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The Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45 Disc Brake wheelset boasts a combination of decently low weight, excellent stiffness and good rolling speed that makes them the ideal option for a mix of road terrain.
These Ultra versions of Campagnolo's already really good WTO wheels come with a significantly higher price tag and also, thankfully, some impressive tech that makes them fun to talk about on the club run and great to ride. Speaking of which...
In my first ride review, I mentioned that the wheels weigh in at just 1,420g, are 45mm deep and are very, very stiff, which resulted in an impressively quick ride feel – and that impression is one that has stuck with me. The wheels pick up speed very easily and you can roll along at a good lick, too.
On the flat they're not the fastest – a deeper wheel will still roll along at speed for a bit less effort – but for mixed terrain, these are the better pick as they feel fast on more than just flat roads.
It's on the climbs where the Bora Ultras really shine. My favourite thing to do is fast climbs – ones where the gradient hovers at around 6%. Here, the wheels roll effortlessly, and should you fancy clicking up a few gears to give it the beans on the final stretch, the wheels respond with instant acceleration.
Those hills often lead to a descent, and again I found the Bora Ultras to be brilliant. You can really throw the bike through tight corners, and a quick transfer between bends just brings more fun.
When it comes to handling, the 45s are easier to live with than deeper wheels, too. On blustery days, you will still feel a pull on the front wheel but it isn't as bad as the Bora WTO 60s that I tested last year. Generally in crosswinds, they have been very well behaved.
I mentioned that the wheels are stiff and that is great if you're looking to do a bit of sprinting or any sort of acceleration. I've been using these for a few weeks of circuit races and, while I have no results to write home about, the wheels are impressive both out of dead turns and when trying to get clear of the bunch.
One thing that the high stiffness also brings is extra feedback from the road. I would say that the Bora Ultra WTO 45s are borderline harsh, but a lot will depend on the roads you ride, the tyres you install and the pressures you run. The bottom line is that these are road race wheels and aren't the best option for comfort.
What makes the Bora Ultra WTO wheels stand out a little is the rim finish which I think is absolutely beautiful. It might not look amazing on camera but honestly, in the sunlight, it is a shimmering piece of art. The black-on-black logos aren't in your face, and then there is the glittery bronze 'Ultra'. These really do look a bit special.
The reason they look like this is the way the carbon is finished. Campagnolo has created a new C-Lux – that's Campagnolo-Luxury – finish that it says 'is so pristinely smooth that it doesn't require lacquer'.
C-Lux is, essentially, an additional quality control step where Campagnolo checks for aesthetic defects that would usually be simply covered by the lacquer. That means that, out of the mould, the rims are as you see them.
These checks also have an effect on the rim bed, with Campagnolo saying that the bead hooks are also less abrasive to the tyre bead.
While we're at the rim bed, it's worth mentioning that Campagnolo sticks to the 2-Way Fit system it has used for several years. These wheels are tubeless-ready and thanks to the lack of spoke holes in the rim bed, you don't need tubeless tape. Setting up tyres with and without tubes is an easy process, though I have now gone straight to using a tubeless track pump rather than trying to inflate with a standard pump.
The nipples are an interesting part of the rim; they sit inside the rim, but are accessed externally. They sit in a dedicated nipple seat with the guide chamber sat inside the rim. This, Campagnolo says, despite being a bit of a production nightmare, has several structural benefits. Firstly, unlike a standard nipple, the Aero Mo-Mag system means that the nipple lines up perfectly with the line of the spoke because each of the seats is shaped perfectly for the spoke it is paired with. This also reduces the bending stress on the spoke.
The system also ensures that the nipple does not dig into the carbon around the spoke holes which, incidentally, are created during the layup process rather than drilled. The lack of contact with the carbon is better for longevity, Campagnolo claims, and it also says the nipple seat provides electric insulation to reduce corrosion at the nipple.
Now, Campagnolo makes some noises about the setup being more aero, but no data is provided for this. What we know for certain about internal nipples is that they can be a nightmare to work on. For tube-type clincher systems, as I have here, it's a simple case of popping off the tyre and tube to adjust, but for tubular and tubeless tyres, you'd need to uninstall the whole tyre system each time a slight wheel true was required.
That might not be a regular problem, but there's also the fact of the holeless rim bed to consider as this removes access to an internal nipple. The benefit of the Aero Mo-Mag system, Campagnolo claims, is that truing work can be done without the need to remove the tyre.
The new Ultra WTO wheels come with a new set of disc-specific hubs. The first major change is also the most noticeable, with the front hub body now being made partially from carbon fibre. This includes an integrated radial flange, and with the sparkly bronze logo, they look absolutely beautiful.
On the wheels you can have Campagnolo's N3W freehub body, XDR or a Shimano HG freehub body. The N3W freehub body enables the use of Campagnolo 11, 12 and 13-speed cassettes, so you could use the wheels on a gravel bike with Campagnolo's 13-speed Ekar groupset if you wished.
Inside the hubs you get Campagnolo's Cult hybrid ceramic bearings. The races are treated steel and there's adjustable preload, all of which, Campagnolo claims, produces about five and a half times less friction than your standard steel bearing.
I've used the Cult bearings on a few wheelsets now. They do spin beautifully, and I have to say that they seem to last incredibly well too.
The spokes are arranged in the now-familiar Campagnolo G3 lacing pattern. There are 24 aero elliptical, straight-pull, double-butted spokes on each wheel but there is a slight difference in stresses for the front and rear wheels to deal with. As a result, the front wheel is two-crossed on the non-drive side for the front brake and the rear is reversed with that two-cross pattern on the drive side to cope with the power from your legs.
I don't usually aim for potholes, especially big ones and certainly not when I'm riding eye-wateringly expensive hoops. But as I descended towards the village of Castle Combe, one came out of the shadows and I clattered it at 45kph.
After the bar had been whacked out of my hands, the stem smashed into my sternum and the bike and I veered towards the uncomfortable-looking bank. Front wheel dug in, one Liam went flying and, after landing on my head, causing a few compressed vertebrae, I began composing the email to Campagnolo to apologise for what surely was going to be a smashed-up wheel. Well, I groaned and cursed the pothole for a while first.
Once I'd de-winded myself I got up to walk off the worst of the whiplash – smart, I know – and the customary post-crash checks of the bike began. The tyre was blown and the sidewall ripped, but the wheel? That was fine. Spinning perfectly, as true as it was out of the box. So we can put a tick in the construction and robustness boxes. I won't be doing this test again.
I think we've also got time to give the S-Works Prevail II a shout out. My concussion was only minor. Top marks.
Back to the wheels, and there is a small matter of the £2,810 price tag. It's a case of diminishing returns and there are easily better value wheelsets out there. That said, you can drop more money on wheels from the likes of Enve or Princeton CarbonWorks. If you've got the cash, then these are brilliant wheels with some clever tech.
Brilliant wheels with some clever tech, but they come at a high price
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45 Disc Brake wheelset
Size tested: 700C, 45mm deep
Tell us what the wheel is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
"Campagnolo's Bora Ultra WTO 45 has the perfect balance of speed, agility and stability, making it the best choice for all-round riders. The rim's versatile design takes account of real-world riding conditions, not just those created in a wind tunnel, and the result is the most efficient drag-reducing rim shape available.
Now even lighter, thanks in part to its Hand Made Ultra-Light Carbon (H.U.L.C.) construction, the Bora Ultra WTO 45 has slimmer Aero Elliptical spokes and hidden nipples to help slice through the air. Campagnolo's beautifully moulded carbon hub body is securely bonded to a light aluminium hub flange, and integrated radial spoke seats ensure perfect alignment. A uniquely stunning C-LUX finish and new, subtle Bora Ultra graphics ensure the new wheels have the show to match their go.
Campagnolo's CULT ceramic bearings spin effortlessly within both the front aerodynamic carbon body and the rear aluminium shell of the disc hubs. The rear oversized 36 tooth ratchet system can be driven by N3W, XDR or HG freehub bodies.
The 2-Way Fit rims are ready for immediate tubeless use without rim tape, designed for tyre widths from 23mm, they're aerodynamically optimised for 25mm tyres."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the wheel?
Spokes: 24 Aero Elliptical, straight-pull, double-butted
Spoke pattern G3
Nipples Aluminium Aero Mo-Mag, self-locking, internal
VERSIONS AND WEIGHTS
Campagnolo N3W FW body
HG FW body
XDR FW body
front 660 g
rear 765 g
Campagnolo sprocket set 11/12/13
Shimano sprocket set 10/11 - SRAM 10/11
SRAM 12 sprocket set
Hub type: Bora Ultra, carbon body
Rear hub type: Aluminium body, 36 tooth ratchet freehub
Hub width: 100-142mm
Axle type: 12mm aluminium thru-axle
Bearings: CULT ceramic, cup and cone
Brake interface: AFS disc
Freehub compatibility: N3W, XDR, HG
ASTM classification: 1
Material: H.U.L.C UD high-strength carbon fibre
Tyre interface: 2-Way Fit
Tyre compatibility: Tubeless, tubeless-ready, clincher
Recommended tyre size: 700c, from 23mm
Rim height: 45mm
Internal width: 19mm
External width: 26.1mm
Decals: Water transfer DCS (Dark, copper shaded)
Did the wheels stay true? Any issues with spoke tension?
Perfectly true, even after a pothole blew out my front tyre.
How easy did you find it to fit tyres?
Tubeless and tubed tyres were very easy.
How did the wheel extras (eg skewers and rim tape) perform?
The tubeless valves are decent.
Tell us how the wheel performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliant for road riding on smoother surfaces. The wheels excel on those days where you want to mix the flat roads with some big climbs.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the wheel
The performance on mixed terrain makes this an excellent do-it-all wheelset. I raced, climbed and did general rides on these wheels.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the wheel
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It is high. You can get a better value wheelset from a host of other brands, but you can still pay more for Princeton CarbonWorks.
Did you enjoy using the wheel? Yes
Would you consider buying the wheel? If I had the money, yes.
Would you recommend the wheel to a friend? If they had the money, yes.
Use this box to explain your overall score
They provide an excellent balance between low weight and aero that makes them ideal for varied terrain. The construction is excellent and tubeless setup is simple. They're robust too.
About the tester
I usually ride: Cannondale Supersix Di2 My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 5-10 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo cross, commuting, club rides, general fitness riding, I specialise in the Cafe Ride!
Son of a Marathon runner, Nephew of a National 24hr Champion, the racing genetics have completely passed him by. After joining the road.cc staff in 2016 as a reviewer, Liam quickly started writing feature articles and news pieces. After a little time living in Canada, where he spent most of his time eating poutine, Liam returned with the launch of DealClincher, taking over the Editor role at the start of 2018. At the weekend, Liam can be found racing on the road both in the UK and abroad, though he prefers the muddy fields of cyclocross. To date, his biggest race win is to the front of the cafe queue.