, reliability, durability, precision and customisation Fulcrum has created a diverse range of wheels designed to meet the requirements of all cyclists.