Gear News

Campagnolo unveil Bora Ultra 35 wheelset (+ first ride)

Campagnolo have unveiled the Bora Ultra 35 full carbon, tubular wheelset – a super-light addition to the Italian firm’s aerodynamic wheel range.

The launch, which took place at Campagnolo’s 80th anniversary celebration in Vicenza, Italy, takes the number of wheelsets in Campagnolo’s Bora range to three and the new 35mm-deep rim will sit alongside the Bora Ultra 50 and Bora Ultra 80 hoops.

Campagnolo say the Bora Ultra 35 wheels are the most versatile in their range

The headline figure is a claimed weight of just 1,230g (530g front, 700g rear). As a result Campagnolo’s Joshua Riddle says the Bora Ultra 35 is “an aero wheel with a climber’s soul, or a climber’s wheel with an aero card up its sleeve” – and, he adds, immediately makes it the most versatile wheel in their range.

“It’s a no compromises wheel,” says Riddle. “Aero on the flat, light enough to climb and stiff enough to sprint.”

The development of the wheel came after feedback from Campagnolo’s sponsored teams – Astana, Ag2r La Mondiale, Lotto-Belisol, Movistar and Vacansoleil-DCM in the WorldTour – whose riders suggested a wheel to plug the gap between the low-profile Hyperon Ultra Two climber’s wheel and the deeper Bora Ultra hoops.

The rim has been subject to a ‘3Diamant’ surface treatment which makes for more powerful braking, according to Campagnolo

Campagnolo were keen to use the launch to stress the wheel is not just a shallower version of the existing Bora hoops. Instead, it uses a new carbon layup to allow for a low rim profile and weight while maintaining stiffness (Campagnolo say the Bora Ultra 35 is stiffer than the Hyperon).

The rim also features a revised braking surface, which uses what Campagnolo call a ‘3Diamant’ surface treatment. The treatment uses diamond-tipped machinery to scrape off the resin and expose the raw carbon fibre, thereby eliminating imperfections in the smoothness of the surface caused by ‘non-homogenous resin deposits’.

That is to say, the application of carbon fibre resin can result in an imperfect surface, and Campagnolo say braking atop a variable surface produces inconsistent results. Instead, Campagnolo claim their method makes for a “more consistent and controllable braking surface” when used in conjunction with their carbon-specific brake pads.

The top-of-the-range wheels use Campagnolo’s CULT ceramic bearings

Campagnolo say the treatment removes the ‘breaking-in period’ associated with sanded rims and, more importantly, improves braking in both wet and dry conditions. Campagnolo say the new braking surface will make its way into the rest of the range.

The wheels also features a number of technologies used in the existing Campagnolo wheel range, including CULT ceramic bearings on the top-end model, and Rim Dynamic Balance, whereby extra carbon fibre is used opposite the valve hole to balance the wheel. All wheels are handmade by Campagnolo.

The wheels will be available in three tubular versions: the Bora Ultra 35 pictured here, the Bora One 35 (which uses USB bearings, rather than CULT bearings) and the Bora One 35 CX for cyclo-cross. UK prices and availability are to be confirmed.

Campagnolo also used the launch to announce a new 11-27t cassette

Meanwhile, Campagnolo also used the launch to announce a new 11-27t cassette – by no means groundbreaking but another option for riders.

First ride

The rolling hills that serve as the backdrop to Campagnolo HQ in Vicenza provided the testing ground for our two-hour ride.

Early impressions are good after a two-hour test ride close to Campagnolo HQ in Vicenza, Italy

Alongside their sponsorship of five WorldTour squads, Campagnolo components can also be found on the bikes of two ProContinental teams and five Continental teams, including Rapha Condor JLT.

My test steed was a team issue Condor Leggero, equipped with Campagnolo Record EPS and, of course, the new hoops, shod with Continental Competition tubular tyres.

A 30-mile ride on an unfamiliar machine on foreign roads is no time to properly get to grips with a new wheelset but provided enough of a taster to form some initial impressions before Campagnolo send us a set for a full review.

The wheels are extremely nimble, as you would expect from such a low weight, and that much is obvious from the first pedal stroke. Press a little harder on the pedals and the wheels skip a beat as they spin up to speed in double-quick time.

Point the bike uphill – our route took in two climbs, gaining approximately 365m and 130m respectively – and the low rolling weight makes itself known, both on steady gradients when pushing out a fast rhythm at a high cadence, and when out of the saddle on steeper sections.

Campagnolo’s proprietary brake pads and the revised rim track provided extremely powerful, well modulated braking on dry roads, including the fast, technical descent on which Giovanni Visconti rode to victory on stage 17 of the Giro d’Italia, but the real test will come in tougher conditions.

Website: Campagnolo

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