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At a time when all things carbon are the cat's meow, aluminum wheels often sit in the shadows, overlooked by riders interested more in the latest and greatest in aero carbon clinchers than tried-and-true aluminum. But aluminum wheels aren't going the way of the Dodo any time soon, especially since the technology, quality, and longevity are improving year after year. The Campagnolo Shamal Ultra is no exception. It's difficult to describe the Shamals without first mentioning the beautiful, dark titanium-colored finish. Even though we're proud of the photos on our site, it's nearly impossible to convey the Shamal's spectacular finish in a photograph.
The second distinguishing aspect of the Shamals is the unique rear spoke pattern that features seven sets of three parallel-laced aerodynamic spokes The spokes also receive Campagnolo's Spoke Anti-Rotation System, designed to keep the spokes correctly positioned for maximum aerodynamic efficiency and reduced drag. Easily accessible lightweight aluminum nipples further reduce rotational weight and make adjustments much easier than internal nipples. The front wheel has 16 spokes, laced radially.
The Shamals are built with a 26mm-deep front rim for optimal handling and a 30mm rear for stability and stiffness-not deep enough to blow you over in a crosswind, but still aero enough to gain some advantages. Campy also used their Toroidal Milling7 technology in the rim design, a process that machines out material between the spokes to further reduce the rotational weight of the wheel.
Fulcrum's patented MoMag system (Mounting Magnet) is also applied to the Shamals through a rather ingenious process. Each aluminum nipple is inserted through the valve hole and guided to the point of connection via a magnet, creating a rim without holes on the upper bridge. The advantages to eliminating rim holes are plentiful. To start, maintenance and spoke replacement is quick and relatively simple. The MoMag system can also facilitate greater spoke tension, which gives the Shamals increased reactivity and acceleration in real-world applications. No holes in the rim means that the rim is uniform at every point and free from stress points or areas of weakness. The result is greater resistance to fatigue over time, and thus, a longer rim life. Finally, the lack of holes eliminates the need for rim tape, saving grams and making it simple to convert your setup to tubeless.
A wheel is only as good as its hub, and Campagnolo incorporated their USB (Ultra Smooth Bearings) ceramic bearings into the Shamal Ultra. The rear hub is equipped with Campy's MegaG3 hub, named for its oversized hub flange, designed specifically to increase torsional stiffness by up to 17% over the 2011 model. The carbon fiber hub body keeps weight to a minimum, and combined with the increase in stiffness, the Shamal Ultra has a noticeably quick responsiveness during acceleration.
Housed within the carbon hub body in a cup-and-cone-style layup are the USB ceramic bearings. Campy claims their ceramic USBs produce up to 50% less friction and maintain their roundness better than traditional steel bearings, and if you've ever ridden ceramic, you'll be able to testify to its superiority. But one often overlooked advantage of ceramic bearings is their resistance to corrosion, making the Shamal Ultras ideal for those of us that live in a less-than-ideal climate.
The Campagnolo Shamal Ultra Dark Wheelset weighs in a 1440 grams (615 front, 825 rear), and comes with a Campagnolo compatible freehub body and steel-axle quick-releases.