Founded in 1933, Campagnolo is one of the oldest bicycle component manufacturers in the world. Founder Tullio Campagnolo was a visionary ahead of his time and conceived, among many other inventions, the push-rod derailleur and quick-release mechanism for bicycle wheels.Related Articles10 best road bike helmets 2019Best road bike wheels 2019Best Oakley cycling sunglasses of 2019Five best sunglasses for cycling 2019
The company experienced prodigious growth as a result of these innovations and dominated the industry over the next three decades (1950-1980). Campagnolo even delved into the automotive realm, manufacturing wheels for Italian supercar giants such as Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini and Alfa Romeo — and had a stint building the underpinnings for NASA’s satellites.
After a brief and unsuccessful attempt at developing mountain bike groupsets, Campagnolo found itself out of favour as Shimano began chipping away at the market with its innovative Total Integration shifting/braking system. This forced the Italian company to shift its focus back to the road bike market and the ErgoPower shifting system followed in 1992 as a result — a direct competitor to Shimano Total Integration.
But perhaps Campagnolo’s most notable achievement came with the launch of its first complete wheelset in 1993, the Shamal, which was unlike anything else at the time. Lenticular in design and featuring hidden spoke nipples, the aluminium Shamal wheels pioneered the aerodynamic wheel concept.
The Italian design house’s reputation as an industry leader was cemented with the introduction of Bora wheelset the following year, which added lightweight, carbon fibre construction to the aerodynamic recipe.
The Shamal and Bora monikers remain hallmark fixtures in Campagnolo’s wheel line-up which, along with a host of other carbon and aluminium options, have grown the company’s appeal to a broader demographic and rider spectrum.
Verdict: Race-ready aero wheels for any occasion
Price: (Starting from) US$2250 / £1782 / AU$3219Type: AeroMaterial: CarbonDepth: 45, 60, 77mmBrake: Rim, DiscTyre format: Tubeless and clincher (23mm-28mm)Rim width: 19mmSpoke count: 24 (Bora WTO 45 Disc Brake)Weight: 1520g (Bora WTO 45 Disc Brake)
+ Aesthetics, aerodynamics, weight
– Only a single disc-brake option
Campagnolo claims its Bora WTO wheels are among the most aerodynamically optimised of their kind and can even generate negative drag at certain angles — they certainly look fast. Three different rim profiles are available – 45, 60 and 77mm – with disc brakes available on the WTO 45 model only.
The Bora WTO wheels have been tailored around aero efficiency and performance. As a result, everything from the hubs which take on an hour-glass shape to the ceramic bearings and moulded spoke hole design have contributed to a stronger, lighter and more advanced wind-cheating tool.
Read more about the Bora WTO range
Verdict: An exclusive aero wheel for the rim-brake purist
Price: (Starting from) US$3193 / £2528 / AU$4567Type: AeroMaterial: CarbonDepth: 35, 50mmBrake: RimTyre format: Tubular and clincher (25mm-28mm)Rim width: 24.2mm (external)Spoke count: 18 front, 21 rearWeight: 1360g (Bora Ultra 35 clincher)
+ Weight, performance, stiffness
– Price, no tubeless or disc brake option
The Bora Ultra range comprises two models, the 35 and 50 which are available in both tubular and clincher formats. Sticking to tradition, the Ultras eschew disc-brake actuation in favour of rim brake stoppers. Light and incredibly powerful, the AC3 brake track claims to be over 40 per cent more effective than 3Diamant versions.
As an aero-specific wheel, they’re built around the notion of speed and subsequently employ oversized flanges, CULT ceramic bearings and different diameter hubs to improve weight and bolster aerodynamics, stiffness and pliancy.
Weighing in at a ridiculous 1360g (clincher) and 1170g (tubular), the Ultra 35s provide a steady mix of performance and stiffness. They’re incredibly reactive to directional changes and pedal inputs making them ideal for cyclists looking to gain a tangible edge over the competition.
Verdict: A cheaper alternative to the Bora Ultras
Price: (Starting from) US$2119 / £1678 / AU$3031Type: AeroMaterial: CarbonDepth: 35, 50mmBrake: Rim, DiscTyre format: Tubular and clincher (25mm-28mm)Rim width: 17mmSpoke count: 18 front and 21 rear (Bora One 35)Weight: 1405g (Bora One 35)
+ Price, performance, aesthetics
– Not tubeless
Completing the Campagnolo Bora range are the Bora One wheels which come in both rim and disc-brake variety. While both versions look nearly identical they differ considerably in terms of the carbon layup and resin techniques used in their construction — the disc version utilises modified internals to deal with increased lateral braking forces.
While it bears similarities to the Bora Ultra model – both from a visual and structural perspective – it ditches the high-end carbon hubs and CULT ceramic bearings for regular aluminium hubs and USB ceramic bearings, the weight penalty of which is a mere 45g.
Like its stablemates, the Bora Ones offer prodigious stiffness and aero performance which translates into a responsive and assured ride quality on a variety of surfaces.
Price: (Starting from) US$1290 / £1021/ AU$1845Type: ClimbingMaterial: AluminiumDepth: 24mm front, 27mm rearBrake: Rim, DiscTyre format: Tubeless and clincher (25mm-28mm)Rim width: 17mmSpoke count: 16 front, 21 rearWeight: 1449g (Shamal Ultra)
+ Weight, price, performance.
– Could do with a deeper rim depth
The Shamal moniker has formed part of the Campagnolo wheel portfolio for a quarter of a century now and still it continues to promote the lightweight principles that made the earlier version so popular among road cyclists.
Constructed from aluminium the Shamal benefits from an internal rim width of 17mm meaning it can accommodate tyres of up to 25 and 28mm. Not only has this improved the ride comfort and traction but aerodynamics too — particularly over its C15 predecessor.
Campy’s 2-Way Fit system means there’s room for both a conventional clincher tyre or tubeless system to be installed. The kicker here, however, are the low weights across the range which puts the Shamal wheelset in line with many mid-range carbon-fibre options.
Verdict: One of the most dependable lightweight alloy training wheels available
Price: (Starting from) US$555 / £440 / AU$795Type: Climbing, enduranceMaterial: AluminiumDepth: 24mm front, 30mm rearBrake: Rim, DiscTyre format: Clincher (25mm-28mm)Rim width: 17mmSpoke count: 16 front, 21 rear (rim)Weight: 1540g (Zonda rim)
+ Weight, price, durability
– Ride quality
Forming part of Campy’s extensive aluminium range is the Zonda wheelset, a lightweight option geared towards those looking for a durable and capable training wheel. As is the trend with contemporary wheel design, the Zonda comes in both the disc and rim-brake variety, and can accommodate wider tyres, too.
Where the Zonda shines, however, is in the stiffness stakes, a result no doubt owing to the Mega-G3 spoke pattern of the rear wheel and oversized hub flange.
Not only do the front and rear wheels utilise different hub sizes and spoke patterns, but the rim depths also vary between the two — 24-27mm front and 27-30mm rear. While the shallow rim depth offers little in the way of aerodynamic gains, they will pose no problem when crosswinds become a reality.
Price: (Starting from) US$393 / £311 / AU$562Type: EnduranceMaterial: AluminiumDepth: 33mmBrake: Rim, DiscTyre format: Tubeless and clincher (25mm-32mm)Rim width: 17mmSpoke count: 21 (Scirocco Disc Brake)Weight: 1739g (Scirocco Disc Brake)
+ Price, durability, performance
Named after the warm North African wind, the Scirocco may represent the lower end of Campagnolo’s wheel range but don’t for one moment let that deter you. The Sciroccos are as entrenched in the brand’s ethos of lightweight performance as the range-topping Bora wheels.
Initially launched in rim-brake guise only, Campagnolo recently introduced a disc-brake version to garner more appeal and interest from a broader demographic of riders. Both wheelsets feature rim depths of 33mm and internal widths of 17mm, which aid in aerodynamics and ride compliance.
Verdict: The quintessential training wheel
Price: (Starting from) US$245 / £194 / AU$350Type: Endurance, trainingMaterial: AluminiumDepth: 24mm front, 27mm rearBrake: RimTyre format: Clincher (25mm-28mm)Rim width: 17mmSpoke count: 18 front, 20 rearWeight: 1806g
+ Durability, price, ability to run wide tyres
– Weight. Not tubeless
The Campagnolo Khamsin wheelset is a prime example of how best to use trickle-down technology to produce an affordable yet quality product. As such the Khamsin gets G3 spoke architecture, an oversized flange and Spoke Dynamic Balance technology — all of which place it head and shoulders above its rivals.
In terms of performance, the Khamsins are durable and transfer power to the road with little in the way of flex. As a rim-brake only wheel the Khamsin’s appeal may be somewhat limited owing to the rise of disc-brake-equipped bikes but as a bang-for-buck option, there’s nothing else quite like it.
+ Price, durability
While notably heavy and lacking somewhat in visual clout, they’ve been engineered with the rider in mind, in this case, the beginner to intermediate cyclist.
That’s not to say they aren’t any good. In fact, by using technology passed down from higher up in the range – the G3 spoke-lacing pattern to be specific – the rims offer impressive levels of stiffness and all-round compliance making them ideal for use as training/winter wheels.