This review is part of my post the Best Road Bike Wheel Upgrade Options.

The newest model Zonda C17 introduced in 2017 increases a couple of millimeters to 17mm wide inside (measured between the bead hooks) and about 22.5mm outside (across the brake tracks).  Little else about the wheelset has changed.  The Zonda still has a box rim profile, steel bearings, and aluminum body hubs, signature 3-spoke groupings around the rear wheel, low profile alloy rims (measured 24.4mm front, 27.2mm rear), middle of the pack weight (measured 1537 grams) and not tubeless.

It also still remains a bargain at a market price of about USD$400/£325. You can order it by clicking on these links to top-ranked store Merlin Cycles or these search results from Know’s Shop where you can price compare the Zonda from stores I recommend because they have the best prices, customer satisfaction records, and selection on enthusiast-level cycling gear and kit.

The good news for stout riders is that the new, wider Zonda remains a very stiff alloy wheel.  My 200lb/90kg (or so) friend and fellow tester Moose reported that it has the best out-of-the-saddle stiffness while climbing of any alloy wheelset he’s ridden.  And I call him Moose for both his strength and weight so that’s saying something.

For a squirrel like me at 150lbs/68kg who finds many wheels plenty stiff for what I do to them, the Zonda is noticeably stiffer and seems to transfer every last watt I can put out with utmost efficiency.

The big question before riding these new Zondas was, would the extra width make them less harsh than the 2016 and earlier models, ones that only a heavier ride could love and for their stiffness rather than their compliance.

I mounted them up with 25C Michelin Power Competition tires and at 85 psi front and 90 psi back and found them middle-of-the-pack comfortable.  Neither harsh or plush.  Moose, who rode them closer to 100psi, felt they rode pretty smoothly on the typical unevenly paved and occasional bumpy roads he normally rides.

While they might handle better with 23C tires at 5-10psi higher pressure or be more comfortable on 25C tires with 5-10psi lower pressure, the size, and pressures that Moose and I ran them provided for a great combination of handling and comfort.  I also recognize that with all the hype around wider tires, few are going to buy these wider Zondas and put 23C tires on them.  That’s ok because they are too shallow to get any real aero benefit out of them, even if the inflated tire width was narrower than the rim width to improve airflow.

The hubs are also middle-of-the-pack performers.  They certainly aren’t the fastest to accelerate but aren’t slow.  They aren’t super quiet but also don’t put out the clickety-clack of louder hubs that some riders love.  Overall, reasonably good accelerating, rolling and sounding hubs that aren’t going to set themselves apart from the others for these qualities.

In summary, the Zonda C17 addresses one of the biggest issues with stock wheels – lack of stiffness – with a solution that works for riders large and small, the latter thanks to the little bit of added width.

Perhaps the best news for Campy and Fulcrum fans (I’m a fan of good wheels, not of brands) is that almost all of the variants of the Campy Shamal and Fulcrum Racing lines have moved to 17C widths over the last couple of model years and I expect the rest likely will.

The new, wider Campagnolo Shamal Ultra C17 (price compare here) and twin Fulcrum Racing Zero C17 (price compare here) are the flagship alloy models from Campy, essentially the same wheels and from the same company under different brand names.

They are part of lines that include the Campagnolo Zonda C17 /Fulcrum Racing 3 (the latter now also made in the 17C width; see below), which run at half the market price of the Shamal Ultra/Racing Zero, to the Campagnolo Shamal Mille C17 (here)/Fulcrum Racing Zero Nite C17 (here), the models with blacked out brake tracks that sell for even more.

These wheelsets all share the same rims and spoke patterns with differences in rim etching, brake treatments, spoke materials, hub shell materials and bearings, freewheel and flange materials.  Whether you would notice any performance differences between these wheels or could justify the price difference is for each of you to decide. I, for one, can’t and am just happy to have a decent upgrade option at a great price.

I recommended the last, narrower model Zonda as the best alloy upgrade for 175lb/80kg and heavier riders.  If you need or want a stiff wheel and budget is your first consideration, the new Zonda C17 should be your first stop for riders of all sizes and my recommendation as the Best Value among alloy upgrade wheels.

It also still remains a bargain at a market price of about USD$400/£325. You can use these search results from Know’s Shop to price compare the Zonda C17 at stores I recommend because they have the best prices, customer satisfaction records, and selection on enthusiast-level cycling gear and kit.

In The Know Cycling supports you by doing hours of independent and comparative evaluations to find and recommend the best road cycling gear and kit to improve your riding experience.

You can support the site and save yourself time and money when you buy through the links in the posts and at Know’s Shop to stores I rank among the best for their low prices and high customer satisfaction, some which pay a commission that helps cover our review and site costs.

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  • So considering comfort, stiffness, compliance, and overall quality, how would you rate this against the Bortola? I weigh around 168 lbs.

  • Pete, sorry, I didn’t put the performance comparison chart in this post. It’s in the one I linked to at the top. They are very similar along those performance dimensions. The Zonda is less expensive and has a distinctive look that some like; the Bortola can be run tubeless which the Zonda can’t. Otherwise, it’s a toss-up. Steve

  • Thanks again for a great review Steve !
    I did in fact order a set from ProBikeKit (thanks for great ITK10 discount too)

    I have owned Hyperons & Nucleaons in years past & know Campy wheels are tough & reliable.
    When I heard your initial report on these I thought they sounded liek great training/all around wheels

    Then when I went to one of your suggested links & found I could grab a set + your ITK discount
    AND…. they include free shipping….Well I was sold 🙂
    They are incoming now & should be here in a day or two.

    I think these represent a really nice deal & look forward to riding them.
    Judging from your review I know they will be more than fine

    Thanks again really appreciate your site!

  • Claude Dufresne

    Hi Steve. I always appreciate your reviews! I’m looking at Shamal C17 wheelset. Considering they have some similarities with the Zonda, should I expect the same result on the road but with better acceleration and rolling capacity because of better hubs made of ceramic?

    • Claude, ceramic bearings can extend the life of hubs but don’t improve the acceleration of a wheelset. Not sure what you mean by rolling capacity. Ceramic bearings can be made to tighter tolerances and therefore might roll smoother than steel ones but Campy’s steel bearing hubs are well made. What you get with the Shamal Ultra is a marginally lighter but I would suggest indistinguishable weight difference and a little more exclusive wheel. The Shamal Mille gives you the same Zonda and Shamal rim with a blacked out brake track that makes it look like a carbon wheel but gets closer to the price range of what some value priced carbon wheels actually cost.

      What Campy, Fulcrum, Mavic and Shimano do here is akin to what the auto companies do by offering upgraded trim packages and feature sets (heated seats, nicer sound system, etc.) on the same car and engine platform. While I enjoy some of those features in cars, I would suggest that it makes no difference in their performance and doesn’t cost 2x what it does to get some less noticeable features on bike wheels. Steve

  • Thanks for the review Steve. Maybe you could clarify why “[w]hile they might handle better with 23C tires at 5-10psi higher pressure”?

    • Andy, It’s a relative statement and probably incompletely phrased on my part (and quoted on yours). The full explanation on the speed, handling and comfort effects of the combined choice of tire and rim size and pressure is here:

      In brief, you want a more vertical than rounded side wall for best handling, all else being equal. Rounded sidewall (or light bulb) will occur on tire too wide for the rim, especially at lower pressures and create mushy handling. Some go with wider tires in hopes of bigger contact patch for better handling but choice has to consider inside width of rim and tire pressure to maintain sidewall structure.

      My statement was “While they might handle better with 23C tires at 5-10psi higher pressure or be more comfortable on 25C tires with 5-10psi lower pressure, the size and pressures that Moose and I ran them provided for a great combination of handling and comfort.” I was trying to say that, given the rim size was fixed (17mm internal width), Moose and I could have experimented with tire size and pressure (and tire model) considering our different weights (200lbs and 150lbs) to maximize either handling performance (say for competitive ride) or comfort (for an endurance one) but that the tire size, pressure (and model) we ran worked well in providing both good handling and comfort. Steve

  • Would love to find something like the Bortola with disk compatibility and tubeless! And the price is amazing!

  • Hello Steve,
    Did you have the chance to try the hadron wheels from swissside?

    I have seem some tests where it overperforms (or in some tests have the same pergormance as) big names in the aero tunnel for half of the price (a little bit heavier tho). They also have some very positive reviews

    It got my attention, trying to find anyone who owns the wheel or has tested.


  • Hi Steve,

    Really enjoyed your posts – thank you for the insights and clear, informative, and objective reviews. I am very tempted by the Zonda C17 as an upgrade to my stock Giant PR2 wheels but I wonder if spending $200-300 more could get me a substantially better wheelset. Do you think these wheels are as good as some of the pricier options (i.e. in the $500-$700 range)? The price just seems too good (especially with additional discount – thanks!) and I am worried that after purchasing it I’ll feel like I should have spent a bit more for a significantly better set. I get that this is a pretty broad question but hope you can provide some thoughts. I care more about speed than comfort. Thanks again.

    • Sam, It depends what you want from your wheels. The more expensive alloy wheels can be more comfortable. If you want to ride tubeless to reduce the chances you’ll get a flat, you’ll also want one that does that. Take a look at the comparative review of options here including the chart to see what’s most important to you. Steve

  • Hi Steve,

    Thank you for all your writing. As a new cyclist, your work has been invaluable, like
    Sheldon Brown invaluable.

    I purchased a used supersix last year, and have been riding it bone stock. Stock saddle, stock tyres and wheels. It was only after a miserable century ride did I make an investment for a bike fit and I learned about the horrors of stock components.

    Since then the saddle has been swapped out along with pedals. However the wheels still remain. I use this bike to do short quick 5 mile commutes to work each way. Fun 15-30 mile rides on weekends, and occasional 50+
    mile rides.

    I have been wanting to upgrade my wheels bad! But my finances allow for a zonda c17 but my desires are for a dura ace c40.

    I’ve come this close to biting my lip and just buying the zondas. However I’ve come across a gently used Rolf prima vigor es for $150 more. I can find almost no reviews for these wheels.

    If u have the time, I lay my fate in your hands. Zondas, vigors, or ride stock till I can afford the c40s.

    I’m fearful the zondas won’t feel that much “livelier” than the stock rs10s I have now. If I’m wrong, please bash me right away.

    Thank you for your time.

    • FP, Thanks for your kind feedback. Glad to read the site is benefiting you.

      As to the wheels you mention, the Zondas are a great value, indeed a “Best Value” when considered against other upgrade wheelsets as seen in my review here. I’ve not reviewed the Vigor and don’t feel the Shimano C40 (which is a rebranded C35 with only cosmetic changes) are not competitive with others at its price range.

      Considering that you aren’t doing a lot of miles relatively speaking and you are doing some commuting, I’d go with the durable, value Zonda which also is a good performer and one you’ll notice an improvement with over the stock RS10 wheelset. When you start riding more – in the 150+ mile/wk range – and get a better idea of your goals and riding profile (see here), you should look at other options. Cheers, Steve

  • Just acquired a set of Zonda c17’s. In the literature that came along with the wheels, 23’s were not given as an option to mount on these wheels. Was curious of your thoughts on this and whether there would be a performance up tick for a 175lb rider on the 23’s? Thanks, Steve.

    • Gord, You can go with 23C or 25C tires on those wheels. Choice of tire, pressure you run them at, what your goals are (speed vs. comfort, etc.) will affect the performance as much as the width difference. This post may help explain. Steve

  • Steve, thanks for all of the great information on your site. Learned quite a lot! I took your best value review and found the Zonda’s on sale for $300 with free shipping from Merlin and couldn’t resist. They will replace some stock Fulcrums on a CAAD 12. I think think they’ll fit the bill nicely with my Moose(ha) size and weekly fun rides.

    • Jay, Thanks for the feedback. Enjoy the new wheels. Moose still loves his (and not just because I bought them and he’s never returned them after his test). Best, Steve

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