Campagnolo’s new Bora Ultra WTO wheels are stiffer, lighter and more aero (they’re very pretty, too)

Campagnolo has introduced an updated line-up of Bora Ultra WTO wheelsets. The Italian company’s flagship range of disc-specific wheels feature a new carbon design to reduce weight, a lacquer-free finish, updated hubs and a clever new spoke arrangement with the nipples fully hidden inside the rim. All that results in wheels said to be lighter, stiffer and more aerodynamic (of course) – they’re very pretty, too.

Campagnolo first launched the Bora in 1994 and the wheelset is now on its 11th iteration. In fact, the Bora was only recently updated in 2019 but Campagnolo says this latest version has been in development for three years.

The Bora wheels have been available in rim brake and disc brake versions in recent years, but the latest WTO – Wind Tunnel Optimised – wheels are for disc brake bikes only, which is no great surprise given the complete shift to discs on anything but budget road bikes. Campagnolo says its sponsored WorldTour teams – UAE Team Emirates, Lotto-Soudal and Ag2R-Citroen Team – have been using the new Boras through the year’s early-season races.

The latest Bora Ultra WTO line-up features 33mm, 45mm and 60mm rim depths. The 45mm and 60mm-deep wheels have a 19mm internal rim, while the 33mm-deep rim is 21mm-wide. Campagnolo says all three wheelsets are optimised for use with 25mm tyres.

Claimed weights are:

Bora Ultra WTO 33 – 1,385gBora Ultra WTO 45 – 1,425gBora Ultra WTO 60 – 1,530g

H.U.L.C. construction

Campagnolo has used a new carbon construction to reduce weight on the latest Bora Ultra WTO wheels.Campagnolo

Given the continued development of the Bora over two decades, Campagnolo’s product manager, Nicolo Martinello, says the focus here has been on “marginal gains”.

“A huge part of the development was trying to improve a wheelset that was only introduced in 2019,” says Martinello. “Everything was focussed on improving marginal gains. We worked really hard on developing new technologies specifically for this product.”

That includes the carbon construction, dubbed H.U.L.C. (Handmade Ultralight Carbon). Not much has changed in terms of the aerodynamic profile of the rim (it has a rounded profile, said to offer aero performance on par with SwissSide’s hadron 485 wheelset); instead, Campagnolo has focussed on fine-tuning the carbon construction.

Bora wind tunnel data
Campagnolo tested the Bora Ultra WTO 45 alongside the SwissSide Hadron 485.

The result is a 95g reduction in weight on the Bora Ultra WTO 45 wheelset, dropping from 1,520g to a claimed 1,425g. Marginal gains, indeed, though not an insignificant drop in percentage terms and Martinello says the mechanical properties of the wheelset remain unchanged.

The wheels also have a new finish. Campagnolo has called this one C-Lux (Campagnolo Luxury) and, well, it looks very luxurious indeed – particularly the copper-coloured detailing. It’s how the wheels ride that matters most, of course, but in the flesh the finish of both the rims and hubs is exquisite.

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
Campagnolo’s sponsored teams have been using the new Boras through the early-season WorldTour races.Campagnolo

The weight-saving, lacquer-free finish gives the wheels a mirror-like appearance and, with C-Lux also applied to the rim bed, Campagnolo says the “scientific precision” of the finish helps provide a consistent interface with tubeless tyres and reduces the risk of abrasions to the tyre bead.

Tubeless, but not hookless

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
The Bora Ultra WTO wheels are compatible with clincher, tubeless-ready and tubeless tyres.Campagnolo

The rim bed is undrilled – no need for tape – and compatible with clincher, tubeless-ready and tubeless tyres. However, the rim retains a traditional hook – i.e. it’s not hookless, as has been the trend for recent tubeless wheel launches.

Hookless wheels remove the bead hook that helps retain conventional clincher tyres. While hookless rims are common in mountain biking, it’s still an emerging technology for road bikes. Hookless wheels will often come with claims of improved manufacturing quality and less waste, but the current tech isn’t without its compatibility issues. In short, you need to make sure your tyres are compatible with hookless rims – and not all are.

Best tubeless tyres
Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
The trend may be towards hookless rims but Campagnolo is sticking with a traditional hooked design for now. However, with no spoke holes in the rim bed, the Boras are ready-made for tubeless.Campagnolo

Anyway, while Zipp is among the brands to move to hookless rims, including this week’s launch of the 353 NSW, Campagnolo has retained hooks on the latest Bora.

“We’re working on investigating hookless technology,” says Martinello. “We know there’s a push from our competitors on this… but we prefer to be 100 per cent compliant to both the market needs and international [ISO and ETRTO] regulations. That’s why you’ll still see hooks and our rims, and will for some time.”

Mo-Mag goes aero

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
Everything is internal with Campagnolo’s latest Aero Mo-Mag spoke arrangement.Campagnolo

If you’re familiar with Campagnolo’s wheels, you’ll probably be familiar with the company’s Mo-Mag technology, whereby the nipples are installed via the valve hole and guided into position using a magnet. (This also eliminates the need to drill spoke holes in the rim bed, so the rims don’t require tubeless tape.)

Aero Mo-Mag takes this a step further, keeping everything inside the rim. Each spoke hole has an internal nipple seat, wrapped into the rim’s carbon layup, with the Aero Mo-Mag nipples then aligned with each spoke.

Campagnolo Aero Mo-Mag
Aero Mo-Mag is an evolution of Campagnolo’s existing Mo-Mag technology.Campagnolo

There’s an aero benefit to placing the nipples inside the rim, helping to improve the overall aerodynamic credentials of these wheels, but Campag also claims the design reduces fatigue, results in a more accurate build and improves the stiffness of the wheel by moulding everything into the rim, thus reducing the bending stress on each individual spoke. Instead, the carbon rim can absorb some of that stress.

The spoke tension can be adjusted using a tool supplied with the wheels and, while the nipple seat is hidden in the rim and thus not replaceable, Campagnolo confidently states it has never had one break in testing.

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
Campagnolo’s well-established G3 spoke pattern remains.Campagnolo

Both the front and rear wheels continue to use Campagnolo’s G3 spoke pattern, with a 2:1 ratio: the rear driveside and front non-driveside get twice as many spoke as the opposite side to counteract the asymmetric drivetrain and braking forces. Both wheels have 24 Aero Elliptical straight-pull, double-butted spokes.

The CULT continues

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
Campagnolo’s ceramic CULT bearings are used in the aero-shaped hubs. The front hub is made from carbon, while the rear is aluminium.Campagnolo

Campagnolo’s CULT bearings have attracted something of a cult following (see what they did there…) and, as you’d expect from any high-end Campagnolo wheelset, the ceramic bearings feature here.

Campag claims CULT bearings offer five-and-a-half times less friction than standard sealed steel bearings. “Spinning from a speed of 78km/h, a Campagnolo wheel using CULT bearings takes a staggering 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach a standstill. Contrast this with a mere 30 minutes for regular sealed bearings,” reads Campagnolo’s press material.

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
The freehub uses Campagnolo’s N3W design, compatible with its 11-speed, 12-speed and 13-speed groupsets.Campagnolo

The new Bora hubs have a narrower flange (aerodynamics…), while the front hub gets the same C-Lux finish as the rim (the front hub is carbon, while the rear is aluminium).

The rear hub uses Campagnolo’s Next 3 Ways (N3W) freehub body, first introduced in July last year and compatible with the company’s 11, 12 and 13-speed groupsets. The new Bora wheels are also available with freehub drivers for Shimano HG and SRAM XDR.

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO range and prices

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
We’ve received a set of the new Bora wheels to test.George Scott / Immediate Media

Here’s the key info on the Bora Ultra WTO range, including prices. We’ve received a set to test – on a De Rosa Merak – so look out for more on BikeRadar.

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 33

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 33.CampagnoloRim depth: 33mmRim width (internal): 21mmRim width (external): 27.4mmClaimed weight: 640g (front), 745g (rear), 1,385g (complete)Price: £2,810 / €3,150 / $3,585 (N3W spec)

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 45.CampagnoloRim depth: 45mmRim width (internal): 19mmRim width (external): 26.1mmClaimed weight: 660g (front), 765g (rear), 1,425g (complete)Price: £2,810 / €3,150 / $3,585 (N3W spec)

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 60

Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO wheelset
Campagnolo Bora Ultra WTO 60.CampagnoloRim depth: 60mmRim width (internal): 19mmRim width (external): 26.1mmClaimed weight: 710g (front), 820g (rear), 1,530g (complete)Price: £2,810 / €3,150 / $3,585 (N3W spec)

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