After nearly twenty years of behind-the-scenes development, the Campagnolo electronically-actuated drivetrain has been launched today and it's called EPS for Electronic Power Shift meaning that the full name of the flagship groupset including the new technology and components will be Super Record EPS.
The surprise is that there will be two groups featuring EPS components; the pricier Super Record EPS we might have guessed but there will also be Record-level parts featuring the same composite bodies as Super Record but missing out on the titanium and ceramics hardware in parallel with the current, and continuing, mechanical Super Record and Record heirachy.
The new components consisting of EPS shift levers, front and rear gear mechanisms along with the combined battery pack and 'brain', have been trailed like no others in bike component marketing history. Towards the end of the two decades of development, we've had multiple chances to see the final of four generations of r&d kit, both in action with the Campagnolo-sponsored Movistar pro team and stationary on their Pinarello bikes at the recent Eurobike show but the endowment of an official name finally signifies they're ready to roll out to the bike makers, if not the after-market yet. The groups will share unchanged non-electronic components - brakes, chainsets, cassettes — from the standard sets.
We expect Pinarello will be the first manufacturer to ship a production bike but you'd better have your finances in order if you plan on being first kid on the chain gang with EPS. There's going to be a hefty premium on the price of the standard and continuing Super Record groupset which currently stands somewhere around £1,500 - £1,600, with £1,200 for Record. Needless to say, it will take UK importers a week or two to confirm prices but we won't be surprised if it's £3,000 for Super Record EPS and £2,000 for Record EPS. In other words, Record EPS roughly comparable with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and Super Record EPS a hefty wedge more.
As we posted back in October when the launch date was announced, at one level it leaves Campagnolo looking like they're playing second fiddle to Shimano who have had three years in production to tweak their Dura-Ace Di2 top level group and futhermore launch a further set called Ultegra Di2 which is already shipping on production bikes. At another, it's given the Italian makers reputed for their old-school dependability plenty of time to let Shimano iron out the consumer issues to do with acceptance first.
Here's some detail we can share and we may as well start with the issue that everyone asks about; battery life. Campagnolo are claiming 1,552km life or 3.1months if you ride 500km per month, 1,841km/1.8 months if you ride a monthly 1,000km or, easiest to get your head around, a full month at the rate of 2,000km per month. The battery is good for 500 charges and is replaced in its entirety when the time comes. Meanwhile, there is a battery charge indicator that works like a traffic light with green, amber and red lights and a final audible alarm when charge dips to 6%.
The shift levers maintain the same principle as standard Ergopower; in other words there are separate buttons, or paddles really, for upshifting and downshifting with the big lever reserved purely for braking. Campagnolo reckon that the placement of the thumb shifter for upshifts is better positioned than the original mechanical version, though, to reach from the drops. They also say they've worked hard on the so-called 'multi-dome technology' which maintains the mechanical sensation and, get this, sound of shifting.
Talking of shifting, here's a kicker; by holding the shifter you'll be able to change multiple gears up to the full 11 in one go. That would take 1.5 seconds and you'll need to get used to the exact amount of time it takes for the one, two or whatever you want but that's where the mechanical 'feel' comes into play. The forums will be raging about this one; whether the Shimano 'clicks-for-the-number-of-shifts' you want or the Campagnolo 'press-and-hold' method is best. It will be just like the good old days in 1992, of Ergopower vs STI.
At 'under 2,100 grams', the Super Record EPS group would be roughly 200 grams lighter than Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 with Record EPS 'around 2,200 grams'.
The main thing is, in Britain at least, that the word 'Campy' as featured on the pre-production versions of EPS used by Team Movistar this season, won't be appearing on the final product. A nation breaths.
There's more detail on Campagnolo's EPS system following on here.
EPS Ergo levers keep their familiar roles