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Campagnolo Khamsin wheelset – review

When it comes to factory built wheelsets there are more choices on the market than ever, ranging from £100 up to £2,000 plus. At the lower end of the scale the options are frequently cheaper than buying a hub and rims and having them built up into a set of wheels, with the added benefit of a lower spoke count and the resulting lower weight, along with possible aero gains.

One prime example of a lower priced wheelset are Campagnolo’s Khamsins or, to give them their full title, the Khamsin Asymmetric G3. They may be Campag’s entry-level wheelset but they benefit from a lot of technology trickled down from other wheels in the range such as oversized spoke flanges and the Mega G3 spoke pattern.

At the front you get 18 spokes laced radially. But it’s the rear wheel where things are interesting with the G3 spoke pattern. Basically, the 16 drive-side spokes are laced three cross and the remaining eight spokes on the non-drive side are radial with each joining the rim between a pair of the non-drive spokes to make groups of three. The ‘mega’ part of Mega G3 is down to the use of an oversized flange on the drive side.

The thinking behind these different lacing patterns is that it should all help to balance out spoke tension across the two sides. The space needed to fit an 11-speed cassette on the hub forces the spokes on the drive side to be almost vertical, unlike the spokes on the opposite side which angle inwards from the flange to the rim. Ping the spokes on a conventionally laced rear wheel and you should be able to hear the difference in tension needed to maintain this.

It’s not just the spoke lacing that varies with the Khamsins – you get different rim depths too. The front is 24mm deep, but the rear adds an extra 3.5mm to make 27.5mm. The reasoning behind this is claimed to be optimal handling for the front wheel and power transfer for the rear. That may or may not be true, but without lab testing we’ll never know. But ultimately the size difference is small enough that you wouldn’t notice it from just looking at the wheels.

But what I do know without the need for lab testing is that the rear wheel matches the claimed weight of 975g, while the front is actualy 10g lighter than the listed weight, coming in at 805 rather than 815g which is nice. The other bonus is the inclusion of both rim tape and quick release skewers. It might sound silly to say so, but in the past I’ve had wheels for ten times the price of these that haven’t included either of these essentials.

It’s fair to say that between my not-exactly-climber’s build (I’m 86kg) and the pothole-ridden country roads I ride that the Khamsins have been given quite a beating during testing. The good news is that they’ve been able to take everything I’ve thrown at them and managed to roll true despite it all. The bearings feel nice and smooth, too, but until I’ve ridden them through the coming winter I’ll reserve judgement on their quality.

Possibly the highest praise I can give to the Khamsins is that I’ve not noticed them while riding. What I mean by that is that they haven’t been affected by crosswinds, they’re light enough that the bike accelerates without trouble and the braking surfaces have proved to be squeal free while at the same time offering firm and controlled stopping power.

If I was pushed for a negative it would be that by modern standards the internal width is on the narrow side at 20.5mm, but that said the Khamsin design has been around for years now which is probably the main culprit.

Conclusion

For the money, Campagnolo’s Khamsin wheels offer remarkably good value. They’re not exactly light, but then again the price is very low. Plus there’s no denying that they look good, especially the G3 spoke pattern on the rear wheel and should the need ever arise to replace a broken spoke it should be relatively easy to source a replacement.

Pros

– Cheap but still offer good quality
– Trickle down features come straight from higher up the range

Cons

– A bit on the heavy side

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