Sorry, Campagnolo. I think you got the name wrong. Yes, I know they’re called USB, as in Ultra Smooth Bearings. But while these hand-assembled Italian aero wheels with oversized hubs and ceramic bearings do indeed provide a wonderfully smooth ride, they really should be called UQB, as in Ultra Quiet Bearings .
I didn’t think anything could be quieter than the last wheelset I reviewed. But these come mighty close. To ride them along smooth stretches of tarmac (yes, there are still some out there if you know where to look) was to feel almost as if I was floating on air at times. All I could hear was my own disbelieving thoughts.
Of course, wheels are rarely bought solely for their acoustics. Fortunately there are other things to like about Campagnolo Bullet Ultra USB clinchers. Whilst perhaps not first choice for those who appreciate understated styling or a black-on-black stealth look, the 50mm carbon/alloy rims are eye-catching. Black and silver with several flashes of red, including each of the self-locking spoke nipples peeking out confidently from the rims. Add in the distinctive Campy double-butted GT 21-spoke configuration on the rear wheel (the front wheel features standard 18-spoke radial lacing) plus the black and red Fortezza TriComp tyres that the review wheelset was delivered with, and they’re a fine example of 21st Century Italian bike bling.
Out on the road these wheels performed strongly without ever quite blowing me away. The smooth ride delivers assured handling and cornering. Smoother climbing also makes for easier climbing, so whilst certainly not built for leg-busting ascending over long distances, they get a tick here compared with many of the other 50mm wheels I’ve ridden.
Given their claimed weight – a very reasonable 1,590g for the set – and their ballistics-inspired name, they were perhaps a touch more sluggish than I’d been expecting, especially at lower speeds. Acceleration was solid enough, but not blinding. That said the aerodynamics kicked in noticeably above 33-35km/h and they held their top end speed very well, suggesting they’re probably more suited to the sustained pace of a committed road rider and racing on straighter circuits than the technical, stop-start demands of tight criteriums. In several hundred kilometres of riding I did notice crosswinds here and there, but was only troubled once when hit by a strong gust on the straight at the Eastern Creek Dragway. It was slightly disconcerting at the time. But, hey, that’s most deep profile rims for you.
Bottom line? Top-end racers will no doubt still be drawn to Campagnolo’s superb and considerably more expensive Bora range. But for everyone else the Bullet Ultras have a lot going for them. Campy loyalists will no doubt adore them, as will riders drawn to all things Italian, of which there are plenty. If you want a good-looking uber-quiet all-round carbon wheelset with an alloy braking surface and a genuine dash of Italian flair, these might just be your next set of wheels. The price isn’t bad, either, and includes wheel bags.
Distributed by: De Grandi Cycle & Sport