Often when I’m reviewing products, I’m talking about the best product, in my opinion, that you can buy. I’ve said many times before that I prefer to tell people about great products as opposed to warning people about less than stellar products. In this case, though, the Campagnolo Shamal Ultra C17 wheelset is not the best product you can buy!
With price as no deterrent, many companies, including Campagnolo, sell technically better wheels. There are lighter wheels, and there are more aerodynamic wheels available. What’s different though, is that the Shamal Ultra C17 Wheelset is the best wheel, most people, should buy.
Like I said, there are technically faster wheels, but after thousands of miles on all kinds of wheels, what I am saying is that this is a place to save a bit of money while still getting a great product. You really can have it all with the Shamal Ultra.
Campagnolo themselves sell the Bora Ultra 35, and it’s an amazing wheel. But a quick Google search shows it running over $1500 more, and it’s money spent chasing diminishing returns. There will be a performance advantage in the Bora, but what makes you a fast cyclist is your legs, not your wheels.
It begs the question, though, why spend even the roughly $860 (street price) for the Shamal Ultra C17 wheelset? The answer is that there’s more to a nice set of wheels than just going fast on the bike. Of course, that’s a big part of it, but where these really shine is in the road feel.
Although the Shamal branding has been around since the 1990’s, this wheelset was updated in 2016. The headline feature of that update was a 2mm larger internal width. This increased width makes a big difference without causing issues if you are limited on clearance with an older frame.
There are a number of claims with regards to the increased rim width – more aerodynamic with wider tires is the chief among them – but increased stiffness is also on hand, but for me what it really means is two things. The first is greater comfort. Two millimetres might not sound like much, but it makes a big difference in the comfort of these wheels. I’ve ridden older Campagnolo wheels, with the same tyres, back to back with these, and the Shamal Ultra C17 wheelset is a substantially more comfortable proposition.
The second thing that increased internal width allows for is better braking performance. In fact these wheels are actually some of the best braking of any I’ve ridden. These are the kinds of features that make a wheel really stand out in day to day riding. Sure, there are more aerodynamic or lighter options, but a comfortable wheelset that brakes really well are features that will have you trading out wheels that might be technically better on paper.
For a while, I switched to a set of mid-priced 50mm carbon wheels. They were the kind of wheel that a lot of people are attracted to. They were wider, at 21mm internal width, and deeper, at 50mm, and they weighed in similarly but added tubeless compatibility. They checked all the boxes for the latest technology, but they were nowhere near as nice of a riding experience as the Shamal Ultra C17 wheelset from Campagnolo.
When I switched back, it was a breath of fresh air. Campagnolo hasn’t followed the absolute cutting edge but rather chosen to add the technology that makes sense. The Shamal Ultra C17 wheelset includes the same hub design as you’ll find on other Campagnolo wheelsets, with ceramic USB (Ultra Smooth Bearing). Hub widths are 100mm front and 130mm rear, although on the Shamal Ultra C17 it’s a carbon aluminium design that probably saves a bit of weight but also looks really fantastic.
They also include the same bladed aluminium spokes and unique G3 spoke pattern. This has twice as many spokes on the right hand side of the rear wheel. This gives a claimed improvement of energy transfer while reducing the stress on the spokes on the right and increasing transverse rigidity. They also have a completely sealed spoke bed balanced to account for the weight of the nipple.
Originally these wheels were meant to be part of a long-term review project bike. I haven’t written about most of the parts on that project, though, because after only a year, nearly everything is outdated. Thankfully, there are some things that don’t really go out of style. Don’t make the mistake of going to a lesser wheel because of the spec sheet. The Shamal Ultra C17 is a wheelset you’ll be happy to live with for years to come. It’s exceptionally smooth and comfortable and will save a bit of money over even mid-priced carbon options out there.
This is a place where you can spend some money, but maybe not chase the most expensive option, and have an amazing day-to-day experience. After several thousand miles, they have remained smooth and true, with no broken spokes, even while running 70psi front and rear. The braking performance is phenomenal, always inspiring confidence on technical descents. And they are light, claimed weight 1449g and weighed with 25mm Michelin Pro4 endurance tyres and a Campagnolo Chorus 12-29 cassette at 2412g, with a lively road feel.