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Product Review: Campagnolo Neutron Ultra Clincher Wheelset

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After eight seasons of victories and infinite kilometres travelled, Neutron wheels have been upgraded with calibrated extrusions for the rims, while the new-generation hubs have a carbon body and aluminium flanges. The wheels therefore maintain all the features which have made them famous: lightness, reactivity, lateral rigidity when on the pedals, and exalt them, thank to the new lighter hubs.

The rims are welded and their braking surface machined. Then the areas between the spokes, where the stresses are lower and the structure can be lightened, are ground. This is the typical result of a study using the finite element method, followed, of course, by an unforgiving validation cycle in the laboratory and on the road.

The rims are differentiated: the front rim is symmetrical and lighter while the rear rim is stouter and is drilled asymmetrically to improve the wheel dish and exalt lateral rigidity.

As always, the spokes work without flexions thanks to the self-locking nut coupled spherically to the plate that distributes the load, guaranteeing longer life cycles and greater lateral wheel rigidity. 

This is a fabulous wheel for courses featuring considerable level differences or for very long competitions where performance and comfort must coexist.

Campagnolo Neutron Ultra Wheelset Review:

The Neutron Ultras from Campagnolo are the top of the line wheels. According to Campy these are the lightest wheels they have ever produced. And indeed they are light, feel quite a bit less than they look. The hub sounds like it’s rubbing a little bit when spinning, but doesn’t seem to be causing problems.

These wheels are extremely stiff, the contact point with the ground felt a little bit more precise compared to the Shamal Mille, maybe because of the carbon rims, the stiffness of the wheel-tire combination helping also into pointing the direction of travel. The strident rubbing sound when spinning is coming from the seals of the bearings, I guess the same applies to the Shamal Mille, I haven’t had a chance to try one. The valves are brass, what a pity.

The brakes, both discs and pads worked extremely well. Carbon wheels may be a bit of a drawback for some, not being able to adjust a disc brake from the side, but for me it’s no issue at all. The Campagnolo pads that I used on the rear wheel are much better in terms of slowing power compared to the stock pads, the stock pads don’t really slow down the bike in my opinion, however the stock pads last much longer.

The ride is amazing, extremely good control of the front wheel when descending on unstable terrain, the rear wheel is a bit stiffer than the Shamal Mille, so it helped the bike push less when in aero position, which is great after 3 hours of riding. The ride is stiff and quite comfortable, given the weight and stiffness of the wheels, the ride is quite impressive.

The wheels are not the lightest, but they are pretty light, Campagnolo quotes 1650g for the set (front 930g, rear 1020g) and they are stiff, with a great ride, which is a must for good times on the bike.

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UPDATE: Went for a few morning (around 6:00am) climbs with these wheels and the climbing is brilliant. After 2h making my way to the top, I realized there was no way I could get aero like this. No power to stay tucked, I have to stand up and push. I am not sure how the guys who ride both on the drops and aero do it, I have absolutely no power in my legs. Strange enough, I don’t have this problem with the Carbon wheels from Shamal. I have a theory though, with the Shamal Mille, once you drop into the aero position the bike reacts much better, speeds up and gets you going. With the Neutron Ultras, the first part is stiffer, which is great, but when time to stand up that’s where the wheel is insufficient, I feel it pushing the bike less, which costs me significant power. This might come from the fact that the wheels are supposedly 35g heavier. So this is an extremely subjective opinion, I can’t speak for everyone, I just needed to get it out. The Neutrons are still great wheels, especially for climbs and descending.

Given the performance I saw on the past few weeks, I am extremely confident that a set of Neutron Ultras would be an excellent choice for anyone looking for a set of wheels for criteriums, cyclocross or road races. The comfort, power transfer and stiffness of these wheels are remarkable.

Overall, a very good set of wheels. I am a bit surprised that Campagnolo did not utilize a bigger tire for their top-of-the-line wheelset, but that goes to show you how great the Shamal Mille and Tangente wheels are.

After finishing my review of the Neutron Ultras I figured I would give the Zipp Vuka Alumina clincher a try after reading the great reviews over on Mech-D of the Zipp Tangente. I had been skeptical of clincher tires because of the Zipp Tangente, but here are my impressions of the Vuka Alumina paired with the Neutrons.

  • Hubs: Excellent
  • Rims: Excellent
  • Tires: Excellent
  • Braking: Good
  • Aero: Average
  • Weight: Good
  • Traction: Excellent

Excellent wheel for criteriums and road races. One of the least expensive wheels with a relatively low weight. Would like to especially thank Mahesh for getting in touch with me to send me the Vuka Alumina.

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Written by Mark Adams

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