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Unions hit out at plans to move more production to Romania - but firm says it needs to remain competitive

Campagnolo, one of the most famous names in Italian cycling, could be facing strike action after it revealed plans to make almost one in five of the employees at its Vicenza factory redundant.

The company says the redundancies are necessary due to tougher competition squeezing its margins and causing it to lose market share, but unions claim production will shift to Romania, diluting the firm’s ‘Made In Italy’ cachet.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the business said the Vicenza facility (which road.cc visited in 2011) is becoming increasingly uncompetitive and the company could no longer rely on its brand strength or high-performance products alone.

The firm, founded in 1933 by Tullio Campagnolo and still family-owned, plans to focus on innovation and new product development in Vicenza, with production shifting elsewhere. Its statement made no specific reference to Romania.

But in a joint statement, the trade unions FIM-CISL and FIOM-CGIL said that the company had confirmed in a meeting last week that it planned undertake a heavy restructuring, including relocating production to the eastern European country, reports Il Gazzettino.

Campagnolo already has two factories there, with a November 2011 Bicycle Retailer article noting that production, including more labour-intensive processes, has been gradually switched to that country, where labour costs are three and a half times less costly than in Italy and in line with those in Taiwan.

That meant Campagnolo could  keep production in the European Union without having to outsource to the Far East, which also has advantages for protecting its intellectual property against counterfeiting or copying.

But union leaders have objected to the company’s new restructuring plan, and the relocation of production in particular, condemnng it as a “shortcut that leads nowhere.”

They say it should instead invest in making the Vicenza facilities more efficient and competitive to meet “the new challenges of the global market.”

“Moreover," they addeed, we are talking about a firm with positive financial statements and a prestigious ‘Made In Italy’ brand that makes a distinction of its quality in both the professional and amateur sports markets.

“We wouldn’t want it to become, in more or less the short term, substantially ‘Made in Romania’,” they added.

While Campagnolo continues to be respected for its technical innovation and the build quality and performance of its products, in recent years the cycling components market has become a much more competitive place. 

Besides rival Shimano, SRAM has become a major player, particularly in the original equipment market for new bikes, from which Campagnolo has been all but ousted.

The Italian company has also seen its position as the once dominant player in the pro peloton significantly eroded in recent years with Shimano now the dominant player by number of teams. For the 2015 season three WorldTour teams out of 17 will line up using their groupset - Europcar who lost WorldTour status just before the season began will also continue to ride Campagnolo. Shimano account for 13 of the rest, while SRAM's sole representative amongst road cycling's elite teams for 2015 is AG2R.

That’s reflected by the fact that in the three decades to 1998, cyclists including Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain won a combined 25 editions of the Tour de France riding Campagnolo-equipped bikes.

By contrast, only two of the 16 editions of the race since then have gone to riders using Campagnolo – Oscar Pereiro in 2006, and Vincenzo Nibali last year; not good when victory in cycling’s biggest race can be used by your rivals in their marketing materials.

While the performance of its 11-speed mechanical groupsets is much admired, Campagnolo’s EPS electronic groupset has probably not been the hit it hoped it would be, partly because Shimano’s Di2 has proved so resolutely dependable and the Japanese company seems set on a process of continuous innovation coupled with competitive pricing.

Quietly over the past decade Shimano has replaced Campagnolo as the benchmark against which other company's groupsets and components are measured against.

The Italians have also been late to the party when it comes to road disc brakes - their offering should launch later this year, by then both Shimano and SRAM will have had many years head start - even allowing for last year's calamitous hydraulic brake recall by the latter.

Translation of Campagnolo statement dated 27 January 2015

The Campagnolo business, manufacturer of high-end components for racing bicycles, has decided to open a redundancy procedure for 68 of the 399 staff at the production site in Vicenza.

This decision results from necessity to put in place a business plan presented to the trades unions and staff organisations, necessary to ensure the continued production at that site, which also houses group functions and activities related to new products and new technologies.

The business plan aims to recover market share and margin which have been eroded in recent years due to the decline in competitiveness of the manufacturing carried out at the Vicenza site.

Changed market conditions on the one hand and ever more intense competition on the other risk forcing the business out of the market, since it cannot rely alone on the strength of its brand and high performance products.

It is now necessary to regain competitiveness by restructuring the Vicenza site, giving it a mission focused on innovation and product development, on which the business has the firm intention of implementing and concentrating all necessary investment.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

68 comments

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ianrobo [1211 posts] 2 years ago
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awful news, for me Campag is the best gearing I have ever had. I am a firm fan but Japanese pockets are deeper ....

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finkcreative [41 posts] 2 years ago
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The strength of Campagnolo is - it is a premium heritage brand, designed & made in Italy.
I'm not sure designed in Italy, made in Romania does it any favours.

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truffy [650 posts] 2 years ago
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Much as I am lukewarm about the disc brake revolution, at least until through-axles become more common, Campag's lateness to the game hasn't done them a lot of favours.

Oh, and their new cranksets are not very pretty, are they?

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oozaveared [934 posts] 2 years ago
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I think Campy have lost the plot. There is only really one reason for the average cyclist to buy Campy stuff and that is the cache and the heritage. The fact that it's supposedly made with love in Italy by people with cycling in their soul. That may be a rose tinted view but "made in Italy" holds a premium in the bike world.

So now it's going to be made somewhere else. What makes it special in any way any more.

Like making a Lambourghini in China. Cheap enough but missing the bloody point as to why people actually buy it.

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Shep73 [211 posts] 2 years ago
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A big shame, I am just going over to Campag on the new bike, apart from form and function, it's nice to have something with the "Made in Italy" tag in cycling still.

I would love to go to their factory and see what improvements they could make to improve its running costs.
It's also a sad fact in manufacturing that companies sell their souls to make more money. Plenty of German car makers do it and people foolishly still believe they are buying a German built car.

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veloprogrammer [18 posts] 2 years ago
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I know people in the area and how bad news like this effects them and the wider economy. Unfortunately, Campag isn't competitive, the companies fear is that to maintain high quality you need a cheaper work force to continue to maintain profit margins. Most other Italian brands are already manufacturing outside Italy. Campaign feels that they time is right to follow suite.

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belgravedave [272 posts] 2 years ago
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As someone looking in from the outside it's seems to be very poor investment, R&D and management that's the problem and not the workforce. Very sad news for the workers.

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derek n clive [250 posts] 2 years ago
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"By contrast, only two of the 16 editions of the race since then have gone to riders using Campagnolo – Oscar Pereiro in 2006, and Vincenzo Nibali last year".

Seriously? Is it all about the Tour? Two GT's won on Campagnolo this year plus the Giro last year. That's 50% of the GT's in the last two years. Not to mention the 2012, 2013 World Champions finished on Campagnolo and if it's all about the Tour - 7 of this year's stages were won on Campagnolo.

All of my bikes are equipped with Campagnolo from Athena (two bikes) to Record EPS and Record and Super Record inbetween. Did I buy them because they were 'Made in Italy'? Did I bugg3ry. I bought them because they hands donw outperform the Japanese fishing tackle and that other brand from America that had a shocker of a few years. I'll continue to stick to Campagnolo regardless of where some of the components are manufactured.

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crazy-legs [866 posts] 2 years ago
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Quote:

I think Campy have lost the plot. There is only really one reason for the average cyclist to buy Campy stuff and that is the cache and the heritage. The fact that it's supposedly made with love in Italy by people with cycling in their soul.

Campag lost the plot a long long time ago. They've been trading on heritage and brand and looks for years while Shimano have quietly gotten on with being the best and SRAM have developed an entire new line of groupsets to compete with them.

Eventually, the mind-numbing tedious bollocks of "Campag wears in, Shimano wears out" that gets trotted out by the fanboys (or fan bores more usually) has worn off, they've pretty much lost the OEM market, they've got a limited dealer network, the custom built market is simply not a sustainable option and they're way behind the curve on technology like electronic gears and hydraulic disc brakes.

People no longer care if it's made in Italy by someone who has a "soul" (whatever that means) and loves cycling. They want it to work. Shimano works. And you can buy it everywhere.

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Mrmiik [162 posts] 2 years ago
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Not really in terms of products. EPS development started long before Di2 and they were the first to market with 11speed. They also pushed Everyman gear ranges like 11-28 coupled with compacts too.

Unfortunately they have focussed on the higher end low volume market where costs are higher and margins lower. Skilled manufacturing is expensive indeed when it comes to wages.

Shimano gets a consumer buy in. The newbie gets El cheapo bike that comes with sora or tiara, then gets a decent bike and will most likely go for 105/ultegra...

Campag clearly need to own their market, while ensuring that they remain competitive. The Campag model is certainly interesting. Trading on high end made in Italy tradition may not be working so well though!

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230548 [50 posts] 2 years ago
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The trouble is that getting an off the shelf the bike built up with campag for a reasonable price is getting harder and harder, and let's face it once somebody has settled on a groupset it's very hard to get them to change specially if said groupset is more expensive. Quite honestly i'm surprised that campy haven't relocated all production to china so they can get back into the original equipment market. I love there stuff and have always bought it. But the amount of tools needed ( thinking about there chains here) and there famous silent videos hardly endears them to a wider public .

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230548 [50 posts] 2 years ago
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The trouble is that getting an off the shelf the bike built up with campag for a reasonable price is getting harder and harder, and let's face it once somebody has settled on a groupset it's very hard to get them to change specially if said groupset is more expensive. Quite honestly i'm surprised that campy haven't relocated all production to china so they can get back into the original equipment market. I love there stuff and have always bought it. But the amount of tools needed ( thinking about there chains here) and there famous silent videos hardly endears them to a wider public .

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mike the bike [898 posts] 2 years ago
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Burberry, Aston-Martin, Morgan, Chanel, Rolex, all the big champagne brands, any Savile Row tailor, Jimmy Choo, Ferrari, McLaren and a hundred more luxury names all trade on exclusivity rather than competitive pricing.
There is a school of thought that says Campag' should increase prices, concentrate on quality above all else and push the products further up-market. I'm sure trying to outsell Shimano is simply pissing into the wind and if they go to the wall in a few year's time it will be the fault of the family management.
I shall light a candle for them for I love their stuff.

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Mrmiik [162 posts] 2 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:
Quote:

I think Campy have lost the plot. There is only really one reason for the average cyclist to buy Campy stuff and that is the cache and the heritage. The fact that it's supposedly made with love in Italy by people with cycling in their soul.

Campag lost the plot a long long time ago. They've been trading on heritage and brand and looks for years while Shimano have quietly gotten on with being the best and SRAM have developed an entire new line of groupsets to compete with them.

Eventually, the mind-numbing tedious bollocks of "Campag wears in, Shimano wears out" that gets trotted out by the fanboys (or fan bores more usually) has worn off, they've pretty much lost the OEM market, they've got a limited dealer network, the custom built market is simply not a sustainable option and they're way behind the curve on technology like electronic gears and hydraulic disc brakes.

People no longer care if it's made in Italy by someone who has a "soul" (whatever that means) and loves cycling. They want it to work. Shimano works. And you can buy it everywhere.

I've got low end campy and high end SRAM 11speed. They shift just as well, but campy is more reliable. Have you actually ridden Campag? There is a lot of insufferable guff, and for many it is a religion. But hey the shifting feels nice to me and I find them the most comfortable. I do find it interesting that most racers I know are much more balanced and appreciate Shimano and Campag. Seems to be the casual, sportive rider who is anti campy for no good reason... But that's my experience.

Also... Yeah SRAM - you do remember the hydraulics recall. Sounds more like rushed to market rather than quietly working away.

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crikey [1251 posts] 2 years ago
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http://www.bicycling.com/news/featured-stories/italian-job

This is the beginning of a move away from Italian production that will have to occur if Campagnolo are to survive. Crazy-legs gets it spot on; Campag are over-romanticised by many people and technologically in the shadow of Shimano.

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crazy-legs [866 posts] 2 years ago
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I’m not anti-Campag, I just don’t think they’ve made many good management decisions and now they’re backed into a bit of a corner so I’m not surprised to see cost-cutting like this.

Their options seem to be:
Offer themselves as OEM to bike brands:
Loses your “exclusivity and uniqueness” appeal in the short term but might help claw back some ground long term. As mentioned, people tend to buy into what they know. Chances are, your first bike is going to have Shimano so you upgrade with Shimano, your next bike has Shimano to maintain cross-compatibility and it goes from there.
Also, from experience of working in bike shops, the brands with Campag (usually only Bianchi although we might have had one or two others at various times) were very poor sellers.

Raise the price (again, as mentioned above)
Keeps the exclusivity part of it but when electronic rear mechs are already retailing at prices north of £500, is there really an argument to say that it would be better if it cost £600? I’d look at that and go “nope, not going to crit race on that!”

Sponsorship of more pro teams
Costs a shed load of money and is of limited use if the brand is not readily available in the shops and on OEM bikes (which it isn’t). And in reference to the comment “is it all about the Tour?” the answer is yes. To a new bike buyer, someone inspired by watching it on TV they’re going to have seen the Olympics or the Tour. That’s it.

So sadly they’re in a bit of a catch-22. A bit lost from general view – very limited presence in the peloton and on the shop floor, not in the limelight when it comes to snazzy new kit (ooh disc brakes, ooh wireless shifting) and therefore not really in the media and there reaches a point where your market of rich people buying Pinarellos doesn’t cover the cost of all that carbon and those expensive people with “soul” in Italy...

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mrmo [2092 posts] 2 years ago
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my mtb has Shimano, road Campagnolo, i would have no issue with a bike featuring either, i personally prefer campags levers, Both work and both are pretty reliable.

I know when shimano release disc brakes they'll work, Campag again i would expect them to work, even if it means them being late to market.

Shimano might make the odd "mistake" but it will work, just not meet market expectations.

I would suggest one issue is Italy being along way from Taiwan

Sram, forget it, if you want over priced and unreliable that is where its at.

Campag do need to get on the front foot, wheel rims are narrow but the market is going wide, there is a move to discs, but they haven't shown anything yet etc.

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Beefy [381 posts] 2 years ago
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To my mind campag is the only brand to hang on your Italian bike, otherwise it's shimano. Yes I've ridden both and to be honest not really a huge difference in performance but the lack of freehub comparability between camp and shim is always a put off, love my Fulkrum zeros though (shimano compatable made by campag) I suspect the equivalent Shimano wheels are as good.

I think it is important they keep going, first deralieur and all that.

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derek n clive [250 posts] 2 years ago
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crikey wrote:

Campag are over-romanticised by many people and technologically in the shadow of Shimano.

Give me three examples of how Shimano are technologically ahead of Campagnolo?

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ianrobo [1211 posts] 2 years ago
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iamelectron wrote:
crikey wrote:

Campag are over-romanticised by many people and technologically in the shadow of Shimano.

Give me three examples of how Shimano are technologically ahead of Campagnolo?

It is crap, Dura Ace is hardly miles in front of Record UNLESS you include Di2 Ant+ but not sure I need gearing information !!

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derek n clive [250 posts] 2 years ago
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crazy-legs wrote:

Sponsorship of more pro teams
Costs a shed load of money and is of limited use if the brand is not readily available in the shops and on OEM bikes (which it isn’t). And in reference to the comment “is it all about the Tour?” the answer is yes. To a new bike buyer, someone inspired by watching it on TV they’re going to have seen the Olympics or the Tour. That’s it...

Who won this year's Tour and how many stages were won on Campagnolo?

When a bike brand (big or small) brings out a new top end frame how many of said frames are kitted out in Super Record and plastered all over the press?

Canyon and Rose push Campagnolo on their bikes at a more than reasonable price and now Planet X has ditched SRAM in favour of value bikes with Campagnolo.

Every time this debate rears it's head the cut-and paste responses are out in force.

Bring on the day Rapha team up with Campagnolo - the internet will impode.

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DeanF316 [136 posts] 2 years ago
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You are talking b******s. Typical of many people on here making sweeping statements not based on experience but personal basis.

Dura Ace is that good that it has a plactic cap blanking of the left hand end of the crank axle and nearly any one that rides it has a rub mark on chain set arm from contact with the inside of their shoe.

Also Campagnolo 11 speed is fully back compatiable existing wheels. Unlike Shimano who made all its customer buy new wheel to run 11 speed.

So you keep following all the other sheep.

As when someone asked Cadel which is best Shimano or Campagnolo? His reply was which ever I get free.

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DeanF316 [136 posts] 2 years ago
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You are talking b******s. Typical of many people on here making sweeping statements not based on experience but personal basis.

Dura Ace is that good that it has a plactic cap blanking of the left hand end of the crank axle and nearly any one that rides it has a rub mark on chain set arm from contact with the inside of their shoe.

Also Campagnolo 11 speed is fully back compatiable existing wheels. Unlike Shimano who made all its customer buy new wheel to run 11 speed.

So you keep following all the other sheep.

As when someone asked Cadel which is best Shimano or Campagnolo? His reply was which ever I get free.

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Mrmiik [162 posts] 2 years ago
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iamelectron wrote:
crikey wrote:

Campag are over-romanticised by many people and technologically in the shadow of Shimano.

Give me three examples of how Shimano are technologically ahead of Campagnolo?

I'd love to hear this too! Last time I checked you could only downshift one cog at a time on Shimano.

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DeanF316 [136 posts] 2 years ago
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This statement is rubbished based on ill imformed personal basis. I like Campagnolo but that mean to hate Shimano or Sram. I prefer the way Campag ergo shifters work. Especially being able to change down with your hands on the centre or the bars and gear dump which is really usual in race situations.

I have never like the idea that the brake lever also work the gear shift on Shimano.

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crikey [1251 posts] 2 years ago
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As noted on another thread today, Campag users are like Zulus; they don't like it up 'em....

1.) Index shifting.
2.) Freehubs.
3.) Dual Pivot brakes.
4.) Combined brake and shift levers.
5.) Return springs in brake levers.
6.) SPD pedals.
7.) Electronic groupsets.
8.) Mountain bike groupsets in general; Campag do not have a great track record in this instance...
9.) Road disc brakes.

Campagnolo managed the the quick release... Which has been redesigned and made better by.... Shimano.

Shimano have 477 patents on bike kit, Campag have 45...

I don't indulge in shimano vs campag arguments as a rule because it's like arguing about android vs apple phones; it simply isn't important.
I do like puncturing wind bags though.

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crikey [1251 posts] 2 years ago
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...and moving lots of gears at once?
Just look a bit further down the road...  3

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Simon E [3016 posts] 2 years ago
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I wouldn't feel any loyalty to a brand of chainset, it doesn't really bother me where it's made or whose name is on it. The curly lettering is attractive and very evocative and but that doesn't get me from A to B any quicker.

The snobby guff about 'fishing tackle' is reminiscent of British motorbike manufacturers and their fans laughing at Honda at the TT in the 1960s. It wasn't long before Honda kicked Triumph's smug, complacent arse good and proper.

Why must an Italian bike have Italian drivetrain? Plenty of Italian branded frames are already made in Taiwan, partly because they do it better.

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Shep73 [211 posts] 2 years ago
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My currant road bike has Ultegra, the new one has Chorus. Chorus feels much better and you can tell you've actually changed gear. Campag has some neat features and cosmetic touches that Shimano haven't got. Ultegra has been like my XT groupset, disappointing.

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Mrmiik [162 posts] 2 years ago
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Crikey? Are you being serious? SPDs Shimano? Er... Heard of look?

Why are patents so good eh? You do realise that shimanos aggressive pursuit of protection of IP has been a needless hindernce on innovation in the industry.

And you are bringing up mtb on a roadie forum.... Ehhhhh?

As noted, EPS was in development long before Di2. The brake release thing is just different - not better.

Oh yeah, road discs. Got to love that rear wheel locking up, maybe if benefit for bigger lads, but seriously see no need over decent rim brakes on summer bikes. And havnt TRP, Avid Et al offered disc brakes for years and years...?

There seems to be a lot of gloating here. Whatever you ride, you want to see manufacturers constantly innovating and greater competition will always drive that forward.

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