It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it feels like magic. Bike components that go beyond the buzzwords and feel divine from the first moment. Anyone who’s ridden a pair of Campagnolo wheels knows what we mean. It doesn’t matter if it’s an affordable set of alloy Shamals or their top-end carbon Bora tubulars, Campagnolo wheels have always had something special. So when a box showed up with a new model tucked within, the Bora Ultra WTO 45, we knew we were in for quite a treat.
We’ve been in love with the original WTO series wheels since they launched a few years back, so we were pretty excited to see what Campagnolo had in store for this new premium iteration.
Bora Ultra WTO 45 Tech Specs
At first glance, the Ultras seem similar to the existing Bora WTOs. They share the same depth with a similar shape as well as Campagnolo's iconic G3 lacing pattern. But there's far more than what meets the eye. The Ultra's rim is entirely redesigned. For starters, it's crafted from the Italian brand's Hand-Made Ultra Light Carbon, H.U.L.C. for short (they do love their acronyms), which is both lighter and stronger. On the 33 model, the internal width increases to 21mm, up from the 19mm of the standard WTOs while the 45s and 60s keep the 19mm internal, but tire versatility remains with the inclusion of a traditional hooked bead. Campagnolo claims that the Bora Ultra WTO 45s are aero optimized for a 25c tire, but we've been testing them with 30c Vittoria's with very satisfactory results.
Another improvement over the base WTO is the Ultra's new internal nipple. Everything now sits within the rim for improved aerodynamics. Like Enve's high-end wheels, the Bora's spoke holes are molded in place rather than drilled, which adds strength to the construction. Unlike Enve, the wheel can still be trued and tensioned externally without removing the tire - a huge plus, especially for tubeless riders.
The weight-saving C-Lux finish is also new, resulting in a shiny external layer that doesn't need any paint or lacquer. Up close, it looks excellent. Campagnolo has applied the treatment to the inner rim bed as well to make seating tires a breeze. The tires we mounted seated up trouble-free.
The Bora Ultra WTO 45 wheels also feature C.U.L.T. Ceramic bearings, the Italian brand's most premium offerings that you'll only find on Ultra and Super Record products. Campagnolo's steel bearings are already things of legend, but if you know Above Category, you know we're all for the smoothness and durability of ceramics. Both WTO hubs are designed from the ground up as an optimal disc brake system. The rear is alloy, while the front is crafted from a beautiful carbon fiber shell.
Everything adds up to significant improvements over the original Bora WTO. Wider, smoother, more aero, and a fair bit lighter. While the base WTO 45s come in at 1520g, these Ultra variants drop 100g. Campagnolo claimed these at 1425g a set but our test wheels were a pinch lighter at 1420g.
Bora Ultra WTO 45 Ride Report
When you look at the specs, Campagnolo wheels do tend to look a little, well, dated. They're far from the lightest, and they're certainly not the widest. Unlike the Zipps 353s we showcased recently, the Bora Ultra WTO 45's lack many of the chart-topping stats or radical design queues. But the thing is, Campagnolo has never given a crap what the spec sheets say. They've always done their own thing and made sure their wheels live up to expectations out in the world, not on paper. And given our long experience with Campagnolo wheels, we were most excited about how the Bora Ultra WTOs worked out on the road.
We set our test pair of Bora Ultra WTO 45s up with 30c Vittoria Corsa TLR tires. Campagnolo says the Ultras are aerodynamically optimized for a 25c tire, but we've all really come to love a 30c tubeless tire, so we wanted to see how the wheels felt with our usual set up.
As I started to pedal away from Above Category, I noticed that the Ultras didn't deliver the instant gratification of a wheel like the Lightweight Meilenstein. But once I got them up to speed, Campagnolo's latest offering came alive.
North of 15 mph, the Ultras cruise, letting you effortlessly hold your pace. Push it any faster, and you'll see what the wheels are all about. These. Things. Sing. So fast, so smooth - Campy magic taken to another level. Whether that creaminess is down to the Wind Tunnel Optimization or the C.U.L.T. bearings, I'll take it. The Ultra's smooth delivery and confidence-inspiring compliance are about as good as anything else out there.
Descending on the Bora Ultra WTO 45s is just divine, madly stable, with exceptional tracking through the corners. Throughout the pandemic, I've spent a lot of time riding time in the dirt, getting rowdy on mountain bikes, really pushing the limits of our comfort zone cornering big knobby tires. Technically and viscerally a very different experience from cornering on the road. In recent months I've started to log more miles on the road again, but came to realize I'd lost a fair bit of confidence leaning skinny tires over on smooth pavement. I'd been a bit embarrassed as my descending prowess was something I'd always taken pride in.
Something about riding these Bora Ultras, especially with the Vittoria 30s mounted up, brought me back to diving into corners like I was in my prime. I couldn't get enough of it.
Is Ultra Worth the Upgrade?
Like any Campagnolo wheel before it, the Bora Ultra WTOs defy what the stats might suggest and provide an experience that needs to be ridden to be believed. The Ultra WTOs might not be the wheels for everyone, but that isn't the point. If you're a gravel rider or purebred climber, you may want to look elsewhere. But if you love setting out for long days on undulating roads and twisting descents, the Bora Ultra WTOs are sure to keep a grin on your face from start to finish. And if you hold a stigma toward mixing Campagnolo wheels with other drivetrains, we'd encourage you to think again. The Ultras will be available from Campagnolo with their N3W 12s, Shimano 11s, or Sram XDR drivers, so no matter what you ride you can enjoy Bora bliss.
The Bora Ultra WTO wheels retail for $3585, about $1500 more than the standard WTO line. Yep, you guessed it - these wheels will be in super short suppl. Check out the collection page so you can be first in line to upgrade your bike or plan a new build around these Ultra amazing wheels.
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