Advice on new groupset

by John Knott   April 9, 2014  

Anyone had experience of both SRAM/Shimano/etc and Campagnolo? I will be upgrading to a new bike soon and welcome any comments relating to the benefits, or otherwise, of choosing a steed with a Campanolo groupset. My current SRAM leaves a lot to be desired. In my opinion, using the same lever to go both up and down the gears is poor design. Do all groupsets have their limitations?
Thanks,
Knotty.

19 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I'm very happy with Shimano. Ok, it doesn't have the romance of Campag but on the other hand it also doesn't look like it's been formed of the bits of carbon fibre they decided were too loud and bling to put on the latest Lamborghini either.

posted by bashthebox [640 posts]
9th April 2014 - 12:03

1 Like

No experience with Campag so can't comment.

Have used a couple of SRAM systems and really don't get on with them. The double tap shifting becomes a pain when trying to change gears quickly and by instinct.

This may be because i have historically used Shimano though. I get on with the single lever/ whole lever shifting on it. Seems much more user friendly.

Try and get test rides with all 3 groupsets, see how you get on with them.

posted by Martyn_K [34 posts]
9th April 2014 - 13:07

2 Likes

One thing you might find different is the braking on Shimano, I've only experienced it on Tiagra whilst wearing winter gloves, but the brake lever has pulled inwards when braking heavily causing a gear shift. Not been a problem on the 105 I have on my winter bike. Personally I prefer Sram, but have never used Campag. I've never had a problem with the single lever, it's just like driving a LHD car - it's different! As above though, try them out and get a feel for what suits you.

Twitter: @velosam

SamShaw's picture

posted by SamShaw [256 posts]
9th April 2014 - 13:31

0 Likes

Campag is awesome. The button for down-shifting is really positive, the shifting is pronounced, braking is well moderated, it's reliable; I could go on. I ride on a mix of Veloce (shifters, mechs), Centaur (brakes) & Record (crankset), but was happy with full Veloce.

Only rode low-end Shimano previously, but the difference was night and day.

posted by s_lim [113 posts]
9th April 2014 - 13:34

2 Likes

I feel SRAM offers poor value for money compared to the others, although their mtb stuff is pretty good. Ironically, my next commuter bike is SRAM equipped, but I only need to change gear three times in each direction, so it's less of an issue. If i was riding over long distances and mixed terrain it would be on a different bike!

Campag and Shimano are very much a personal choice. Whether one is for you or not may come from the size and shape of the levers, the action and force required to shift and brake or how the system shifts and brakes. They are both very good... Neither is better than one another in absolute terms.

I would see if you can try them both on the same day somehow.

I ride Campagnolo and I don't like the feel or look of Shimano... But you may be different.

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

Jack Osbourne snr's picture

posted by Jack Osbourne snr [304 posts]
9th April 2014 - 14:00

0 Likes

Used them all and I have to say that I struggle to say one is particularly better than the other.

However... to rank them, I put SRAM in 3rd place. I find the finish, and longevity of that finish the most questionable of the three manufacturers. Not sure if that's because the yanks don't train in the rain or what.

Also, as commented on the doubletap will punish you if you mis-shift moving to an easier gear. Which is annoying.

That said, SRAM is strong with its braking, the way the levers feel in the hand, and the short travel of the gear shift.

Overall though, compared to the big two, SRAM's approach to me seems more inline with the function over form of Shimano, but just lacks a little overall quality.

After that, I can't split Shimano and Campagnolo.

Both do certain things better and worse, so its what ever you feel is more important to you.

Shimano strengths... their cranks are great, and in my opinion, are stiffer and more robust than the campagnolo alternatives.

Also, the new 6800 Ultegra has been well designed from both a performance and maintenance perspective. I really rate it.

Campagnolo strengths... horses for courses this one, but the thumb shifter is really intuitive and is really satifying to use on the higher end groups. The lever design is also sublime, and from an aesthetic perspective CAmpagnolo groupsets are as commented a little more style than substance necessarily, where as Shimano is very much function over form... you get to admire Shimano's aesthetics from the obvious engineering perspective presented.

If I was buying my own groupset, depending on budget, I'd plump for the following (1 = money no object, 7 = limited budget and then everything in between)

1. Dura Ace Di2 a
2. Record EPS
3. Ultegra Di2
4. Campagnolo Chorus
5. Shimano Ultegra
6. Campagnolo Athena
7. Sram Rival

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [269 posts]
9th April 2014 - 14:15

2 Likes

I don't know what your budget is, but for my money, Campag Athena is the best value Gruppo there is.

I ride old Record myself.

campag will last longer than the others and is rebuildable if you crash it, but the parts ain't cheap.

Obviously the solid carbon centaur and record is a bit fragile if you drop it.

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [531 posts]
9th April 2014 - 21:38

0 Likes

I've found the new 11speed ultegra great. I have the 10sp on one bike, and had old campag 8sp on the other, but couldn't find a cassette when it wore out (the rest was still going strong, but it gave me a good excuse) The ultegra seemed more reasonably priced than campag equivalents, and I'd found the shimano shifting more positive. The 11 sp levers fit my hand better, and the shifting is very light. As others have said, try a few.

posted by Stratman [36 posts]
9th April 2014 - 21:45

0 Likes

Stratman wrote:
I've found the new 11speed ultegra great. I have the 10sp on one bike, and had old campag 8sp on the other, but couldn't find a cassette when it wore out (the rest was still going strong, but it gave me a good excuse) .

How did you sell that one?

I've an 8 speed campag winter set up and there is no problem with cassette availability, in fact there are better options than current Shimano!

All Campag

posted by Flying Scot [531 posts]
9th April 2014 - 22:28

0 Likes

to be honest, it depends a lot on what end of the market your looking at, and also how handy you are with maintenance.

SRAM is probably the easiest to index closely followed by Campy, I have a few people that have come to me for servicing as the LBS's don't have the basic tools or knowledge on campy, one guy had his threads stripped as the mechanic didnt realise it was an italian thread

Shimano 10sp setup are a bit tricky sometimes to index, but once they are right, they are right, 11sp are a bit easier IMO

As far as performance quality, there really is not much between them all at the relative price point, SRAM is probably my favourite, but im not a fan of the double tap

Personally for me I have Shimano on my drop bar bikes, and SRAM on MTB and Flat bars as the SRAM flat bar shifters are miles ahead of everything else (IMO)

posted by jason.timothy.jones [303 posts]
10th April 2014 - 8:18

0 Likes

jason.timothy.jones wrote:
I have a few people that have come to me for servicing as the LBS's don't have the basic tools or knowledge on campy, one guy had his threads stripped as the mechanic didnt realise it was an italian thread.

Italian bottom brackets aren't a Campagnolo thing, that's the frame builders choice. Shimano and SRAM both offer Italian thread cups too, otherwise you'd never see a Pinarello fitted with Shimano.

posted by Nick T [805 posts]
10th April 2014 - 8:32

1 Like

Thanks I am fully aware, but it happened to be a Campy in this case

posted by jason.timothy.jones [303 posts]
10th April 2014 - 10:03

1 Like

I built up a bike with Shimano recently, my first full build, and found the indexing surprisingly easy. All the build was ok, really - just had my laptop in front of me with videos showing me what to do. I did have it checked over by the LBS afterwards though!

posted by bashthebox [640 posts]
10th April 2014 - 10:37

2 Likes

Greetings all.
Just a quick thank you to all who replied, your comments have been helpful.
Regards,
Knotty.

Knotty

posted by John Knott [3 posts]
17th April 2014 - 14:07

2 Likes

Flying Scot wrote:
I don't know what your budget is, but for my money, Campag Athena is the best value Gruppo there is.

If you're going to get Athena, make sure it's the older version, with Ultrashift Ergo levers rather than Powershift. If you can't get hold of that, use current Athena with current Chorus Ergo levers.

Powershift loses the best feature of Campag, namely to shift to multiple smaller sprockets, which is great when dropping down to the small chain ring.

FWIW, I'd go with full Chorus, unless you want the aluminium Athena finish to match a traditional-looking frame.

posted by srchar [55 posts]
17th April 2014 - 14:20

1 Like

srchar wrote:
Flying Scot wrote:
I don't know what your budget is, but for my money, Campag Athena is the best value Gruppo there is.

If you're going to get Athena, make sure it's the older version, with Ultrashift Ergo levers rather than Powershift. If you can't get hold of that, use current Athena with current Chorus Ergo levers.

Powershift loses the best feature of Campag, namely to shift to multiple smaller sprockets, which is great when dropping down to the small chain ring.

FWIW, I'd go with full Chorus, unless you want the aluminium Athena finish to match a traditional-looking frame.

You can still downshift 3 sprockets, it's limited to 1 upshift.

posted by s_lim [113 posts]
17th April 2014 - 14:34

2 Likes

All of the modern groups are really good, that said the three recalls SRAM went through with the latest version of red would give me pause before buying SRAM, especially the brake recall. I was pretty taken aback their testing protocols wouldn't pick up the low temperature failures that prompted the recall.

posted by giobox [278 posts]
18th April 2014 - 1:36

1 Like

Over the years i've had many groupsets, but for most of the 2000's rode Shimano Dura Ace. In 2010 I tried SRAM Red and once used to it, have not looked back. The first version has some unusual setup steps, but I find using the double tap to be easy. I upgraded to SRAM Red 2013 with there new FD design, and after a few weeks getting my head around it, have no problems setting it up. The indexing is easy, and precise. The Brakes are awesome, the levers feel good in the hand.

Getting the crankset/chainrings off is so so easy, all you need is one allen key!

Lots of negative comments on here, SRAM works well, as do all the high end group sets. They have had issues with there disc brake implementation, but I think they did the right thing and admit it.
Shimano and Campy are remarkable quiet about all there issues. EPS Is a disaster, friends who have it are constantly fiddling with connections.

And no I don't work for any bike company, just an ex pro who likes to ride and tinker.

posted by madonepro [34 posts]
18th April 2014 - 13:13

1 Like

I love Campag. But my next bike will probably be Shimano. Why? I broke a wheel and couldn't find a replacement in the whole of Manchester in the small timescales I had. Every bike shop holds Shimano wheels, tools, jockey wheels etc. Mailorder is fine but sometimes you need bits straight away

posted by dunnoh [173 posts]
21st April 2014 - 17:03

1 Like