Featured User Review: Campagnolo Zonda 2-Way Fit Clincher Wheelset

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Featured User Review: Campagnolo Zonda 2-Way Fit Clincher Wheelset
by Andrew McLaren

Price Paid: $475.00
Overall Rating: 4 of 5
Value Rating: 5 of 5

I’ve put about 100km onto these with Hutchinson tubeless tires (Intensive on the rear, Fusion 3 on the front), and the ride quality is an enormous improvement vs. the 2005 Zondas I have used for the past few years. Winding descents are much less skittish than with 120 psi clincher/tubes, I am running ~95 psi and these new wheels are faster as well as more comfortable to ride. Climbing is somewhat better, although these are not truly lightweight wheels (still, at 1580 gms stated weight, they’re not really boat anchors either). Rough pavement–plenty of that where I’m from–is less jarring, with less rolling resistance. A bit less affected by sidewinds than the previous slightly deeper Zondas as well.

That said, installing the tires was quite the challenge, and this alone knocks down the overall rating a bit. There are several online videos which demonstrate the technique, and massaging the tire into the central rim bed, starting opposite the valve etc is all correct advice; but, the tires were still a very, very tight fit, more so than any clincher tire I ever mounted. What I DID find helped a lot is the VAR #425 “wishbone” tire lever, which hooks onto the opposite side of the rim and under the tire bead to pull it up. This is a very useful tool to have, for anybody wanting to go tubeless, and I can’t recommend it enough–it made all the difference for me (I am not particularly weak-handed either).

It may well be that manufacturing variability and fate stuck me with marginally smaller tire bead diameters, and it’s also true that there is as yet not much selection for tubeless road tires. There again they will stretch somewhat now having been mounted and inflated.

Bottom line however, the ride quality is almost up there with tubulars, so far as comfort and leaning into fast turns is comparable. Weightwise not so much. I’ve still got a pair of 175 gm Continental track tubs in the basement and that is pretty much the Valhalla of road rubber (until you flat one!).

Sticking to the wheels themselves, they are stiff, braking is smooth and predictable, and overall another excellent example of Campy’s “trickle down” design philosophy borrowing features from the higher end Shamal and Eurus wheels. As I see it, the slight weight penalty compared to Eurus and Shamal is partly due to having steel rather than alloy spokes, but steel also has greater elasticity, yielding a slightly more comfortable ride

Solidly built, steel spokes (these add to ride comfort over alloy spokes), lighter than previous versions of the Zonda wheelset, very good price/performance ratio. Ride quality with tubeless is exceptional. Stiff, good braking performance, apparently keep the spoke tension better than the 2007-2010 model (they’ve upgraded the nipple design according to Campy).

Tubeless tires are difficult to mount, although the tight bead makes for excellent air retention. Needed more than hand force to push over the rim, highly recommend using a VAR 425 “wishbone” tire lever which helps a lot.

Bike Setup:
EPX 303 Carbon frame, Campagnolo Athena/Chorus 11 speed mix, Turbomatic Ti saddle, one-piece carbon bar/stem (Trigon), still riding those old Look pedals.

Similar Products Used:
Campagnolo Zonda 2005 (heavier by about 200 grams), many handbuilt (by me) wheels with clincher and tubular rims, Mavic Cosmic Pro (the original 1995 model), Zipp 340 (also 1990s), Mavic Ellipse (fixed gear aero wheels), 1980s Roval wheels (waaay ahead of their time).

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About the author: Thien Dinh

Thien Dinh gained most his cycling knowledge the old fashioned way, by immersing himself in the sport. From 2007 to early 2013, Thien served as RoadBikeReview Site Manager, riding daily while putting various cycling products through its paces. A native of California, Thien also enjoys tinkering with photography and discovering new music.

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