Campagnolo's much anticipated electronic version of its 11spd Super Record Groupset will officially launch on November 7 in Sicily when it will be presented to the press and Campag riding World Tour teams reports European cycling trade website Bike Europe.
Two weeks later the teams (Movistar, Omega Pharma Quickstep, Europcar, & Lampre) will receive their electronic groupsets followed shortly afterwards by presentation to road product managers at the Taichung Bike Week at the end of November.
So far their are no details on pricing (it'll be expensive) or on what the new groupset will be called – electronic components on 2013 Pinarellos at both Eurobike and the recent Cycle Show were branded "Campy Tech Lab" (please God no! - ed) CTl 11-spd anyone? Or maybe they'll just stick with Super Record Electronic. We'll find out on Nov 7. What we can say is that technically it appears very similar to Shimano's set up, no surprise there because both companies entered the race to produce an electronic groupset at the same time and both systems have mirrored each other during the various stages of their development. So it's a battery pack, brain, and a couple of electronic stepper motors in the front and rear mechs. The problems in producing an electronic groupset has always been in making something that is durable and reliable, with a long battery life and then coming up with a design that can be manufactured on on industrial scale, the extra wrinkle for Campagnolo has been doing all this without infringing any of Shimano's patents. The fact that the Campag system has to deal with an 11th cog at the back really should add to much to the complexity of the whole thing. Oh, and Campag purists will be pleased to note that if the versions we've seen so far are anything to go by the Italian outfit are sticking with their two lever methods of shifting using thumb and forefinger… you just won't have to push very hard, well not that you did anyway. Another potential point of differentiation with the Di2 is that by the looks of it Campagnolo have incorporated the brain bit into the battery pack, which does neaten things up at the swings and roundabouts cost of a bigger battery pack.
Campag's 11-spd groupset is by now hardly a secret Movistar have been using a prototype version (isn't that against UCI rules -ed) for a whole season now including at this year's Giro d'Italia. Movistar ride Pinarellos and the Italian marque gave the broadest hint yet that the production version was finally about to arrive by showing off on their top end 2013 bike the Dogma 2 decked out with a Campy Tech Lab powered Super Record groupset.
However, excitement about Campy Tech Lab Electronic (well, it might be called that) should be tempered by the fact that the Italian component maker has a lot of ground go make up in the electronic shifting stakes – by the time the curtain officially goes up on Super Record Electronic (it's snappy) in Sicily Shimano will have had a three year head start with first Dura Ace Di2 - which can now be seen as an exercise in demonstrating proof of concept - partially subsidised by the cycling world's early adopters, and powerfully marketed by all those top pro teams using it.
Having demonstrated that electonic shifting works this year Shimano played what is looking like their trump card with the new Ultegra Di2 electronic goupset - a completely re-engineered Di2 simplified and improved with a new two core wiring system that will be reverse engineered in to the new version of Dura Ace Di2 rumoured to be on the way…soon.
Given the strides Shimano has made and the fact that it has undoubtedly been squeezed by SRAM RED groupset at the top end of the lucrative US market Camagnolo had to act. As recently as Eurobike Campag spokespeople were saying their electronic groups would launch before the Giro next year… and indeed in the last few weeks, even as the Sicilian invites went out we spoke to manufacturers who were sure the Italians were still fettling their system and who doubted even the Giro 2012 launch date. Campagnolo have either been setting up a careful smokescreen or decided that if they leave their launch any longer the train will have left the station and they'll be left in the sidings with SRAM… with luck we should be seeing it on 2013 production bikes, and by the looks of it 2012 bikes if you're buying a Pinarello.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.