The Right Clincher Rims
12 top hoops that will improve your road ride
It was on a gravelly descent on the island of Gran Canaria that I was first introduced to Campagnolo’s latest version of the Shamal Ultra wheelset. The mountain road was perfectly pleasant on the way up with the grades sometimes getting into the low 20s. My group took a break at the top and then started the downward run, roughly 1,600 m down. The first few kilometres were rough because the surface, my speed and the stiffness of the bike made holding onto the handlebars as pleasant as operating a jackhammer. I was glad to have such solid wheels.
Campagnolo had just introduced the new Shamal Ultras to my group that morning. The aluminum wheelset has been in the Italian component company’s lineup for more than 20 years. Since then, carbon-fibre hoops have become the material of choice for climbing and riding fast. While the Shamals, with a claimed weight of 1,495 g for the standard clincher set, will lose the weight battle with carbon wheels, the Campys are still high-performance wheels that can line up against composite hoops. At the centre of each wheel are carbon-fibre hub bodies with Ultra Smooth Bearings inside. The usbs work really well, allowing you to spin up quickly and allowing the wheel to keep rolling. I might even blame them a bit for getting me to “jackhammer speed” so quickly on that descent. Still, they were fantastic for helping me get to the top of that climb.
On the descent, the solid construction of the wheels meant I didn’t have to worry about them. The hubs are connected to the rims with aerodynamic aluminum spokes. The rim bed of each wheel is hole-free; spoke nipples are slid into place on the lower section of the rims via a magnet. The rear wheel has the G3 pattern with 14 spokes on the drive side and seven on the non-drive side, keeping the whole system strong and stiff. For the new wheels, the inner rim width has increased from 15 mm to 17 mm. The width improves the shaping of 25-mm tires, giving them a more semicircle profile instead of that of a lightbulb, making the Shamals feel more planted in the turns.
While my first test on the Canary Island was dramatic, it was the numerous and less-dramatic miles I logged on my local roads that proved the Shamals’ quality. They continued to roll quickly, allowing me to stay active, maybe even aggressive sometimes, in the group rides. I didn’t hesitate to take them on the rough stuff. They are high-performance hoops, and it’s performance you can rely on.
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