Campagnolo Bora Ultra Two Wheels
Campagnolo Bora Ultra Two Wheels
Words by Jordan Gibbons
Review of the Campagnolo Bora Ultra Two tubular wheels with CULT bearings…
The Campagnolo Bora Ultra Two wheelset sits alongside the Hyperon Ultras as Campagnolo’s top end road racing wheels. With a rim depth of 50mm, a 18/21 spoke count and weighing in at a mere 1310g, they slot right between two of the best from the competition: the Zipp 303 (45mm and 1255g) and the 404 (58mm and 1355g).
The rims on the Boras are full carbon tubular, with 18 radial spokes in the front and 21 spokes, fitted radially on the drive side and two cross on the non-drive, in the G3 spoke pattern, at the rear.
Before we get into a tubular vs clincher argument the Boras are only available with a tubular rim; I guess that means we know Campagnolo’s stance in the debate then…
Perhaps worth mentioning at this point is that the wheels do not have a weight limit as such, but a ‘vigilance recommendation’ of 82kg including the weight of the bike. So it’s fair to say these wheels are more Bulgac than Backstedt.
Key to my particular love of these wheels is that they can be trued – unlike many of their ultra-light carbon-spoked counterparts. The spokes are straight pull with a D shaped brass collar on the end that anchors into a similar shaped hole in the hubs. This removes the J bend (and typical weak spot) so should mean that the spokes can survive a high tension without fatigue (recommended is approx. 110-130kg).
At the rear drive side the spokes are held in an oversized aluminium flange that must also go some way to stiffening everything up and the rear rim is asymmetrically drilled to ensure good spoke entrance angles into the rim, which can be a problem on deeper rims. Whilst the spokes are proprietary they are readily available – the only downside being that the nipples are hidden inside the rim requiring removal of the tyre to true the wheel.
What’s the deal with that G3 spoke pattern at the rear you ask? Well in Campagnolo’s own words they’ve set out to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and by pairing two drive side with one non-drive spoke it seems they’ve done just that. Why bother? Well it helps even out the spoke tensions at the rear making for a more reliable and ultimately stiffer wheel.
Coming to the hubs we have what are in essence Record hubs with carbon shells. As such they share the same fabulously smooth CULT (Ceramic Ultra Level Technology) cup and cone bearings. The CULT bearings are said to be 200 times longer lasting than standard steel bearings and 1000 times rounder. They can also be very easily adjusted and accessed for maintenance by way of a 5mm allen key down the axles.
Of note is that the high-end Campagnolo wheels share the same freehub body as the higher-end Fulcrum wheels and as such, they’re interchangeable. So if you’re like me and feel it necessary to commit the heinous crime of running Campagnolo wheels with a Shimano groupset, then you absolutely can, albeit at a slight weight penalty.
The first impression from riding, compared to my reference wheels, was just how stiff they are. It was particularly noticeable at the front end of the bike when I showed the wheels their first steep hill. Whilst powering out of the saddle, the extra weight over the handlebars didn’t cause any flex in the front wheel at all and I really felt like I was surging upwards.
I also couldn’t produce any flex or brake rub at the rear end either. This is all due to the depth of the carbon rim, as such a deep carbon rims make for an incredibly stiff wheel. When combined with short, high tension spokes, they produce a flex free recipe.
Despite the fact they’re incredibly stiff they’re not boneshakers. You do feel the whacks in the road but some good quality tubulars – Vittoria Corsa Evo being my choice – helps take away the finer rumbles of a poor surface. Potholes and ruts however, are best avoided!
We know that stiffness and lightweight make wheels easy to get going, and these are no exception, but what about keeping them going?
Well that’s a breeze too. The wheels pick up speed downhill like nothing I have ever ridden and shooting along on the flat they certainly seem to slip through the air with ease. They also make a fabulous noise above about 45km/h.
However, on the subject of noise, this particular hub in combination with the hollow carbon rims does conspire to make quite a racket when freewheeling; some might like it but it’s not quite for me. I relish the bliss of a completely silent bicycle.
It’s the little things that make these wheels particularly special and Campagnolo’s attention to detail is second to none; these wheels have not escaped the eyes of the boffins. The spokes opposite the valve holes for instance, are a heavier gauge than the standard spoke to offset the weight of the valve producing a perfectly balanced wheel.
One thing I have also noticed since I began riding these is what a rare beast they are; I’ve yet to see anyone else with them!
Oh and they are fabulously beautiful. The gloss carbon weave is something to behold up close and the join is almost indistinguishable from the rest of the lay up. The graphics are of course a matter of taste – with the standard ones there is no mistaking just what you’re balancing on, though the newer Dark Labels are now available if you desire to be a little less conspicuous.
There are two areas however, in which these wheels do seem to lag behind the competition. Unlike the current trend of fatter rimmed wheels, the Boras remain as thin and blade shaped as ever. Contrary to popular belief this doesn’t make them awful to handle in winds. I’ve taken them out quite a few times on blustery days and they behaved themselves very well in the hedgerows of Surrey. Campagnolo don’t make any claims about how aerodynamic they are; you just have to take their word that they are…
They also lag behind on the braking surface; whilst lots of manufacturers are now treating their braking surface with special heat resistant finishes the Boras are just good old fashioned carbon. That said I’ve suffered absolutely no brake fade problems with either the official Campagnolo pads or my cork pads of choice.
So how much do they cost? Well there is no way of easing this so I’ll just say it; they’re £2474.99. There is no denying that this is a lot of money especially to spend on a pair of wheels but even considering their downsides, I honestly couldn’t rate them highly enough. A genuinely fabulous piece of kit that is an absolute joy to ride and brought a smile to my face every time I rode them.
For the money you get the wheels, QRs, lock ring, wheel bags (nice touch) and a set of Campagnolo brake pads.
The eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed that I’ve got the older grey QR skewers on these wheels. There’s nothing to this, I just think they look nicer!
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