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Where tradition meets innovation.
The Campagnolo Bora Ultra 50 Wheelset is perhaps the most immediately recognizable piece of cycling componentry in the world. Those deep rims and iconic script just scream class. They've long been associated with the greatest performances of grand tour cycling, with only the names of the riders changing. For 2015, the wheelset itself has seen a change, with Campagnolo bumping the Bora rims' width up to 24.2 millimeters wide at the brake track. By doing so, the Italian manufacturer has incorporated a key piece of modern innovation into the storied tradition of cycling's most beautiful wheels.
The new width brings huge dividends to the Boras, including better handling and cornering, lower rolling resistance, and a smoother ride. It also nets better lateral stiffness and — in a counter-intuitive twist — actually improves aerodynamics. The width also saves weight by letting Campagnolo build a more structurally sound rim with less material, and it means you can mount bigger tires, up to 27 millimeters, for a tubular ride that's more plush and durable than ever.
The CULT cup and cone bearings are behind Campagnolo hubs' legendary rolling performance. CULT marries the smoothest ceramic bearings with thermochemically treated Cronitect races for a claimed 3.5 more watts per pedal stroke over non-CULT bearings. The interface between the ceramic balls and Cronitect races is so smooth that they virtually don't wear out and only require a thin film of oil instead of grease. All told, Campagnolo touts these as the lowest friction bearings in the world. While we normally approach anything that smacks of marketing hyperbole with healthy skepticism, taking the Boras for a spin lends credence to Campy's claim.
A good wheel can't just go well; it also has to stop well, and the new 3Diamant braking surface addresses some of the key braking issues we've had with carbon rims in the past. Campagnolo literally uses diamonds to hone the brake track to near perfection, removing imperfections and resin so that the pads connect straight to a strip of slightly textured carbon. This reduces the time it takes for the brake pads to grab the rim and it all but eliminates the usual breaking-in period for carbon brake strips, increasing stopping power by 40% in wet conditions and 20% when it's dry. It also removes any surface imperfections in the wheel for a pulse-free operation.
Campagnolo finishes off the Bora Ultra 50s with a few more thoughtful details. The oversized rear flange nets additional stiffness for power transfer that takes advantage of the rims' aerodynamic profile and smooth bearings. The included quick releases have also been redesigned with an eye toward weight loss and aerodynamics. Returning features include the signature G3 spoke pattern, which absorbs road noise and improves power transfer, and rim balancing that offsets the nominal imbalance caused by the valve stem hole and associated hardware. Campy constructs and lays up all of the carbon for the Boras in Vicenza, and every piece is x-rayed to scan for imperfections.
This iteration of the Campagnolo Bora Ultra 50 Wheelset is compatible with tubular tires only, though Campagnolo has announced a clincher version due out in February, 2015.