BRAND SPOTLIGHT: Fulcrum Wheels - BikeBiz

BRAND SPOTLIGHT: Fulcrum Wheels

Pivotal performance: With a tireless commitment to developing cutting-edge wheel technology for road and off-road, Fulcrum Wheels has firmly established itself in the industry after just half a decade. Jim Walker’s Greg Stevens fills Jonathon Harker in on the details...
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Created in Arcugnano in the Berici Hills of Vicenza, Italy, Fulcrum Wheels was founded in the summer of 2004 by three aerospace engineers.

Using ultra-light materials like aluminium, carbon fibre and polyaramide, Fulcrum brought, and brings, light road wheels to the market while ensuring wheel strength isn’t reduced. The firm didn’t take long to make a significant impression on the market and within 12 months of starting up had wheeled in six million euros worth of revenue and exported 70 per cent of its products abroad.

Jim Walker picked up the brand in the UK in Fulcrum’s first year after spying the chance to fill a gap in the market.

Service and technical manager Greg Stevens explains to BikeBiz: “Jim Walker and Company has always distributed wheels, and from our knowledge of the market we saw that there was an opportunity for a high quality wheel that offered slight weight and stiffness coupled with reliability that would work across the board for all manufacturers’ standards. Fulcrum offered this and we started distribution alongside the brand’s launch.”

The comparatively young brand soon went on to broaden its line-up by producing a range of race-proven MTB tyres in 2007, providing the firm with growth in both the off and road markets. Stevens explains: “To date it is the off-road sector that has shown the most growth. Fulcrum’s road pedigree was readily established and from its launch its Pro Team sponsorships and four world titles quickly bought Fulcrum to the international stage.

“From 2007 Fulcrum went on to do the same for off-road. Working closely with Team Orbea, this venture was met again with a first year world title and we have seen rapid growth year-on-year since.”

LEVERING NEW TECHNOLOGY
High product quality is essential for any brand, and the introduction of traceability labels for Fulcrum’s 2009 ranges has helped keep standards at their highest. Stevens explains the effect they’ve had: “From a manufacturing point of view traceability ensures that quality levels are maintained. It allows the factory to keep a closer eye on repeatability and pick up trends before they progress to QC failures. It also means the factory can react quicker should issues arise. On a sales and service centre front it means we can determine origin on wheels – the labels allow us to determine whether wheels are from another market, OE or UK AM.”

And being at the front of developing technology is, of course, essential: “It is important to be at the forefront of everything we do. By continuing to strive forwards and push new technologies, we can ensure the very best for our customers. This, coupled with the knowledge of Fulcrum’s tireless testing and real world riding, means choosing a Fulcrum product is easy.”

Fulcrum introduced its 2-Way Fit technology earlier this year at Core and consumers have been quick to see the benefits, says Stevens: “Going tubeless allows riders to run lower pressures without losing efficiency. With no tube there is no inner friction to disperse energy and inhibit performance and no tube means no pinchflats. The idea behind the 2-Way Fit is freedom of choice – the customer can now choose between a standard clincher tyre and tubeless.”

Looking ahead, Fulcrum has a host of new ranges and price drops: “The 2010 line-up looks fantastic with bolder decals and new colour options. Fulcrum has introduced the 2-Way Fit technology at a lower price point, there have been a few tweaks on R5 and R7 wheels to make them more user friendly, there are new entry-level MTB wheels, the Red Metal10 and we have more choice with the Red Zone and Red Zone XLR for the Enduro and Freeride customer.

“As distributor and service centre we hold good back-up stock on wheels and spares with a quick turnaround on servicing. With our new JW D-Ler scheme we are giving better margins to dealers who commit.”

And ahead of even that, Stevens tells BikeBiz that the firm is looking to develop its offering further for retailers: “We will see a widened portfolio for Fulcrum products and no doubt continued success for the many Pro teams for the upcoming 2010 season.”

French mountain biker Julien Absalon races on Fulcrum wheels, boosting brand recognition with the pedalling public.

Greg Stevens explains the effect it has on Fulcrum: “Having teams and pro riders use product definitely helps bring them to the forefront in terms of recognition. The rider’s success is of course key, but it only underlines the performance benefits and quality of the wheels and cranksets. If the products weren’t up to it, then you wouldn’t be seeing the results”

Key contacts at Jim Walker:
Jaco Ehlers, product manager
Greg Stevens, service and tech manager
Phone: 08707 528 777
Web: b2b.jimwalker.co.uk

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