Advice - Shimano Ultegra 6800 Groupset vs Campagnolo Athena Carbon Groupset

by stumps   February 26, 2014  

Ladies and Gents, i currently have Shimano Tiagra fitted to my bike and i'm looking to upgrade the groupset as its getting a bit worn.

Now i'm no genius when it comes to groupsets and i'm more inclined to pick one that looks good on my bike rather than going into the in's and out's of specifications etc.

So having said that i've decided to go for either the Ultegra 6800 or the Campag Athena. Both look completely different but i'm drawn towards the Campag as i can get it in black which matches my frame, a minor point i know.

What i'm after from you lovely people is your thoughts on which one is best or which one to totally avoid. Both are similar priced at the £500+ mark.

Cheers.

62 user comments

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You don't lose much with power shift in all honesty, getting the whole set from Comtat or Ribble is the cheapest way to go generally so I'd just live with Athena levers.

posted by Nick T [900 posts]
27th February 2014 - 13:02

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Nick T wrote:
You don't lose much with power shift in all honesty, getting the whole set from Comtat or Ribble is the cheapest way to go generally so I'd just live with Athena levers.

Got mine cheaper picking and choosing between ribble Merlin and wiggle.
Though I did want the 'mid compact' not a standard or compact

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [638 posts]
27th February 2014 - 14:49

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Went through exactly the same decision - although I was choosing between upgrading an existing Rival groupset to Force, or switching to Athena/Chorus or Ultegra. Was pretty certain I knew which way it would go - then a friend suggested going to my local bike shop where they had one of each set up on a display bike. They let me have ten minutes on each on, strapped into a turbo trainer, just working the shifters and feeling the hood shape. Ended up buying Ultrgra (which was originally third choice) as it suited my hand shape. Without that test - using looks and other important but non-functional tests I would have gone silver Athena or Chorus. Worth finding out if there is somewhere local who will do that. Obviously, you will need to buy it there too - otherwise it's just rude, but compared to getting the wrong group...

Why is there never a tailwind?

posted by What Mid Life Crisis [21 posts]
27th February 2014 - 15:10

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It's down to personal choice. I've got bikes with Campag, Shimano & SRAM. All are really good products in their own rights.

As folks have said Campag has a positive clunk when you shift down wheras Shimano is a lot smoother.

Personally I prefer Campag because it's more iconic and I'm a sentimental old git at heart, plus I think their chainsets are easier on the eye.

Velotastic !

Too many hills, but too little time.

badback's picture

posted by badback [297 posts]
27th February 2014 - 15:23

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Campag looks prettier. It is elegant. Shimano is beefy and brash. Campag it is.

posted by Al__S [855 posts]
27th February 2014 - 16:46

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Does nobody here do their own maintenance? Campagnolo is in a right muddle with its two (soon to be three) bottom-bracket variants. Shimano chooses the right engineering solution and sticks with it. If only Campa had done the same with Ultra-Torque...sorry Ultra - Torque™

And when it gets right down to it, whose electronics you gonna trust?

harman_mogul's picture

posted by harman_mogul [188 posts]
27th February 2014 - 17:19

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harman_mogul wrote:

And when it gets right down to it, whose electronics you gonna trust?

hmm....

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/mechanical-problems-cost-evans-dear-at-t...

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1794 posts]
27th February 2014 - 19:04

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harman_mogul wrote:
Does nobody here do their own maintenance? Campagnolo is in a right muddle with its two (soon to be three) bottom-bracket variants. Shimano chooses the right engineering solution and sticks with it. If only Campa had done the same with Ultra-Torque...sorry Ultra - Torque™

Square Taper, Octalink, HT2....

I can still get 102mm Record Bottom Brackets....

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1794 posts]
27th February 2014 - 19:06

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I maintain my own Campag equipped bikes. All you need is an Allen key to remove the UT crankset bolt and it pops right out, I manage just fine thanks.

posted by Nick T [900 posts]
27th February 2014 - 19:39

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mrmo wrote:

Square Taper, Octalink, HT2....

I can still get 102mm Record Bottom Brackets....

Two types of Octalink, and there's ISIS cranks too I think. Plus you'll need some adapters if you want a frame with something like a BB30. "Right engineering solution" indeed.

posted by Nick T [900 posts]
27th February 2014 - 19:45

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Speaking of which, Stumps' Felt AR5 is indeed BB30, so that adds £30 to his Campag price...

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3689 posts]
28th February 2014 - 0:10

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notfastenough wrote:
Speaking of which, Stumps' Felt AR5 is indeed BB30, so that adds £30 to his Campag price...

Though no Campag chainset comes with a BB, and for Shimano it's £25 for the adapters.

glynr36's picture

posted by glynr36 [638 posts]
28th February 2014 - 0:18

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Don't worry about the wheels, a Shimano 11 speed cassette works perfectly with Campag, it was an issue with 8 speed but since then the non compatibilty thing has just been a myth.

Oh and get Campag, I accept that it needs a little bit more love for your bike in the shifting but that's not a bad thing, it's your bike after all and feels more natural and organic after a few rides than Shimano's mechanical feeling.

posted by drfabulous0 [404 posts]
28th February 2014 - 0:30

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Nobody else has tried to service Athena crank bearings then?
I did on a hire bike last year after it started to make horrible noises, it was a total faff.
A friend who rides a Chorus assures me that's not the case for that groupset, so why have two different systems?
That would put me off more than the long travel for front shifting with the Ultegra does..

posted by DanTe [140 posts]
28th February 2014 - 0:36

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ronyarm wrote:
A good option is to get Campag Athena but with Chorus shifters so you have the ultra-shifting. This is what I have on my summer bike (the silver Athena group is gorgeous)!

Or Athena with a Chorus Crank..

posted by DanTe [140 posts]
28th February 2014 - 0:37

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glynr36 wrote:
notfastenough wrote:
Speaking of which, Stumps' Felt AR5 is indeed BB30, so that adds £30 to his Campag price...

Though no Campag chainset comes with a BB, and for Shimano it's £25 for the adapters.

All the chainsets from campy I've bought have come with a bb, veloce and centaur

Canyon Roadlite Centaur/ Veloce groupset, Shamal wheels

Miles253's picture

posted by Miles253 [209 posts]
28th February 2014 - 2:02

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notfastenough wrote:
Speaking of which, Stumps' Felt AR5 is indeed BB30, so that adds £30 to his Campag price...

Hollowtech 2 needs BB30 adapters too.

posted by Nick T [900 posts]
28th February 2014 - 7:15

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DanTe wrote:
Nobody else has tried to service Athena crank bearings then?
I did on a hire bike last year after it started to make horrible noises, it was a total faff.
A friend who rides a Chorus assures me that's not the case for that groupset, so why have two different systems?
That would put me off more than the long travel for front shifting with the Ultegra does..

Any frame that accepts Power Torque will accept Ultra Torque, so I don't really see any issue with two different systems. You just can't mix parts from each crank with the other but who does that in all honesty? As for the hire bike you talk about, why were you trying to service it? That doesn't make any sense at all, if a rental is knackered you hand it back, no?

posted by Nick T [900 posts]
28th February 2014 - 9:58

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Campagnolo all day long! I swapped to an Athena equipped bike 3 years ago and would never go back! Have ridden Shimano equipped bikes since and it's still a great system, just not as great feeling as the Italian stuff! As I mock my pals with: "Shimano is a fishing tackle manufacturer!!" But all down to personal preference at the end of the day. (get the campag!!!) I got my first bike with Super Record last month and can probably never ride anything without it now!

andybnk's picture

posted by andybnk [99 posts]
28th February 2014 - 14:19

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Nick T wrote:

Any frame that accepts Power Torque will accept Ultra Torque, so I don't really see any issue with two different systems. You just can't mix parts from each crank with the other but who does that in all honesty? As for the hire bike you talk about, why were you trying to service it? That doesn't make any sense at all, if a rental is knackered you hand it back, no?

You've missed my point about the cranks a little there.

Re: The hire bike - I hired it, rode nearly 200 miles across Southern Spain with 5000+ meteres of climbing before getting to the house in Andalucia and the LBS the next day, to get the nessacery gubbins to clean up a poorly looked after set of bearings.
I was'nt too keen to turn around and ride back.

I found the Athena bearing system a total faff. Apart from that it was fine.

posted by DanTe [140 posts]
28th February 2014 - 15:22

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For Scots readers, we can use this loafy comparison:

Campag - plain
shimano - pan

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [845 posts]
28th February 2014 - 17:40

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DanTe wrote:

You've missed my point about the cranks a little there.

In which case your point wasn't made very clearly.

posted by Nick T [900 posts]
28th February 2014 - 17:48

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I think the 6800 is the way to go, great feel, precise shifting (which i have never experienced with Campag) and a plus is that the braking on the ultegra is IMO much better than DA anything campag have made. Plus you won't have to change everything for your bike.

bikemadjo's picture

posted by bikemadjo [71 posts]
28th February 2014 - 23:23

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Every current Shimano 10-speed system is compatible with every other. So you can use cheaper wearing parts (cassettes, chains, chain rings) and splurge on the shifters, front and rear derailleurs etc.

AFAIK you can't do mix and match crank parts with Campy.

That said, I'm leaning to a Super Record gruppo on my next Bianchi. It's just the 'super' name. And it's lighter than DA. And both bike and frame will be Italian. I have Ultegra on the current one, it's fine and works well, but...

I think you might start a philosophical conflict putting Campag on an American frame Wink Surely it needs SRAM.

drmatthewhardy's picture

posted by drmatthewhardy [552 posts]
28th February 2014 - 23:31

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Fwiw I went from an old campag (veloce I think) to ultegra 11 sp from Merlin. Lovely shifting, and I no longer try the wrong shift action when I change bikes.

posted by Stratman [60 posts]
28th February 2014 - 23:37

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Throughout the time I've owned campagnolo stuff, I've found a lot of it quite fiddley and could never get mine set up right on my own. Not to mention as someone that built their first bike, I struggled needed specific tools along the way which is frustrating. But when it is set up right it does feel very nice and looks great too. Saying that I've ridden neither shimano or SRAM before Confused

Canyon Roadlite Centaur/ Veloce groupset, Shamal wheels

Miles253's picture

posted by Miles253 [209 posts]
1st March 2014 - 0:14

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I may very well be flamed for this but why all the matchy matchy Campy wheelset must have Campy groupset, Italian bike must have Italian components rhetoric? You can wear an Armani suit with a Comme des Garçons tie and Berluti shoes and look great instead of like you just mugged a mannequin in head-to-toe Dolce & Gabbana. Just saying.

I've always had Shimano for MTB and road bikes. I like the seamlessness of the STI shifting. It's cleanly integrated into the brake lever and you can double shift with the front and rear derailleur at the same time for bigger jumps in gears with no problems. I've never not known what gear I'm in even though the clicks are so smoothly subtle as you get clear feedback from pedaling as to how much you've jumped up/dropped down as you would expect from the company that makes the quietest hub ever. Easy maintenance and worry free. I hear people complaining/seeking advice about the finickiness of their Campy components not infrequently while with Shimano it either works or something needs to be replaced. And that's fine 'cause some of my friends aren't happy unless they're tinkering around with their bikes. That said, if you don't like tinkering with your bike tune on a regular basis, you may be happier sticking with Shimano. And you can have your cake and eat it too with Shimano groupo and Belgian HED wheelset Wink

Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~James E. Starrs

movingtarget's picture

posted by movingtarget [142 posts]
1st March 2014 - 4:44

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It's just one of those things - it either matters to you or it doesn't . For me it doesn't feel right to have wheels saying Campagnolo matched to a Shimano gruppo. It doesn't really matter anymore as if you want Campag wheels that don't shout 'Campagnolo' you can get the equivalent Fulcrum version.

posted by allezrider [90 posts]
1st March 2014 - 10:03

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Both Ultegra and Athena are very good. As there is little to separate performance-wise, other more subjective factors come in to play...

I ride Campagnolo because I prefer how it looks.
I ride Campagnolo because I have to replace stuff less often than my Shimano riding pals
I ride Campagnolo because its what I used when I discovered that even Cat2 was likely to evade me and it reminds me of my yoof.
I ride Campagnolo because as much as I like sushi, I'm really a pasta lover at heart.

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

Jack Osbourne snr's picture

posted by Jack Osbourne snr [378 posts]
1st March 2014 - 13:32

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For me it is Campag all the way, I have ridden bikes with Shimano 1055 back in the 80/90's and it was ok but I did break a lot of things. Things like bottom bracket cups, axles, replaced several cranks and even a hub (well the bearing cups) with Campag CDA/ Record I never had any issues. I have recently started replacing my old record items for more modern parts, I found that as usual Campag build quality is second to none and you have to admit it looks so good. But it looks nicer and I actually like the clunky gear change as I find it a help for me to know I have changed gear, as I had to come away from the old levers on the down tube to them being on the brake levers.

Personally you want the silver groupset as it will stand out perfectly, you want everyone to know you have Campag on your bike.

posted by Midas98 [1 posts]
7th July 2014 - 5:32

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