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Why Reinvent the Wheel? (aka another Campagnolo rant)

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Why Reinvent the Wheel? (aka another Campagnolo rant)

Old 03-27-20, 01:55 PM
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robertorolfo
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Why Reinvent the Wheel? (aka another Campagnolo rant)

Disclaimer: I swear that I didn't start my biking life as a Campagnolo "fanboy", but it looks as though I have indeed become one, so if you can't stand people like me singing their praises, you can stop reading now. I won't be offended. Also, I have absolutely no affiliation with Campagnolo, and I most certainly don't profit in any way from the sale of their products. Plus, serious injury or death!

Like most people in here, I can't stop messing around with my bikes, and that includes experimenting with different parts and setups. Over the past couple of years I've been researching and reading a lot about wheels, and I really can't understand the purchasing decisions that some people are making. This may sound ridiculous, but why aren't more people buying Campagnolo wheels?

First and foremost, despite the often repeating claims that Campagnolo products are overpriced, their wheels are actually really reasonably priced. And they are reasonably priced on both the high and the low end.

Let's start at the lower end, where you have various aluminum solutions. I'm going to skip right over the absolute entry level (the Calima and Khamsin level, where there is little differentiation among brands) and start with roughly the Zonda level of features and quality. And calling it the Zonda level is appropriate, because it's a level all its own, in a good way. For that price, what wheels are you going to buy that come anywhere close in terms of quality and weight? Then, as you move in price, you continue to find Campagnolo models that match or exceed the features of their competitors, and always at a better price. And I'm looking right at you here, Mavic!

And once you start to get into carbon, where things are much more expensive compared to most aluminum wheels, Campagnolo is still the clear leader in terms of quality to price ratio. Their Bora line is simply world class, and it's almost always significantly cheaper that stuff from Zipp, or Easton, or Enve, or any of the boutique brands. Compare wheels weights, and the Boras are usually lighter, or very close to, their competitors of similar rim depths. And then compare characteristics...

This is where another huge component comes into play: hubs. While being competitive in other specifications and price, Campagnolo does this while offering their own hubs. And please don't try to poo-poo their quality. This company has been making hubs, and top of the line hubs, for so many decades now. And it's not just about design and technology, it's also about production. They have been doing it for a long time, they do it well, and they do it in quantity. How can people really expect a smaller company to put out anything as high quality, high performing and reliable for anywhere near the same price? Go and read the customer reviews for wheels on Mavic's own website. It's a disaster. Their hubs appear to be really lousy considering the money people pay for the wheels they are mounted to. Simple sealed bearings and some plastic bushings that often wear out after a few thousand miles? Seriously? And then you get stuff like White Industries or Phill Wood and, quite frankly, I don't even understand why they exist. I'm all about supporting small businesses, and I'm glad they do exist and employ people, but why on earth anyone is buying that stuff instead of Campagnolo is beyond me.

OK, I think I'm done. So can some people chime in and explain why they decided to forgo Campagnolo wheels for other options?
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Old 03-27-20, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Seriously? And then you get stuff like White Industries or Phill Wood and, quite frankly, I don't even understand why they exist. I'm all about supporting small businesses, and I'm glad they do exist and employ people, but why on earth anyone is buying that stuff instead of Campagnolo is beyond me.

OK, I think I'm done. So can some people chime in and explain why they decided to forgo Campagnolo wheels for other options?
For the Phil Wood/WI comment, I don’t see a straightforward way to get a campy hub on its own. Shimano does the same thing, sadly (thankfully, mavic does too). This is why WI, CK, DT and i9 are so popular. They offer standalone hubs.

I personally went DT for my chinese carbon wheels. They were way cheaper than many western brands and I personally know 5 other people who have bought wheels from that exact company. Many other people have bought other chinese carbon or rebadged chinese carbon wheels. If campy cares about being more popular, they should offer hubsets. I actually really wanted a cup and cone rear hub and would have considered campy if they offered a reasonable hub.

I personally think that Campagnolo hamstrings their wheels with their brand name, because when I think Campy, I think “pompous prick with no personality who tries to compensate by buying rare/unique bike parts”. No offense to anyone who actually rides campy, of course. But as a younger cyclist, some people’s fetishism over “italian heritage” or whatever makes me want to puke. Same reason why Bianchi’s inane “Handmade in Italy” stickers make my blood boil. I’d like to flip the question on you (in regards to drivetrains). Why would anyone pick a campy groupset over Shimano?

To be fair, I think americans’ view of european brands is very different from that of europeans’. It’s possible that campy is very popular in europe/italy. I wouldn’t know.

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Old 03-27-20, 03:20 PM
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Haven't built a campy wheel in a long time but the last one I did was a record hub, absolutely beautiful and spun so smooth, but the drive side flange was further over from the right dropout then any other hub I'd built and the result was that the drive side seemed to require very high spoke tension while the non-drive side really wasn't that great and it didn't make for the most durable wheel. Personally I much prefer to buy Chris King if I want light and fast or ultra durable and am quite happy with the price of shimano LX or XT on my kick around bikes. At 60.00 for an XT hubset it was hard to beat.
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Old 03-27-20, 03:25 PM
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Because the paired spoke fad has rightfully passed. I've found them to be flexier than normally-laced wheels. Breaking a spoke on a paired-spoke wheel usually makes it unrideable.
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Old 03-27-20, 03:34 PM
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Does Campy offer anything in the ballpark of the HED Jet6+ for $900? If not, do not pass Go, do not collect $900.
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Old 03-27-20, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
For the Phil Wood/WI comment, I don’t see a straightforward way to get a campy hub on its own. Shimano does the same thing, sadly (thankfully, mavic does too). This is why WI, CK, DT and i9 are so popular. They offer standalone hubs.

I personally went DT for my chinese carbon wheels. They were way cheaper than many western brands and I personally know 5 other people who have bought wheels from that exact company. Many other people have bought other chinese carbon or rebadged chinese carbon wheels. If campy cares about being more popular, they should offer hubsets. I actually really wanted a cup and cone rear hub and would have considered campy if they offered a reasonable hub.

I personally think that Campagnolo hamstrings their wheels with their brand name, because when I think Campy, I think “pompous prick with no personality who tries to compensate by buying rare/unique bike parts”. No offense to anyone who actually rides campy, of course. But as a younger cyclist, some people’s fetishism over “italian heritage” or whatever makes me want to puke. Same reason why Bianchi’s inane “Handmade in Italy” stickers make my blood boil. I’d like to flip the question on you (in regards to drivetrains). Why would anyone pick a campy groupset over Shimano?

To be fair, I think americans’ view of european brands is very different from that of europeans’. It’s possible that campy is very popular in europe/italy. I wouldn’t know.
Some interesting thoughts. Regarding the stand along hubs, you probably do know that individual Record hubs (cup and cone, steel bearings) can still be purchased, but I would assume that only overing a 32 spoke option is severely limiting for most modern rims. So point taken.

And I actually felt the same what that you did at first, that Campagnolo was to be associated with "pompous pricks," but then my mind slowly started to change. First and foremost, because I so rarely actually came across someone riding their stuff! Second, because the anti-Campagnolo crowd seemed to be equally pompous and pricky, and third because I just grew to appreciate the nature of their company and products.

The perception of the brand actually makes me think about a similar situation with Ducati and Harley. As an admirer of Ducati, I was also put off by some of the (American) jerks purporting to be something they aren't, and pretending their products are something that they aren't, simply because of the name. If I had a dollar for every time that someone said, "the Ferrari of motorcycles" and nearly made me puke... And of course there are the naysayers that consider the brand to be overpriced junk.

Then you go to Italy and find out that Harley is to Italians what Ducati is to Americans. Largely ridden by kool-aid drinkers that think the name makes them cool, unique and un-Italian (which is good in their mind). There is actually quite a bit of anti-Ducati sentiment in Italy as well, and over there it's generally a brand for hardcore riders who don't really care about more than their image and the perception of others. But I digress...


Campagnolo groupsets are definitely a different story to their wheels in terms of pricing, and that is why this post was specific to wheels. That said, I could see someone selecting them for their quality, their functionality, their ease/possibility of maintenance and repair, and even for their looks. Most of those points are debatable, but I think they are legit.
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Old 03-27-20, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
Does Campy offer anything in the ballpark of the HED Jet6+ for $900? If not, do not pass Go, do not collect $900.
At that weight? Why? Seems like Campagnolo have discontinued the Bullet line, and that's probably why.
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Old 03-27-20, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Because the paired spoke fad has rightfully passed. I've found them to be flexier than normally-laced wheels. Breaking a spoke on a paired-spoke wheel usually makes it unrideable.
I haven't heard many people claim that the G3 stuff is flexy, but I'll take your point as valid.
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Old 03-27-20, 03:45 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
At that weight? Why? Seems like Campagnolo have discontinued the Bullet line, and that's probably why.
You asked, I answered. Not everyone frets over weight. The Jets are silly fast, especially for the price.
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Old 03-27-20, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Some interesting thoughts. Regarding the stand along hubs, you probably do know that individual Record hubs (cup and cone, steel bearings) can still be purchased, but I would assume that only overing a 32 spoke option is severely limiting for most modern rims. So point taken.

And I actually felt the same what that you did at first, that Campagnolo was to be associated with "pompous pricks," but then my mind slowly started to change. First and foremost, because I so rarely actually came across someone riding their stuff! Second, because the anti-Campagnolo crowd seemed to be equally pompous and pricky, and third because I just grew to appreciate the nature of their company and products.


Campagnolo groupsets are definitely a different story to their wheels in terms of pricing, and that is why this post was specific to wheels. That said, I could see someone selecting them for their quality, their functionality, their ease/possibility of maintenance and repair, and even for their looks. Most of those points are debatable, but I think they are legit.
About the 32H hubs, you are correct. Shimano and campy are extremely hypocritical about this too. They’ll use 16/21 or 18/21 spokes on their complete wheelsets and then expect people to buy their 32H hubs? It just makes no sense.

I would never actually make a significant judgement about someone’s character based on their choice of groupset. It’s way too trivial of a matter. I also can probably count on one hand the number of campy groupsets I’ve seen and I’ve ridden with some very, very wealthy groups out here in CA. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about campy (except for one guy whose EPS rear mech kept rubbing his Lightweight wheels’ spokes ). I just see no reason to deviate from the norm that is Shimano.
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Old 03-27-20, 03:50 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
You asked, I answered. Not everyone frets over weight. The Jets are silly fast, especially for the price.
Right, so you found another niche where Campagnolo loses out: heavy-ish aero at a low-ish price. As I said, they must have dropped the Bullet line for a reason.

But how are those HED hubs? Geniune question, because I don't know. Cartridge bearings?
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Old 03-27-20, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by smashndash View Post
I also can probably count on one hand the number of campy groupsets I’ve seen
Same. I've also never seen (or noticed) anyone on Campy in any race I've ever been in.
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Old 03-27-20, 03:56 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Right, so you found another niche where Campagnolo loses out: heavy-ish aero at a low-ish price. As I said, they must have dropped the Bullet line for a reason.

But how are those HED hubs? Geniune question, because I don't know. Cartridge bearings?
As a triathlete, that's literally the only niche I care about. If you're going to dismiss the dissenting opinions you ask for, why ask for them? Oh right, #41ier .

The hubs are fine. I'm sure I could cart them down to a Catholic church and get them blessed in exchange for a donation to the poor, if they need a little Italian magic.
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Old 03-27-20, 04:01 PM
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My Ardennes with HED hubs are good wheels. Including the hubs.
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Old 03-27-20, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Bah Humbug View Post
You asked, I answered. Not everyone frets over weight. The Jets are silly fast, especially for the price.
I don’t mind a bit of weight. I have some 808’s that I use at the track and they are very fast if you are riding above 20mph.
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Old 03-27-20, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
And calling it the Zonda level is appropriate, because it's a level all its own, in a good way. For that price, what wheels are you going to buy that come anywhere close in terms of quality and weight?
Aren't Zondas cheap right now because distributors are clearing them out, due to being narrow and non-tubeless? During their main run, I thought they were closer to $500. I could be wrong.

If you're looking for a wheel of their style, it's a decent deal at the moment, but I'm not sure that it's representative of how Campy wheels typically sit relative to the competition.

And once you start to get into carbon, where things are much more expensive compared to most aluminum wheels, Campagnolo is still the clear leader in terms of quality to price ratio. Their Bora line is simply world class, and it's almost always significantly cheaper that stuff from Zipp, or Easton, or Enve, or any of the boutique brands. Compare wheels weights, and the Boras are usually lighter, or very close to, their competitors of similar rim depths. And then compare characteristics...
What do you mean by "characteristics"? ENVE wheels "justify" their price with exotic features like molded spoke holes making for extremely strong nipple seats. Boras seem considerably more vanilla than those halo products. And, like the Zondas, they're unfashionably narrow at present.

And it's not like they can't be undercut for their price and weight point. A 30mm-wide 56mm-deep wheelset that weighs about the same as a Bora can be had for around $600 from Light Bicycle, for instance.

This is where another huge component comes into play: hubs. While being competitive in other specifications and price, Campagnolo does this while offering their own hubs. And please don't try to poo-poo their quality. This company has been making hubs, and top of the line hubs, for so many decades now. And it's not just about design and technology, it's also about production. They have been doing it for a long time, they do it well, and they do it in quantity. How can people really expect a smaller company to put out anything as high quality, high performing and reliable for anywhere near the same price?
Campagnolo's aftermarket hubs are fine, but they're also almost irrelevant for new high-end wheel builds, due to 32H drilling.

Mavic has had some issues with hub quality, but that's more of a Mavic-specific problem than anything uniquely good about Campy.

Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Campagnolo groupsets are definitely a different story to their wheels in terms of pricing
Not dramatically different. They don't offer good deals for OEM, but in the aftermarket they're reasonably competitive.

I'd actually personally argue that Campy groupsets are a much better deal now than they were during their 60s-80s heyday. Their prices were extremely high, and aside from maintaining good build quality, they were incredibly technologically stagnant.
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Old 03-27-20, 04:39 PM
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I used to ride Campy in the early 90’s. I liked it well enough. When it came to put a new bike together, the cost compared to outfitting a bike with Dura Ace was such that I went with Shimano. When I started racing in 1980 ( I raced on Shimano 600, then Dura Ace sis), everybody rode Campy, if you were serious about racing. I think cost compared to quality started shifting in Shimano’s favor.
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Old 03-27-20, 04:42 PM
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I actually really like the Bora WTOs.. especially the 45s. I don't know what's fashionably wide these days, but 26+ mm width seems like plenty for my preferred 25mm tires. I really don't want to spend that much (typically about $1.7K) right now though.
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Old 03-27-20, 04:52 PM
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The thread title makes it sound like Campagnolo invented the bicycle wheel. Campagnolo didn't start making their own hubs until the 1950's, which may seem like a long time ago, but there were many others building hubs before this time. I don't recall seeing Campagnolo branded rims until the 1990's.
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Old 03-27-20, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Breaking a spoke on a paired-spoke wheel usually makes it unrideable.
IMO breaking spokes is a thing that shouldn't happen on a decent modern wheel, unless you crash it or there's a flaw in the spoke.

Modern and decent means straight pull and low spoke count, ie less than 20/24 (although disc wheels should be at least 24). No elbow to distort and fatigue, putting all the stretch into the thin part of the spoke, and low spoke count means high spoke tension, further avoiding fatigue.

So meh to the question of what happens when you break a spoke - it shouldn't apply to a performance wheelset. Touring or commuting, sure.

As for hubs... There can be only one. If you look closely at freehub designs, it should be obvious that Mavic is junk thanks to that nasty bushing (although they get points for the outboard DS axle bearing). And just about every other brand (with the exception of cheap stuff from Alex and Joytech) employ a floating cassette body design unlike Shimano's.

Unlike Campy, every Shimano hub uses proper cup and cone bearings throughout (every Campy freehub uses cartridge bearings in the cassette body), and the freehub design puts the DS axle next to the dropout where it belongs, since the freehub body is a stressed member. Pro tip: you can even adjust the cassette body bearing preload via shims - the DS cup has a couple of notches and a left hand thread.

The only thing I'm not a fan of is the flange placement; it's better than most but there's still a lot of room for improvement, as demonstrated by the hubs on my Caden Decadence wheelset, which also look miles better.

Unfortunately, just like almost all 'high end' hubs, they're junk inside - electric motor bearings with no preload adjustment and a ridiculously loud freehub with a DS axle bearing near the centre of the axle.
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Old 03-27-20, 09:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
IMO breaking spokes is a thing that shouldn't happen on a decent modern wheel, unless you crash it or there's a flaw in the spoke.

Modern and decent means straight pull and low spoke count, ie less than 20/24 (although disc wheels should be at least 24). No elbow to distort and fatigue, putting all the stretch into the thin part of the spoke, and low spoke count means high spoke tension, further avoiding fatigue.

So meh to the question of what happens when you break a spoke - it shouldn't apply to a performance wheelset. Touring or commuting, sure.
I’ve broken spokes on almost all of my high-end wheels. I agree that it shouldn’t happen, but it does. Usually once every year or two.
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Old 03-27-20, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Cypress View Post
Usually once every year or two.
How many ks do you do in a year? What brands are we talking? What do you weigh? How rough are are your roads?
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Old 03-27-20, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Kimmo View Post
How many ks do you do in a year? What brands are we talking? What do you weigh? How rough are are your roads?
2000 miles so far this year, not sure about last year. HED, Bontrager, and hand-built stuff with Sapim CX-Ray spokes. I’m at 151 pounds right now, but I’m not a slow rider. Roads are...normal?
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Old 03-27-20, 11:49 PM
  #24  
HTupolev
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Originally Posted by colnago62 View Post
I used to ride Campy in the early 90’s. I liked it well enough.
The early 90s are probably where I'd mark Campagnolo's return to being competitive. Having survived the Shimano market takeover in the second half of the 1980s, they got their act together and started making sensible, up-to-date stuff.

I think cost compared to quality started shifting in Shimano’s favor.
Cost-to-quality was in Shimano's favor pretty much the instant that Shimano was making derailleurs. Same with SunTour. And by the mid-1970s, both of those companies were making seriously world-class components.

Last edited by HTupolev; 03-28-20 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 03-28-20, 02:01 AM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
Disclaimer: I swear that I didn't start my biking life as a Campagnolo "fanboy", but it looks as though I have indeed become one, so if you can't stand people like me singing their praises, you can stop reading now. I won't be offended. Also, I have absolutely no affiliation with Campagnolo, and I most certainly don't profit in any way from the sale of their products. Plus, serious injury or death!

Like most people in here, I can't stop messing around with my bikes, and that includes experimenting with different parts and setups. Over the past couple of years I've been researching and reading a lot about wheels, and I really can't understand the purchasing decisions that some people are making. This may sound ridiculous, but why aren't more people buying Campagnolo wheels?

First and foremost, despite the often repeating claims that Campagnolo products are overpriced, their wheels are actually really reasonably priced. And they are reasonably priced on both the high and the low end.

Let's start at the lower end, where you have various aluminum solutions. I'm going to skip right over the absolute entry level (the Calima and Khamsin level, where there is little differentiation among brands) and start with roughly the Zonda level of features and quality. And calling it the Zonda level is appropriate, because it's a level all its own, in a good way. For that price, what wheels are you going to buy that come anywhere close in terms of quality and weight? Then, as you move in price, you continue to find Campagnolo models that match or exceed the features of their competitors, and always at a better price. And I'm looking right at you here, Mavic!

And once you start to get into carbon, where things are much more expensive compared to most aluminum wheels, Campagnolo is still the clear leader in terms of quality to price ratio. Their Bora line is simply world class, and it's almost always significantly cheaper that stuff from Zipp, or Easton, or Enve, or any of the boutique brands. Compare wheels weights, and the Boras are usually lighter, or very close to, their competitors of similar rim depths. And then compare characteristics...

This is where another huge component comes into play: hubs. While being competitive in other specifications and price, Campagnolo does this while offering their own hubs. And please don't try to poo-poo their quality. This company has been making hubs, and top of the line hubs, for so many decades now. And it's not just about design and technology, it's also about production. They have been doing it for a long time, they do it well, and they do it in quantity. How can people really expect a smaller company to put out anything as high quality, high performing and reliable for anywhere near the same price? Go and read the customer reviews for wheels on Mavic's own website. It's a disaster. Their hubs appear to be really lousy considering the money people pay for the wheels they are mounted to. Simple sealed bearings and some plastic bushings that often wear out after a few thousand miles? Seriously? And then you get stuff like White Industries or Phill Wood and, quite frankly, I don't even understand why they exist. I'm all about supporting small businesses, and I'm glad they do exist and employ people, but why on earth anyone is buying that stuff instead of Campagnolo is beyond me.

OK, I think I'm done. So can some people chime in and explain why they decided to forgo Campagnolo wheels for other options?
Not agreeing or disagreeing, but it sure would be nice if the claim that campy wheels are better "quality" than other wheels at the same price point. What better?
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