Maintaining low weight while still being stiff is where the Campagnolo Ghiblis justify their place as our favourite track disc wheels. The legend of the Ghibli lives on.
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The Campagnolo Ghibli disc wheel holds an almost legendary status from when the originals were first manufactured in the late Eighties.
The revolutionary idea of using a tensile aramid skin bonded to an aluminium rim and hub created a comfortable, fast wheel that won countless races and records over the more than two decades it was in production. In more recent years, Lightweight has upped the game with its own carbon tensile disc, and Mavic’s Comete has been the track rear wheel of choice for those who can afford them.
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Campagnolo responded in 2016 with a completely revised track-only version featuring a carbon rim and tensile structure with its CULT ceramic bearings hub. In their first public outing, Alex Dowsett broke the World Hour Record and then Team GB used them to great success as rear wheels at Rio.
Will the new Campagnolo Ghibli gain the same reputation as their predecessors? Weighing in at only 800g for the front and 825g for the rear, nearly half the weight of some other track discs, the first impression we had was wondering whether there actually were disc wheels in the wheel bags. We weren't disappointed, and tapping the sides gave a rather satisfying drum skin sound.
On close inspection the hand-built quality is exceptional, the carbon weave of the skins aligning perfectly and no excess bonding resin in sight at the rim. The bearings feel extremely smooth and we were pleased to see proper track nuts on threaded axles. Both front and rear were as true as any wheel we have tested. Glueing on a pair of high-end tubulars presented no particular difficulties and the sprocket threads are consistent.
After a quick shake-down on the rollers, we lined up for track league at Lee Valley Velodrome with the rear Ghibli bolted in place and garnering a lot of attention from the other racers. Right from the off, the lack of rotating mass is obvious. Acceleration is as quick as a carbon-rimmed spoked wheel yet at high speeds the smooth bearings and aerodynamics of a disc helped keep the pace high.
The shape and construction method has resulted in an extremely stiff unit, but due to the tensile skin there is none of the bounce or skipping that can sometimes affect other discs. Track League completed, it was time to really test the wheels in some British National championship races. First up was the men’s Madison, 200 laps of organised high-speed mayhem.
Thankfully the wheel’s crash resilience was not put to the test but we can report that in a race where disc wheels are not often used, the Ghibli was an excellent choice. The low weight was an advantage in a race with so many accelerations from a low speed and the smooth, predictable ride made panicked direction changes as safe as possible.
Both wheels were then brought to Manchester for the women’s team and individual pursuit championship races. PB’s were recorded in both events on the wheels, attesting to their good aerodynamics. It was also remarked how good the wheels felt under standing start conditions.
So far we have only used superlatives in describing these discs – which is what one would hope for, considering a pair retails for nearly £5k. While other high-end discs will also have excellent aerodynamic properties, only a wind tunnel could be able to show up any differences here, which would also depend on the shape of the frame.
But we've found the Campagnolo Ghibli disc to be the best option for the ultimate performance purchase for the track. If you have the money and looking for a disc wheel, buy one!
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